With the best all-round spec in the group, DinoPC’s Elmisaur 760 desktop PC delivers excellent performance and still costs £14 less than the competition.

With the best all-round spec in the group, DinoPC’s Elmisaur 760 desktop PC delivers excellent performance and still costs £14 less than the competition.

Intel’s 2.8GHz Core i5-760 is found at the heart of every machine on test, but it puts in one of its better showings here, with the DinoPC Elmisaur 760 desktop PC achieving 135 points in WorldBench 6.

The 25in Hanns-G monitor is considerably better – and larger – than rival displays. DinoPC has maximised this screen’s potential with a pair of stereo speakers and the unique inclusion of a Blu-ray drive. For watching HD films, nothing here can touch the DinoPC Elmisaur 760 desktop PC.

A more surprising inclusion is the DinoPC Elmisaur 760 desktop PC’s speedy Crucial solid-state disk (SSD) – although, at only 60GB, storage is necessarily supplemented with a 500GB hard drive. SSDs can significantly improve all aspects of a PC’s performance.

It’s inevitable that DinoPC would need to cut a few corners to include these high-spec components, and its combined storage of 560GB is significantly less than the one terabyte (1TB) and 1.5TB capacities of the competition. Its Asus motherboard doesn’t support USB 3.0 or 6 gigabits per second (Gbps) SATA – the latter would help the DinoPC Elmisaur 760 desktop PC's SSD operate at its full potential.

For gamers, the main compromise is the graphics card. ATI’s Radeon HD 5770 offers DirectX 11.0 and multiple display outputs, but it’s noticeably slower than the HD 6850 and 6870 selected by the DinoPC Elmisaur 760 desktop PC's rivals.

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

?With the best all-round spec in the group, DinoPC’s Elmisaur 760 desktop PC delivers excellent performance and still costs £14 less than the competition.

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

DinoPC Elmisaur 760: Specs

  • 2.8GHz Intel Core i5-760
  • Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit
  • 4GB DDR3 RAM
  • 500GB SATA
  • 60GB SSD
  • 8 x USB 2.0
  • Asus P7H55-M SI motherboard
  • 500W EZCool PSU
  • 25in Hanns-G HH251DPB (0.28mm pixel pitch
  • 1920x1080)
  • 1GB Asus ATI Radeon HD 5770 (games scores: Crysis [High/Very High] = 67/26fps
  • Stalker: Call of Pripyat [Medium/Ultra] = 111/52fps)
  • onboard sound
  • 2 x Gigabyte GP-S4600 speakers
  • 4x BD-ROM
  • 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: 135
  • 2.8GHz Intel Core i5-760
  • Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit
  • 4GB DDR3 RAM
  • 500GB SATA
  • 60GB SSD
  • 8 x USB 2.0
  • Asus P7H55-M SI motherboard
  • 500W EZCool PSU
  • 25in Hanns-G HH251DPB (0.28mm pixel pitch
  • 1920x1080)
  • 1GB Asus ATI Radeon HD 5770 (games scores: Crysis [High/Very High] = 67/26fps
  • Stalker: Call of Pripyat [Medium/Ultra] = 111/52fps)
  • onboard sound
  • 2 x Gigabyte GP-S4600 speakers
  • 4x BD-ROM
  • 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: 135

OUR VERDICT

DinoPC’s Elmisaur 760 desktop PC offers fantastic value, with a large full-HD screen, a Blu-ray drive and external speakers. It can’t be beaten for HD film playback, but gamers will demand more.

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