Housed in the same Cooler Master Elite 330 case, CyberPower's Gamer Infinity 850 bears more than a passing resemblance to our chart-topper from Arbico. However, true to form, CyberPower has jazzed it up with some cool blue internal illumination. The case also comes with a set of tool-free drive bay attachments not found in the Arbico.

Opting for the Intel Core 2 Duo E8600 CPU is always a safe bet when it comes to PC performance, and the CyberPower Gamer Infinity 850 turned in a creditable 123-point tally.

The CyberPower Gamer Infinity 850 uses an MSI P31 Neo-F motherboard based on the Intel P31 chipset, which offers a lower specification than the Intel P43-based MSI P43 Neo3-F used in the Chillblast. As a result, this motherboard offers fewer internal connectors and misses some of the overclocking potential of the more expensive motherboard.

With its ATI Radeon HD 4670 lacking the power of the HD 4850, the CyberPower Gamer Infinity 850 couldn't keep up with the top three PCs in our games testing. It's also the only PC here to be supplied without external speakers, meaning you'll need to rely on the rather tinny models built into the 21.6in display.

The CyberPower Gamer Infinity 850 also omits a sound card, although the onboard capabilities should prove adequate for most users.


Chart ranking: budget desktop PCs (June 09 issue)

  1. Arbico CD 8850 XL
  2. Chillblast Fusion Isis
  3. Mesh Matrix II 920
  4. CyberPower Gamer Infinity 850
  5. RL Supplies Modula AX2-920

>> NEXT PAGE: Budget desktop PCs buying advice

Buying advice: Budget desktop PCs (June 09 issue)

Processor: Intel's Core 2 Duo range offers almost unbeatable performance for the price. The 3.33GHz E8600 now supersedes the E8500 as the CPU of choice, appearing in the vast majority of desktop PCs in this price category.

Alternatively, go for one of Intel's latest quad-core chips, such as the Q9300. These processors are performing well with newer applications and games. Older Q6600 chips offer good performance with multithreaded apps, but only go for them if the price is right.

AMD's latest Phenom II X4 920 also offers excellent value for money and quad-core performance.

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.

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 a pair of smaller drives - 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. But a poor monitor can ruin your computing experience - try it out before buying.

Be aware that 19in screens offer a lower resolution than 20in and 22in monitors; 22in models display larger icons. Newer 22in flat-panels in the 16:9 format are capable of displaying full-HD content at a screen resolution of 1,080p.

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 should be fast enough for games.

Graphics cards: Truly hardcore gamers are unlikely to be happy with a sub-£750 PC, but you should be able to find a decent graphics card at this price.

We test PCs on the three-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 4850 graphics cards deliver great performance and value for money, making even cutting-edge games playable if you drop the resolution and settings a notch. If you're not into gaming, cutting back on graphics won't harm general performance.

Power supply: The PSU is less important at this price point, but look for a model with a full set of SATA and PCI Express connectors to ease later upgrades.

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. A monitor's built-in speakers seldom offer a satisfying audio experience.

CyberPower Gamer Infinity 850: Specs

  • 3.33GHz Intel Core 2 Duo E8600
  • Windows Vista Home Premium 64bit (XP available with £16 discount)
  • 4GB DDR2 RAM
  • 500GB SATA
  • 6 x USB 2.0
  • MSI P31 Neo-F motherboard
  • 450W WinPower ATX-450 PSU
  • 21.6in Hanns-G HG221 monitor (0.28mm pixel pitch
  • 1,680x1,050 native resolution)
  • 512MB PCI Express Gigabyte ATI Radeon HD 4670 graphics card (games scores: Crysis (High/Very High) = 41/11fps
  • Fear = 94fps)
  • onboard Realtek ALC888 sound
  • speakers built into flat-panel
  • max DVD speeds: 22x/22x/12x/16x/6x/8x/12x/16x (DVD-R/+R/-R DL/+R DL/-RW/+RW/-RAM/-ROM)
  • three-year return-to-base warranty
  • WorldBench 6 score: 123
  • 3.33GHz Intel Core 2 Duo E8600
  • Windows Vista Home Premium 64bit (XP available with £16 discount)
  • 4GB DDR2 RAM
  • 500GB SATA
  • 6 x USB 2.0
  • MSI P31 Neo-F motherboard
  • 450W WinPower ATX-450 PSU
  • 21.6in Hanns-G HG221 monitor (0.28mm pixel pitch
  • 1,680x1,050 native resolution)
  • 512MB PCI Express Gigabyte ATI Radeon HD 4670 graphics card (games scores: Crysis (High/Very High) = 41/11fps
  • Fear = 94fps)
  • onboard Realtek ALC888 sound
  • speakers built into flat-panel
  • max DVD speeds: 22x/22x/12x/16x/6x/8x/12x/16x (DVD-R/+R/-R DL/+R DL/-RW/+RW/-RAM/-ROM)
  • three-year return-to-base warranty
  • WorldBench 6 score: 123

OUR VERDICT

The CyberPower Gamer Infinity 850 has its disadvantages, but bear in mind that it costs a full £100 less than each of the top three systems. You also get an excellent three-year warranty.

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