The Essential 3000 stands tall in its sleek, black, ‘soundproofed’ Cooler Master Silencia 551 case. Its front drive bays sit obscured by a hinged door which is polished to a high gloss and runs the full height of the case, lending the PC an imposing, minimalist appearance. It also features a top-mounted USB 3.0 port and a convenient built-in SD-card reader. See also Group test: What's the best budget PC?

While this is all very lovely for a home or enthusiast PC, such luxurious touches seem a little over-indulgent on a business system where the emphasis will be on value for money and ease of access rather than appearance. Visit Group test: What's the mid-range desktop PC?

Furthermore; if this is what the PC sounds like in a ‘silent’ case, we dread to think how noisy it would sound without the sound-damping panels. We would guess pretty loud as it’s nowhere near silent in its current configuration. Go to Group test: What's the best office PC?

Inside, the extra space and cable management does make maintenance considerably easier than with more compact systems such as PC Specialist’s small form-factor offering, but we still feel the case is over the top for a workaday office PC.

A quad-core AMD FX-4170 processor powers the system and this is a faster, 4.2GHz version of the 3.6GHz model found in Arbico’s FX4130 Office PC. Consequently, CyberPower’s system runs noticeably faster if still far behind even the cheapest of the Intel-based systems on offer.

This is where we start to wonder whether a price of £799 can really be justified in the face of competition from faster, quieter, power efficient and much less expensive Intel-based PCs.

The reason for the uncompetitive price of this system comes in the form of the installed software. A very large chunk of the system price – at least £150 – is gobbled up by paying the Microsoft tax. There’s a copy of Microsoft Office Home & Business 2010 and the expensive Windows 7 Professional. The system also comes with a 23.6in monitor – the largest on offer this month.

Taking these factors into consideration, the Essential 3000 starts to make more sense - and you can omit the Office package if you wish.

CyberPower Essential 3000: Specs

  • RAM:4GB DDR3
  • Storage: 500GB Western Digital 7,200rpm SATA 3Gbps
  • Power supply: 450W Winpower
  • Motherboard: Asus M5A78L-M
  • CPU cooler: Standard cooler
  • USB: 5x USB 2.0, 3x USB 3.0
  • Graphics card: Integrated AMD Radeon HD 3000
  • Speakers: on monitor
  • Optical drive: 24x Sony DVD ± RW
  • Operating system: Windows 7 Professional 64bit
  • Bundled software: Microsoft Office Home & Business 2010
  • Case: Coolermaster Silencio 551 (RC-551-KKN1)
  • Keyboard and mouse: Logitech MK120 (wired USB combo)
  • Extra features: Soundproofing, SD card reader
  • WorldBench 6 score: 135 (est)
  • RAM:4GB DDR3
  • Storage: 500GB Western Digital 7,200rpm SATA 3Gbps
  • Power supply: 450W Winpower
  • Motherboard: Asus M5A78L-M
  • CPU cooler: Standard cooler
  • USB: 5x USB 2.0, 3x USB 3.0
  • Graphics card: Integrated AMD Radeon HD 3000
  • Speakers: on monitor
  • Optical drive: 24x Sony DVD ± RW
  • Operating system: Windows 7 Professional 64bit
  • Bundled software: Microsoft Office Home & Business 2010
  • Case: Coolermaster Silencio 551 (RC-551-KKN1)
  • Keyboard and mouse: Logitech MK120 (wired USB combo)
  • Extra features: Soundproofing, SD card reader
  • WorldBench 6 score: 135 (est)

OUR VERDICT

At first glance this system seems outrageously expensive, but it includes a copy of Microsoft Office and also comes with Windows 7 Professional and a 23.6in monitor. Attempts at soundproofing are unsuccessful than Arbico’s, but overall performance is higher – while still being a good deal slower than Intel-based systems.

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