Arbico’s systems regularly top the charts on WorldBench 6 scores. A high score of 125 points puts the Arbico Elite 4870 right up there again, but this time gaming performance has edged it further down the chart.

The Arbico Elite 4870 uses the same ATI Radeon HD 4870 found in slightly better performing PCs, so we anticipated performance of at least the same level as CyberPower and Eclipse's systems. We’re unsure why there’s a difference, but did note that both CyberPower and Eclipse use 64bit versions of Windows Vista, whereas the Arbico system uses the 32bit version.

Housed in a more sober-looking case from Gigabyte, the Arbico Elite 4870 looks smart and tidy – without any of the flashy illuminations of the Chillblast Fusion SuperNova or the incredible bulk of the CyberPower Gamer Infinity XT Elite. It’s therefore more suited to general-purpose use as well as gaming. However, it won’t be so amenable to overclocking due to more standard cooling systems and components.

Supplied with a dual-format Blu-ray and HD DVD drive, the Arbico Elite 4870 is capable of playing back high-definition movies in full 1,080p resolution on the 24in Digimate L2242WD monitor. While this display may not match the quality of the Samsung SM245B that comes with CyberPower's Gamer Infinity XT Elite, its sheer size is enough to create a deeply involving gaming experience, but it’s worth spending a little more if you want to do serious photo editing.

An immersive audio experience is provided by a Creative X-Fi Xtreme Gamer card driving a set of five Cyber Acoustic 5150 speakers and subwoofer. The Arbico Elite 4870's optical drive can burn standard DVDs at up to 16-speed.

Power desktop PCs: chart ranking (October issue)


  1. Chillblast Fusion SuperNova
  2. CyberPower Gamer Infinity XT Elite
  3. Eclipse Titan iQX965A487
  4. Arbico Elite 4870
  5. Chillblast Fusion Thunderbolt

>>NEXT PAGE: Power desktop PC's buying advice

Buying advice: Power desktop PCs (October issue)

Processor: Intel Core 2 Duos are almost always the processors to go for: their performance is excellent for the price. But don’t power a standard desktop with a processor beginning with ‘E6’ – these chips’ time has passed.

If you’re feeling more adventurous, go for one of Intel’s latest quad-core processors, such as the Q9450. These deliver better performance than the previous generation of quad chips.

Memory: If you’re spending more than £1,000 on a PC, it should come with at least 4GB of RAM. Assuming you’re running Windows Vista, any less than this will prevent your PC from reaching its full potential.

For a PC that’ll be able to cope easily with programs in 2008 and beyond, get 4GB of RAM in two modules, so you’ll have room for expansion later.
A 64bit operating system will help you take full advantage of your memory, especially if you’re using dual graphics cards – these sap RAM on 32bit systems.

Storage: Expect at least 500GB and probably 750GB at this price. Beyond this, go for a pair of such drives rather than a single larger unit. It’ll boost your performance and prevent you losing lots of data if a drive fails. Raid setups are also an option. Hard drives are relatively inexpensive, so consider mirroring for added security.

Cover backup with a multiformat DVD writer. Dual-layer capabilities (allowing you to store 8.5GB rather than 4.7GB on a disc) are useful. Make sure the drive supports DVD+R DL at eight-speed or above – some more recent drives offer twice this speed. You should also be able to get eight-speed DVD+RW.

If you want Blu-ray playback, be prepared to compromise on your DVD-burning speeds. Alternatively, buy a second DVD burner for backup duties.

Display: We’re seeing increasing numbers of 24in displays in our high-end PC charts. You may baulk at the idea of such a large PC screen, but 24in is currently the magic size where full 1,080p high-definition (HD) playback becomes available – so these monitors make ideal partners for Blu-ray Disc drives.

If this doesn’t appeal, 22in displays are excellent value. Make sure you get a digital input for the best image quality and additional inputs if you want to attach other devices. An HD multimedia interface (HDMI) is useful if you want to share your display with a games console.

Graphics card: It’s possible to spend an eye-watering amount of money on gaming hardware – a top-spec graphics card can easily cost more than the rest of the system put together. For a thrilling gaming experience we recommend an nVidia GeForce GTX280 or 9800 GX2. ATI’s Radeon HD 4870 is also a strong contender. Buying a single-card solution now keeps your options open for adding a second card later. It also leaves more upgrade space available in your PC for sound cards or TV tuners.

Sound card and speakers: There have been big steps forward in onboard sound, with support for 7.1-channel audio (seven speakers and a subwoofer), but it’s still no match for a decent sound card. You should be able to find a PC with a Creative Audigy card or, better still, one from the excellent X-Fi range. If you only want stereo 2.1-channel speakers, make sure they’re high-quality models; most firms are bundling 5.1 speakers, which allow full surround sound when watching films or playing games.

Arbico Elite 4870: Specs

  • 3.16GHz Intel Core 2 Duo E8500
  • Windows Vista Home Premium 32bit (choose XP or Vista 64bit at no extra cost)
  • 4GB DDR2 RAM
  • 750GB SATA
  • Gigabyte GA-P35-DS3R6
  • 10 x USB 2.0
  • 24in Digimate L2242WD (0.277mm pixel pitch
  • 1,920x1,200 native resolution)
  • 512MB PCI Express Sapphire ATI Radeon HD 4870 (games scores: Crysis = 58fps
  • Fear = 202fps)
  • Creative X-Fi XtremeGamer
  • Cyber Acoustic 5150
  • subwoofer
  • 6x BD-ROM
  • 16x/16x/4x/4x/6x/8x/5x/16x (DVD-R/+R/-R DL/+R DL/-RW/+RW/-RAM/-ROM)
  • Nero
  • OpenOffice
  • two-year return-to-base warranty
  • WorldBench 6 score: 125
  • 3.16GHz Intel Core 2 Duo E8500
  • Windows Vista Home Premium 32bit (choose XP or Vista 64bit at no extra cost)
  • 4GB DDR2 RAM
  • 750GB SATA
  • Gigabyte GA-P35-DS3R6
  • 10 x USB 2.0
  • 24in Digimate L2242WD (0.277mm pixel pitch
  • 1,920x1,200 native resolution)
  • 512MB PCI Express Sapphire ATI Radeon HD 4870 (games scores: Crysis = 58fps
  • Fear = 202fps)
  • Creative X-Fi XtremeGamer
  • Cyber Acoustic 5150
  • subwoofer
  • 6x BD-ROM
  • 16x/16x/4x/4x/6x/8x/5x/16x (DVD-R/+R/-R DL/+R DL/-RW/+RW/-RAM/-ROM)
  • Nero
  • OpenOffice
  • two-year return-to-base warranty
  • WorldBench 6 score: 125

OUR VERDICT

After being spoilt by a succession of exemplary machines from Arbico, the Elite 4870 is something of a let down - most notably in gaming. It's still a good system, but this month's competition is stronger.

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