In many ways an inferior system to the Arbico CD6750 SX and Advance Technologies AT-FX Air+, the Eclipse Fusion i670A385HD has one stand-out component: the Radeon HD 3850 graphics card. Given the price of good cards, you shouldn’t expect visual fireworks when your entire system costs just £500, but the HD 3850 manages to pull off some decent framerates. Indeed, you could even have a shot at some DirectX 10.0 games with it. If games are your priority and £500 is your limit, the 3850 alone is enough to make the Eclipse Fusion i670A385HD the best PC for you.

In other respects, the Eclipse Fusion i670A385HD is adequate but unexceptional. Its 19in Yuraku screen is proficient, but we prefer the interesting features and colour palette of the Arbico CD6750 SX’s Hannspree. That PC also beats the Eclipse Fusion i670A385HD on processing speed, powering ahead by an impressive three points in WorldBench 6 testing.

Verdict

There are larger hard drives elsewhere, while the first- and third-placed PCs offer faster DVD writers. Neither is the Eclipse Fusion i670A385HD well stocked on features, with its skimpy software bundle and warranty leaving it trailing behind Arbico and Advance Technologies. For the gamer, though, such niggles will be over-ridden by the need for gaming speed. In that respect the Eclipse Fusion i670A385HD roars away from its rivals.

Budget PCs chart ranking (March 08 issue)


  1. Arbico CD6750 SX
  2. Eclipse Fusion i670A385HD
  3. Advance Technologies AT-FX Air+
  4. CyberPower Gamer Ultra 550 - last month 2
  5. Eclipse Mirage Sli a60n86GT - last month 3


See also:
Eclipse Fusion i670A385HD: expert review
Budget PCs chart ranking
Budget PCs buying advice

Budget PCs buying advice (March 08 issue)

Processor You’re not going to get the fastest processors at this price, but many of today’s chips are powerful enough to make light work of standard applications – and there are some excellent, affordable processors around if you can find them.

This month’s Core 2 Duo E6750 is a stand-out component, and plenty of cheaper systems use the decent E6500 and E6550 chips. The Athlon 64 X2 6000+ is also an option, and has fared pretty well in its outings to date. Don’t be fooled into buying an older Intel Pentium D, though. They have dual-core facilities, but their performance is a long way behind today’s Core 2 Duo range.

Memory In this Vista-dominated age, 2GB has almost become a requirement. You may be able to make do with 1GB, but we wouldn’t recommend it – with applications only moving in one direction, you shouldn’t compromise in this area. Check you’re getting the full benefit of the memory – some onboard graphics controllers use system memory, which will ultimately slow your system down.

Storage You can never have too much storage space. Digital media content such as video and music files will quickly fill a reasonably sized hard drive, so buy the biggest you can. A 250GB drive is a good investment that you won’t regret.

It helps to keep large files archived on DVD, so make sure the PC has a DVD burner. Look for a drive that can write to the –R/+R formats at rates of at least 16-speed. If you want to copy up to 8.5GB at once, look for a drive with DVD-R DL or +R DL. Write speeds on these tend to be lower, but you should look for an absolute minimum of six-speed on one of the formats. Realistically, you ought to be aiming for eight-speed.

Flat-panel Compromises have to be made to keep the price of a PC down, and the monitor is often where the sacrifices start. Just remember that this is the part of the PC that you’re going to be spending most of your time looking at.

All the PCs in our charts now come with flat-panels. The most common size is currently 19in – you should be very careful when considering going above this size because the quality is unlikely to be good enough under these sorts of price constraints. We don’t see many CRTs now, but they’re still a pretty good deal if you can find them – provided you can put up with the bulky casing, the colour depth on these displays tends to be better than you get on flat-panels.

Graphics cards Given that the best graphics cards can retail for £300 or £400, fervent gamers are unlikely to be best served by a sub-£500 PC. Nonetheless, the cream of the crop do tend to come with decent cards.

You should still be looking for PCs that can produce 50 frames per second (fps) if you’re going to be playing games – 70fps or 80fps is better still. Today’s chip of choice is the Radeon HD 3850. This card is faster than anything else that you’re likely to get at this price point.

The GeForce 8600s are a good alternative. They can support DirectX 10.0, although they’re unlikely to be powerful enough to make the most of tomorrow’s DirectX 10.0 games. They have plenty of pace to tackle today’s games.

Sound card and speakers You’re unlikely to get a standalone sound card at this price – it’s an area where vendors try to cut costs. Most motherboards have decent built-in audio chips that can handle six-channel sound, but to get the best out of them you’ll need a 5.1 speaker system. Unfortunately, there’s a good chance you won’t get anything better than a 2.1 system in this category – indeed, you won’t necessarily get a subwoofer or speakers at all.


See also:
Eclipse Fusion i670A385HD: expert review
Budget PCs chart ranking
Budget PCs buying advice

Eclipse Fusion i670A385HD: Specs

  • 2.66GHz Intel Core 2 Duo E6750
  • Windows Vista Home Premium
  • 2GB DDR RAM
  • 160GB serial ATA
  • Asus ConRoe1333-GLAN
  • 6 x USB
  • 19in Yuraku YM19APR (0.284mm pixel pitch, 1,440x900 max resolution @ 75Hz)
  • 256MB PCI Express Sapphire ATI Radeon HD 3850
  • onboard Realtek HD
  • speakers built into flat-panel
  • subwoofer
  • 18x/18x/8x/8x/6x/8x/12x/16x (DVD-R/+R/-R DL/+R DL/-RW/+RW/-RAM/-ROM)
  • one-year return-to-base plus 30-day premier warranty
  • WorldBench 6 score: 96
  • 2.66GHz Intel Core 2 Duo E6750
  • Windows Vista Home Premium
  • 2GB DDR RAM
  • 160GB serial ATA
  • Asus ConRoe1333-GLAN
  • 6 x USB
  • 19in Yuraku YM19APR (0.284mm pixel pitch, 1,440x900 max resolution @ 75Hz)
  • 256MB PCI Express Sapphire ATI Radeon HD 3850
  • onboard Realtek HD
  • speakers built into flat-panel
  • subwoofer
  • 18x/18x/8x/8x/6x/8x/12x/16x (DVD-R/+R/-R DL/+R DL/-RW/+RW/-RAM/-ROM)
  • one-year return-to-base plus 30-day premier warranty
  • WorldBench 6 score: 96

OUR VERDICT

There are larger hard drives elsewhere, while the first- and third-placed PCs offer faster DVD writers. Neither is the Eclipse Fusion i670A385HD well stocked on features, with its skimpy software bundle and warranty leaving it trailing behind Arbico and Advance Technologies. For the gamer, though, such niggles will be over-ridden by the need for gaming speed. In that respect the Eclipse Fusion i670A385HD roars away from its rivals.

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