Although it places below the other budget PCs on test, CyberPower’s Infinity Hercules is by no means a poor choice. Like its rivals, it runs Intel's popular Core i5-760 processor.

Although it sits in fifth place, CyberPower’s Infinity Hercules desktop PC is by no means a poor choice. Like all the machines here, it runs a 2.8GHz Intel Core i5-760 processor. Its performance in our WorldBench 6 real-world speed test matched the Arbico at 133 points and beat the Palicomp, which scored 130.

However, the CyberPower Infinity Hercules desktop PC is no match for the WorldBench performance of the Chillblast Fusion Black Ops, nor can it offer the smooth desktop experience of the SSD-equipped DinoPC Elmisaur 760.

The CyberPower Infinity Hercules desktop PC uses a cheaper system case than those supplied with the competition, although you wouldn’t know it by looking at the Thermaltake V3. Matt black inside and out, and fitted with a trio of blue illuminated fans and a windowed side-panel, this case looks great and offers good provisions for cooling.

The spec includes a standard 4GB of DDR3 RAM and a 1TB hard drive. Whereas most of the competition supply 23.6in monitors, the CyberPower Infinity Hercules desktop PC comes with a 22in LG screen. Although smaller and lacking a DVI connection, it offers a full-HD resolution and an energy-efficient LED backlight.

nVidia’s GeForce GTX 460 is a very good graphics card when paired in a dual-card solution, but the single 768MB version used by the CyberPower Infinity Hercules desktop PC is outpaced by the Radeon HD 6850 and left standing by the 6870.

Budget PCs chart ranking

  1. DinoPC Elmisaur 760
  2. Palicomp Core i5 Blast 760-24 6870
  3. Chillblast Fusion Black Ops
  4. Arbico i5 7668 Pro
  5. CyberPower Infinity Hercules

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NEXT PAGE: Buying advice

Although it places below the other budget PCs on test, CyberPower’s Infinity Hercules is by no means a poor choice. Like its rivals, it runs Intel's popular Core i5-760 processor.

Budget PCs buying advice

Processor: Intel’s latest naming scheme is confusing: if you want a quad-core PC, look for a Core i5-700-, 800- or 900-series CPU; the newer Core 5-600-series chips are dual-core.

Quad-core chips 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.

Intel’s 2.8GHz quad-core Core i5-760 is the current king of the £501-£750 desktop PCs category and is compatible with the most up-to-date motherboards and DDR3 memory.

AMD’s quad-core Phenom II X4 920, 940 and 965 also offer good value for money, 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 systems.

Storage: Digital media will quickly fill a reasonably sized hard drive; buy the biggest you can afford. At least 500GB should be expected at this price point.

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. The extra performance provided can transform your computing experience, but make sure you get one at least 60GB in size 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 KR 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. 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 will now find many budget 23.6in displays available 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. Although 25fps is enough to make a game playable, you can set your sights higher at this price point – look for 50fps.

Current pricing will limit you in this area, but ATI’s new 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, consider using only the integrated graphics of Intel’s Core i5-600-series processors.

Power supply: A large 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: Most motherboards in this chart category depend on onboard sound. To get surround sound, look for a 5.1-channel system (five speakers and a subwoofer).

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NEXT PAGE: Expert verdict and specification

CyberPower Infinity Hercules: Specs

  • 2.8GHz Intel Core i5-760
  • Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit
  • 4GB DR3 RAM
  • 1TB SATA
  • 6 x USB 2.0
  • 2 x USB 3.0
  • Asus P7P55D-E LX motherboard
  • 800W Xtremegear PSU
  • 22in LG E2240S-PN (0.25mm pixel pitch
  • 1920x1080)
  • 768MB Palit nVidia GeForce GTX 460 (games scores: Crysis [High/Very High] = 80/28fps
  • Stalker: Call of Pripyat [Medium/Ultra] = 138/66fps)
  • onboard VIA VT17085 sound
  • speakers built into monitor
  • 24x/24x/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
  • 2.8GHz Intel Core i5-760
  • Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit
  • 4GB DR3 RAM
  • 1TB SATA
  • 6 x USB 2.0
  • 2 x USB 3.0
  • Asus P7P55D-E LX motherboard
  • 800W Xtremegear PSU
  • 22in LG E2240S-PN (0.25mm pixel pitch
  • 1920x1080)
  • 768MB Palit nVidia GeForce GTX 460 (games scores: Crysis [High/Very High] = 80/28fps
  • Stalker: Call of Pripyat [Medium/Ultra] = 138/66fps)
  • onboard VIA VT17085 sound
  • speakers built into monitor
  • 24x/24x/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

A smaller monitor than the competition and a lack of premium components has left the CyberPower Infinity Hercules desktop PC struggling to make an impression in our chart.

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