As the least expensive PC in our chart, CyberPower's Gamer Infinity i7 Andromeda has evidently undergone some skimping on features to achieve a tempting price tag. In a category with no price ceiling, it looks a little lacklustre.

But it's hard to argue with the value for money delivered by the CyberPower Gamer Infinity i7 Andromeda - it's a strong performer that will suit those who feel this isn't the best time to splash the cash on an extravagantly featured system.

With an Intel Core i7 920 chip under the hood, performance is bound to be good. Indeed, the CyberPower Gamer Infinity i7 Andromeda creeps in at just under 130 points in our WorldBench 6 test suite. You also get 6GB of DDR3 memory - that's twice what Arbico is offering.

In common with the Arbico, however, the CyberPower Gamer Infinity i7 Andromeda's 1,680x1,050 22in monitor can't display a full 1,080p image without (admittedly acceptable) downscaling. The monitor provides a good selection of inputs, including DVI and HDMI, but there's no Blu-ray or external speakers.

The CyberPower Gamer Infinity i7 Andromeda's gaming performance isn't quite as impressive as you might expect, given this system's name. The 512MB ATI Radeon HD 4870 offers half the power of the 4870 X2 that you get with the Chillblast Fusion Titanium, although the limitations of the monitor force you to keep resolutions down. The card remains competitive at less demanding settings.

At 500GB, the CyberPower Gamer Infinity i7 Andromeda's hard drive provides half the storage of the 1TB models delivered with every other system here.

Power desktop PCs chart ranking (April 09 issue)

  1. Chillblast Fusion Titanium
  2. Arbico Elite i7 Pro
  3. Mesh Lexa 280
  4. Eclipse Excalibur i792nGTX260
  5. CyberPower Gamer Infinity i7 Andromeda


>> NEXT PAGE: Power desktop PCs buying advice

As the least expensive PC in our chart, CyberPower's Gamer Infinity i7 Andromeda has evidently undergone some skimping on features to achieve a tempting price tag. In a category with no price ceiling, it looks a little lacklustre.

Power desktop PCs buying advice (April 09 issue)

Processor: Until recently, Intel Core 2 Duo chips were your best bet. This has all changed with the release of Intel's incredibly quick Core i7 CPUs. These offer a number of speed boosts, including the ability to run eight threads simultaneously, although they require far more expensive motherboards and memory than previous-generation chips.

Memory: If you're spending more than £1,000 on a PC, it should come with at least 4GB of RAM. Any less will prevent a Vista PC reaching its full potential. To plan for the future, get 4GB in two modules to allow room for expansion.

A 64bit operating system will ensure you take full advantage of your memory, especially if you're using dual graphics cards - these sap RAM on 32bit systems. If you're going for an i7-based PC, you'll need to buy your chips in threes to take advantage of the triple-channel architecture. You'll also need to splash out on DDR3 rather than DDR2 chips.

Storage: Expect at least 750GB. Look for a pair of drives rather than a single larger unit; it will boost performance and prevent you losing lots of data if a drive fails. Raid setups are also an option. Consider mirroring for added security.

Cover backup with a multiformat DVD writer. Dual-layer capabilities (allowing you to store 8.5GB rather than 4.7GB on a disc) are useful. Make sure the drive supports DVD+R DL at eight-speed or above - some more recent drives offer twice this speed. 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. This used to be the magic size at which full 1,080p HD playback became available, making these ideal partners for Blu-ray drives. However, newer 22in monitors in the 16:9 aspect ratio are also able to display full HD video and cost considerably less, making them excellent value for money, although the size of onscreen elements will be reduced.

If this doesn't appeal, standard 22in displays are excellent value. Make sure you get a digital input for the best image quality and additional inputs if you want to attach other devices. An HDMI is useful for connecting to a games console.

Graphics card: For a thrilling gaming experience, choose between an nVidia GeForce GTX 280 and ATI Radeon HD 4870 X2. Also look out for pre-overclocked graphics cards, which can deliver excellent value for money and are approved by chip manufacturers.

Buying a single-card solution keeps your options open for adding a second card later. It also leaves more space in your PC for sound cards or TV tuners.

Sound card and speakers: There have been improvements in onboard sound, but it's still no match for a decent sound card. You should be able to get a Creative Audigy or one of the excellent X-Fi cards.

If you only want 2.1-channel sound (two speakers and a subwoofer), make sure they're high-quality models. Some firms are bundling 5.1-channel speakers.


>> NEXT PAGE: Specifications and our expert verdict

CyberPower Gamer Infinity i7 Andromeda: Specs

  • 2.66GHz Intel Core i7 920
  • Windows Vista Home Premium 64bit (choose XP and save £16)
  • 6GB DDR3 RAM
  • 500GB SATA
  • MSI X58 Platinum
  • 10 x USB 2.0
  • 22in Fujitsu-Siemens H22-1WS (0.28mm pixel pitch
  • 1,680x1,050)
  • 512MB PCI Express Palit ATI Radeon HD 4870 (games scores: Crysis High = 66fps, Very High = 25fps
  • Fear = 234fps)
  • onboard Realtek ALC888/1200
  • speakers built into flat-panel
  • 22x/22x/12x/16x/6x/8x/12x/16x (DVD-R/+R/-R DL/+R DL/-RW/+RW/-RAM/-ROM)
  • two-year collect-and-return warranty
  • WorldBench 6 score: 129
  • 2.66GHz Intel Core i7 920
  • Windows Vista Home Premium 64bit (choose XP and save £16)
  • 6GB DDR3 RAM
  • 500GB SATA
  • MSI X58 Platinum
  • 10 x USB 2.0
  • 22in Fujitsu-Siemens H22-1WS (0.28mm pixel pitch
  • 1,680x1,050)
  • 512MB PCI Express Palit ATI Radeon HD 4870 (games scores: Crysis High = 66fps, Very High = 25fps
  • Fear = 234fps)
  • onboard Realtek ALC888/1200
  • speakers built into flat-panel
  • 22x/22x/12x/16x/6x/8x/12x/16x (DVD-R/+R/-R DL/+R DL/-RW/+RW/-RAM/-ROM)
  • two-year collect-and-return warranty
  • WorldBench 6 score: 129

OUR VERDICT

There’s no denying that the CyberPower Gamer Infinity i7 Andromeda isn’t as powerful or well specified as the other four systems, but it does give a tremendous amount of bang for your buck.