It's difficult to compare the CyberPower Gamer Ultra HD II with the other machines in this month's £751-£1,000 chart. Whereas the other four PCs will each get you only a single shiny pound in change from £1,000, this PC comes in at just £751. It's unsurprisingly, then, that it can't compete in terms of processing speed.

CyberPower has opted for one of AMD's brand-new Phenom II X4 920 processors. These quad-core chips come in at a considerably lower cost than Intel's i7 920 CPUs but, as our test results show, the gulf in performance levels is just as large: the CyberPower Gamer Ultra HD II achieved a comparatively low WorldBench 6 score of 106 points.

Bear in mind, however, that our benchmarks aren't particularly kind to quad-core systems such as the CyberPower Gamer Ultra HD II, which tend to do well at multithreaded applications. If you run a lot of these apps, such as video encoding for a portable audio player, you may find the Phenom II preferable to a dual-core system.

Costs have also been cut in the graphics department, too: the HD 4850 is the poor relation of the HD 4870 favoured by Arbico, offering the same features but reduced performance. With a standard 22in monitor and 500GB hard drive, the CyberPower Gamer Ultra HD II offers a rather basic specification. It also lacks external speakers and Blu-ray.

The CyberPower Gamer Ultra HD II uses the same case as the Arbico, but adds tool-free fittings. There's plenty of room inside for expansion, with a pair of free memory slots. There's also some cool blue illumination to keep gamers happy.

Chart ranking: Power desktop PCs

  1. Arbico Elite i748 XL
  2. Eclipse Galaxy X58n260
  3. Palicomp Phoenix E86C-22
  4. CyberPower Gamer Ultra HD II
  5. Chillblast Fusion Excalibur

>> NEXT PAGE: Power desktop PCs buying advice

Buying advice: Power desktop PCs (May 09 issue)

Processor: Taking this price bracket by storm is Intel's new Core i7 chip. This is 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 very popular at this price point, offering good performance and considerably lower overall system costs. Intel's competitively priced E8600 offers the best performance.

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

Memory: Generally speaking, you should consider 4GB as a minimum, particularly if you're running Vista. But if you're buying a Core i7-based PC, expect 3GB. These install memory chips in threes.

A 64bit operating system (OS) 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 OS 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. Also 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.

Graphics card: At this price point, it's a pitched battle between nVidia's GeForce GTX 260 and the ATI Radeon HD 4870. If you can find a GTX 280, that's even better. When buying a GTX 260, make sure it's the newer 216-core type.

The GTX 260 and HD 4870 can be used in dual-card setups later on. But to take advantage of this, your motherboard and PSU will need to be compatible with this mode of operation.

It's possible to go for a ready-made dual-card setup, but this can work out more expensive in the long run.

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 decent sound card. Consider Creative's Audigy 4 family or the excellent X-Fi range. If you only want a 2.1-channel setup, make sure they're high-quality models.

CyberPower Gamer Ultra HD II: Specs

  • 2.8GHz AMD Phenom II X4 920
  • Windows Vista Home Premium 64bit
  • 4GB DDR2 RAM
  • 500GB SATA
  • 8 x USB 2.0
  • Asus M2A78 8200
  • 500W AXP 500P12P PSU
  • 22in Hyundai Blue H H224W (0.28mm pixel pitch
  • 1,680x1,050)
  • 512MB PCI Express Powercolor ATI Radeon HD 4850 (game scores: Crysis = 47fps (High), 20fps (Very High)
  • Fear = 168fps)
  • onboard VIA VT1708B
  • speakers built into flat-panel
  • 22x/22x/12x/16x/6x/8x/12x/16x (DVD-R/+R/-R DL/+R DL/-RW/+RW/-RAM/-ROM)
  • three-year return-to-base warranty
  • WorldBench 6 score: 106
  • 2.8GHz AMD Phenom II X4 920
  • Windows Vista Home Premium 64bit
  • 4GB DDR2 RAM
  • 500GB SATA
  • 8 x USB 2.0
  • Asus M2A78 8200
  • 500W AXP 500P12P PSU
  • 22in Hyundai Blue H H224W (0.28mm pixel pitch
  • 1,680x1,050)
  • 512MB PCI Express Powercolor ATI Radeon HD 4850 (game scores: Crysis = 47fps (High), 20fps (Very High)
  • Fear = 168fps)
  • onboard VIA VT1708B
  • speakers built into flat-panel
  • 22x/22x/12x/16x/6x/8x/12x/16x (DVD-R/+R/-R DL/+R DL/-RW/+RW/-RAM/-ROM)
  • three-year return-to-base warranty
  • WorldBench 6 score: 106

OUR VERDICT

If you’re looking to run multithreaded apps on a budget, the CyberPower Gamer Ultra HD II could be the PC for you.

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