The Arbico 807 Pro squeaked ahead of the PC Specialist Apollo 675GTS machine in a close-run fight for second place. If anything drew us to the Arbico 807 Pro, it was the quality of the graphics setup. Not only do you get a display that's larger - the additional 1.1in on the viewing area means you get just that slight edge in terms of visual impact - but the Videoseven is a slightly more colourful and sharper screen to boot.

You also get a pretty decent graphics card for the money. Granted, the Arbico 807 Pro's 320MB 8800 GTS can't compete with the 640MB version offered with the Eclipse Evolution i685n88s, but it's definitely a comfortable winner over the 8600 GTS featured in the PC Specialist Apollo 675GTS, finishing second in our games tests.

The matching WorldBench scores of 105 show that the Arbico 807 Pro and PC Specialist Apollo 675GTS have both gained decent mileage from their E6750 processors. But there are a number of areas in which the PC Specialist Apollo 675GTS comes out above the Arbico 807 Pro. It has a superior set of speakers (even if the Arbico 807 Pro's sound system remains one of the best in the chart), and while the Arbico 807 Pro's DVD writer is a very fast model, it can't rival the drive packaged with the PC Specialist Apollo 675GTS. Neither is the Arbico 807 Pro's warranty likely to provide much peace of mind.

Verdict

As an overall PC the Arbico 807 Pro is excellent, and a deserving winner of a Recommended award.

Chart ranking: budget PCs October 07 issue


  1. Eclipse Evolution i685n88s
  2. Arbico 807 Pro
  3. PC Specialist Apollo 675GTS
  4. Eclipse Matrix I67N88-VSTA
  5. Zoostorm 2-5406 Advanced PC

Buying advice: budget PCs as of August 07

Processor: Dual-core is the way to go for prospective PC buyers. Intel's Core 2 Duo chips currently lead the way.

The E6850's appearance in this month's chart is a bit of a surprise - as a general rule of thumb, the E6750 and E6700 are better options. But all of these processors are incredibly fast and would make a good addition to any £750 PC.

If you've got one eye on the future, you might want to consider a Core 2 Quad chip. You'll sacrifice a little speed for the money now, but you might make it up in spades when multithreaded software applications start hitting the stores.

Memory: It's a sign of how important memory has become that, even in the £750 category, 2GB is rapidly establishing itself as the standard. Only a few months ago, 1GB seemed sufficient, but you'd be well advised now to play it safe and plump for the extra gigabyte. It's only going to become more important in the next twelve months.

Storage: You can never have too much storage space. Digital media files such as music and video will quickly fill a reasonably sized hard drive, so buy the biggest you can - 320GB to 400GB drives are a good investment.

It helps to keep large files archived on DVD, so make sure the PC has a DVD burner. Look for a drive that can write to the -R/+R formats at rates of at least 18-speed. Rewrite speeds of eight-speed are good, and if you want to copy up to 8.5GB at once, look for a drive with DVD-R DL or DVD+R DL. Write speeds on these have got significantly faster in recent months - you need to be looking for an absolute minimum of eight-speed.

Display: To keep the price of a PC down, compromises have to be made - and the monitor is often where the sacrifices start. Just remember that this is the part of the PC that you're going to be spending most of your time looking at.

All PCs now come with flat-panels. As for size, 19in models are the most common. Be very careful when offered anything larger than this, as the quality at this price point could be low.

Look for a screen with a good response rate - 8ms or below should be more than fast enough.

Graphics cards: Given that the best graphics cards can retail for £300 or £400, feverish gamers are unlikely to be best served by a sub-£750 PC. Nonetheless, the best machines in this category generally manage to include a decent graphics card.

Although 50fps (frames per second) is enough to make a game playable, you might want to set your sights a little higher at this price. Choose a card that can produce 80 to 100fps on a number of games. The 320MB GeForce 8800 GTS is excellent. The 640MB version is also fantastic, as is the new ATI HD 2900 XT, but neither is easy to get at this price.

Sound card and speakers: You're unlikely to get a standalone sound card at this price point, as it's an area in which vendors are likely to cut costs.

Most motherboards have decent built-in audio chips that can handle six-channel sound, but to get the best out of them you'll need a 5.1 speaker system. Unfortunately, you often won't get anything better than a 2.1 system in this category - indeed, you won't necessarily get a subwoofer at all.

Arbico 807 Pro: Specs

  • 2.66GHz Intel Core 2 Duo E6750
  • Windows Vista Home Premium
  • 2GB DDR RAM
  • 320GB serial ATA
  • Gigabyte GA-P35 motherboard
  • 6 x USB ports
  • 20.1in V7 S20PD (0.292mm, 1,400x1,050)
  • 320MB PCI Express XFX nVidia GeForce 8800 GTS
  • onboard ADI sound
  • 2 x CyberAcoustic CA-3095 speakers
  • subwoofer
  • DVD speeds: 16x/18x/18x/8x/8x/8x/8x/12x (DVD-ROM/-R/+R/-R DL/+R DL/+RW/-RW/-RAM)
  • WorldBench 6 score: 105 points
  • 1-year RTB warranty
  • bundles CyberLink PowerDVD, Ahead Nero
  • 2.66GHz Intel Core 2 Duo E6750
  • Windows Vista Home Premium
  • 2GB DDR RAM
  • 320GB serial ATA
  • Gigabyte GA-P35 motherboard
  • 6 x USB ports
  • 20.1in V7 S20PD (0.292mm, 1,400x1,050)
  • 320MB PCI Express XFX nVidia GeForce 8800 GTS
  • onboard ADI sound
  • 2 x CyberAcoustic CA-3095 speakers
  • subwoofer
  • DVD speeds: 16x/18x/18x/8x/8x/8x/8x/12x (DVD-ROM/-R/+R/-R DL/+R DL/+RW/-RW/-RAM)
  • WorldBench 6 score: 105 points
  • 1-year RTB warranty
  • bundles CyberLink PowerDVD, Ahead Nero

OUR VERDICT

As an overall PC the Arbico 807 Pro is excellent, and a deserving winner of a Recommended award.

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