Arbico’s eXcel i5256 VX is a powerful yet practical home PC for the budget conscious. At £649, the eXcel i5256 VX costs considerably less than all but Braebo’s gamer-friendly Ares but is able to perform as fast as the most expensive systems when running general office and multimedia applications.

The 3.3GHz Intel Core i5-2500K processor used here is the same as that chosen by Chillblast and Eclipse, so general application performance is similar across all three systems as shown by the Arbico’s WorldBench 6 score of 172 points.

This PC isn’t aimed at gamers and as such comes without a discrete graphics card, relying instead on the graphics capabilities built into the Intel CPU. This is adequate performance for multi-media use and should perform well at video encoding and HD playback. You can also play games, provided you keep the quality and resolution settings down. If you have some interest in gaming you’ll either have to spend considerably more and buy yourself a graphics card, or sacrifice some application performance and go for system featuring AMD APU such as Braebo’s Ares.

A 1-terabyte hard drive and 8GB of DDR3 memory are the perfect specifications at this price and generally supplied by all vendors unless you ask for more.

All components are connected to an Asus P8Z68-v LX RTL motherboard, featuring Intel’s powerful Z68 chipset which supports overclocking and the Core i5’s built-in graphics. It’s a slightly inferior version of the board to the model supplied by Chillblast and Eclipse and omits a pair of internal USB 3.0 ports.

The 23.6in AOC 2436Vwa display looks smart and complements the black Gigabyte system case which incorporates a hand card reader.

The Sumvision wired USB keyboard and mouse are cheap-feeling components, the keyboard especially a lightweight model that won’t stay put on the desk. A set of Logitech stereo speakers is provided, but without subwoofer. This is also the only system without Blu-ray support.

Arbico eXcel i5256 VX: Specs

  • WorkBench 6 score: 172
  • INTEL CORE I5 2500K processor
  • 3.30GHz processor speed
  • Standard Intel cooler
  • 8GB DDR3 RAM
  • 1TB SATA HDD
  • ASUS P8Z68-V LX RTL motherboard
  • 4x USB 2.0 ports, 2x USB 3.0 ports
  • 23.6in AOC 2436Vwa display, 1920x1080 resolution
  • Intel HD Graphics 3000 graphics card
  • Integrated 7.1 sound card with Logitech S120 2.0 Speakers
  • Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit (XP or 32-bit at same price) OS
  • Internal card reader
  • Wireless network card
  • WorkBench 6 score: 172
  • INTEL CORE I5 2500K processor
  • 3.30GHz processor speed
  • Standard Intel cooler
  • 8GB DDR3 RAM
  • 1TB SATA HDD
  • ASUS P8Z68-V LX RTL motherboard
  • 4x USB 2.0 ports, 2x USB 3.0 ports
  • 23.6in AOC 2436Vwa display, 1920x1080 resolution
  • Intel HD Graphics 3000 graphics card
  • Integrated 7.1 sound card with Logitech S120 2.0 Speakers
  • Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit (XP or 32-bit at same price) OS
  • Internal card reader
  • Wireless network card

OUR VERDICT

The eXcel i5256 VX is a competent low-cost home PC for those who want to concentrate on work rather than play. Application performance is excellent, there’s a useful built-in card reader, while wireless networking comes as standard. It won’t play challenging games, and the lack of Blu-ray drive and basic speakers undermine its multimedia potential.

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