Yet again, Arbico has delivered the best performance score in our WorldBench 6 real-world speed test. The Elite i750 Pro's 131-point tally just nudges it ahead of Eclipse's Titan X58 Crossfire.

The Arbico Elite i750 Pro's 1GB Radeon HD 4870 graphics card is an excellent performer. All but one of the PCs here use a version of this graphics chip.

Arbico has once again opted for the Cooler Master Elite 330 case for the Elite i750 Pro. This is a smart but basic housing that incorporates a pair of audio sockets and twin USB ports.

The Arbico Elite i750 Pro's Gigabyte motherboard supports CrossFireX, allowing you to add a second graphics card later. Note, however, that only four memory slots are provided on this motherboard rather than the usual six.

This system is let down somewhat by the power supply unit (PSU). Rated at 460W, this PSU only just covers the Arbico Elite i750 Pro's power requirements as things stand. It's a Cooler Master-branded component, and should prove reliable, but if you're planning to upgrade, a more powerful PSU should be first on your shopping list.

The Arbico Elite i750 Pro's 22in GNR monitor is standard fare, although it does support both VGA and DVI inputs, giving it a distinct advantage over the analogue-only model supplied by Eclipse.

The set of five Trust speakers and a subwoofer aren't exactly top of the range, but they add surround sound to movies and games that support it. As with the Best Buy Chillblast Fusion Fury, there's no Blu-ray playback hardware on the Arbico Elite i750 Pro.


Chart ranking: Power desktop PCs (July issue)

  1. Chillblast Fusion Fury
  2. Arbico Elite i750 Pro
  3. Mesh Whisper 4850 HD
  4. CyberPower Gamer Infinity i7 Andromeda
  5. Eclipse Titan X58 Crossfire

>> NEXT PAGE: Power desktop PCs buying advice

Buying advice: Power desktop PCs (July issue)

Processor: Intel's new 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-gen quad-core machine. However, Core i7 chips require more expensive DDR3 memory and a new motherboard design, so expect to make sacrifices elsewhere.

Dual-core CPUs are still popular at this price point, offering good performance and considerably lower overall system costs. Intel's E8600 chip offers the best performance.

Quad-core processors, such as the Q9400, are another option. These chips use the same memory and motherboard as dual-core PCs and can offer huge speed advantages if you run multithreaded applications.

Memory: Consider 4GB as a minimum, particularly if you're running Vista. If you're buying a Core i7-based PC, however, expect 3GB (such PCs install memory chips in threes). A 64bit operating system 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 operating system is essential.

Storage: Anything less than 400GB is now considered a small amount of storage space. Many users will get by with 320GB but, with prices continuing to fall, it isn't impossible to find a terabyte of storage at this price point.

Get a multiformat DVD writer that can write to a dual-layer format if you want to store 8.5GB rather than 4.7GB on a disc. Look for a minimum of eight-speed DVD+R DL; DVD-R DL is nice but not essential. Try to get eight-speed DVD+RW.

At this price you should be able to find a drive that reads Blu-ray discs - note that it won't burn to Blu-ray, and DVD burning speeds will be slower.

Display: 22in flat-panels are the standard here. Many vendors supply budget screens, but it's worth spending a little more if you intend to work with digital photos or video. Try before you buy to ensure you can put up with the quality.

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+ displays that offer full-HD playback.

Graphics card: At this price, it's a pitched battle between nVidia's GeForce GTX 260 (or even 280) and the Radeon HD 4870 - most of our Top 5 go for the HD 4870.

The GTX 260 and HD 4870 can be used in dual-card setups later but, to take advantage of this, your motherboard and PSU will need to be compatible. Ready-made dual-card solutions are available but can work out more expensive.

The HD 4890 should soon be available at a competitive price, offering a decent speed boost over the HD 4870.

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 PSU at this price point, but consider 750W upwards if you have any thoughts of moving up to a dual card solution later. Overclocking will also demand a powerful, high-quality PSU.

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

Arbico Elite i750 Pro: Specs

  • 2.66GHz Intel Core i7 920
  • Windows Vista Home Premium 32bit (choose XP or Vista 64bit at no extra cost)
  • 3GB DDR3 RAM
  • 750GB SATA
  • Gigabyte GA-EX58-UD3R motherboard
  • 10 x USB 2.0
  • 460W Cooler Master PSU
  • 22in GNR TB2200W flat-panel monitor (0.28mm pixel pitch
  • 1,680x1,050)
  • 1,024MB PCI Express PowerColor ATI Radeon HD 4870 graphics card (games scores: Crysis (High/Very High) = 65/26fps
  • Fear = 223fps)
  • onboard Realtek ALC888 sound card
  • 5 x Trust speakers and subwoofer
  • max DVD speeds: 22x/22x/12x/16x/6x/8x/12x/16x (DVD-R/+R/-R DL/+R DL/-RW/+RW/-RAM/-ROM)
  • OpenOffice
  • Nero
  • PowerDVD
  • two-year return-to-base warranty
  • WorldBench 6 score: 131
  • 2.66GHz Intel Core i7 920
  • Windows Vista Home Premium 32bit (choose XP or Vista 64bit at no extra cost)
  • 3GB DDR3 RAM
  • 750GB SATA
  • Gigabyte GA-EX58-UD3R motherboard
  • 10 x USB 2.0
  • 460W Cooler Master PSU
  • 22in GNR TB2200W flat-panel monitor (0.28mm pixel pitch
  • 1,680x1,050)
  • 1,024MB PCI Express PowerColor ATI Radeon HD 4870 graphics card (games scores: Crysis (High/Very High) = 65/26fps
  • Fear = 223fps)
  • onboard Realtek ALC888 sound card
  • 5 x Trust speakers and subwoofer
  • max DVD speeds: 22x/22x/12x/16x/6x/8x/12x/16x (DVD-R/+R/-R DL/+R DL/-RW/+RW/-RAM/-ROM)
  • OpenOffice
  • Nero
  • PowerDVD
  • two-year return-to-base warranty
  • WorldBench 6 score: 131

OUR VERDICT

Overall, the Arbico Elite i750 Pro performs very well, with its large hard drive and surround-sound speakers all counting in its favour.

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