Arbico's Phenom 5467 HD budget desktop PC is a good system that offers plenty of performance in everyday computing tasks, but it's let down by a single component: the graphics card.

Arbico's Phenom 5467 HD budget desktop PC is a good system that offers plenty of performance in everyday computing tasks, but it's let down by a single component: the graphics card. Like Eclipse's chart-leading Matrix and CyberPower's top-scoring Athenna, the Arbico uses a 3.1GHz AMD Phenom II X2 550 processor. This excellent-value chip offers solid performance, yet the Arbico recorded a slower performance score than even the Chillblast Fusion Hades, which uses a slower processor.

General computing power isn't really an issue for the Arbico Phenom 5467 HD budget desktop PC, however: 112 points in WorldBench 6 is very good at this price point.

The Arbico Phenom 5467 HD budget desktop PC's 19in Digimate display is larger and of a higher resolution than those offered by either CyberPower or Eclipse. As is the case with most PCs at this price, no external speakers are provided.

Arbico supplies a 320GB hard drive with its Phenom 5467 HD budget desktop PC, which is significantly smaller than the 500GB models we're used to seeing, but the biggest disappointment is the graphics card. The ATI Radeon HD 4670 is significantly underpowered compared to the competition, achieving only around half the performance in our most demanding Crysis test.

You might not require a powerful graphics card, but that's no reason to not get one if the budget allows for it - as is the case with rival machines. The Arbico Phenom 5467 HD budget desktop PC thus loses out on value for money.

On the plus side, the Arbico Phenom 5467 HD budget desktop PC is delightfully compact. Whereas rival systems have lots of unusable space inside the case, the diminutive proportions of the EZCool MA661 are a perfect fit for the Arbico's Asus M3A76-CM motherboard.

Chart ranking (July 2010 issue)

  1. Eclipse Matrix a55R575
  2. Chillblast Fusion Hades
  3. CyberPower Ultra Athenna XT
  4. Palicomp Excalibur 630-19 System
  5. Arbico Phenom 5467 HD

>> NEXT PAGE: Budget desktop PC buying advice

Arbico’s Phenom 5467 HD budget desktop PC is a good system that offers plenty of performance in everyday computing tasks, but it's let down by a single component: the graphics card.

Budget desktop PC buying advice

Processor: AMD's Phenom II X2 550 is a great choice of CPU for a budget PC. You can also now find quad-core CPUs in this price range from both AMD and Intel. The AMD Athlon X4 630 and Intel Core 2 Quad Q8300 are good examples.

The Core 2 Duo E8500 is still a good choice if you have no interest in gaming and want to spend your money on fast general-purpose performance. Low-cost alternatives, such as Intel's E7000- and E4000-series chips, offer weaker performance at any clock speed.

Memory: In the post-Vista era, 2GB of RAM is essential. The majority of sub-£500 PCs are now fitted with 4GB.

Some CPUs require DDR3 RAM, while others can use either this or DDR2. DDR3 memory is getting cheaper now, and bodes well for performance. Check your motherboard has free memory slots if you plan to upgrade later.

Storage: Expect up to 500GB at this price; you can never have too much storage space. Digital media content will quickly fill a reasonably sized drive. Hard-drive space is easy to add later, however.

If you're planning to upgrade hard drives internally, ensure that you've got spare drive bays inside your PC's case.

Look for a DVD drive that can write to the +/-R formats at 16-speed or better. If you want to get 8.5GB on to one disc, get a drive that can write to dual-layer discs (+/-R DL) at 12- and eight-speed respectively.

Flat-panel: It's the component you'll be spending all your time looking at, but PC makers often compromise on the monitor.

All the PCs in our chart come with flat-panels. The most common size is 19in - the quality of larger monitors is unlikely to be good at this price. Look for a monitor with a DVI or HDMI digital connector to ensure the best picture quality. Make sure the PC has one, too.

If display size or quality is of critical importance to you - and you're willing to cut costs elsewhere - you may be able to get a 22in 1080p flat-panel.

Graphics card: With the best graphics cards retailing for more than £300, a sub-£500 PC is unlikely to satisfy a hardcore gamer. However, decent graphics cards get cheaper all the time, and budget PCs can now handle games that were unthinkable a few months ago.

ATI's HD 5670 is a popular choice for a budget PC, but if you shop around you may be able to find an HD 5850. This will give you considerably better gaming performance, but will require compromises to be made elsewhere.

For nVidia and ATI cards, look for a 1GB rather than 512MB version if available. And if you don't play games at all, consider purchasing a machine that relies on integrated graphics.

Power supply: Expect only a basic PSU at this price point. Without power-hungry components installed, there's simply no need for a more powerful supply. If you plan to upgrade your system - and in particular the graphics card - then your PSU must be able to deliver enough juice to power your new components. A 450W or 500W model is a good starting point.

Sound card and speakers: You're unlikely to get a standalone sound card at this price point. Most motherboards can handle six-channel sound.

>> NEXT PAGE: Specification and our expert verdict

Arbico Phenom 5467 HD: Specs

  • 3.1GHz AMD Phenom II X2 550
  • Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit (choose Windows 7 32bit or XP at no extra cost)
  • 4GB DDR2 RAM
  • 320GB SATA
  • Asus M3A76-CM motherboard
  • 8 x USB 2.0
  • 500W EZCool PSU
  • 19in Digimate L-1962WD (0.24mm pixel pitch
  • 1440x900)
  • 1GB PCI Express XFX ATI Radeon HD 4670 (games scores: Crysis [High/Very High] = 23/7fps
  • Fear = 43fps)
  • onboard Realtek HD
  • speakers built into monitor
  • max DVD speeds: 24x/24x/12x/16x/6x/8x/12x/16x (DVD-R/+R/-R DL/+R DL/-RW/+RW/-RAM/-ROM)
  • two-year return-to-base warranty
  • WorldBench 6 score: 112
  • 3.1GHz AMD Phenom II X2 550
  • Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit (choose Windows 7 32bit or XP at no extra cost)
  • 4GB DDR2 RAM
  • 320GB SATA
  • Asus M3A76-CM motherboard
  • 8 x USB 2.0
  • 500W EZCool PSU
  • 19in Digimate L-1962WD (0.24mm pixel pitch
  • 1440x900)
  • 1GB PCI Express XFX ATI Radeon HD 4670 (games scores: Crysis [High/Very High] = 23/7fps
  • Fear = 43fps)
  • onboard Realtek HD
  • speakers built into monitor
  • max DVD speeds: 24x/24x/12x/16x/6x/8x/12x/16x (DVD-R/+R/-R DL/+R DL/-RW/+RW/-RAM/-ROM)
  • two-year return-to-base warranty
  • WorldBench 6 score: 112

OUR VERDICT

A less powerful graphics card than the competition means the Arbico Phenom 5467 HD budget desktop PC loses points both in terms of value for money and overall performance. It also skimps on storage. But the Arbico is delightfully compact and offers a pleasing 19in monitor.

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