We take value for money seriously, and an attractive price tag has allowed many a system to edge past a closely matched rival in our charts. Arbico’s PCs are a case in point, wearing their budget tags as badges of honour. But when there’s just £50 separating five PCs in our Test Centre, money becomes less significant.

Nonetheless, thanks to some nice components, the Arbico Elite 8800GT SLI is still capable of grabbing second place. The E6850 processor is as fast as any we’ve seen in this category, and the Arbico Elite 8800GT SLI’s WorldBench score of 118 is quite an achievement. The 4GB of RAM is ample, as is the 500GB hard drive – it’s not as large as the 750GB unit supplied with the fourth-placed Chillblast Fusion Terminator, but it should be more than enough for most users.

Like the Mesh G92 Titan, the Arbico Elite 8800GT SLI comes with two 8800 GT graphics chips joined in scaleable link interface (SLI). While it depends to some extent on which games you’re playing and at what resolution, two 8800 GTs generally prove more than a match for the Chillblast Fusion Terminator’s single 8800 GTX. You can ratchet up the detail with the 1,680x1,050 Hyundai and, while the latter doesn’t offer the enormous playing area of the Mesh G92 Titan’s 24in Iiyama, this PC is still well equipped for gaming.

The Arbico Elite 8800GT SLI improves on the Mesh G92 Titan’s sound system, while the DVD writer is a top-notch model that offers 12-speed DVD-R DL and +R DL. Add to that a robust case – which comes with plenty of ports and connectors – and an enticing price, and this PC is a worthy runner-up to the big-screened Mesh G92 Titan.

Power PCs chart ranking as of Feb 08 issue


  1. Mesh G92 Titan
  2. Arbico Elite 8800GT SLI
  3. CyberPower Gamer Infinity Quad GT
  4. Chillblast Fusion Terminator
  5. Evesham Oxegen CRX88

Verdict

The Arbico Elite 8800GT SLI improves on the Mesh G92 Titan’s sound system, while the DVD writer is a top-notch model that offers 12-speed DVD-R DL and +R DL. Add to that a robust case – which comes with plenty of ports and connectors – and an enticing price, and this PC is a worthy runner-up to the big-screened Mesh G92 Titan.

Next: Power PCs buying advice

Power PCs buying advice as of Feb 08 issue

Processor: They might soon face some serious competition from AMD’s quad-core processors but, for now, the Core 2s reign supreme. In fact, Intel has been busy adding to its line-up – the quad-core QX6850 is the latest fantastic addition.

Quad-core processors potentially offer 50 to 100 percent extra performance in applications that are programmed to take advantage of the extra cores included within each chip. Don’t expect multicore apps and games to flood in, but in a couple of years the software landscape could shift dramatically – and the higher the number of cores, the more impressive the performance boost is likely to be.

You can still get the dual-core E6750 and E6850 processors at good prices. And these chips are devastatingly fast, so don’t discount them.

Memory: No sooner had we welcomed the age of the 2GB PC than 4GB machines started appearing in our charts. Virtually all PCs over £1,000 should come with such a configuration. If you want your PC to cope easily with programs in 2008 and beyond, 4GB is the key – but 2GB remains a decent option if you want to save money. For the best performance, buy from a high-quality memory maker such as Corsair.

Storage: Unbelievably, anything less than 500GB is now considered a small amount of storage – the PCs in our £1,001+ chart come with between 500GB and 750GB of hardware space. It’s possible to find a terabyte (1TB) if you shop around. Unless you specialise in a particularly gigabyte-hungry pastime such as video, 500GB should be more than enough. 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 at eight-speed or more. Eight-speed DVD-R DL is nice but not essential, and look for good eight-speed DVD+RW facilities. Other optional formats include DVD-RAM.

Display: You might think all PCs at this price point would come with superior-quality flat-panels – but you’d be mistaken. The PCs in our chart mostly come with 22in displays, but you should be careful when choosing screens larger than this. Some bigger models produce poor colours and fuzzy images, which might cause problems for sensitive eyes. A 22in screen is a safer bet, if you don’t mind inferior resolution support.

Graphics cards: At this price point, you should be able to get something rather startling. The GeForce 8800 Ultra is undoubtedly the most prized acquisition. Its support for DirectX 10.0 means Vista adopters can look forward to some impressive games titles in the future. The Ultra also has bags of performance and sizzling features. However, stocks are low, and the 8800 GTX is proving a more popular choice. The best option, we reckon, is probably not one but two 8800 GTs. These shouldn’t cost much more than a single GTX or Ultra, but in scaleable link interface (SLI) mode they do offer more performance in the majority of games.

Sound card and speakers: Onboard or integrated sound has come on in leaps and bounds, with support for 7.1-channel sound – but it’s still no match for a decent sound card. Hunt around and you should be able to get a PC with a Creative Audigy card or, better still, one from the excellent X-Fi range. If you only want 2.1-channel speakers, make sure they’re high-quality. Most manufacturers are bundling 5.1-channel speakers. Strangely, 7.1 speakers are becoming less common but, if you want audio excellence, you’d be best off holding out for a set of these.

Arbico Elite 8800GT SLI: expert review

Arbico Elite 8800GT SLI: Specs

  • 3GHz Intel Core 2 Duo E6850
  • Windows Vista Home Premium
  • 4GB DDR RAM
  • 500GB serial ATA
  • Asus P5N-E SLI
  • 8 x USB ports
  • 22in Hyundai X220W (0.282mm pixel pitch, 1,680x1,050 max resolution @75Hz)
  • 2 x 512MB PCI Express Zotac nVidia GeForce 8800 GT
  • Creative SB X-Fi XtremeAudio
  • 5 x Cyber Acoustics CA5150
  • subwoofer
  • max DVD speeds: 20x/20x/12x/12x/6x/8x/12x/16x (DVD-R/+R/-R DL/+R DL/-RW/+RW/-RAM/-ROM)
  • Ability Office
  • Ahead Nero
  • two-year return-to-base warranty
  • WorldBench 6.0 score: 118
  • 3GHz Intel Core 2 Duo E6850
  • Windows Vista Home Premium
  • 4GB DDR RAM
  • 500GB serial ATA
  • Asus P5N-E SLI
  • 8 x USB ports
  • 22in Hyundai X220W (0.282mm pixel pitch, 1,680x1,050 max resolution @75Hz)
  • 2 x 512MB PCI Express Zotac nVidia GeForce 8800 GT
  • Creative SB X-Fi XtremeAudio
  • 5 x Cyber Acoustics CA5150
  • subwoofer
  • max DVD speeds: 20x/20x/12x/12x/6x/8x/12x/16x (DVD-R/+R/-R DL/+R DL/-RW/+RW/-RAM/-ROM)
  • Ability Office
  • Ahead Nero
  • two-year return-to-base warranty
  • WorldBench 6.0 score: 118

OUR VERDICT

The Arbico Elite 8800GT SLI improves on the Mesh G92 Titan’s sound system, while the DVD writer is a top-notch model that offers 12-speed DVD-R DL and +R DL. Add to that a robust case – which comes with plenty of ports and connectors – and an enticing price, and this PC is a worthy runner-up to the big-screened Mesh G92 Titan.

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