With Intel's older, slower Core 2 Duo E8500 chip under the hood, the CyberPower Gamer Infinity Draco was never going to reach the top of our performance charts. It's hard to justify this purchase in the face of faster E8600-powered PCs that are available at the same price.

In contrast with the top three systems, the CyberPower Gamer Infinity Draco turns to nVidia for its graphics card, although the 896MB GeForce GTX 260 is a powerful component in its own right. Our tests favoured the HD 4890, but the GTX 260 may be faster on some games.

A 500GB hard drive and 4GB allocation of memory are fairly standard at this price point, but it's worth noting that this RAM is of the faster, more expensive DDR3 variety. This should give the CyberPower Gamer Infinity Draco the edge in memory-intensive tasks, although our performance tests didn't provide much evidence of this. CyberPower also supplies a beefy 850W power supply, which is ample for overclocking and hardware upgrades.

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The monitor supplied with the CyberPower Gamer Infinity Draco is the same 22in Digimate model as seen with the Best Buy Chillblast. It's a smart-looking budget display with a glossy finish and a digital connector that helps maintain image clarity.

And CyberPower takes top honours in its choice of system case for the Gamer Infinity Draco. The stylish Cooler Master model featured here is finished in two-tone metallic blue and glossy black.
A transparent side-panel also shows off the CyberPower Gamer Infinity Draco's illuminated interior, including a Gigabyte motherboard that's festooned with metallic blue components.

The motherboard has room for an additional two sticks of DDR3 memory and the CyberPower Gamer Infinity Draco is the only one of the group to support CrossfireX technology for a dual graphics card setup.

Chart rankings: Budget desktop PCs (October 09 issue)

  1. Chillblast Fusion Predator
  2. Arbico CD8690 XL
  3. Eclipse Spirit i86R489
  4. CyberPower Gamer Infinity Draco
  5. CyberPower Gamer Ultra HD II

>> NEXT PAGE: Budget desktop PCs buying advice

Buying advice: Budget desktop PCs (October 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 majority ?of desktop PCs in this price category.

Alternatively, go for one of Intel's latest quad-core chips, such as the Q9300 or Q9400. These processors perform well with newer applications and games.

AMD's Phenom II X4 920 and 940 also offer excellent value for money and quad-core performance, the latter being designed for easy overclocking.

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 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. 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 4890 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: 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. A monitor's built-in speakers seldom offer a satisfying audio experience.

>> NEXT PAGE: Specifications and our expert verdict

CyberPower Gamer Infinity Draco: Specs

  • 3.16GHz Intel Core 2 Duo E8500
  • Windows Vista Home Premium 64bit
  • 4GB DDR3 RAM
  • 500GB SATA
  • Gigabyte GA-EP45T-UD3P
  • 10 x USB 2.0
  • 850W WinPower PSU
  • 22in Digimate L2254WD (0.28mm pixel pitch
  • 1,680x1,050)
  • 896MB PCI Express Zotac nVidia GeForce GTX 260 (games scores: Crysis (High/Very High) = 66/23fps
  • Fear = 221fps)
  • onboard Realtek ALC889A
  • speakers built into flat-panel
  • 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: 118
  • 3.16GHz Intel Core 2 Duo E8500
  • Windows Vista Home Premium 64bit
  • 4GB DDR3 RAM
  • 500GB SATA
  • Gigabyte GA-EP45T-UD3P
  • 10 x USB 2.0
  • 850W WinPower PSU
  • 22in Digimate L2254WD (0.28mm pixel pitch
  • 1,680x1,050)
  • 896MB PCI Express Zotac nVidia GeForce GTX 260 (games scores: Crysis (High/Very High) = 66/23fps
  • Fear = 221fps)
  • onboard Realtek ALC889A
  • speakers built into flat-panel
  • 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: 118

OUR VERDICT

The stylish CyberPower Gamer Infinity Draco can't match the other PCs here in terms of performance, but it does feature a very capable graphics card and the technology to add a second card later.

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