The CyberPower Infinity i3 Apollo XT budget desktop PC's striking looks will appeal to gamers, but can its internals live up to this strong first impression?

The CyberPower Infinity i3 Apollo XT budget desktop PC is an eye-catching machine. It won’t suit all tastes, but its metallic blue finish and transparent side panel give it a more expensive look that’s sure to impress gamers.

Sadly, the CyberPower Infinity i3 Apollo XT budget desktop PC's internals will not: the 2.93GHz Intel Core i3-530 is a perfectly good CPU for a budget PC, but similarly priced systems from Arbico, Eclipse and Palicomp come with the faster, 3.06GHz version of the processor.

The CyberPower Infinity i3 Apollo XT budget desktop PC comes with 2GB of DDR3 RAM. This is the bare minimum for running Windows 7, and every other PC here has twice as much. Supplied as it is in a single stick, you’ll miss out on the performance boost of using twin memory channels – but you’ll have an easy upgrade path should you wish to add more.

CyberPower relies on the integrated graphics of its Core i3 processor for gaming. This will provide enough power for running Windows’ Aero interface and playing HD video, but the integrated graphics eat into system memory – we found the CyberPower Infinity i3 Apollo XT budget desktop PC left only 1,787MB of RAM available for Windows.

It thus came as no surprise that the CyberPower Infinity i3 Apollo XT budget desktop PC turned in the slowest performance results of the group, with a WorldBench 6 score of 120 points. Its integrated graphics did manage to keep up with the HD 5450 graphics cards supplied by Arbico and Palicomp, however, albeit at rather unimpressive speeds of 19fps.

A rather nice 22in HKC monitor is supplied with the CyberPower Infinity i3 Apollo XT budget desktop PC. This delivers a full-HD resolution and comes with VGA and DVI inputs.

Budget PCs chart ranking

  1. Palicomp Core i3 Blast 540-22 USB3
  2. Chillblast Fusion Assassin
  3. Eclipse Solar i54r567
  4. Arbico i3-5445 XL
  5. CyberPower Infinity i3 Apollo XT

>> NEXT PAGE: Buying advice

More desktop PC reviews
Group test: What's the best desktop PC?
Group test: What's the best £1,000 PC?
Group test: What's the best PC for £750?
Group test: What's the best budget PC?

The CyberPower Infinity i3 Apollo XT budget desktop PC's striking looks will appeal to gamers, but can its internals live up to this strong first impression?

Budget PCs buying advice

Processor: Intel’s Core i3 processor has the sub-£500 PC category sewn up. This issue we have examples ranging from the 2.93GHz Core i3-530 to the 3.2GHz Core i3-550. These chips have integrated graphics processors, which let vendors build a capable system at lower cost by omitting a discrete graphics card.

AMD’s Phenom II X2 550 is another good choice of CPU for a budget PC, while quad-core processors can be found from both Intel and AMD at this price point. The AMD Athlon X4 630 and Intel Core 2 Quad Q8300 are good examples.

Memory: In the post-Vista era, 2GB of RAM is essential. The majority of sub-£500 PCs are now fitted with 4GB.

Some CPUs require DDR3 RAM, while others can use either this or DDR2. DDR3 memory is getting cheaper and bodes well for performance. Check your motherboard has free memory slots if you plan to upgrade later.

Storage: Expect up to 500GB at this price point, although you can never have too much storage space. Digital media content will quickly fill a reasonably sized drive. Hard-drive space is easy to add later, however.

If you’re planning to upgrade hard drives internally, ensure that you’ve got spare drive bays inside your PC’s case.

Get a drive that can write to the KR formats at 16-speed or better. If you want to get 8.5GB on to one disc, get a drive that can write to dual-layer discs (+/-R DL) at 12- and eight-speed respectively.

Flat-panel: It’s the component you’ll be spending all your time looking at, but PC makers often compromise on the monitor.

All the PCs in our chart come with flat-panels. The most common size is 19in – the quality of larger monitors is unlikely to be good at this price. Look for a monitor with a DVI or HDMI digital connector to ensure the best picture quality. Make sure the PC has one, too.

If display size or quality is of critical importance to you – and you’re willing to cut costs elsewhere – you may be able to get a 22in 1080p flat-panel.

Graphics card: With the best graphics cards retailing for more than £300, a sub-£500 PC is unlikely to satisfy a hardcore gamer. However, decent graphics cards get cheaper all the time, and budget PCs can now handle games that were unthinkable a few months ago.

ATI’s HD 5670 is a popular choice for a budget PC, but you may be able to find an HD 5850 if you shop around. This will give you better performance, but may require compromises elsewhere.

For nVidia and ATI cards, look for a 1GB rather than 512MB version. And if you don’t play games, consider a PC that relies on integrated graphics.

Intel’s Core i3 and i5 CPUs come with graphics processors that deliver around double the performance of older integrated solutions. These PCs support HD video and Windows 7’s Aero effects.

Lower-spec cards such as the HD 5450 don’t offer a great speed advantage over Intel integrated graphics, but do offer DirectX 11.0 support. Many can also drive multiple monitors, so you can hook up your TV and display at the same time.

Power supply: Expect only a basic PSU at this price point. Without power-hungry components installed, there’s simply no need for a more powerful supply. A 450W or 500W model is a good starting point.

Sound card and speakers: You’re unlikely to get a standalone sound card at this price point. Most motherboards can handle six-channel sound.

>> NEXT PAGE: Specification and our expert verdict

More desktop PC reviews
Group test: What's the best desktop PC?
Group test: What's the best £1,000 PC?
Group test: What's the best PC for £750?
Group test: What's the best budget PC?

CyberPower Infinity i3 Apollo XT: Specs

  • 2.93GHz Intel Core i3-530
  • Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit
  • 2GB DDR3 RAM
  • 500GB SATA
  • 8 x USB 2.0
  • Gigabyte A-H55M-S2H motherboard
  • 450W WinPower PSU
  • 22in HKC (0.25mm pixel pitch
  • 1920x1080)
  • Intel GMA 500 (games scores: Fear [1024x768] = 19fps)
  • onboard Realtek ALC888B sound
  • 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: 120
  • 2.93GHz Intel Core i3-530
  • Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit
  • 2GB DDR3 RAM
  • 500GB SATA
  • 8 x USB 2.0
  • Gigabyte A-H55M-S2H motherboard
  • 450W WinPower PSU
  • 22in HKC (0.25mm pixel pitch
  • 1920x1080)
  • Intel GMA 500 (games scores: Fear [1024x768] = 19fps)
  • onboard Realtek ALC888B sound
  • 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: 120

OUR VERDICT

This is a good-looking Windows 7 computer with plenty of upgrade potential, but the CyberPower Infinity i3 Apollo XT budget desktop PC can’t compete on value for money.

Find the best price