CyberPower's trademark transparent side panel immediately marks the Gamer Infinity i7 Andromeda out as a gaming PC. It comes with plenty of internal illumination and blue component details, colour-co-ordinated with the heatsinks on the motherboard. It also comes with a cool LCD temperature read-out and fan-speed controller built into the front door of the system case.

Behind this door, you'll find a Blu-ray-compatible DVD drive. The top surface of the CyberPower Gamer Infinity i7 Andromeda's case provides a pair of USB ports, along with audio and FireWire connectors - this will prove a convenient placing for PCs stored on the floor.

The Intel Core i7 920 CPU once again delivers a high level of performance, trouncing the Core 2 Duo of Mesh's Whisper 4850 HD. Gaming performance is also very good, thanks to the CyberPower Gamer Infinity i7 Andromeda's HD 4870 graphics card.

Despite this being the 512MB version of that card and clocked slightly slower than the 1GB boards, the CyberPower Gamer Infinity i7 Andromeda performed well in our games tests. Demanding games may need to run with reduced quality settings in order to fit all the required textures into the card's memory, however.

The Asus motherboard provides a trio of 16x PCI Express slots and three empty memory slots for upgrades, although the CyberPower Gamer Infinity i7 Andromeda's 600W Storm PSU isn't as beefy as the 750W model fitted by Chillblast.

The 21.6in Hanns-G display is basic, but it has an attractive thin bezel, digital input and tiny concealed speakers. No external speakers are provided, so you'll need to provide your own if you're going to make the most of the CyberPower Gamer Infinity i7 Andromeda's Blu-ray drive.


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.

CyberPower Gamer Infinity i7 Andromeda: Specs

  • 2.66GHz Intel Core i7 920
  • Windows Vista Home Premium 64bit
  • 3GB DDR3 RAM
  • 500GB SATA
  • Asus P6T motherboard
  • 8 x USB 2.0
  • 600W Silverpower PSU
  • 21.6in Hanns-G Hi221G flat-panel monitor (0.28mm pixel pitch
  • 1,680x1,050)
  • 512MB PCI Express Sapphire ATI Radeon HD 4870 graphics card (games scores: Crysis (High/Very High) = 68/25fps
  • Fear = 226fps)
  • onboard Realtek ALC888/1200 sound card
  • speakers built into monitor
  • 6x BD-ROM
  • max DVD speeds: 20x/20x/12x/16x/6x/8x/12x/16x (DVD-R/+R/-R DL/+R DL/-RW/+RW/-RAM/-ROM)
  • Express Gate
  • three-year return-to-base warranty
  • WorldBench 6 score: 127
  • 2.66GHz Intel Core i7 920
  • Windows Vista Home Premium 64bit
  • 3GB DDR3 RAM
  • 500GB SATA
  • Asus P6T motherboard
  • 8 x USB 2.0
  • 600W Silverpower PSU
  • 21.6in Hanns-G Hi221G flat-panel monitor (0.28mm pixel pitch
  • 1,680x1,050)
  • 512MB PCI Express Sapphire ATI Radeon HD 4870 graphics card (games scores: Crysis (High/Very High) = 68/25fps
  • Fear = 226fps)
  • onboard Realtek ALC888/1200 sound card
  • speakers built into monitor
  • 6x BD-ROM
  • max DVD speeds: 20x/20x/12x/16x/6x/8x/12x/16x (DVD-R/+R/-R DL/+R DL/-RW/+RW/-RAM/-ROM)
  • Express Gate
  • three-year return-to-base warranty
  • WorldBench 6 score: 127

OUR VERDICT

With excellent gaming and general performance scores, the CyberPower Gamer Infinity i7 Andromeda may be the PC for you. It's looks may not suit all tasts, however, and you'll need to provide your own speakers to make the most of the Blu-ray drive.

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