In a chart dominated by Intel processors, CyberPower's Ultra Scylla GT desktop PC bucks the trend with a 3.2GHz AMD Phenom II x6 1090T. This six-core chip is able to process half a dozen discrete program threads simultaneously.

In a chart dominated by Intel processors, CyberPower's Ultra Scylla GT desktop PC bucks the trend with a 3.2GHz AMD Phenom II x6 1090T. This six-core chip is able to process half a dozen discrete program threads simultaneously.

This sort of parallel computing power may be ideal for a low-cost graphics workstation, but in our benchmarking it fares rather less well. Despite support for AMD's single-thread-boosting 'Turbo Core' technology, the CyberPower Ultra Scylla GT desktop PC is beaten by the Intel processors.

The Asus motherboard provides a single PCI Express x16 slot, so you'll need to replace the CyberPower Ultra Scylla GT desktop PC's existing graphics card rather than add another if you wish to upgrade. A pair of PCI Express x1 and four PCI slots are provided for expansion elsewhere, however.

Only two of the four memory slots are filled with the CyberPower Ultra Scylla GT desktop PC's 4GB of DDR3 RAM, but the remaining pair are perilously close to the fan. A mighty 950W PSU provides plenty of juice for upgrades or overclocking.

The CyberPower Ultra Scylla GT desktop PC is also the only system here to offer nVidia graphics, with the GTX 470 and 1,280MB of video memory under the bonnet. Our tests showed it performing on a par with the HD 5850 in DirectX 11.0 titles, but elsewhere it was slightly slower.

A 23.6in full-HD monitor is provided with the CyberPower Ultra Scylla GT desktop PC, but there are no external speakers.

Power PCs chart ranking

  1. Chillblast Fusion Centaur
  2. Eclipse Solar Crossfire i786r585
  3. Palicomp Core i7 Blitz 860-24
  4. CyberPower Ultra Scylla GT
  5. Arbico Elite 6885 HD

>> NEXT PAGE: Buying advice

In a chart dominated by Intel processors, CyberPower's Ultra Scylla GT desktop PC bucks the trend with a 3.2GHz AMD Phenom II x6 1090T. This six-core chip is able to process half a dozen discrete program threads simultaneously.

Buying advice

Processor: Intel's 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-generation quad-core machine. However, some Core i7 900-series chips require more expensive DDR3 memory and a new motherboard design, so expect to make sacrifices.

The latest Core i7 800-series processors use lower-cost motherboards but can still compete with the lower end of the Core i7 900-series on performance.

Intel's dual-core Core i5 CPUs are also worth considering, offering higher clock speeds for your money.

Memory: Consider 4GB as a minimum. If you're buying a Core i7-based system, expect 3GB or 6GB of RAM (such machines install memory chips in threes). The Core i7 800-series and Core i5 chips install memory sticks in twos, however, making them excellent value for money.

A 64bit 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 500GB is considered small. With prices falling, it's more typical to find 1TB at this price point.

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.

At this price you may also find a drive that reads Blu-ray discs - note that it won't burn to Blu-ray, and DVD burning speeds will be slower. Keep an eye out for new motherboards with USB 3.0 and 6GBps SATA support too.

Display: 22in or 24in flat-panels are the standard here. Many vendors supply cheap screens in order to leave more room in the budget for other components, but it's worth spending a little more if you intend to work primarily with digital photos or video.

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-plus displays that offer full-HD playback. You may even be able to find a 24in model.

Graphics card: At this price point, the ATI Radeon HD 5850 seen in four of the five PCs here is an almost unbeatable choice for gamers. It offers multiscreen support and supports DirectX 11.0.

nVidia's GeForce GTX 470 also supports DirectX 11.0 and delivers excellent performance, as well as support for the company's 3D Vision glasses.

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

The GTX 260 and HD 5850 can be used in dual-card setups later but, to take advantage of this, your motherboard and power supply must be compatible.

Ready-made dual-card setups are available but can be more expensive.

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 unit at this price point or 750W upwards if you plan to add another card. A known brand is also likely to give better stability. Overclocking also demands a high-quality power supply.

Sound card and speakers: Onboard sound is no match for a sound card. Consider Creative's Audigy 4 or X-Fi range.

>> NEXT PAGE: Specification and our expert verdict

CyberPower Ultra Scylla GT: Specs

  • 3.2GHz AMD Phenom II x6 1090T
  • Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit (choose Windows 7 32bit at no extra cost)
  • 4GB DDR3 RAM
  • 1TB SATA
  • Asus M4N68T motherboard
  • 950W CyberPower PSU
  • 6 x USB 2.0
  • 23.6in HKC 2249A (0.27mm pixel pitch
  • 1920x1080)
  • 1,280MB EVGA nVidia GeForce GTX 470 (games scores: Crysis [High/Very High] = 63/34fps
  • Fear = 168fps)
  • onboard VIA VT1708S sound
  • speakers built into monitor
  • max DVD speeds: 24x/24x/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: 125
  • 3.2GHz AMD Phenom II x6 1090T
  • Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit (choose Windows 7 32bit at no extra cost)
  • 4GB DDR3 RAM
  • 1TB SATA
  • Asus M4N68T motherboard
  • 950W CyberPower PSU
  • 6 x USB 2.0
  • 23.6in HKC 2249A (0.27mm pixel pitch
  • 1920x1080)
  • 1,280MB EVGA nVidia GeForce GTX 470 (games scores: Crysis [High/Very High] = 63/34fps
  • Fear = 168fps)
  • onboard VIA VT1708S sound
  • speakers built into monitor
  • max DVD speeds: 24x/24x/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: 125

OUR VERDICT

A six-core PC will undoubtedly buy you bragging rights, and if you know how best to use it then the CyberPower Ultra Scylla GT desktop PC will also deliver excellent performance.

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