This time around, choosing our Best Buy PC has proved tougher than usual. With four out of the five systems offering almost identical specifications – same processor and very similar graphics cards – we’re really nit-picking.

However, we’ve plumped for Arbico’s CD 4850. The seemingly unbeatable Core 2 Duo E8500 from Intel powers this system to an impressive WorldBench 6 score of 126 points – the same level of general office performance you’d get from the best of our power PCs and significantly faster than some contenders with the same processor.

The Arbico CD 4850's graphics are provided by ATI’s new Radeon HD 4850, which delivers a significant boost in performance over the graphic cards we saw last time, such as nVidia’s GeForce 8800 GT, without an increase in overall system price.

The Arbico CD 4850 has eight USB ports and, with a massive 750GB hard drive, you’ll have plenty of room for a large media collection – only Chillblast’s very similar Fusion Hornet offers such capacity.

With an almost identical specification – even the Logitech S220 speakers are the same model – the Chillblast Fusion Hornet delivers identical performance to the Arbico CD 4850. However, what clinched it for us is Arbico’s inclusion of a Creative Audigy sound card.

You may not really care much about the Arbico CD 4850's sound card – and to be honest, neither do we – but there can be only one winner and this is the result of our photo finish.

Your preferences may differ of course. The LG W2242S monitor supplied with the Arbico CD 4850 offers a good contrast ratio, but is an analogue-only model which displayed fairly muted colours – we think the display with the Chillblast Fusion Hornet is rather better.

If you’re a keen gamer, you could gain extra 3D speed by going for the Eclipse Matrix i85A487’s with its more powerful ATI Radeon HD 4870, but you’d sacrifice some overall performance. Arbico’s CD 4850 is a well-balanced PC with excellent performance; Chillblast's Fusion Hornet is a worthy alternative.

Budget desktop PCs: chart ranking (October issue)

  1. Arbico CD 4850
  2. Chillblast Fusion Hornet
  3. Eclipse Matrix i85A487
  4. CyberPower Gamer Infinity GT
  5. Packard Bell imax 3414

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