Yet another system based on the Intel Core 2 Duo E8500, the CyberPower Sli KO GT easily outperforms the competition in our Crysis and Fear games tests, while making no compromises on general desktop apps.

If you’re into customised cases, you’ll love the way the CyberPower Sli KO GT looks. The transparent side panel reveals a huge Asus cooler, a pair of memory modules with equally impressive heatsinks and the enormous nVidia GeForce 9800 GX2 graphics card, which helps this system deliver by far the fastest gaming results in the chart. Because the supplied motherboard is scaleable link interface (SLI)-capable, you could add a second 9800 GX2 later for even greater speed.

The CyberPower Sli KO GT is supplied at 3.8GHz. We don’t test overclocked systems in our charts, but its performance at a stock speed of 3.16GHz makes it clear that the competition won’t come close at full tilt. You also get an enormous 750GB hard drive, so you should be able to install as many games as you like.

As for down sides, the front door and many of the exterior case components are made of a cheap-feeling plastic. The CyberPower Sli KO GT also comes without surround speakers or a Blu-ray drive and the 22in ViewSonic display, although excellent, is starting to look a little small.

Chart ranking: Power desktop PCs (August issue)


  1. Chillblast Fusion Thunderbolt
  2. Mesh Xtreme X9450 GTX Pro
  3. Arbico Elite 9870EX
  4. CyberPower Sli KO GT
  5. Dell XPS ONE DSGi E6550

>> NEXT PAGE: Power desktop PCs buying advice and our expert verdict

Buying advice: Power desktop PCs (August issue)

Processor: Intel Core 2 Duos are almost always the processors to go for: their performance is excellent for the price. But don’t power a standard desktop with a processor beginning with ‘E6’ – these chips’ time has passed.

If you’re feeling more adventurous, go for one of Intel’s latest quad-core processors, such as the Q9450. These deliver better performance than the previous generation of quad chips.

Memory: If you’re spending more than £1,000 on a PC, it should come with at least 4GB of RAM – only the Dell XPS ONE DSGi E6550 falls short of that here, and that’s an exceptional case.

For a PC that’ll be able to cope easily with programs in 2008 and beyond, get 4GB of RAM in two modules, so you’ll have room for expansion later.
A 64bit operating system will help you take full advantage of your memory, especially if you’re using dual graphics cards – these sap RAM on 32bit systems.

Storage: Expect at least 500GB at this price. Beyond this, go for a pair of such drives rather than a single larger unit. It’ll boost your performance and prevent you losing lots of data if a drive fails. Raid setups are also an option. Hard drives are relatively inexpensive, so 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 more – 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 your DVD-burning speeds. Alternatively, buy a second DVD burner for backup duties.

Display: We’re seeing increasing numbers of 24in displays in our high-end PC charts. You may baulk at the idea of such a large PC screen, but 24in is currently the magic size where full 1,080p high-definition (HD) playback becomes available – so these monitors make ideal partners for Blu-ray Disc drives.

If this doesn’t appeal, 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 HD multimedia interface (HDMI) is useful if you want to share your display with a games console.

Graphics card: It’s possible to spend an eye-watering amount of money on gaming hardware – a top-spec graphics card can easily cost more than the rest of the system put together. For a thrilling gaming experience we recommend at least a pair of GeForce 8800 GTS cards or one GeForce 9800 GX2. ATI’s less costly Radeon HD 3870 X2 can deliver excellent performance – especially when doubled up into a quad-processor setup. The Radeon HD 3870 and GeForce 9800 GX2 also leave slots free for upgrades such as sound cards or TV tuners.

The GeForce 9800 GTX offers better performance than the GeForce 8800 GTS, but will cost you more than a little extra.

Sound card and speakers: There have been big steps forward in onboard sound, with support for 7.1-channel audio (seven speakers and a subwoofer), but it’s still no match for a decent sound card. You should be able to find a PC with a Creative Audigy card or, better still, one from the excellent X-Fi range. If you only want stereo 2.1-channel speakers, make sure they’re high-quality models; most firms are bundling 5.1 speakers, which allow full surround sound when watching films or playing games.

CyberPower Sli KO GT: Specs

  • 3.16GHz Intel Core 2 Duo E8500 (sold overclocked at 3.8GHz)
  • Windows Vista Home Premium 64bit
  • 4GB DDR RAM
  • 750GB SATA
  • Asus P5N-D
  • 6 x USB
  • 22in ViewSonic VX2235wm (0.282mm pixel pitch, 1,680x1,050)
  • 1,024MB PCI Express EVGA nVidia GeForce 9800 GX2 (framerates: Crysis [HQ] 54fps, Fear 258fps)
  • onboard Realtek ALC883
  • Logitech S220
  • subwoofer
  • 20x/20x/8x/8x/8x/6x/12x/16x (DVD-R/+R/-R DL/+R DL/-RW/+RW/-RAM/-ROM)
  • three-year return-to-base warranty
  • WorldBench 6 score: 121
  • 3.16GHz Intel Core 2 Duo E8500 (sold overclocked at 3.8GHz)
  • Windows Vista Home Premium 64bit
  • 4GB DDR RAM
  • 750GB SATA
  • Asus P5N-D
  • 6 x USB
  • 22in ViewSonic VX2235wm (0.282mm pixel pitch, 1,680x1,050)
  • 1,024MB PCI Express EVGA nVidia GeForce 9800 GX2 (framerates: Crysis [HQ] 54fps, Fear 258fps)
  • onboard Realtek ALC883
  • Logitech S220
  • subwoofer
  • 20x/20x/8x/8x/8x/6x/12x/16x (DVD-R/+R/-R DL/+R DL/-RW/+RW/-RAM/-ROM)
  • three-year return-to-base warranty
  • WorldBench 6 score: 121

OUR VERDICT

The CyberPower Sli KO GT isn’t for everyone. However, if this were a gaming PC chart, it would certainly be sitting in first place.

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