It's nice to see a decent software package being offered with the Arbico CD8800 XL.


  1. CyberPower Infinity Crossfire GT
  2. Arbico CD8800 XL
  3. Mesh Elite E6700 GTS PCA
  4. Mesh Elite Q6600 PCA
  5. Evesham Axis R6 XT

Second place

The Arbico may have slipped to second but, in truth, it was an extremely close call. Given the extra quality of the Samsung flat-panel, we rate the CyberPower as a fantastic overall deal with no weak areas whatsoever. However, the Arbico isn't too far behind. Indeed, in some areas it surpasses the CyberPower.

The CD8800XL's stand-out feature is clearly its graphics card, and the GeForce 8800 GTX is actually the most powerful card in the PC charts. We're impressed with the new ATI HD 2900 XT, but this card was never designed to compete head on with the GTX and, as such, the Arbico wins the prize for fastest game speeds.

It's a bit surprising, therefore, that the Arbico doesn't quite match the overall Windows Vista performance of the CyberPower and, despite teaming up an Intel Core 2 Duo E6700 with 2GB of DDR RAM, the Arbico can only manage 109 WorldBench points. This is still a very good performance, but it doesn't quite get on level terms with the sublime CyberPower.

The V7 flat-panel is quite pleasant. It's not the most vibrant or sharpest screen we've seen yet, and certainly doesn't compare the CyberPower's high-calibre Samsung TFT, but its 20 inches of viewing area and smooth resolution support are still quite commendable. The sound is very impressive, with Creative's gorgeous X-Fi XtremeAudio and Cyber Acoustics CA5150 speakers combining to good effect - even if the CyberPower is, again, slightly better - while the DVD writer is also close to being at the top of its game.

Buying advice

Processor: Intel is back and its Core 2 Duo chips are quickly establishing themselves as the best in every category. The £1,000+ chart is no exception, and while prices haven't fallen significantly enough for 6800 to make an appearance, the E6700 is rapidly taking over the top five. A reasonably new contender, though, are the Quad-Core chips. These potentially offer around 50-100% extra performance, but only in applications and games that are programmed to take advantage of the extra cores included within each chip. Don't expect multi-core applications to be flooding in, but a couple of years time could have seen a rather dramatic shift in the software landscape. And then, the higher the number of cores, the more impressive the performance is likely to be. In today's world, though, the likes of the E6700 remain better bets.

Memory: Make no mistake about it. The age of the 2GB PC is almost upon us. If you skimp on memory now, you might find yourself having to administer a critical upgrade later on. Given the power and juggling space required by 2007's software titles, 1GB Power PCs won't cut it in the Vista era. If you really want the best performance, look for a high quality memory maker like Corsair.

Storage: It's unbelievable that anything less than 400GB is now considered a small amount of storage space but look out our chart and you'll see most manufacturers looking in the region of 400GB to 500GB. You're unlikely to get - and, unless you specialize in a particularly gigabyte-hungry pastime like video, won't really need - much more than this. Make sure you get serial ATA cabling for rapid transfer rates
Have backup covered with a multi-format DVD writer. Dual layer capabilities (allowing you to store 8.5GB rather than 4.7GB on a disc) are a must, and you should make sure the drive supports DVD+R DL at eight-speed or more. 8x DVD-R DL is nice but not essential. Also, look for good eight-speed DVD+RW facilities. Other optional formats include DVD-RAM.

Monitor: You'd think all of the flat-panels found in this category would be of superior quality. But you'd be miserably mistaken. No chart offers such a range of flat-panel shapes and sizes. A 22in model may sound nice, but be very careful that you choose a good one. Many of today's 22in flat-panels suffer from poor colours and fuzzy images and, depending on how sensitive you are, this might cause more than a few problems. 20in screens are safer bets, if you don't mind inferior resolution support. 19in models are becoming more outdated, although you might get better image quality if you don't mind going to this size.

Graphics card: At this price point, you should be able to get something rather startling. The GeForce 8800 GTX is undoubtedly the most prized acquisition. Its support for DirectX 10 means that Vistaites can look forwards to some impressive games titles coming out in the future. The GTX also has bags of performance and a slew of sizzling features. However, you shouldn't overlook its slightly less exciting sibling, the 8800 GTS, nor the brand new ATI HD 2900 XT. The latter card can't keep up with the GTX, but it will eclipse even the 640MB version of the 8800 GTS.

Sound card and speakers: Onboard or integrated sound has come on in leaps and bounds with support for 7.1 channel sound but it's still no match for a decent soundcard. Hunt around and you should be able to get a PC with a Creative Audigy card or, better still, one from the excellent X-Fi range. If you only want 2.1 channel speakers then make sure they're high quality but most manufacturers are bundling 5.1 channel speakers. Strangely, 7.1 speakers are becoming less and less common, but if you want audio excellence then you'd be best off holding out for a set of these.

Arbico CD8800 XL: Specs

  • 2.66GHz Intel Core 2 Duo E6700
  • Windows Vista Home Premium
  • 2GB DDR RAM
  • 2 x 250GB serial ATA
  • Gigabyte GA-965P motherboard
  • 6 USB ports
  • 20in V7 S20PD flat-panel, 0.292mm pixel pitch, 1,400x1,050 maximum resolution
  • 768MB nVidia GeForce 8800 GTX, PCI Express
  • Creative SB X-Fi XtremeAudio sound card
  • 5 x Cyber Acoustics CA5150 speakers
  • maximum DVD speeds 16x/18x/18x (DVD -ROM/-R/+R) 8x/8x (-R DL/+R DL) 8x/8x/12x (-RW/+RW/-RAM)
  • includes Microsoft Works 8.5, Ahead Nero, CyberLink PowerDVD
  • 1-year collect-and-return, 2-year RTB warranty
  • WorldBench 6 score 109
  • 2.66GHz Intel Core 2 Duo E6700
  • Windows Vista Home Premium
  • 2GB DDR RAM
  • 2 x 250GB serial ATA
  • Gigabyte GA-965P motherboard
  • 6 USB ports
  • 20in V7 S20PD flat-panel, 0.292mm pixel pitch, 1,400x1,050 maximum resolution
  • 768MB nVidia GeForce 8800 GTX, PCI Express
  • Creative SB X-Fi XtremeAudio sound card
  • 5 x Cyber Acoustics CA5150 speakers
  • maximum DVD speeds 16x/18x/18x (DVD -ROM/-R/+R) 8x/8x (-R DL/+R DL) 8x/8x/12x (-RW/+RW/-RAM)
  • includes Microsoft Works 8.5, Ahead Nero, CyberLink PowerDVD
  • 1-year collect-and-return, 2-year RTB warranty
  • WorldBench 6 score 109

OUR VERDICT

It's nice to see a decent software package being offered with the Arbico, and if you don't want the superior flat-panel and slightly better Windows performance of the CyberPower, then the purchase of this PC will let you help yourself to some better game frame rates - and you'll save £50 at the same time.

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