Actually priced at £899 the Arbico Elite 8850GX is a fantastic value for money desktop PC.

Indeed, our only possible cause for complaint is the slightly less than cavernous 320GB hard drive - although we doubt many users will find it easy to fill up this amount of space.

The Arbico Elite 8850GX's WorldBench real-world speed score of 116 is extremely good given the modest price tag, although we might have expected the 4GB of Corsair PC2-6400 memory to push the Arbico further still.

The Arbico Elite 8850GX's 8800 GTS 512 is a very good graphics card, in spite of its silly naming (its chip is rather more sophisticated than the ones powering the 320MB and 640MB versions of the 8800 GTS). The Audigy SE 7.1 isn't quite as compelling a sound card as on some other PCs in this category, but the 22in Hyundai is a very decent flat-panel indeed.

Indeed, the likes of the Chillblast Apollo, CyberPower Infinity GT and Evesham Solar G92 Shockwave PCs can't keep up with this bargain bundle – although some users may be inclined to take a gamble on the promising quad-core Mesh Pulse SLI ahead of the Arbico Elite 8850GX.

The Arbico Elite 8850GX offers excellent gaming speed. The Chillblast Apollo is marginally stronger in this department, but avid gamers shouldn’t discount the Arbico Elite 8850GX.

The Samsung DVD writer is a searing model, with fantastic 16-speed double-layer support.

Verdict

Overall then, the Arbico Elite 8850GX represents astonishing value for money for a desktop PC. Grab it while it's hot.


See also:
Arbico Elite 8850GX: expert review
Power PCs chart ranking
Power PCs buying advice

Power PCs buying advice (March 07 issue)

Processor We may shortly reach the tipping point in the delicate balance of power that exists between Intel’s dual-core Core 2 Duo chips and the quad-core stunners in the Core 2 Quad range, but we haven’t got there yet.

If you want a PC that’ll fly through next year’s software library, the Quad Q6600 is worth a gamble. You may have to sacrifice a small amount of speed on today’s applications but, in the long run, the gains could far outweigh the pains.

Having said that, dual-core chips continue to improve. For today’s programs, the likes of the E6850 are the best bet. Even in the age of quad-core, you should still get plenty of performance from the top dual-core chips.

Memory Make no mistake about it: the age of the 2GB PC as standard is here. If you skimp on memory now, you might find yourself having to administer a critical upgrade later on. Indeed, most PCs at this price point now come with 4GB. You can make do with less, but expect 4GB to become the norm.

Storage It’s unbelievable that anything less than 400GB is now considered a small amount of storage space, but look at our chart and you’ll see that three of the manufacturers have actually opted for a hefty 500GB. Many users can actually get along very comfortably with considerably less than this – 320GB is a respectable capacity – but those intending to store lots of video and audio files should be prepared to stock up.

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 – although 10-speed or 16-speed would be better still. DVD-R DL is nice but not essential. Also, look for good eight-speed DVD+RW facilities. Other optional formats to consider include DVD-RAM.

Flat-panel Flat-panels can vary wildly in quality. We’re starting to see 22in flat-panels as standard but, for the best image quality, the safe bet remains a good 20in screen. Bear in mind that you’ll probably have to stare at this screen for long periods so, if you’re buying a cheap 22in, give it a try to ensure that you’ll be able to put up with the picture quality. Try to get a screen with a response time of 8ms or less so that the screen doesn’t blur on fast-moving images.

Graphics card At this price point, you should be able to get something rather impressive. The 8800 GTS 512 has just jumped on to the scene and is already making waves. Its support for DirectX 10.0 means Vista users can look forwards to some impressive games in the future. However, the 8800 GT isn’t far behind. The latter is a cheaper card, and you may be able to find a PC housing not one but two of them. In scaleable link interface mode, this should produce good results.

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 card from Creative’s Audigy 4 family or the excellent X-Fi range. If you only want 2.1-channel speakers, make sure they’re high-quality models, but most manufacturers are bundling 5.1 speakers. For audio excellence, hold out for a set of 7.1-channel speakers in this price range.


See also:
Arbico Elite 8850GX: expert review
Power PCs chart ranking
Power PCs buying advice

Arbico Elite 8850GX: Specs

  • 3GHz Intel Core 2 Duo E6850
  • Windows Vista Home Premium
  • 4GB DDR RAM
  • 320GB serial ATA
  • Asus P5N-E SLI
  • 6 x USB
  • 22in Hyundai X220W (0.282mm pixel pitch, 1,680x1,050 max res @ 75Hz)
  • 512MB PCI Express MSI nVidia GeForce 8800 GTS 512
  • Creative Audigy SE 7.1
  • 2 x Cyber Acoustics CA3095
  • subwoofer
  • 20x/20x/12x/16x/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 score: 116
  • 3GHz Intel Core 2 Duo E6850
  • Windows Vista Home Premium
  • 4GB DDR RAM
  • 320GB serial ATA
  • Asus P5N-E SLI
  • 6 x USB
  • 22in Hyundai X220W (0.282mm pixel pitch, 1,680x1,050 max res @ 75Hz)
  • 512MB PCI Express MSI nVidia GeForce 8800 GTS 512
  • Creative Audigy SE 7.1
  • 2 x Cyber Acoustics CA3095
  • subwoofer
  • 20x/20x/12x/16x/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 score: 116

OUR VERDICT

Overall then, the Arbico Elite 8850GX represents astonishing value for money for a desktop PC. Grab it while it's hot.

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