The only Sandy Bridge PC here to run a Core i5 rather than i7 CPU, the CyberPower Infinity i5 Silent Edition offers a £100 saving. And it's by no means a slow machine.

The only Sandy Bridge PC here to run a Core i5 rather than i7 CPU, the CyberPower Infinity i5 Silent Edition offers slower performance but, more importantly, a £100 saving. With 157 WorldBench 6 points, however, this is by no means a slow machine – and by specifying the ‘K’ version of Intel’s i5-2500 processor, CyberPower has built-in support for easy overclocking.

Other cost-cutting measures include the omission of a Blu-ray drive and the CyberPower Infinity i5 Silent Edition PC's provision of a smaller, VGA-only display and a less powerful nVidia graphics card. nVidia’s GTS 450 is capable of playing the latest games titles, but it provides only around half the performance you’d expect from an ATI Radeon HD 6870.

The MSI P67A-C45 motherboard is well-matched to the i5-2500K CPU, offering the CyberPower Infinity i5 Silent Edition PC support for simple automatic overclocking, 6Gbps SATA and USB 3.0.

Of course, as its name suggests, the main selling point of the CyberPower Infinity i5 Silent Edition is its near-silent operation. The graphics card is fitted with a huge heatsink that helps keep it cool without a noisy fan, a quiet all-in-one watercooling kit is fitted to the processor, and the whole system is sealed inside a sound-deadened NZXT Hush system case. And it works: turn on the CyberPower Infinity and you’ll hardly hear a thing.

Power PCs chart ranking

  1. Palicomp Phoenix i7 2600-24 BLU
  2. Arbico Elite i7268 HDX
  3. Chillblast Fusion Zeus
  4. CyberPower Infinity i5 Silent Edition
  5. Dino PC Ravenous 2600

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Next page: Buying advice

The only Sandy Bridge PC here to run a Core i5 rather than i7 CPU, the CyberPower Infinity i5 Silent Edition offers a £100 saving. And it's by no means a slow machine.

Power PCs buying advice

Processor: Intel’s second-generation Sandy Bridge Core i5/i7 CPUs are currently the only serious contenders in this price category, having utterly outclassed the previous-generation of Core i7-800 and 900 processors. These chips are much faster and use less power.

The 3.4GHz i7-2600K is the fastest in the series, with the ‘K’ denoting an unlocked multiplier that offers safe and simple overclocking.

At 3.3GHz, the Core i5-2500K offers a slightly lower specification. It has no support for hyperthreading and 6MB rather than 8MB of level 3 cache.

Both chips are also available in cheaper non-K versions that don’t offer the same overclocking potential.

Motherboard: To take full advantage of Intel’s K-series CPUs, you’ll need a fully compatible motherboard. This will likely be more expensive. Avoid pairing with an H67 chipset-based motherboard.

A 64bit operating system is essential if you intend to use 4GB or more of RAM.

Storage: Expect 1TB, but you may find 2TB at this price. A complementary solid-state disk (SSD) will provide a noticeable boost to bootup times and system responsiveness, but these are pricey.

Get a multiformat DVD writer that can write to a dual-layer format if you want to store 8.5GB on a single disc. Look for a minimum of eight-speed DVD+R DL. Try to get eight-speed DVD+RW.

It’s not unusual to find a drive that reads but doesn’t write to Blu-ray. Note that DVD-burning speeds will be slower on these combo drives.

Display: 24in flat-panels are the standard here. Many vendors supply cheap screens to help budget for other components, but it’s worth spending a little more here if you’ll be working with digital media.

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 cheap displays that provide only VGA inputs.

Graphics card: At this price, the ATI Radeon HD 6870 is near-unbeatable. It offers support for multiple display and DirectX 11.0. You may be able to get an even faster Radeon HD 6950.

nVidia’s GeForce GTX 470 is also DirectX 11.0-compatible and delivers excellent performance, as well as support for the company’s 3D Vision technology. The GTX 460 offers good value, but it performs a little slower. It’s a superb choice for dual-graphics setups, however.

Look for souped-up versions with faster clock speeds or additional memory.

Many nVidia and ATI graphics cards can be upgraded to dual-card setups later. To take advantage of this, your motherboard and power supply must be compatible.

However, the current crop of motherboards which support the new processors have only limited support for multiple graphics cards, so buy the fastest single card you can afford.

Power supply: The level of power you require will depend on the graphics card you want to use. Look for at least a 500W unit or 750W-plus if you plan to add another card or overclock the CPU.

Sound card and speakers: Onboard sound decoding is so good these days that you’re unlikely to need a separate sound card – except for specialist applications such as studio music creation.

Next page: Specification and our expert verdict

CyberPower Infinity i5 Silent Edition: Specs

  • 3.3GHz Intel Core i5-2500K
  • Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit
  • 4GB DDR3 RAM
  • 1TB SATA
  • 6 x USB 2.0
  • 2 x USB 3.0
  • MSI P67A-C45 motherboard
  • 500W Cooler Master PSU
  • 22in LG E2240S-PN (0.25mm pixel pitch
  • 1920x1080)
  • 1GB Sparkle nVidia GeForce GTS 450 (games scores: Crysis [High/Very High] = 68/20fps
  • Stalker: Call of Pripyat [Medium/Ultra] = 110/46fps)
  • onboard Realtek ALC892 sound
  • speakers built into monitor
  • 24x/24x/12x/16x/6x/8x/12x/16x (DVD-R/+R/-R DL/+R DL/-RW/+RW/-RAM/-ROM)
  • Microsoft Office 2010 Starter
  • three-year return-to-base warranty
  • WorldBench 6 score: 157
  • 3.3GHz Intel Core i5-2500K
  • Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit
  • 4GB DDR3 RAM
  • 1TB SATA
  • 6 x USB 2.0
  • 2 x USB 3.0
  • MSI P67A-C45 motherboard
  • 500W Cooler Master PSU
  • 22in LG E2240S-PN (0.25mm pixel pitch
  • 1920x1080)
  • 1GB Sparkle nVidia GeForce GTS 450 (games scores: Crysis [High/Very High] = 68/20fps
  • Stalker: Call of Pripyat [Medium/Ultra] = 110/46fps)
  • onboard Realtek ALC892 sound
  • speakers built into monitor
  • 24x/24x/12x/16x/6x/8x/12x/16x (DVD-R/+R/-R DL/+R DL/-RW/+RW/-RAM/-ROM)
  • Microsoft Office 2010 Starter
  • three-year return-to-base warranty
  • WorldBench 6 score: 157

OUR VERDICT

The CyberPower Infinity i5 Silent Edition isn’t the fastest PC out of the box, but its low price, quiet operation and easy overclocking options make it an attractive proposition.

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