The Arbico CD6850 GT puts up a good fight but, while it’s superior to the Eclipse Mirage i685n88gtx in some areas, the Mirage’s graphics card is enough to keep this PC down in third place.

Our top three PCs use the same processor, with RAM allocation the most striking difference – like the Eclipse Mirage i685n88gtx, the Arbico CD6850 GT restricts itself to 2GB. This is top-notch Corsair PC2-6400 memory – a touch faster than the Eclipse Mirage i685n88gtx’s PC2-5300U – but the Mirage’s graphics card is enough to ensure that the WorldBench scores remain maddeningly well-matched.

Like the Eclipse Mirage i685n88gtx, the Arbico CD6850 GT employs the 19in Hannspree XM New York display. This is a thoroughly decent model, even if the image on the screen can’t quite match the intriguing (if not necessarily alluring) looks of the surround. Again in a similar vein to the Eclipse Mirage i685n88gtx, the Arbico CD6850 GT makes do with a 250GB hard drive. While PC makers can go over the top on storage, we think the Chillblast Fusion Gladiator’s 320GB is a healthy (and not extravagant) capacity to aim for.

The Arbico CD6850 GT’s sound system is probably the best in the chart, with the Creative Audigy SE 7.1 holding a slight advantage over the onboard systems. It’s ably supported by the Cyber Acoustics three-piece speaker system. The Arbico CD6850 GT’s casing comes with a nice array of ports and connectors, while the DVD writer is impressive.

Overall, though, we think its better graphics card is enough to nudge the Eclipse Mirage i685n88gtx ahead of the Arbico CD6850 GT.

Budget PCs chart ranking as of Feb 08 issue


  1. Chillblast Fusion Gladiator
  2. Eclipse Mirage i685n88gtx
  3. Arbico CD6850 GT
  4. PC Specialist Apollo 880GT
  5. CyberPower Gamer Infinity XT Elite - last month 2

Verdict

The CD6850 GT is another good effort from Arbico, but the Eclipse Mirage i685n88gtx's graphics are enough to keep this PC in third place.

Next: Budget PCs buying advice

Budget PCs buying advice as of Feb 08 issue

Processor: Dual-core is the way to go for prospective PC buyers. The Intel Core 2 Duo chips currently lead the way. The E6850 is a powerful chip at this price point – three of our Top 5 offer its undoubted charm. As a general rule of thumb, however, the E6750 is a more likely option. This processor is still incredibly fast and would make a worthy addition to any £750 PC.

If you’ve got one eye on the future, 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 shops.

Memory: It’s a sign of how important memory has become that, even in the sub-£750 category, 2GB is standard, with the odd system daring to stretch to 4GB. If you’re on a budget, there’s no need to go quite this far, but 2GB is a definite must. Memory is only going to become more and more important in the next 12 months, so stock up now.

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

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

Monitor: Compromises have to be made to keep the price of a PC down, 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.

Virtually all PCs (and all of our Top 5) come with flat-panels. We’d recommend a 19in model – they’re rife at this price point. Be very careful, though, when offered anything larger than 19in, as the quality at this price point could be low. Finally, 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 PCs do tend to come with decent graphics cards.

Although 50 frames per second (fps) is enough to make a game playable, at this price you can set your sights a little higher. Choose one that can do 80 to 100fps on a number of titles. The 512MB 8800 GT has only been out for a few weeks, but it’s already established itself as the likely gold standard at this price – you may be able to find an 8800 GTX if you hunt hard enough, but the 8800 GT is a more feasible option. Stocks may be running a little low, so be patient.

Sound card and speakers: You’re unlikely to get a standalone sound card at this price point, as it’s an area where 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 may not get anything better than a 2.1 system in this category – indeed, you won’t necessarily get a subwoofer at all.

Arbico CD6850 GT: expert review

Arbico CD6850 GT: Specs

  • 3GHz Intel Core 2 Duo E6850
  • Windows Vista Home Premium
  • 2GB DDR RAM
  • 250GB serial ATA
  • Asus P5N-E SLI
  • 8 x USB ports
  • 19in Hanspree XM New York (0.283mm pixel pitch, 1,440x900 max resolution @75Hz)
  • 512MB PCI Express Zotac nVidia GeForce 8800 GT
  • Creative Audigy SE 7.1
  • 2 x Cyber Acoustics CA3095
  • subwoofer
  • max DVD speeds: 20x/20x/12x/12x/6x/8x/12x/16x (DVD-R/+R/-R DL/+R DL/-RW/+RW/-RAM/-ROM)
  • Ability Office
  • Ahead Nero
  • two-year return-to-base warranty
  • WorldBench 6.0 score: 112
  • 3GHz Intel Core 2 Duo E6850
  • Windows Vista Home Premium
  • 2GB DDR RAM
  • 250GB serial ATA
  • Asus P5N-E SLI
  • 8 x USB ports
  • 19in Hanspree XM New York (0.283mm pixel pitch, 1,440x900 max resolution @75Hz)
  • 512MB PCI Express Zotac nVidia GeForce 8800 GT
  • Creative Audigy SE 7.1
  • 2 x Cyber Acoustics CA3095
  • subwoofer
  • max DVD speeds: 20x/20x/12x/12x/6x/8x/12x/16x (DVD-R/+R/-R DL/+R DL/-RW/+RW/-RAM/-ROM)
  • Ability Office
  • Ahead Nero
  • two-year return-to-base warranty
  • WorldBench 6.0 score: 112

OUR VERDICT

The CD6850 GT is another good effort from Arbico, but the Eclipse Mirage i685n88gtx's graphics are enough to keep this PC in third place.

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