A year on from the launch of Vista, the general consensus seems to be that the more RAM you can get, the better. A lot of PC manufacturers are pushing the boat out and offering 4GB, but 2GB seems to ensure reasonably smooth running of the operating system. Which is the better option?

In among this month’s flood of 4GB PCs, the 2GB CyberPower Infinity GT gives you the option of saving yourself a little money – £100, to be precise. The manufacturer will let you upgrade to a 4GB allocation, but you can expect this to set you back about £106, cancelling out your savings. But it’s nice to have the option of a 2GB system in a 4GB-obsessed market.

And in most other respects the CyberPower Infinity GT is very much the equal of the costlier systems. Its E6850 processor results in a very promising WorldBench 6 score of 112 – with a 2GB upgrade, it would be right up there with the best machines in the category.

The CyberPower Infinity GT's graphics card is the 8800 GT, which can’t quite keep up with the Chillblast Apollo’s 8800 GTS 512. Nonetheless, the 8800 GT remains a thoroughly decent card for gaming. The CyberPower Infinity GT’s audio, meanwhile, is top-notch, with the superb X-Fi XtremeAudio working beautifully with the Creative Inspire T6100 speakers.

The CyberPower Infinity GT's 500GB hard drive is extremely capacious, while the 21.6in Yuraku flat-panel is quite competent. The Optiarc DVD writer is on the sluggish side and the software bundle doesn’t offer any antivirus utilities or office suites – although you do get a full game, Company of Heroes.

Verdict

The CyberPower Infinity GT's three-year warranty is generous, and this is a good all-round PC – particularly for those who feel 2GB of memory is sufficient and would like to save £100.

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See also:
CyberPower Infinity GT: expert review
Power PCs chart ranking
Power PCs buying advice

Power PCs buying advice (March 07 issue)

Processor We may shortly reach the tipping point in the delicate balance of power that exists between Intel’s dual-core Core 2 Duo chips and the quad-core stunners in the Core 2 Quad range, but we haven’t got there yet.

If you want a PC that’ll fly through next year’s software library, the Quad Q6600 is worth a gamble. You may have to sacrifice a small amount of speed on today’s applications but, in the long run, the gains could far outweigh the pains.

Having said that, dual-core chips continue to improve. For today’s programs, the likes of the E6850 are the best bet. Even in the age of quad-core, you should still get plenty of performance from the top dual-core chips.

Memory Make no mistake about it: the age of the 2GB PC as standard is here. If you skimp on memory now, you might find yourself having to administer a critical upgrade later on. Indeed, most PCs at this price point now come with 4GB. You can make do with less, but expect 4GB to become the norm.

Storage It’s unbelievable that anything less than 400GB is now considered a small amount of storage space, but look at our chart and you’ll see that three of the manufacturers have actually opted for a hefty 500GB. Many users can actually get along very comfortably with considerably less than this – 320GB is a respectable capacity – but those intending to store lots of video and audio files should be prepared to stock up.

Cover backup with a multi-format DVD writer. Dual-layer capabilities (allowing you to store 8.5GB rather than 4.7GB on a disc) are a must, and you should make sure the drive supports DVD+R DL with a minimum of eight-speed – although 10-speed or 16-speed would be better still. DVD-R DL is nice but not essential. Also, look for good eight-speed DVD+RW facilities. Other optional formats to consider include DVD-RAM.

Flat-panel Flat-panels can vary wildly in quality. We’re starting to see 22in flat-panels as standard but, for the best image quality, the safe bet remains a good 20in screen. Bear in mind that you’ll probably have to stare at this screen for long periods so, if you’re buying a cheap 22in, give it a try to ensure that you’ll be able to put up with the picture quality. Try to get a screen with a response time of 8ms or less so that the screen doesn’t blur on fast-moving images.

Graphics card At this price point, you should be able to get something rather impressive. The 8800 GTS 512 has just jumped on to the scene and is already making waves. Its support for DirectX 10.0 means Vista users can look forwards to some impressive games in the future. However, the 8800 GT isn’t far behind. The latter is a cheaper card, and you may be able to find a PC housing not one but two of them. In scaleable link interface mode, this should produce good results.

Sound card and speakers Onboard or integrated sound has come on in leaps and bounds, with support for 7.1 channel sound – but it’s still no match for a decent sound card. Hunt around and you should be able to get a PC with a card from Creative’s Audigy 4 family or the excellent X-Fi range. If you only want 2.1-channel speakers, make sure they’re high-quality models, but most manufacturers are bundling 5.1 speakers. For audio excellence, hold out for a set of 7.1-channel speakers in this price range.


See also:
CyberPower Infinity GT: expert review
Power PCs chart ranking
Power PCs buying advice

CyberPower Infinity GT: Specs

  • 3GHz Intel Core 2 Duo E6850
  • Windows Vista Home Premium
  • 2GB DDR RAM
  • 500GB serial ATA
  • Asus P5K SE
  • 8 x USB
  • 21.6in Yuraku YM22RPA (0.277mm pixel pitch, 1,680x1,050 max res @ 75Hz)
  • 512MB PCI Express EVGA nVidia GeForce 8800 GT
  • Creative X-Fi XtremeAudio
  • 5 x Creative Inspire T6100
  • subwoofer
  • 20x/20x/8x/8x/6x/8x/16x (DVD-R/+R/-R DL/+R DL/-RW/+RW/-ROM)
  • Company of Heroes
  • three-year return-to-base warranty
  • WorldBench 6 score: 112
  • 3GHz Intel Core 2 Duo E6850
  • Windows Vista Home Premium
  • 2GB DDR RAM
  • 500GB serial ATA
  • Asus P5K SE
  • 8 x USB
  • 21.6in Yuraku YM22RPA (0.277mm pixel pitch, 1,680x1,050 max res @ 75Hz)
  • 512MB PCI Express EVGA nVidia GeForce 8800 GT
  • Creative X-Fi XtremeAudio
  • 5 x Creative Inspire T6100
  • subwoofer
  • 20x/20x/8x/8x/6x/8x/16x (DVD-R/+R/-R DL/+R DL/-RW/+RW/-ROM)
  • Company of Heroes
  • three-year return-to-base warranty
  • WorldBench 6 score: 112

OUR VERDICT

The CyberPower Infinity GT's three-year warranty is generous, and this is a good all-round PC – particularly for those who feel 2GB of memory is sufficient and would like to save £100.

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