Intel's Core 2 Duo E8600 chip forms the basis of some very powerful, yet affordable PCs. The fastest of these this month is Chillblast's Fusion Meteor, which scores an excellent 130 points in our WorldBench 6 real-world speed test.

The Chillblast Fusion Meteor is also good for gaming and, thanks to AMD's recent price cuts, we now find the Radeon HD 4870 graphics card available where we would previously have seen the 4850. This gives a significant boost to framerates of around 35 percent.

Other specs, such as a 500GB hard drive and 4GB of RAM, are fairly standard. But the Chillblast Fusion Meteor's 450W PSU is the least powerful here and would need replacing if you plan to upgrade your graphics card. Not that there's not much room for internal expansion, with the motherboard and sound card leaving little more than a pair of memory slots available.

A set of Gigabyte stereo speakers is supplied, providing a step up from the internal monitor speakers you'll be stuck with if you buy the Eclipse or CyberPower machines. However, the Chillblast Fusion Meteor's audio still lacks the oomph you'd get from a subwoofer - as provided by the Arbico and our other Chillblast PC.

The system case is functional, although we're not convinced by its looks - the silver strip across the Chillblast Fusion Meteor's front is slightly tacky.

Chart ranking: Budget desktop PCs (August issue)

  1. Chillblast Fusion Meteor
  2. Eclipse Matrix i86A487
  3. CyberPower Gamer Ultra HD II
  4. Arbico CD8850 XL
  5. Chillblast Fusion Isis

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