Eclipse’s Excalibur i792nGTX260 was one of the slower machines in our tests, but make no mistake: all the systems in our chart are blazingly fast.

Another system that falls in the middle of the group price-wise is Eclipse's Excalibur i792nGTX260. In our tests this PC was one of the slower machines, but make no mistake: all the systems in our chart are blazingly fast. A tally of 127 WorldBench 6 points is not to be sniffed at.

Closest in specification and price to the Arbico, the Eclipse Excalibur i792nGTX260 also uses an nVidia GeForce GTX 260 to deliver its graphics. But whereas the Arbico uses a souped-up version of the GTX 260, the model favoured by Eclipse is completely standard. This results in gaming scores a few fps below the Arbico across the board.

If you're thinking of adding a second graphics card later on, note that the Eclipse Excalibur i792nGTX260's MSI X58 Platinum motherboard is certified for Crossfire, not scalable link interface (SLI).

On the plus side, the Eclipse Excalibur i792nGTX260 comes with 6GB of DDR3 RAM and a 24in Yuraku monitor that's capable of a 1,920x1,200 resolution. While the graphics card may be less well equipped to take advantage of this screen size when playing games, it's ideal for watching Blu-ray movies using the drive provided. The display itself is rather chunky and nowhere near as stylish as the Arbico's LG, but it delivers a vivid, colourful image using the DVI connection.

Power desktop PCs chart ranking (April 09 issue)

  1. Chillblast Fusion Titanium
  2. Arbico Elite i7 Pro
  3. Mesh Lexa 280
  4. Eclipse Excalibur i792nGTX260
  5. CyberPower Gamer Infinity i7 Andromeda


>> NEXT PAGE: Power desktop PCs buying advice

Eclipse’s Excalibur i792nGTX260 was one of the slower machines in our tests, but make no mistake: all the systems in our chart are blazingly fast.

Power desktop PCs buying advice (April 09 issue)

Processor: Until recently, Intel Core 2 Duo chips were your best bet. This has all changed with the release of Intel's incredibly quick Core i7 CPUs. These offer a number of speed boosts, including the ability to run eight threads simultaneously, although they require far more expensive motherboards and memory than previous-generation chips.

Memory: If you're spending more than £1,000 on a PC, it should come with at least 4GB of RAM. Any less will prevent a Vista PC reaching its full potential. To plan for the future, get 4GB in two modules to allow room for expansion.

A 64bit operating system will ensure you take full advantage of your memory, especially if you're using dual graphics cards - these sap RAM on 32bit systems. If you're going for an i7-based PC, you'll need to buy your chips in threes to take advantage of the triple-channel architecture. You'll also need to splash out on DDR3 rather than DDR2 chips.

Storage: Expect at least 750GB. Look for a pair of drives rather than a single larger unit; it will boost performance and prevent you losing lots of data if a drive fails. Raid setups are also an option. 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 above - 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 DVD speeds. Alternatively, buy a second DVD burner for backup.

Display: We're seeing increasing numbers of 24in displays. This used to be the magic size at which full 1,080p HD playback became available, making these ideal partners for Blu-ray drives. However, newer 22in monitors in the 16:9 aspect ratio are also able to display full HD video and cost considerably less, making them excellent value for money, although the size of onscreen elements will be reduced.

If this doesn't appeal, standard 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 HDMI is useful for connecting to a games console.

Graphics card: For a thrilling gaming experience, choose between an nVidia GeForce GTX 280 and ATI Radeon HD 4870 X2. Also look out for pre-overclocked graphics cards, which can deliver excellent value for money and are approved by chip manufacturers.

Buying a single-card solution keeps your options open for adding a second card later. It also leaves more space in your PC for sound cards or TV tuners.

Sound card and speakers: There have been improvements in onboard sound, but it's still no match for a decent sound card. You should be able to get a Creative Audigy or one of the excellent X-Fi cards.

If you only want 2.1-channel sound (two speakers and a subwoofer), make sure they're high-quality models. Some firms are bundling 5.1-channel speakers.


>> NEXT PAGE: Specifications and our expert verdict

Eclipse Excalibur i792nGTX260: Specs

  • 2.66GHz Intel Core i7 920
  • Windows Vista Home Premium 64bit
  • 6GB DDR3 RAM
  • 1TB SATA
  • MSI X58 Platinum
  • 10 x USB 2.0
  • 24in Yuraku MB24W (0.27mm pixel pitch
  • 1,920x1,200)
  • 896MB PCI Express nVidia GeForce GTX 260 (games scores: Crysis High = 71fps, Very High = 23fps
  • Fear = 217fps)
  • onboard Realtek ALC888/1200
  • speakers built into flat-panel
  • 4.8x BD-ROM
  • 3x HD DVD-ROM
  • 16x/16x/4x/4x/6x/8x/5x/16x (DVD-R/+R/-R DL/+R DL/-RW/+RW/-RAM/-ROM)
  • one-year return-to-base warranty
  • WorldBench 6 score: 127
  • 2.66GHz Intel Core i7 920
  • Windows Vista Home Premium 64bit
  • 6GB DDR3 RAM
  • 1TB SATA
  • MSI X58 Platinum
  • 10 x USB 2.0
  • 24in Yuraku MB24W (0.27mm pixel pitch
  • 1,920x1,200)
  • 896MB PCI Express nVidia GeForce GTX 260 (games scores: Crysis High = 71fps, Very High = 23fps
  • Fear = 217fps)
  • onboard Realtek ALC888/1200
  • speakers built into flat-panel
  • 4.8x BD-ROM
  • 3x HD DVD-ROM
  • 16x/16x/4x/4x/6x/8x/5x/16x (DVD-R/+R/-R DL/+R DL/-RW/+RW/-RAM/-ROM)
  • one-year return-to-base warranty
  • WorldBench 6 score: 127

OUR VERDICT

While the Eclipse Excalibur i792nGTX260's extra RAM, larger display and better power supply are impressive, we felt the Arbico is a more balanced system overall.

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