Arbico’s quad-core HD 7577 XL delivers excellent performance in WorldBench 6 and the fastest DirectX 11.0 gaming experience of all the PCs here.

Based on the 2.66GHz Intel Core i5 750, Arbico's quad-core HD 7577 XL delivers excellent performance in WorldBench 6 and the fastest DirectX 11.0 gaming experience of all the PCs here.

Others may beat its 135-point tally in our benchmarks, but the Arbico HD 7577 XL's score remains excellent at this price. And WorldBench 6 doesn't take into account the full capabilities of its quad-core CPU.

With a Radeon HD 5770 providing the graphics firepower, the Arbico HD 7577 XL is able to offer smooth framerates in current games and support for the latest DirectX 11.0 titles. Although the Chillblast had faster framerates, its HD 4890 card will show its age sooner with no support for DirectX 11.0.

The Gigabyte GA-P55M-UD2 motherboard used by the Arbico HD 7577 XL has a pair of PCI Express x16 slots, meaning you can add a second graphics card to boost gaming performance.

Other specs include 4GB of DDR3 memory and a 500GB hard drive. A beefy 850W PSU offers plenty of capacity for upgrades, while the Arbico HD 7577 XL's 12 USB ports mean you can plug in all manner of peripherals and portable gadgets. All this is housed in a Cooler Master Elite 330 system case, with a tasteful two-tone design.

Pleasingly, the Arbico HD 7577 XL's monitor offers dual inputs and good image quality. It can't display a full-HD picture, but its 1680x1050 resolution will make text and icons appear slightly larger.

A pair of Logitech speakers places the Arbico HD 7577 XL's sound setup above that of most PCs at this price point. No subwoofer is included.

Chart ranking: Budget desktop PCs (issue 177)

  1. Arbico HD 7577 XL
  2. Mesh Ice5 5750 HD
  3. Chillblast Fusion Scimitar
  4. CyberPower Infinity i3 Apollo
  5. Eclipse Matrix Crossfire i786R577

>> NEXT PAGE: Buying advice

Arbico’s quad-core HD 7577 XL delivers excellent performance in WorldBench 6 and the fastest DirectX 11.0 gaming experience of all the PCs here.

Buying advice

Processor: The arrival of Intel's Core i5 750 has changed everything in this price range, bringing with it superb quad-core performance and support for DDR3 memory. Core i5 processors use new motherboards with a different CPU socket; buying one now puts you in a good position for future upgrades. If you're lucky, you may find a faster Core i7 8xx-series CPU at this price point.

Intel's Core 2 Duo E8600 was once king of this category and is still available, but with the Core i3 540 hitting the market there's now no reason to choose it unless you find a fantastic deal. The Core i3 540 will give you superb dual-core performance and is compatible with the most up-to-date motherboards and DDR3 memory. AMD's Phenom II X4 920, 940 and 965 also offer good value for money and quad-core performance, although they can't match the Core i5 in our tests.

Memory: If fast processors speed up your PC, a large bank of memory stops it from slowing down. Get the most out of your CPU by including at least 4GB of RAM. You can get by with 2GB, but your PC will run more smoothly with 4GB.
Core i5- and i7 8xx-based PCs use DDR3 memory rather than DDR2, but there's no need to buy the chips in threes as you do with Core i7 9xx systems.

Storage: Digital media will quickly fill a reasonably sized hard drive; buy the biggest you can afford. A 500GB drive is a good investment.

Consider using a pair of smaller hard drives rather than one large drive - a terabyte (1TB) is a huge amount of information to lose in one go.

Your DVD drive should write to the -R/+R formats at 18-speed or better. Eight-speed rewriting is good; if you want to copy up to 8.5GB at once, look for fast DVD-/+R dual-layer drives. Blu-ray readers are becoming more affordable, but they're still quite rare at this price.

Display: Many PC manufacturers make sacrifices here to keep costs down, so you should always try out the monitor before you buy.

Note that 19in screens offer a lower resolution than 20in/22in monitors; 22in models display larger icons. Newer 22in (16:10) flat-panels are capable of displaying full-HD content, although onscreen elements will be even smaller.

A DVI or HDMI connector will provide a considerably better image than a VGA port, so look for a display with a digital input; if you want to connect additional devices you'll need at least two.

Finally, look for a good response rate: 8ms or below is fast enough for games.

Graphics cards: There's simply not room in the budget for a top-end graphics card at this price point, but you should still be able to find a decent model.

We test PCs using the four-year-old game Fear and Crysis, a far more demanding title. Although 50fps is enough to make a game playable, you can set your sights higher in this category - look for 60fps for decent gameplay.

Current pricing will limit you in this area, but ATI's Radeon HD 4890 and nVidia's GeForce GTX 260 both deliver great performance and value for money, making even cutting-edge games playable if you drop the resolution and settings a notch. AMD's HD 5770 is a slower card with today's games, but adds DirectX 11.0.

nVidia cards offer support for realistic object interactions in games supporting PhysX and the ability to display content in 3D when used with special glasses.

Power supply: A large PSU is less vital at this price point, but look for a model with a full set of SATA and PCI Express connectors to make later upgrades easier.

Sound card and speakers: Most motherboards at this price point depend on onboard sound. To get surround sound you'll need a 5.1-channel system (five speakers and a subwoofer).

>> NEXT PAGE: Specifications and our expert verdict

Arbico HD 7577 XL: Specs

  • 2.66GHz Intel Core i5 750
  • Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit (choose Windows 7 32bit at no extra cost)
  • 4GB DDR3 RAM
  • 500GB SATA
  • Gigabyte GA-P55M-UD2 motherboard
  • 12 x USB 2.0
  • 850W AvengePower PSU
  • 22in AOC 2219VWA (0.28mm picel pitch
  • 1680x1050)
  • 1GB PCI Express XFX ATI Radeon HD 5770 (games scores: Crysis [High/Very High] = 67/25fps
  • Fear = 139fps)
  • onboard Realtek ALC888B
  • Logitech S120 speakers
  • max DVD speeds: 24x/24x/12x/12x/6x/8x/12x/16x (DVD-R/+R/-R DL/+R DL/-RW/+RW/-RAM/-ROM)
  • two-year return-to-base warranty
  • WorldBench 6 score: 135
  • 2.66GHz Intel Core i5 750
  • Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit (choose Windows 7 32bit at no extra cost)
  • 4GB DDR3 RAM
  • 500GB SATA
  • Gigabyte GA-P55M-UD2 motherboard
  • 12 x USB 2.0
  • 850W AvengePower PSU
  • 22in AOC 2219VWA (0.28mm picel pitch
  • 1680x1050)
  • 1GB PCI Express XFX ATI Radeon HD 5770 (games scores: Crysis [High/Very High] = 67/25fps
  • Fear = 139fps)
  • onboard Realtek ALC888B
  • Logitech S120 speakers
  • max DVD speeds: 24x/24x/12x/12x/6x/8x/12x/16x (DVD-R/+R/-R DL/+R DL/-RW/+RW/-RAM/-ROM)
  • two-year return-to-base warranty
  • WorldBench 6 score: 135

OUR VERDICT

Arbico’s HD 7577 XL is a great all-round machine. It offers top performance and a forward-looking selection of components.

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