Arbico's Elite 9590 HD is a fantastic desktop PC with a good balance of features, but it ultimately loses out on price in this very closely fought contest.

The Intel Core i7 950 makes its third appearance in the chart, propelling the Arbico Elite 9590 HD to an excellent score of 151 points in our WorldBench 6 real-world speed test - CyberPower's Core i7 960-based Heaven scored only one point more. Gaming performance is considerably slower, however, with the Elite using a single HD 4890 in place of the CyberPower's two.

Although Crysis doesn't reveal much of a difference between using one or two graphics cards, other games do - including Fear, where the CyberPower scores 399fps to the Arbico Elite 9590 HD's 256fps.

The Arbico Elite 9590 HD's Asus P6T SE motherboard comes with three free memory slots and supports multiple graphics cards in CrossFireX mode, so you could easily upgrade the graphics power later should you feel the need.

If you aren't heavily into gaming, however, cutting back on the graphics is one way to make room in the budget for better components elsewhere. Arbico Elite 9590 HD has thus been able to include a 24in AOC monitor, a Blu-ray drive and a set of 5.1-channel surround-sound speakers, making the Elite a well-rounded system that's capable of HD multimedia playback as well as gaming.

In common with other systems in this chart, the Arbico Elite 9590 HD uses a trio of 500GB hard drives, two of which are striped in a Raid 0 configuration for extra performance.

The Arbico Elite 9590 HD's selected system case, the Cooler Master Elite 330, is less impressive than the NZXT case supplied with CyberPower's Gamer Infinity i7 Heaven. It offers fairly standard cooling and components in a neat and tidy but less rugged chassis.


Power PCs chart ranking: February 10 issue

  1. Chillblast Fusion Condor
  2. Eclipse Titan i795R585
  3. CyberPower Gamer Infinity i7 Heaven
  4. Arbico Elite 9590 HD
  5. Eclipse Titan X58 i796R489

>> NEXT PAGE: Buying advice



Arbico's Elite 9590 HD is a fantastic performer with a good balance of features, but it ultimately loses out on price in this very closely fought contest.


Power PCs buying advice

Processor: Intel's quad-core Core i7 CPUs offer a number of speed boosts, including the ability to run eight threads simultaneously, although they require more expensive motherboards and memory than previous-generation chips. At this price, the Core i7 950 or 960 would be a great choice.

Memory: A £1,001-plus Core i7 PC should come with at least 6GB of RAM (although 3GB is acceptable if it compensates with other extras). For dual-core machines, look for 4GB in two modules to allow room for expansion.
The triple-channel architecture of Core i7 9XX-based PCs requires you to install chips in threes. Core i7 8XX-series CPUs use a two-channel system, which will save you some cash. You'll also need to splash out on DDR3 RAM, but the price of such memory is falling fast. A 64bit operating system can take full advantage of this memory, particularly if you're running a dual-graphics setup.

Storage: Expect at least a terabyte. Look for a pair or even a trio of drives rather than a single unit; it will boost performance and prevent the risk of total data loss. Raid setups are an option. Consider mirroring for added security. SSDs can provide speed boosts, but offer limited capacity and are expensive.

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

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

Display: We're seeing increasing numbers of 24in displays in our PC charts. This used to be the magic size at which 1080p (full-HD) playback became available, making these ideal partners for Blu-ray drives. However, some of the newest 22in (16:9) monitors can also display full-HD - and with a considerable saving, making them excellent value for money.

Make sure you get a digital input for the best image quality and an extra HDMI port is great for hooking up additional devices such as games consoles without having to switch cables.

Graphics card: For a thrilling gaming experience, choose between nVidia's GeForce GTX 285 or GTX 295 and AMD's DirectX 11.0-compatible ATI Radeon HD 5870. The GTX 275 and HD 4890 cards also offer great performance and very good value for money. Radeon cards seem to be the current favourite for raw performance, but nVidia's cards offer unique features such as support for PhysX in-game physics effects and stereoscopic 3D using special glasses.

Also look out for pre-overclocked graphics cards, which can deliver excellent value and are approved by chip manufacturers. Buying a single-card setup keeps your options open for adding a second card later. It also leaves more space for sound cards or TV tuners.

Motherboard: If you're considering any upgrades, check that the motherboard offers enough memory slots to support the chips. SLI or CrossFireX support will enable to you add extra graphics cards to boost your gaming performance.

Power supply: The level of power you require will largely depend on the type of graphics card you expect to use. Look for a known and respected brand, and consider from 750W upwards if you have any thoughts of moving up to a dual-card setup later. Any form of overclocking will also demand a powerful PSU.

Sound card and speakers: Onboard sound is still no match for a decent sound card. You should be able to get a Creative Audigy or X-Fi card at this price. If you only want 2.1-channel speakers, make sure they're high-quality models.


>> NEXT PAGE: Specification and our expert verdict

Arbico Elite 9590 HD: Specs

  • 3.06GHz Intel Core i7 950
  • Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit
  • 6GB DDR3 RAM
  • 3 x 500GB SATA (2 in Raid 0 configuration)
  • Asus P6T SE
  • 8 x USB 2.0
  • 800W WinPower PSU
  • 24in AOC 416V (0.27mm pixel pitch
  • 1920x1200)
  • 1GB PCI Express PowerColor ATI Radeon HD 4890 (games scores: Crysis [High/Very High] = 78/29fps
  • Fear = 256fps)
  • 4x BD-ROM
  • max DVD speeds: 24x/24x/12x/12x/12x/16x (DVD-R/+R/-R DL/+R DL/-RAM/-ROM)
  • two-year return-to-base warranty
  • WorldBench 6 score: 151
  • 3.06GHz Intel Core i7 950
  • Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit
  • 6GB DDR3 RAM
  • 3 x 500GB SATA (2 in Raid 0 configuration)
  • Asus P6T SE
  • 8 x USB 2.0
  • 800W WinPower PSU
  • 24in AOC 416V (0.27mm pixel pitch
  • 1920x1200)
  • 1GB PCI Express PowerColor ATI Radeon HD 4890 (games scores: Crysis [High/Very High] = 78/29fps
  • Fear = 256fps)
  • 4x BD-ROM
  • max DVD speeds: 24x/24x/12x/12x/12x/16x (DVD-R/+R/-R DL/+R DL/-RAM/-ROM)
  • two-year return-to-base warranty
  • WorldBench 6 score: 151

OUR VERDICT

The Arbico Elite 9590 HD is an excellent PC, but it just doesn't offer the same performance per pound as the other systems here.

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