The CyberPower Ultra Triton is the first desktop PC in a long while to enter our round-up with an AMD processor. Its A6-3650 is slower than the Intel equivalent in application performance, but offers significantly faster integrated graphics.

Although the CyberPower Ultra Triton recorded a relatively sluggish 111 points in our WorldBench 6 speed test, its A6-3650 screamed ahead of the competition in Fear, and delivered smooth gameplay at 53fps. This CPU also supports DirectX 11.0, allowing us to run our Stalker: Call of Pripyat benchmark. Here, the CyberPower recorded 30fps.

The CyberPower Ultra Triton's CPU can be overclocked if you crave more speed, although it isn’t officially sanctioned in the way that Intel’s K-suffixed Core processors are. Despite their overclockable CPUs, however, much of the competition uses H61-chipset motherboards, which prohibit this speed-boosting practice.

The CyberPower Ultra Triton is housed in a gamer-friendly Azza Orion system case, which features an angular design with a two-tone silver-and-blue finish. It has illuminated fans and a see-through side panel, and is fitted with a one-terabyte (1TB) hard drive and a generous 8GB of memory.

Peripherals include the popular AOC F22+ display and a set of Logitech external speakers. The latter offers a considerable improvement over the speakers built into the CyberPower Ultra Triton's display, but lacks a subwoofer.

The CyberPower Ultra Triton is a little noisy during operation, although the MSI motherboard’s fan-speed controls may help to alleviate this problem.

Budget PC chart ranking

  1. 1. Chillblast Fusion Neutron
    2. CyberPower Ultra Triton
    3. Palicomp Phoenix i5 Sonar Extreme
    4. Eclipse Voyager i525H61
    5. Arbico eXcel i5-2533LE

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Budget PC buying advice

Processor: Intel’s second-generation Core i5 chips have the budget category sewn up. The 3.3GHz Core i5-2500K delivers superb performance and its integrated Intel HD 3000 graphics are more than adequate for HD multimedia and low-level gaming. The non-overclockable i5-2500 is slightly cheaper and delivers the same application performance, but it features less powerful Intel HD 2000 graphics.

‘K’ versions of Intel’s Sandy Bridge processors support overclocking, but you’ll need a pricey Z68- or P67-chipset-based motherboard (the latter also requires a discrete graphics card). A Z68 chipset provides additional support for SSD caching and auto-switching graphics.

Sandy Bridge chips also provide accelerated graphics encoding, plus VGA and HDMI outputs. While integrated graphics aren’t fast enough for a true gaming PC, some titles remain playable if you lower the quality settings.

If you really want to play games, AMD’s A6 CPUs are slower in desktop applications but feature faster integrated graphics. They also support DirectX 11.0.

Memory: Expect 4GB at this price and don’t settle for less than 2GB. Most CPUs require DDR3 RAM, while older ones can also use DDR2. Check your motherboard has free slots if you plan to upgrade later.

Storage: Falling prices mean that 1TB is well within the reach of even a budget PC. You can never have too much storage space, and digital media 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 DVD+/-R 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 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.

Good-quality full-HD monitors are available even iat this price. Expect to find a 21.5in model, although these are often marketed as 22in screens. It’s best to get one with dual inputs and a digital connection (DVI, HDMI or DisplayPort), letting you get the best image quality available and hook up additional devices.

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.

Intel’s Core i3 and i5 CPUs come with integrated graphics processors that deliver better performance than older Intel integrated solutions. The new Sandy Bridge chips are even faster and offer features such as dual-monitor outputs. They also support HD video without the need for a separate graphics card. AMD’s A6 chips offer even faster graphics.

The ATI Radeon HD 5450 is a popular choice for a budget PC. It doesn’t offer a great speed advantage over Intel GMA integrated graphics, but it offers support for DirectX 11.0. Many graphics cards can also drive multiple monitors.

If you really want to play games, nVidia’s GeForce GT 240 will provide some extra speed. Be prepared to lower your graphics settings, however.

Power supply: Expect only a basic PSU at this price point. A 450W or 500W model is a good starting point.

CyberPower Ultra Triton: Specs

  • 2.6GHz AMD A6-3650
  • Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit
  • 8GB DDR3 RAM
  • 1TB SATA
  • 4 x USB 2.0
  • 4 x USB 3.0
  • MSI A75MA-G55 motherboard
  • 450W WinPower PSU
  • 21.5in AOC F22+ (0.25mm pixel pitch, 1920x1080)
  • AMD HD 6530D graphics (games scores: Fear [1024x768] = 53fps, Crysis [Low] = 23fps)
  • onboard sound
  • 2 x Logitech S120 speakers
  • 24x DVD-R/12x +R DL/6x -RW/8x +RW/12x -RAM
  • Microsoft Office Starter 2010
  • three-year return-to-base warranty (parts only)
  • WorldBench 6 score: 111
  • 2.6GHz AMD A6-3650
  • Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit
  • 8GB DDR3 RAM
  • 1TB SATA
  • 4 x USB 2.0
  • 4 x USB 3.0
  • MSI A75MA-G55 motherboard
  • 450W WinPower PSU
  • 21.5in AOC F22+ (0.25mm pixel pitch, 1920x1080)
  • AMD HD 6530D graphics (games scores: Fear [1024x768] = 53fps, Crysis [Low] = 23fps)
  • onboard sound
  • 2 x Logitech S120 speakers
  • 24x DVD-R/12x +R DL/6x -RW/8x +RW/12x -RAM
  • Microsoft Office Starter 2010
  • three-year return-to-base warranty (parts only)
  • WorldBench 6 score: 111

OUR VERDICT

The CyberPower Ultra Triton offers a real alternative to a slew of very similar Intel-based PCs. It also has superior gaming graphics.

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