Eclipse's Fusion i76n460 is a fast gaming machine, but we've seen budget desktop PCs with slower processors offering the same level of general performance.

Also based on the 2.8GHz Intel Core i5-760, Eclipse’s Fusion i76n460 achieved 135 points in our processing-speed benchmark. This performance is plenty fast enough, and comfortably beats the three machines placed below it in the chart, but it’s still four points less than Chillblast was able to achieve. We’ve also seen budget desktop PCs with the slower 2.66GHz version of the processor performing just as well.

Gaming performance is excellent, courtesy of a 1GB nVidia GeForce GTX 460 graphics card. This DirectX 11.0-compatible card offers all the latest features, including PhysX acceleration in supported games. It’s also noticeably faster than the 768MB version of the card found in competing systems. This enabled the Eclipse Fusion i76n460 budget desktop PC to achieve a chart-leading score of 30fps in our ‘Very High Quality’ Crysis test at 1680x1050.

As with most budget desktop PCs at this price point, you get a 1TB hard drive and 4GB of DDR3 memory. The Eclipse Fusion i76n460 also packs a beefy 800W power supply unit (PSU), and the same USB 3.0-capable Asus motherboard that we admired in the Best Buy Chillblast.

The 23in full-HD monitor isn’t supplemented with external speakers, so factor a pair into the price if you intend to use the Eclipse Fusion i76n460 budget desktop PC for playing films or music.

For a fast gaming system, the EZCool N-800D system case is a little plain: it has none of the flashy details or transparent side panels often seen. However, its glossy black finish and blue illuminated power switch lend the Eclipse Fusion i76n460 budget desktop PC an air of elegance.

Chart ranking: Budget PCs

  1. Chillblast Fusion Midas
  2. Eclipse Fusion i76n460
  3. Palicomp Core i5 Blast 760-24 USB3
  4. Arbico i5-7670 XL
  5. CyberPower Infinity i3 Apollo (repeat)

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Eclipse's Fusion i76n460 is a fast gaming machine, but we've seen budget desktop PCs with slower processors offering the same level of general performance.

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-, 800- or 900-series CPU; the newer Core i5-600 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 i7 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 more.

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, but onscreen elements will be even smaller. You may be able to get a 23.6in display at this price if you make compromises elsewhere.

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 with Crysis and Stalker: Call of Pripyat, the latter able to 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 Radeon HD 5770 and nVidia’s GeForce GTX 460 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 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 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).

>> NEXT PAGE: Specification and our expert verdict

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Eclipse Fusion i76n460: Specs

  • 2.8GHz Intel Core i5-760
  • Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit
  • 4GB DDR3 RAM
  • 1TB SATA
  • 8 x USB 2.0
  • 2 x USB 3.0
  • Asus P7P55D-E LX motherboard
  • 800W EZCool PSU
  • 23in AOC monitor (0.27mm pixel pitch
  • 1920x1080)
  • 1GB Palit nVidia GeForce GTX 460 (games scores: Crysis [High/Very High] = 80/30fps
  • Stalker: Call of Pripyat [Medium/Ultra] = 77/49fps)
  • onboard sound
  • speakers built into monitor
  • max DVD speeds: 24x/24x/12x/12x/6x/8x/16x (DVD-R/+R/-R DL/+R DL/-RW/+RW/-ROM)
  • one-year return-to-base warranty
  • WorldBench 6 score: 135
  • 2.8GHz Intel Core i5-760
  • Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit
  • 4GB DDR3 RAM
  • 1TB SATA
  • 8 x USB 2.0
  • 2 x USB 3.0
  • Asus P7P55D-E LX motherboard
  • 800W EZCool PSU
  • 23in AOC monitor (0.27mm pixel pitch
  • 1920x1080)
  • 1GB Palit nVidia GeForce GTX 460 (games scores: Crysis [High/Very High] = 80/30fps
  • Stalker: Call of Pripyat [Medium/Ultra] = 77/49fps)
  • onboard sound
  • speakers built into monitor
  • max DVD speeds: 24x/24x/12x/12x/6x/8x/16x (DVD-R/+R/-R DL/+R DL/-RW/+RW/-ROM)
  • one-year return-to-base warranty
  • WorldBench 6 score: 135

OUR VERDICT

If you’re keen on games, the Eclipse Fusion i76n460 budget desktop PC is likely to deliver the best experience – speakers notwithstanding. However, Arbico’s i5-7670 XL produced slightly faster framerates in our Stalker: Call of Pripyat tests – if your games favour ATI hardware, that PC may make a better choice.

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