There’s nothing wrong with the Eclipse Ultimate i66GT-VSTA. It’s just that, compared to the new crop (particularly the hot young thoroughbred from the Eclipse stables), there’s nothing particularly outstanding about it either.


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

Fifth place

Two months can be an awfully long time in the world of the £750 PC. The hero of our June 2007 refresh, the Eclipse Ultimate finds itself tumbling to the foot of the table this time round. We remarked last time on how few compromises the Eclipse makes. Well, that still stands. The problem is, the Ultimate’s competitors are making fewer compromises still. And even the Ultimate’s heavy artillery has, this time round, lost its power.

Just one of two PCs in the June issue to offer a Core 2 Duo E6600 with 2GB of DDR RAM, the Eclipse finds its feat being repeated by two machines this time, and is actually beaten by the offerings of the other two machines. There’s nothing poor about the WorldBench score of 95 – only the brand new Eclipse PC could do better – but neither does it stand out. Much the same could be said about the 320GB hard drive and DVD writer, and the graphics card is now the only one in the Top Five not to offer DirectX 10 support – even if the notion of playing such potentially highly detailed games on the likes of the 8500 GT or the 8600 GTS might be a little laughable.

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 Ultimate i66GT-VSTA: Specs

  • 2.4GHz Intel Core 2 Duo E6600
  • Windows Vista Home Premium
  • 2GB DDR RAM
  • 320GB serial ATA
  • ASRock 4CoreDual-VSTA motherboard
  • 7 USB ports
  • 19in HannsG HW191DP flat-panel, 0.283mm pixel pitch, 1,440x900 maximum resolution
  • 512MB nVidia GeForce 7950 GT, PCI Express
  • onboard ALC8888 sound card
  • maximum DVD speeds 16x/18x/18x (DVD -ROM/-R/+R) 8x/8x (-R DL/+R DL) 8x/8x/12x (-RW/+RW/-RAM)
  • flash memory drive
  • 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
  • ASRock 4CoreDual-VSTA motherboard
  • 7 USB ports
  • 19in HannsG HW191DP flat-panel, 0.283mm pixel pitch, 1,440x900 maximum resolution
  • 512MB nVidia GeForce 7950 GT, PCI Express
  • onboard ALC8888 sound card
  • maximum DVD speeds 16x/18x/18x (DVD -ROM/-R/+R) 8x/8x (-R DL/+R DL) 8x/8x/12x (-RW/+RW/-RAM)
  • flash memory drive
  • 1-year RTB warranty
  • WorldBench 6 score 95

OUR VERDICT

There’s nothing wrong with the Eclipse Ultimate i66GT-VSTA. It’s just that, compared to the new crop (particularly the hot young thoroughbred from the Eclipse stables), there’s nothing particularly outstanding about it either.

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