As the first £750 PC we've seen to feature an Intel Sandy Bridge processor, the CyberPower Infinity Achilles is blistering.

Due to a problem with the chipsets on some Intel Sandy Bridge motherboards, there may be problems with supply for this model. Check with the manfacturer to make sure. For full details, see: Intel Sandy Bridge recall: what you need to know.

As the first PC in this chart to specify one of Intel’s brand-new ‘Sandy Bridge’ processors, the Core i5-2400, the CyberPower Infinity Achilles is untouchable for raw performance. Its quad-core processor has a 3.1GHz clock speed, and benefits from an updated version of Turbo Boost – tech that can slightly increase the clock speed of multiple cores, or take a single core to 3.4GHz, when the machine is under load.

The CPU demands a new motherboard architecture, and CyberPower has selected an H67-chipset-based Gigabyte model for its Infinity Achilles desktop PC. This board supports SATA 6Gbps and a second graphics card, although only one can run at full X16-speed. The motherboard doesn’t support USB 3.0.

We recorded 149 points in WorldBench 6, which is nine points more than the CyberPower Infinity Achilles desktop PC’s closest rival, and the highest score we’ve seen in this category.

The money spent on a fast processor has forced CyberPower to compromise on the graphics, however. The supplied ATI Radeon HD 5770 can’t keep up with the HD 6850s and 6870s provided by the competition, and the CyberPower Infinity Achilles desktop PC recorded the slowest gaming scores here.

A 23.6in HKC 2249A monitor is included – a popular choice in this category, due to its reasonable overall quality and low price. It supports full-HD playback, although the CyberPower Infinity Achilles desktop PC isn't supplied with a Blu-ray drive.

Also included in the CyberPower Infinity Achilles desktop PC's specification is a 1TB hard drive, 4GB of RAM, and a set of Logitech stereo speakers with an auxiliary bass speaker.

Budget PCs chart ranking

  1. Chillblast Fusion Corona
  2. CyberPower Infinity Achilles
  3. Palicomp Core i5 Blast 760-24 6870
  4. Eclipse Starburst i576r687
  5. Arbico i576 HD

>> NEXT PAGE: Buying advice

As the first £750 PC we've seen to feature an Intel Sandy Bridge processor, the CyberPower Infinity Achilles is blisteringly fast.

Budget PCs buying advice

Processor: Intel’s ‘Sandy Bridge’ CPUs are set to revolutionise all our PC chart categories. The 3.1GHz Core i5-2400 seen here delivers formidable performance. The processors demand a new type of motherboard, so buying into this technology now will future-proof your PC.

Previous-generation processors such as the Core i5-760 still offer excellent value and leave more money in the budget to spend on Blu-ray drives, powerful graphics and other components.

If you want a quad-core PC, look for a Core i5-700-, 800- or 900-series CPU; Core i5-600-series chips are dual-core.

Quad-core processors offer greater multiprocessing capabilities, but the higher clock speeds of dual-core chips mean they can run single-threaded applications faster. Non-gamers should note that their integrated graphics chips will allow them to play full-HD video without a discrete graphics card.

AMD’s quad-core Phenom II X4 920, 940 and 965 also offer good value, although they can’t match the Core i5 in our tests. Some AMD processors contain hidden extra cores that can be enabled in the Bios. Ensure that any tweaks are backed by the vendor.

Memory: If a fast CPU speeds up your PC, a large bank of memory stops it from slowing down. Get the most out of your CPU with 4GB of RAM. You can get by with 2GB, however.

Core i5- and i7-800-series CPUs use DDR3 memory rather than DDR2, but there’s no need to buy the chips in threes (as you do with i7-900-series CPUs).

Storage: Photos and video will quickly fill a reasonably sized hard drive; choose a PC with the most capacious drive you can. Expect at least 500GB at this price.

Consider using a pair of smaller hard drives rather than one large drive – a terabyte (1TB) is a huge amount of information to lose in one go.

With prices falling all the time, you may find a solid-state disk (SSD) affordable. An SSD’s faster file transfers can transform your computing experience, but make sure you get one at least 60GB in capacity and install your programs on a second drive if you want to avoid running into drive-space problems.

Your DVD drive should write to the +/-R formats at 18-speed or above. Eight-speed rewriting is good; if you want to copy up to 8.5GB at once, look for fast DVD+/-R dual-layer drives. Blu-ray readers are becoming more affordable, but they’re still quite rare at this price.

Display: Note that 19in screens offer a lower resolution than 20in/22in monitors; 22in models display larger icons. Newer 21.6in (16:9) flat-panels are capable of displaying full-HD content, but onscreen elements will be even smaller. You’ll find many budget 23.6in displays at this price.

A DVI or HDMI connector will provide a considerably better image than a VGA port; 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: We test graphics framerates with Crysis and Stalker: Call of Pripyat. The latter can benchmark DirectX 11.0-capable graphics cards. 25fps is enough to make a game playable, but set your sights at 50fps.

ATI’s Radeon HD 6850 offers excellent performance for the money. Cut back on other components and step up to a Radeon HD 6870 if gaming is very important to you.

nVidia’s GeForce GTX 460 also offers good performance. nVidia cards offer support for realistic object interactions in games supporting PhysX and are able to display 3D content.

If you don’t play games at all, you’ll be fine with the integrated graphics of Intel’s Core i5-600-series processors.

Power supply: A 450W-plus power supply unit (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: To get surround sound, look for a 5.1-channel system (five speakers and a subwoofer).

>> NEXT PAGE: Specification and our expert verdict

CyberPower Infinity Achilles: Specs

  • 3.1GHz Intel Core i5-2400
  • Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit
  • 4GB DDR3 RAM
  • 1TB SATA
  • 12 x USB 2.0
  • Gigabyte GA-PH67-UD3 motherboard
  • 600W Xtremegear PSU
  • 23.6in HKC 2249A (0.27mm pixel pitch
  • 1920x1080)
  • 1GB Powercolor ATI Radeon HD 5770 (games scores: Crysis [High/Very High] = 73/26fps
  • Stalker: Call of Pripyat [Medium/Ultra] = 116/56fps)
  • onboard Realtek ALC892 sound
  • 2 x Logitech S220 and subwoofer
  • 24x/24x/12x/16x/6x/8x/12x/16x (DVD-R/+R/-R DL/+R DL/-RW/+RW/-RAM/-ROM)
  • three-year labour warranty
  • WorldBench 6 score: 149
  • 3.1GHz Intel Core i5-2400
  • Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit
  • 4GB DDR3 RAM
  • 1TB SATA
  • 12 x USB 2.0
  • Gigabyte GA-PH67-UD3 motherboard
  • 600W Xtremegear PSU
  • 23.6in HKC 2249A (0.27mm pixel pitch
  • 1920x1080)
  • 1GB Powercolor ATI Radeon HD 5770 (games scores: Crysis [High/Very High] = 73/26fps
  • Stalker: Call of Pripyat [Medium/Ultra] = 116/56fps)
  • onboard Realtek ALC892 sound
  • 2 x Logitech S220 and subwoofer
  • 24x/24x/12x/16x/6x/8x/12x/16x (DVD-R/+R/-R DL/+R DL/-RW/+RW/-RAM/-ROM)
  • three-year labour warranty
  • WorldBench 6 score: 149

OUR VERDICT

The CyberPower Infinity Achilles is a compelling desktop PC that earns a Recommended badge. It incorporates some of the latest components. However, some compromises have been made: it’s not the best setup for gaming or watching HD films.

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