This new entry from Zoostorm doesn’t quite top the chart but, in fairness, there wasn’t a great deal to choose between the Top Five. The 4-6405 will certainly have its admirers – not least those who are swayed by a 22in display, a mighty size at this price point.


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

Fifth place

For our money, a good 19in flat-panel is a better bet. A larger screen’s superior resolution support is outweighed by the weaker colour palette and lack of sharpness in budget 22in models such as the Asus.

Elsewhere, the Zoostorm makes few mistakes, even if it rarely stands out. The Core 2 Duo E6600 is a popular choice in this category and 2GB of DDR RAM is ubiquitous. The 8800 GTS graphics card is only the 320MB version and the Zoostorm failed to keep up with similarly equipped PCs in our games tests. The 500GB hard drive is an impressive inclusion, however.

Sound is handled by an integrated controller – no match for the excellent Creative X-Fi cards found elsewhere – and the warranty is fairly short.

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.

Zoostorm 4-6405 Advanced PC: Specs

  • 2.4GHz Intel Core 2 Duo E6600
  • Windows Vista Home Premium
  • 2GB DDR RAM
  • 500GB serial ATA
  • MSI P965 Neo motherboard
  • 7 USB ports
  • 22in Asus MW221U flat-panel, 0.282mm pixel pitch, 1,680x1,050 maximum resolution
  • 320MB nVidia GeForce 8800 GTS, PCI Express
  • onboard Realtek High Definition sound
  • 5 x Philips MMS460 speakers
  • maximum DVD speeds 16x/18x/18x (DVD -ROM/-R/+R) 8x/8x (-R DL/+R DL) 6x/8x/12x (-RW/+RW/-RAM)
  • includes Splinter Cell Double Agent
  • flash memory drive
  • 1-year onsite warranty
  • WorldBench 6 score 99
  • 2.4GHz Intel Core 2 Duo E6600
  • Windows Vista Home Premium
  • 2GB DDR RAM
  • 500GB serial ATA
  • MSI P965 Neo motherboard
  • 7 USB ports
  • 22in Asus MW221U flat-panel, 0.282mm pixel pitch, 1,680x1,050 maximum resolution
  • 320MB nVidia GeForce 8800 GTS, PCI Express
  • onboard Realtek High Definition sound
  • 5 x Philips MMS460 speakers
  • maximum DVD speeds 16x/18x/18x (DVD -ROM/-R/+R) 8x/8x (-R DL/+R DL) 6x/8x/12x (-RW/+RW/-RAM)
  • includes Splinter Cell Double Agent
  • flash memory drive
  • 1-year onsite warranty
  • WorldBench 6 score 99

OUR VERDICT

There's nothing especially wrong with the Zoostorm - although the 22in could be considered overkill - but you could do a lot better for the money.

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