It’s unusual to find a CyberPower PC languishing in fifth place in our charts, and the Ultra Triton XT certainly isn’t a bad machine: its slower performance is quite understandable, given its £549 price tag.

It’s unusual to find a CyberPower PC languishing in fifth place in our charts, and the Ultra Triton XT certainly isn’t a bad machine: its slower performance is quite understandable, given its £549 price tag.

It’s also surprising just how much you get for your money, with the CyberPower Ultra Triton XT's 3.1GHz AMD chip powering it to a 122-point score in our WorldBench 6 real-world speed test – that’s just seven points lower the Chillblast, which costs £201 more. And you still get 4GB of DDR3 memory and a 500GB hard drive.

The Phenom II X2 500 BE includes four cores, but with two disabled it’s technically a dual-core chip. CyberPower has used its Asus motherboard to ‘unlock’ the hidden cores, effectively turning this CPU into a Phenom II X4. This operation isn’t supported by AMD and it’s possible that future Bios may reverse the alterations, so it’s pleasing to see a generous three-year warranty covering the CyberPower Ultra Triton XT.

The CyberPower Ultra Triton XT's ATI Radeon HD 5670 graphics card is considerably slower than the HD 5770 used by the more expensive systems and comes with half the video memory, but it’s still able to turn in framerates faster than the Eclipse.

The CyberPower Ultra Triton XT's supplied monitor supports a full-HD resolution, but its smaller screen size means text and icons will appear smaller than on the 23in and 24in displays supplied with the competition. Only the tiny speakers built into this monitor are provided for audio playback, although a set could be added at minimal cost.

Budget desktop PCs chart ranking

  1. Chillblast Fusion Stronghold
  2. Palicomp Core i5 Blast 750-24 Plus
  3. Arbico i5 6607 Pro
  4. Eclipse Galaxy i567r557
  5. CyberPower Ultra Triton XT

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>> Next page: Budget desktop PCs buying advice

It’s unusual to find a CyberPower PC languishing in fifth place in our charts, and the Ultra Triton XT certainly isn’t a bad machine: its slower performance is quite understandable, given its £549 price tag.

Budget desktop PCs buying advice

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

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

The dual-core Core i3 540 provides great performance and is compatible with the most up-to-date motherboards and DDR3 memory, but it lacks the integrated graphics and performance boosting features of the Core i5. 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.

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 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- 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.

Your DVD drive should write to the +/-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. 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, although onscreen elements will be even smaller.

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

We test PCs using Fear and Crysis. 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 Radeon HD 5770 and nVidia’s GeForce GTX 260 both deliver great performance and value for money, making the latest games playable if you drop the resolution and settings a notch.

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

If you don’t play games at all, you may be able to make do with the integrated graphics provided with Intel’s Core i5 600 series processors.

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: Most motherboards at this price point 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: Specification and our expert verdict

CyberPower Ultra Triton XT: Specs

  • 3.1GHz AMD Phenom II X2 550
  • Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit
  • 4GB DDR3 RAM
  • 500GB SATA
  • 6 x USB 2.0
  • Asus M4A78LT-M LE 7600G motherboard
  • WinPower 450W PSU
  • 22in AOC F22S+ (0.25mm pixel pitch
  • 1920x1080)
  • 512MB PCI Express Powercolor ATI Radeon HD 5670 (games scores: Crysis [High/Very High] = 50/16fps
  • Fear = 122fps)
  • onboard 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: 122
  • 3.1GHz AMD Phenom II X2 550
  • Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit
  • 4GB DDR3 RAM
  • 500GB SATA
  • 6 x USB 2.0
  • Asus M4A78LT-M LE 7600G motherboard
  • WinPower 450W PSU
  • 22in AOC F22S+ (0.25mm pixel pitch
  • 1920x1080)
  • 512MB PCI Express Powercolor ATI Radeon HD 5670 (games scores: Crysis [High/Very High] = 50/16fps
  • Fear = 122fps)
  • onboard 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: 122

OUR VERDICT

Provided you’re comfortable with its core-unlocking tricks, the CyberPower Ultra Triton XT should provide a great computing experience for far less money than the competition.

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