Arbico's Elite 6885 HD desktop PC offers the fastest raw processor clock speed and delivers some convincing performance figures, but it's sadly let down in other areas.

Arbico's Elite 6885 HD desktop PC offers the fastest raw processor clock speed and delivers some convincing performance figures, but it's sadly let down in other areas.

At 3.6GHz, the Intel Core i5 680 delivers the quickest processor cores in the chart - but there are just two of them. This dual-core chip excels in WorldBench 6, which favours faster cores over multi-processing capability - as do the majority of software applications in use today. With a score of 144 points, the Arbico Elite 6885 HD desktop PC earns a convincing lead.

However, if you're into video encoding, 3D rendering or simply running a number of applications simultaneously, you may find the quad-core i7 860 chips offered by Chillblast, Eclipse and Palicomp deliver faster overall speed than the Arbico Elite 6885 HD desktop PC.

The 680 is more expensive than the 860, meaning cost cutting has been required elsewhere. Most noticeable is the Arbico Elite 6885 HD desktop PC's inclusion of a comparatively small 21.6in monitor. Although it is a full-HD model, it's a significant downgrade from the larger displays. You'll also have to do without any external speakers.

The Arbico Elite 6885 HD desktop PC's Asus motherboard is also less well specified than the competition. It's based on the H55 chipset, which is designed to support the integrated graphics of the new Intel processors. However, it also provides a somewhat reduced feature set when compared to the P55 chipset used by the other Intel-based systems. With only a single PCI Express x16, one PCI and two PCI Express x1 slots, it's far less expandable.

On the plus side, the Arbico Elite 6885 HD desktop PC's graphics are provided by the HD 5850. This card provides DirectX 11.0 and thrilling gameplay at high resolutions.

Power PCs chart ranking

  1. Chillblast Fusion Centaur
  2. Eclipse Solar Crossfire i786r585
  3. Palicomp Core i7 Blitz 860-24
  4. CyberPower Ultra Scylla GT
  5. Arbico Elite 6885 HD

>> NEXT PAGE: Buying advice

Arbico's Elite 6885 HD desktop PC offers the fastest raw processor clock speed and delivers some convincing performance figures, but it's sadly let down in other areas.

Buying advice

Processor: Intel's Core i7 chip is taking this price bracket by storm. It's a match for the best dual-core systems and will outpace any previous-generation quad-core machine. However, some Core i7 900-series chips require more expensive DDR3 memory and a new motherboard design, so expect to make sacrifices.

The latest Core i7 800-series processors use lower-cost motherboards but can still compete with the lower end of the Core i7 900-series on performance.

Intel's dual-core Core i5 CPUs are also worth considering, offering higher clock speeds for your money.

Memory: Consider 4GB as a minimum. If you're buying a Core i7-based system, expect 3GB or 6GB of RAM (such machines install memory chips in threes). The Core i7 800-series and Core i5 chips install memory sticks in twos, however, making them excellent value for money.

A 64bit OS will take full advantage of your RAM, but check that your software and drivers will be supported. If you opt for more than 4GB, a 64bit OS is essential.

Storage: Anything less than 500GB is considered small. With prices falling, it's more typical to find 1TB at this price point.

Get a multiformat DVD writer that can write to a dual-layer format if you want to store 8.5GB on a single disc. Look for a minimum of eight-speed DVD+R DL. Try to get eight-speed DVD+RW.

At this price you may also find a drive that reads Blu-ray discs - note that it won't burn to Blu-ray, and DVD burning speeds will be slower. Keep an eye out for new motherboards with USB 3.0 and 6GBps SATA support too.

Display: 22in or 24in flat-panels are the standard here. Many vendors supply cheap screens in order to leave more room in the budget for other components, but it's worth spending a little more if you intend to work primarily with digital photos or video.

A screen with a response time of 8ms or less will minimise blur on fast-moving images. For image editing, contrast ratio and colour fidelity are more important.

A digital input can preserve picture quality, so think twice about displays that provide analogue inputs only.

If you're a movie fan, look for one of the new 16:9-format 22in-plus displays that offer full-HD playback. You may even be able to find a 24in model.

Graphics card: At this price point, the ATI Radeon HD 5850 seen in four of the five PCs here is an almost unbeatable choice for gamers. It offers multiscreen support and supports DirectX 11.0.

nVidia's GeForce GTX 470 also supports DirectX 11.0 and delivers excellent performance, as well as support for the company's 3D Vision glasses.

Look for souped-up versions with faster clock speeds or additional memory.

The GTX 260 and HD 5850 can be used in dual-card setups later but, to take advantage of this, your motherboard and power supply must be compatible.

Ready-made dual-card setups are available but can be more expensive.

Power supply: The level of power you require will depend largely on the type of graphics card you expect to use. Look for at least a 500W unit at this price point or 750W upwards if you plan to add another card. A known brand is also likely to give better stability. Overclocking also demands a high-quality power supply.

Sound card and speakers: Onboard sound is no match for a sound card. Consider Creative's Audigy 4 or X-Fi range.

>> NEXT PAGE: Specification and our expert verdict

Arbico Elite 6885 HD: Specs

  • 3.6GHz Intel Core i5 680
  • Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit (choose Windows 7 Home Premium 32bit or XP at no extra cost)
  • 4GB DRR3 RAM
  • 1TB SATA
  • Asus P7H55-M motherboard
  • 850W AvengePower PSU
  • 8 x USB 2.0
  • 21.6in HKC 2219A (0.25mm pixel pitch
  • 1920x1080)
  • 1GB Gigabyte ATI Radeon HD 5850 (games scores: Crysis [High/Very High] = 68/40fps
  • Fear = 297fps)
  • onboard Realtek ALC887 sound
  • speakers built into monitor
  • max DVD speeds: 24x/24x/12x/16x/6x/8x/12x/16x (DVD-R/+R/-R DL/+R DL/-RW/+RW/-RAM/-ROM)
  • two-year return-to-base warranty
  • WorldBench 6 score: 144
  • 3.6GHz Intel Core i5 680
  • Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit (choose Windows 7 Home Premium 32bit or XP at no extra cost)
  • 4GB DRR3 RAM
  • 1TB SATA
  • Asus P7H55-M motherboard
  • 850W AvengePower PSU
  • 8 x USB 2.0
  • 21.6in HKC 2219A (0.25mm pixel pitch
  • 1920x1080)
  • 1GB Gigabyte ATI Radeon HD 5850 (games scores: Crysis [High/Very High] = 68/40fps
  • Fear = 297fps)
  • onboard Realtek ALC887 sound
  • speakers built into monitor
  • max DVD speeds: 24x/24x/12x/16x/6x/8x/12x/16x (DVD-R/+R/-R DL/+R DL/-RW/+RW/-RAM/-ROM)
  • two-year return-to-base warranty
  • WorldBench 6 score: 144

OUR VERDICT

The Arbico Elite 6885 HD desktop PC is excellent for flat-out performance, but it will prove very difficult to upgrade.

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