The Eclipse Max i935N79-VSTA's Intel Pentium D processor reminds us of the bad old days for Intel enthusiasts - a time when AMD Athlon chips effortlessly won out on both performance and value for money. But that, as it turns out, is the one failing in an otherwise stonking sub-£500 PC from Eclipse.


  1. Arbico CD6420XL
  2. Eclipse Max i935N79-VSTA
  3. Arbico CD9600XL
  4. Mesh Elite Value PCA
  5. Zoostorm 2-3305 Versatile PC

Second place

The Eclipse's Intel Pentium D processor reminds us of the bad old days for Intel enthusiasts - a time when AMD Athlon chips effortlessly won out on both performance and value for money. And indeed, even with a mighty 3.2GHz clock speed, the Eclipse's Pentium D is put firmly in its place by the rip-snorting Core 2 Duo E6320 in the Best Buy Arbico CD6420XL. But that, as it turns out, is the one failing in an otherwise stonking sub-£500 PC from Eclipse.

For a start, the Max's performance looks a lot more appetising if your interests lean towards gaming rather than general PC work. This machine's nVidia GeForce 7900 GS graphics chip means that, even with the inferior processor, it's able to knock spots off the Arbico CD6420XL in our games tests, regularly posting scores that were several frames per second higher. The flat-panel monitor is nice, too - the HannsG HW191DP produces a steady picture that's easy on the eye. This is by no means a given when you're paying just £500 for a PC.

The Eclipse's DVD writer is sizzling and the other specifications (1GB of DDR RAM, a 250GB hard drive) match those found on the other PCs here. The sound system isn't great, of course, but none of the PCs in this Top Five excels on audio.

Some software other than a 90-day trial for Microsoft Office would have been nice. But in many ways this is an extremely good PC. Indeed, if your interest is in playing games, it's likely to be your top choice.


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