Next to the Alienware Aurora, Trinity International's Power i7 looks decidedly cut-rate. And that's not entirely surprising, given that TI specialises in using the latest components in the cheapest system configurations it can get - while using our A-List recommendations wherever possible.
But don't be deceived by appearances. In the past we've found that TI systems, for all their unglamorous looks, provided the kind of bang-for-buck that many of us were looking for. So how does this ugly duckling stack up next to the swan gracing the opposite page?
Perhaps dubbing it an ugly duckling is unfair: after all, the case - a CoolerMaster M690 - is one of the best value cases of the last two years. It's now been replaced by the M690 II, but there's nothing wrong with the older sibling.
Not only is it solid and stable, but its black mesh grill fascia provides airflow throughout the case, and ports are provided on the lid and at rear.
The 700W power supply, at the rear base of the case, is kept well away from other heat-producing elements - in fact, all the components are separated nicely, and airflow, assisted by three 120mm fans, is excellent throughout the case.
There are five 3.5in bays and five 5.25in bays with quick locking mechanisms attached to all - the 3.5in bays are positioned at right angles to the case, for easy switching of hard drives if you have the case open. TI has made a decent fist of keeping all the cables neat and tied out of the way, although that very neatness may cause issues if you need to add items to the lower PCI slots.
The surprise here is the brand-spanking new USB 3.0-enabled Gigabyte P55A-UD3P motherboard. We've barely seen enough USB 3.0 drives to justify buying a motherboard that's capable of handling them, but here's a system that's ready for them with two ports provided (and not surprisingly, we used the Power i7-860 to test the speeds of some freshly-arrived USB 3.0 drives). There's also SATA 3 capability on the motherboard.
The 2.80GHz Intel Core i7-860 processor is close to the top of the new range of Intel's socket 1156, and in our last CPU megatest, it came in with a benchmark score of 1.95. It's not quite the value proposition that the Core i5-750 is, but it performs well for its price.
Here, it's overclocked to 3.6GHz, and manages an excellent 2.81 overall score. That's higher than the Aurora, despite costing some $2500 less, thanks to the overclocking.
The multi-tasking in particular shows the capability of the new processors in a system build.
The ATI Radeon HD 5870 is similarly close to the top of the range graphics card, and in our demanding Crysis benchmark it managed a spectacular 70fps on High Settings, and even on Very High detail it still managed 45fps. Again, that's remarkably close to the much more expensive Alienware Aurora.
Of course, the Aurora comes with an excellent screen, mouse and keyboard, which you won't get with the Ti Power i7-860, but you could shell out for even Dell's fantastic U2410f without coming within a mile of the Aurora's overall price.
Given the small-scale operation of Trinity International, the build quality is good, the component quality is excellent, without cutting major corners, and the performance speaks for itself.
At $1895, it's more than $2000 cheaper than the Alienware Aurora, while providing comparable performance, and making considerably less noise while doing it.