Arbico's HD7590 Pro desktop PC offers good value and performance.

Arbico's HD7590 Pro is also based on Intel's Core i5 750 processor, which offers good value and performance. Only the Eclipse offers a faster CPU in this category, and it does so at the expense of external speakers and graphics performance.

Until recently, the Arbico HD7590 Pro's ATI Radeon HD 4890 was AMD's flagship single-processor graphics card. Although it delivers excellent performance at an affordable price and beats the HD 5770 offered elsewhere in the chart, it comes without multimonitor and DirectX 11.0 support.

Note that performance results recorded here for the Arbico HD7590 Pro are artificially high. An incorrect Bios setting resulted in a low level of overclocking in our WorldBench tests, causing a speed increase of around 2 percent. We clocked the HD7590 at 138 points, but would expect it to tally closer to 134 non-clocked. This places it on a par with the Chillblast and CyberPower machines.

The up side of this error is that, while the Eclipse's Core i7 860 is undoubtedly faster than the Arbico HD7590 Pro's Core i5 750, we now know that the latter CPU's performance can be boosted to around the same level with a minor tweak.

A standard 4GB of DDR3 RAM and a 500GB hard drive are supplied with the Arbico HD7590 Pro. Two memory slots are left spare, while the Gigabyte motherboard's CrossFireX support lets you add a second graphics card. Note that the second PCI Express slot runs at only x4 speed, however.

The Arbico HD7590 Pro's 22in Acer monitor is a basic but high-quality model with an elegant, thin bezel. Although it doesn't support a full-HD screen resolution, you may find that its 1680x1050 pixels make text slightly easier on the eye.

Budget PCs chart ranking: February 10 issue

  1. Chillblast Fusion Blade
  2. Arbico HD7590 Pro
  3. CyberPower Gamer Infinity i5 Achilles
  4. Eclipse Matrix Crossfire i786R577
  5. Mesh Matrix II 965 DX11

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Arbico's HD7590 Pro offers good value and performance.

Budget desktop PCs 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 there's no reason to choose it unless you find a fantastic deal. 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-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 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 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. Drives that can read Blu-ray are becoming affordable, but they're still quite rare at this price.

Display: Many PC manufacturers make sacrifices here to keep costs down; always try 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 80-100fps 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 unique features, such as 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: You may find a budget sound card at this price, but most motherboards depend on a decent built-in audio chip that can handle six-channel sound. To get surround sound you'll need a 5.1-channel system (five speakers and a subwoofer). A 2.1-channel stereo system will be good enough for most users.


>> NEXT PAGE: Specification and our expert verdict

Arbico HD7590 Pro: Specs

  • 2.66GHz Intel Core i5 750
  • Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit (choose XP 32bit
  • Vista 32/64bit or Windows 7 32bit at no extra cost)
  • 4GB DDR3 RAM
  • 500GB SATA
  • Gigabyte GA-P55M-UD2
  • 12 x USB 2.0
  • 800W WinPower PSU
  • 22in Acer V223WB (0.28mm pixel pitch
  • 1680x1050)
  • 1GB PCI Express PowerColor ATI Radeon HD 4890 (games scores: Crysis [High/Very High] = 69/28fps
  • Fear = 235fps)
  • onborad Realtek ALC888B
  • Logitech S120 speakers
  • max DVD speeds: 22x/22x/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: 138 (artificially inflated by overclocking)
  • 2.66GHz Intel Core i5 750
  • Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit (choose XP 32bit
  • Vista 32/64bit or Windows 7 32bit at no extra cost)
  • 4GB DDR3 RAM
  • 500GB SATA
  • Gigabyte GA-P55M-UD2
  • 12 x USB 2.0
  • 800W WinPower PSU
  • 22in Acer V223WB (0.28mm pixel pitch
  • 1680x1050)
  • 1GB PCI Express PowerColor ATI Radeon HD 4890 (games scores: Crysis [High/Very High] = 69/28fps
  • Fear = 235fps)
  • onborad Realtek ALC888B
  • Logitech S120 speakers
  • max DVD speeds: 22x/22x/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: 138 (artificially inflated by overclocking)

OUR VERDICT

The Arbico HD7590 Pro is proof that a simple tweak here and there can bring even more performance for your money. Although the monitor isn't a full-HD model and the graphics card is a slightly older (but faster) model that doesn't support DirectX 11.0, the Arbico is an excellent all-round machine.

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