It doesn't have any features that stand up and whack you across the head, but the Evesham Solar Storm is well put together. It seems to have carefully followed the £751-£1,000 PC blueprint for success.


  1. Chillblast Fusion Raider 6600
  2. Mesh Elite GTS Media
  3. Evesham Solar Storm
  4. CyberPower Infinity 860
  5. Zoostorm 4-6405 Advanced PC

Third place

The Intel Core 2 Duo E6600 is a capable processor that produces a nice turn of pace, even beating the CyberPower E6700. It wasn't quite able to match the carefully tailored Chillblast PC (left), however. The Solar's 2GB of PC2-5300 DDR RAM acts as a nice complement - performance clearly isn't a problem here.

The 320GB hard drive isn't as large as the storage found on some PCs in this category, although this should be more than enough space for most users.

The graphics sub-system isn't the most exhilarating we've seen, with the 19in GNR TS902W flat-panel offering a solid but fairly uninspired image. Add the 320MB version of the GeForce 8800 GTS graphics card and you have a PC that's proficient but lacking in the visual fireworks you get from the Chillblast.

The sound system is a significant plus point, though. It can't match the 5.1-channel speakers of the Mesh, but you can still expect high-calibre sonics from this machine. The software bundle is also decent, with BullGuard Security Suite a nice addition. This is one of Evesham's best recent PCs. With slightly better graphics, it might well have picked up a Recommended award.

Click here to read about Evesham's change in ownership.

Buying advice

Processor: Intel's Core 2 Duo chips have established themselves as the best in just about every category and the sizzling E6600 model is proving itself the chip of choice for £751-£1,000 PCs. The E6600 is amazingly fast and holds a significant advantage over its Athlon counterparts. That's not to say AMD processors can't still do a job - especially if your budget is closer to £751 than £1,000 - but for those with the full amount to spend, the E6600 remains peerless.

Memory: The age of the 2GB PC is upon us. Given the power and juggling space required by 2007's software titles, 1GB PCs won't cut it at the top level in the Vista era - skimp on memory now and you might find yourself having to administer a critical upgrade later on. For the best performance, look for a high-quality memory maker such as Corsair.

Storage: It's hard to believe, but 250GB is now considered a small amount of storage space. All five of the manufacturers in our Top Five have included at least 320GB and, as Mesh and Zoostorm show, as much as 500GB is a possibility at this price. Make sure you get serial ATA cabling for rapid transfer rates. Cover backup 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 with a minimum of eight-speed or more. DVD-R DL is nice but not essential. Also, look for good eight- or 10-speed DVD+RW facilities. Other optional formats to consider include DVD-RAM.

Display: Flat-panel screens can vary wildly in quality - preferably look for a 19in model with a DVI (digital visual interface) that can support a resolution of 1,280x1,024 or more. You may be able to stretch to a good 20in screen, but be careful if you're offered a 22in flat-panel at this price - the quality of the image on cheap 22in models tends to be patchy. Bear in mind that you'll have to stare at this screen for long periods, so picture quality is an important consideration. Try to get a screen with a response time of 8ms or less so that the screen doesn't blur fast-moving images.

Graphics card: At this price, you should be able to get something rather startling. The nVidia GeForce 8800 GTS is making great waves in its 640MB incarnation, providing excellent graphics features and wonderful visual quality. It also packs DirectX 10.0 support, theoretically giving you access to some impressive games in the future - although it's too early to tell whether the card will be powerful enough to handle the demands of DirectX 10.0 in practice. Nonetheless, this is an excellent card for the money. The 320MB version of the 8800 GTS is also decent, although you will have to sacrifice a bit of detail.

Sound card and speakers: Onboard or integrated sound has come on in leaps and bounds, with support for 7.1-channel sound now available - but it's no match for a decent sound card. You should be able to get a card from Creative's Audigy 4 family or the excellent X-Fi range. If you want only 2.1-channel speakers then make sure they're high-quality, but most manufacturers are bundling 5.1 speakers. If you want audio excellence, you should hold out for a set of 7.1-channel speakers.

Click here to read about Evesham's change in ownership.

Evesham Solar Storm: Specs

  • 2.4GHz Intel Core 2 Duo E6600
  • Windows Vista Home Premium
  • 2GB DDR RAM
  • 320GB serial ATA
  • Foxconn P9657AA motherboard
  • 6 USB ports
  • 19in GNR TS902W flat-panel, 0.285mm pixel pitch, 1,440x900 maximum resolution
  • 320MB nVidia GeForce 8800 GTS, PCI Express
  • Creative X-Fi XtremeGamer sound card
  • 2 x Creative I-Trigue 3200 speakers
  • maximum DVD speeds 16x/18x/18x (DVD -ROM/-R/+R) 8x/8x (-R DL/+R DL) 6x/8x/12x (-RW/+RW/-RAM)
  • includes Microsoft Works 8.5, Roxio DVD Media Creator, Bullguard Security Suite
  • 1-year onsite, 2-year RTB warranty
  • WorldBench 6 score 103
  • 2.4GHz Intel Core 2 Duo E6600
  • Windows Vista Home Premium
  • 2GB DDR RAM
  • 320GB serial ATA
  • Foxconn P9657AA motherboard
  • 6 USB ports
  • 19in GNR TS902W flat-panel, 0.285mm pixel pitch, 1,440x900 maximum resolution
  • 320MB nVidia GeForce 8800 GTS, PCI Express
  • Creative X-Fi XtremeGamer sound card
  • 2 x Creative I-Trigue 3200 speakers
  • maximum DVD speeds 16x/18x/18x (DVD -ROM/-R/+R) 8x/8x (-R DL/+R DL) 6x/8x/12x (-RW/+RW/-RAM)
  • includes Microsoft Works 8.5, Roxio DVD Media Creator, Bullguard Security Suite
  • 1-year onsite, 2-year RTB warranty
  • WorldBench 6 score 103

OUR VERDICT

The sound system is a significant plus point, though. It can't match the 5.1-channel speakers of the Mesh, but you can still expect high-calibre sonics from this machine. The software bundle is also decent, with BullGuard Security Suite a nice addition. This is one of Evesham's best recent PCs. With slightly better graphics, it might well have picked up a Recommended award.

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