Considering the Cyberpower Gamer Infinity 850’s low price tag, we have to expect some compromises. The Core 2 Duo E8400 is a comparatively slow processor and the system comes with 2GB of RAM, the bare minimum in this category.

The 19in Hanton H-340W DS is a budget monitor with mediocre image and build quality. The Cyberpower Gamer Infinity 850 is the only system that comes with a wired keyboard and mouse, the 160GB hard drive seem a little miserly and the sound system relies on the built-in speakers.

On the plus side, the basic specifications leave plenty of room for upgrades. The Cyberpower Gamer Infinity 850's Elite 330 case is fitted with tool-free drives and all but one expansion slots are free. There are also two available RAM slots so you can bring the system up to 4GB.

The Cyberpower Gamer Infinity 850's 512MB nVidia GeForce 9600 GT offers excellent performance for gamers on a budget, with framerates that are three times those of some sub-£500 systems. However, it’s no match for the GeForce 8800 GT cards found in pricier models.

See also:

Buying advice: Budget desktop PCs

Chart ranking: Budget desktop PCs (June issue)


  1. Arbico CD8520 XL
  2. Chillblast Fusion Cobra
  3. Mesh G94 Pulse
  4. CyberPower Gamer Infinity 850
  5. CyberPower Gamer Infinity Silent Edition

Verdict

The Cyberpower Gamer Infinity 850 is a well-made, competent system. It’s difficult to compare it to PCs costing £200 more, but we can say this: for gamers, the Cyberpower Gamer Infinity 850 represents better value for money than anything in the sub-£500 category.

Buying advice: Budget desktop PCs (June 08 issue)

Processor: The once all-conquering E6850 processor has almost disappeared from the chart, outrun by the mighty E8500 chip – you can put in half the RAM and an E8500 will register the same performance scores. The E8500 will be a little more expensive, however, so it’s worth watching out for special offers as manufacturers try to offload their supplies of E6850s.

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 the bare minimum, with most systems stretching 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 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; 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.

Display: Compromises have to be made to keep down the price of a PC 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 come with flat-panels. We’d recommend a 19in or 20in model – they’re common at this price point. Be very careful, though, when offered anything larger than 20in, 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 manage 80-100fps on a number of titles. The 512MB 8800 GTS 512 is your best option if you find one, although the 8800 GT isn’t far behind. You may be able to find an 8800 GTX if you hunt hard enough, but the GT and GTS 512 are more likely. Stocks may be running a little low.

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.

See also:

CyberPower Gamer Infinity 850: expert review

Chart ranking: Budget desktop PCs

CyberPower Gamer Infinity 850: Specs

  • 3GHz Intel Core 2 Duo E8400
  • Windows Vista Home Premium
  • 2GB DDR RAM
  • 160GB SATA
  • Asus P5K SE
  • 8 x USB
  • 19in Hanton H-340WDS (0.285mm pixel pitch, 1,440x900 maximum resolution @ 75Hz)
  • 512MB PCI Express Sparkle nVidia GeForce 9600 GT
  • onboard Realtek ALC883 sound
  • speakers built into monitor
  • max DVD speeds: 20x/20x/12x/9x/6x/8x/16x (DVD-R/+R/-R DL/+R DL/-RW/+RW/-ROM)
  • one-year return-to-base warranty
  • WorldBench 6 score: 117
  • 3GHz Intel Core 2 Duo E8400
  • Windows Vista Home Premium
  • 2GB DDR RAM
  • 160GB SATA
  • Asus P5K SE
  • 8 x USB
  • 19in Hanton H-340WDS (0.285mm pixel pitch, 1,440x900 maximum resolution @ 75Hz)
  • 512MB PCI Express Sparkle nVidia GeForce 9600 GT
  • onboard Realtek ALC883 sound
  • speakers built into monitor
  • max DVD speeds: 20x/20x/12x/9x/6x/8x/16x (DVD-R/+R/-R DL/+R DL/-RW/+RW/-ROM)
  • one-year return-to-base warranty
  • WorldBench 6 score: 117

OUR VERDICT

The Cyberpower Gamer Infinity 850 is a well-made, competent system. It’s difficult to compare it to PCs costing £200 more, but we can say this: for gamers, the Cyberpower Gamer Infinity 850 represents better value for money than anything in the sub-£500 category.

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