Generally, the Arbico CD6880 XL does everything well, but it doesn't excel in any one area. And that makes it hard to recommend.


  1. JAL Andromeda
  2. Eclipse Matrix i67N88-VSTA
  3. Zoostorm 2-5406 Advanced PC
  4. Arbico CD6880 XL
  5. Eclipse Ultimate i66GT-VSTA

Fouth place

Fourth place might suggest that the Arbico was in some way deficient. That, perhaps, there was some glaring omission that sent it spiralling to defeat. In fact, this is very far from the truth. It's just that, while the other PCs in the top three have something that makes them special (be that price, performance or quad-core technology), the Arbico is bereft of originality and flair.

Like half of the remaining PCs, the Arbico makes use of the Intel Core 2 Duo E6600 chip. And like its rivals, it pairs this very solid chip with 2GB of DDR RAM. The resulting WorldBench score of 95 is very palatable, and there's little doubt that this PC will go through your workload as capably as most of the other PCs here.

It'll also offer you a picture that's fairly easy on the eye, and if the HannsG HU196DP isn't a widescreen flat-panel, then at least it offers a steady picture and a pleasing colour palette. The 320MB 8800 GTS is actually a rather good graphics chip, but it is also found in the Eclipse and, thanks to that machine's superior processor, it makes a better job of games than the Arbico. The sound system is unspectacular although we do love the 20-speed DVD writer.


Buying advice

Processor: Dual-core is the way to go for prospective PC buyers. The Intel Core 2 Duo chips currently lead the way. The E6600 was previously fairly expensive at this price, but now seems run of the mill. Indeed, you might be able to get an E6700 for this money, and you're unlikely to see better performance this side of £1,500. If you have one eye on the future, you might also want to consider a Core 2 Quad chip. You'll sacrifice a little speed for the money now, but you might make it up in spades when multi-threaded software applications start hitting the stores.

Memory: It's a sign of how important memory has become that, even in the £750 category, 2GB is rapidly establishing itself as the standard. Only a few months ago, 1GB seemed sufficient, but you'd be well advised now to play it safe and plump for the extra gigabyte. It's only going to become more and more important in the next twelve months.

Storage: You can never have too much storage space. Digital media files such as video and music files will quickly fill a reasonably sized hard drive so buy the biggest you can. 320GB to 400GB drives are a good investment. 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 18-speed. Rewrite speeds of 8x are good, and if you want to copy up to 8.5GB at once, look for a drive with DVD-R DL or DVD+R DL. Write speeds on these have got significantly faster in recent months, and you really need to be looking for an absolute minimum of eight-speed.

Monitor: To keep the price of a PC down compromises have to be made and the monitor is often where the sacrifices start. Remember, this is the part of the PC that you're going to be spending most of your time looking at. Virtually all PCs now come with flat-panels. 19in models are rife at this price point, and you should go for this size when possible. Be very careful, though, when offered anything larger than 19 inches, as the quality at this price point is likely to be low. Look for a screen with a good response rate - 8ms or faster should be more than enough.

Graphics cards: Given that the best graphics cards can retail for £300 or £400, feverish gamers are unlikely to be best served by a sub-£750 PC. Nonetheless, the best PCs do tend to come with decent graphics cards. Although 50fps is enough to make a game playable, at this price you might want to set your sights a little higher. Choose one that can do 80-100fps o a number of games titles. The GeForce 320MB 8800 GTS cards are very good at this price range. The 640MB version and the new ATI HD 2900 XT are fantastic, but will probably be about £50 out of your price range for the time being.

Sound card and speakers: You're unlikely to get a standalone soundcard at this price point as it is an area in which vendors are likely to try and 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, you often won't get anything better than a 2.1 system in this category - indeed, you won't necessarily get a subwoofer at all.

Arbico CD6880 XL: Specs

  • 2.4GHz Intel Core 2 Duo E6600
  • Windows Vista Home Premium
  • 2GB DDR RAM
  • 320GB serial ATA
  • Asus P5VD2-MX motherboard
  • 6 USB ports
  • 19in HannsG HU196DP flat-panel, 0.294mm pixel pitch, 1,280x1,024 maximum resolution
  • 320MB nVidia GeForce 8800 GTS, PCI Express
  • onboard Realtek HD sound card
  • maximum DVD speeds 16x/20x/20x (DVD -ROM/-R/+R) 8x/8x (-R DL/+R DL) 6x/8x/12x (-RW/+RW/-RAM)
  • includes CyberLink PowerDVD 7.0, Ahead Nero Express 7.0
  • 1-year RTB warranty
  • WorldBench 6 score 95
  • 2.4GHz Intel Core 2 Duo E6600
  • Windows Vista Home Premium
  • 2GB DDR RAM
  • 320GB serial ATA
  • Asus P5VD2-MX motherboard
  • 6 USB ports
  • 19in HannsG HU196DP flat-panel, 0.294mm pixel pitch, 1,280x1,024 maximum resolution
  • 320MB nVidia GeForce 8800 GTS, PCI Express
  • onboard Realtek HD sound card
  • maximum DVD speeds 16x/20x/20x (DVD -ROM/-R/+R) 8x/8x (-R DL/+R DL) 6x/8x/12x (-RW/+RW/-RAM)
  • includes CyberLink PowerDVD 7.0, Ahead Nero Express 7.0
  • 1-year RTB warranty
  • WorldBench 6 score 95

OUR VERDICT

Generally, the Arbico CD6880 XL does everything well, but it doesn't excel in any one area. And that makes it hard to recommend over the rather distinctive trio of top £750 PCs.

Find the best price