The CD 8570 XL is an improved version of Arbico's £499 CD 8467 XL. The 3.06GHz Intel Core 2 Duo E8400 processor has been replaced with the faster 3.16GHz E8500. The hard drive has been upgraded from 250GB to 320GB and the HD 4670 graphics card has been boosted with double the video memory.

The 8467 XL topped our sub-£500 PCs chart for the past two months, so it's somewhat surprising that the improved Arbico CD 8570 XL achieves only third place.

The E8500 is a great processor, offering excellent performance at a good price. And the Arbico CD 8570 XL's score of 122 points in WorldBench 6 is very good for a budget PC. But it must be noted that the top two systems beat this tally by six points and the E8400-based Chillblast Horizon scored only three points fewer.

Having splashed out on a fast processor, Arbico is obliged to compromise on other components - the graphics card in particular. The HD 4670 is the same card offered by Palicomp, albeit with more memory, and suffers the same shortcomings in the latest 3D games titles. The CD 8570 XL will allow you to play less demanding games if you reduce the quality settings accordingly.

The Arbico CD 8570 XL's 19in display comes with a digital input and offers reasonably good image quality, although it can't match the resolution of the 20in model provided with the Chillblast Fusion Horizon.

Despite the upgrade, the 320GB hard drive still looks small; every other system here comes with 500GB. Furthermore, the Arbico CD 8570 XL is the only PC of the group to ship with Vista Home Basic rather than the Home Premium version, so you'll miss out on the flashy Aero interface and Windows Media Center.

Chart ranking: Budget desktop PCs (Nov 09 issue)

  1. Mesh Matrix II 550BE PCA
  2. Palicomp Excalibur Ballistix E85-4670-19
  3. Arbico CD 8570 XL
  4. Eclipse Pearl i84R483
  5. Chillblast Fusion Horizon

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