CyberPower's Gamer Infinity i5 Achilles desktop PC immediately stands out from the crowd, and not least because of its striking Xion Vulcan system case.

CyberPower's Gamer Infinity i5 Achilles immediately stands out from the crowd, and not least because of its striking Xion Vulcan system case. Clearly aimed at gamers, this machine looks as much like a disembodied robot head as it does a PC. The robot's ‘face' is hinged at one side to reveal the DVD burner and external drive bays, while a pair of USB ports are conveniently located at the top of the case.

Inside, a Gigabyte motherboard, a 500GB hard drive and 4GB of DDR3 RAM make up the robot's brain. Two free memory slots are available and CrossFireX lets you add a second graphics card to the CyberPower Gamer Infinity i5 Achilles.

In common with the top two systems in our chart, CyberPower has selected an ATI Radeon HD 4890 graphics card for the Gamer Infinity i5 Achilles. This provides very good gameplay with current titles but, unlike the Radeon HD 5770 cards found lower down the chart, the 4890 isn't compatible with the new DirectX 11.0 standard.

A standard 16:10 format 22in Digimate monitor is provided. It's a rather nice-looking display with an appearance that's suitably curvy and glossy to accompany the rather outlandish-looking case. The CyberPower Gamer Infinity i5 Achilles's image quality isn't quite up to the level of the BenQ and Acer models seen elsewhere, but it will be adequate for most users. It's another 1680x1050 screen, so full-HD resolution isn't supported. But text will appear slightly larger and be easier to read.


Budget PCs chart ranking: February 10 issue

  1. Chillblast Fusion Blade
  2. Arbico HD7590 Pro
  3. CyberPower Gamer Infinity i5 Achilles
  4. Eclipse Matrix Crossfire i786R577
  5. Mesh Matrix II 965 DX11

>> NEXT PAGE: Buying advice


CyberPower's Gamer Infinity i5 Achilles immediately stands out from the crowd, and not least because of its striking Xion Vulcan system case.


Budget desktop PCs buying advice


Processor: The arrival of Intel's Core i5 750 has changed everything in this price range, bringing with it superb quad-core performance and support for DDR3 memory. Core i5 processors use new motherboards with a different CPU socket; buying one now puts you in a good position for future upgrades. If you're lucky, you may find a faster Core i7 8XX-series CPU at this price point.

Intel's Core 2 Duo E8600 was once king of this category and is still available, but there's no reason to choose it unless you find a fantastic deal. AMD's Phenom II X4 920, 940 and 965 also offer good value for money and quad-core performance, although they can't match the Core i5 in our tests.

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.

Core i5-based PCs use DDR3 memory rather than DDR2, but there's no need to buy the chips in threes as you do with Core i7 systems.

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; always try the monitor before you buy.

Note that 19in screens offer a lower resolution than 20in/22in monitors; 22in models display larger icons. Newer 22in (16:10) flat-panels are capable of displaying full-HD content, although onscreen elements will be even smaller.

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 is fast enough for games.

Graphics cards: There's simply not room in the budget for a top-end graphics card at this price point, but you should still be able to find a decent model.

We test PCs using the four-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 and nVidia's GeForce GTX 260 both deliver great performance and value for money, making even cutting-edge games playable if you drop the resolution and settings a notch. AMD's HD 5770 is a slower card with today's games, but adds DirectX 11.0.

nVidia cards offer unique features, such as support for realistic object interactions in games supporting PhysX and the ability to display content in 3D when used with special glasses.

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.


>> NEXT PAGE: Specification and our expert verdict

CyberPower Gamer Infinity i5 Achilles: Specs

  • 2.66GHz Intel Core i5 750
  • Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit
  • 4GB DDR3 RAM
  • 500GB SATA
  • Gigabyte GA-P55M-UD2
  • 6 x USB 2.0
  • 850W WinPower PSU
  • 22in Digimate L2254WD (0.28mm pixel pitch
  • 1680x1050)
  • 1GB PCI Express ATI Radeon HD 4890 (games scores: Crysis [High/Very High] = 68/29fps
  • Fear = 252fps)
  • onboard Realtek ALC888B
  • speakers built into monitor
  • 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: 133
  • 2.66GHz Intel Core i5 750
  • Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit
  • 4GB DDR3 RAM
  • 500GB SATA
  • Gigabyte GA-P55M-UD2
  • 6 x USB 2.0
  • 850W WinPower PSU
  • 22in Digimate L2254WD (0.28mm pixel pitch
  • 1680x1050)
  • 1GB PCI Express ATI Radeon HD 4890 (games scores: Crysis [High/Very High] = 68/29fps
  • Fear = 252fps)
  • onboard Realtek ALC888B
  • speakers built into monitor
  • 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: 133

OUR VERDICT

This is in essence a crazy-looking version of Arbico’s HD7590 Pro. It uses the same processor and motherboard and delivers similar performance, if we discount the Arbico’s overclocking. We’ve placed it behind that PC because it lacks external speakers. If you already have your own speakers and like the robotic looks of the CyberPower, then the Gamer Infinity i5 Achilles will also let you enjoy an extra year of warranty protection.

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