If you want a lot of power for not a lot of money, the Eclipse Matrix i67N88-VSTA is just the ticket.


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

Second place


The Eclipse looked set to land itself a Best Buy until the late appearance of the JAL. These are two quite different PCs, each targetting a separate audience. But if you want a lot of power for not a lot of money, this PC is more the ticket.

The Matrix's killer feature is its Intel Core 2 Duo E6700 chip. At a time when its rivals are experimenting with the E6600, the Eclipse adopts the superior version. The performance difference isn't startling (the jump is a measly 0.24GHz), but you get plenty of extra juice. While the other PCs clustered in the mid-nineties when rated using our WorldBench test suite, the Eclipse was the only system to hit three digits. The 2GB of DDR RAM doesn't hurt, of course, but mostly this PC is a triumph for the E6700.

The technological advances don't stop there, for the Eclipse comes with the best graphics card (even if it does share this particular component with the Arbico) in the shape of the 320MB 8800 GTS card. There are better graphics adapters out there - the 640MB version of this card, and the brand new ATI, to name but two - but given the £750 budget, this is about as good as it gets. The Arbico gave the Eclipse a good fight in our games tests, but the Matrix remained supreme - and it finished a long way ahead of the likes of the Zoostorm and the JAL.

The HannsG isn't a flat-panel we're going to go crazy about but, it's certainly more than good enough for this price point. The display's colourful and reasonably sharp, and the widescreen resolution is extremely welcome. The DVD writer and hard drive are commendable, and the onboard sound is no less satisfactory than on its rivals.

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.

Eclipse Matrix i67N88-VSTA: Specs

  • 2.66GHz Intel Core 2 Duo E6700
  • Windows Vista Home Premium
  • 2GB DDR RAM
  • 320GB serial ATA
  • Asus P5ND2 SE motherboard
  • 6 USB ports
  • 19in HannsG HW191DP flat-panel, 0.283mm pixel pitch, 1,440x900 maximum resolution
  • 320MB nVidia GeForce 8800 GTS, PCI Express
  • onboard AD1986A sound card
  • maximum DVD speeds 16x/18x/18x (DVD -ROM/-R/+R) 8x/8x (-R DL/+R DL) 8x/8x/12x (-RW/+RW/-RAM)
  • 1-year RTB warranty
  • WorldBench 6 score 100
  • 2.66GHz Intel Core 2 Duo E6700
  • Windows Vista Home Premium
  • 2GB DDR RAM
  • 320GB serial ATA
  • Asus P5ND2 SE motherboard
  • 6 USB ports
  • 19in HannsG HW191DP flat-panel, 0.283mm pixel pitch, 1,440x900 maximum resolution
  • 320MB nVidia GeForce 8800 GTS, PCI Express
  • onboard AD1986A sound card
  • maximum DVD speeds 16x/18x/18x (DVD -ROM/-R/+R) 8x/8x (-R DL/+R DL) 8x/8x/12x (-RW/+RW/-RAM)
  • 1-year RTB warranty
  • WorldBench 6 score 100

OUR VERDICT

As a £750 powerhouse, the If you want a lot of power for not a lot of money, the Eclipse Matrix i67N88-VSTA is just the ticket has no competition.

Find the best price