After a successful few months in the cheaper categories, the Genesis SLI i685n88GTX marks Eclipse's first foray into £1,000 PC territory. And while it's not an unquestioned triumph, there's certainly plenty to catch the eye.

In fact, the specifications of the Eclipse Genesis SLI i685n88GTX are broadly similar to those of the top two. Just like the Chillblast Fusion Tomcat and Arbico 880 GTX, the Eclipse Genesis SLI i685n88GTX has a Core 2 Duo E6850 processor, while the addition of 2GB of PC2-6400U memory promises plenty of speed. The Eclipse Genesis SLI i685n88GTX's WorldBench 6 score of 113 isn't quite on a par with the top two. But it's not far behind.

The GeForce 8800 GTX is another exciting component that, unfortunately for the Eclipse Genesis SLI i685n88GTX, is matched by the Chillblast Fusion Tomcat and Arbico 880 GTX. But that shouldn't take anything away from a card that, bar the 8800 Ultra, is the fastest graphics adaptor available. As with the WorldBench scores, the Eclipse Genesis SLI i685n88GTX can't quite match the top two PCs for game framerates, but it's still something of a brute. The 500GB hard drive is a nice touch and the 22in Hyundai is a solid flat-panel - none of the PCs here come with dazzling screens, but the Hyundai is a steady model.

The Eclipse Genesis SLI i685n88GTX's sound system needs improvement, and the lack of speakers is unimpressive given the price. This is a shame, since the Eclipse Genesis SLI i685n88GTX comes with a stunning DVD writer - complete with 12-speed DVD+R DL and 16-speed -R DL capabilities.

Chart ranking: £751-£1,000 power PCs, January 08 issue


  1. Chillblast Fusion Tomcat
  2. Arbico 880 GTX (last month 1)
  3. Eclipse Genesis SLI i685n88GTX
  4. Arbico QC2900 XT
  5. Evesham Oxegen RD1500

Verdict

The sound system needs improvement, but the Eclipse Genesis SLI i685n88GTX certainly has its fill of features to catch the eye.

Buying advice: power PCs as of January 08 issue

Processor: We may finally be reaching the tipping point in the delicate balance of power between Intel's Core 2 Duo and Core 2 Quad chips. If you want a PC that'll fly through next year's software library, the Q6600 is an excellent chip to opt for. You may have to sacrifice a small amount of speed on today's applications and games but, in the long run, the gains should far outweigh the pains.

That said, the dual-core chips continue to rise in performance and, for today's programs, the E6850 and E6750 are the superior processors. Even in the age of the quad-core, you should get plenty of performance from these 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, a growing number of PCs are starting to make a case for stuffing 4GB under the lid. It's too early to be specifying such an amount as standard, but the future of computing may well thrive on this extra complement of memory.

Storage: Anything less than 400GB is now considered a small amount of storage space; most manufacturers opt for 400GB or 500GB. Many users can get along very comfortably with considerably less than this, but those intending to store lots of media files should stock up.

Cover backup with a multiformat DVD writer. Dual-layer capabilities are a must and you should make sure the drive supports DVD+R DL with a minimum of eight-speed. DVD-R DL is nice but not essential. Also, you should look out for good eight-speed or 10-speed DVD+RW facilities. Other optional formats include DVD-RAM.

Display: Flat-panels can vary wildly in quality. The safe bet here is a good 20in screen. However, there's an increasing chance you'll be offered a 22in flat-panel at this price. Bear in mind you'll probably stare at this screen for long periods so, if you're buying a relatively inexpensive 22in model, ensure you like the quality of the picture. Try to get a screen with a response time of 8ms or less so the screen doesn't blur on moving images.

Graphics card: At this price point, you should be able to get something rather startling. The ATI Radeon HD 2900 XT is excellent value for money, although you should be able to get better. Watch out for the GeForce 8800 GTX. This is the fastest graphics card bar the expensive and difficult to buy Ultras, and offers excellent graphics features and wonderful visuals, and enough firepower to make short work of DirectX 10.0. There aren't any real DirectX 10.0 titles around yet, but if anything will be able to handle the demands of DirectX 10.0, you can expect it to be an 8800 GTX or Ultra.

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. 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 want only 2.1-channel speakers then you should ensure they're high-quality models - but most manufacturers these days are bundling 5.1-channel speakers.

Eclipse Genesis SLI i685n88GTX: Specs

  • 3GHz Intel Core 2 Duo E6850
  • Windows Vista Home Premium
  • 2GB DDR RAM
  • 500GB serial ATA
  • MSI P6N SLI
  • 6 x USB ports
  • 22in Hyundai BlueH H22W (0.282mm pixel pitch, 1,680x1,050 max resolution @ 75Hz)
  • 768MB Zotac nVidia GeForce 8800 GTX (PCI Express)
  • onboard Realtek
  • speakers built into flat-panel
  • subwoofer
  • max DVD speeds: 20x/20x/12x/16x/6x/8x/12x/16x (DVD-R/+R/-R DL/+R DL/-RW/+RW/-RAM/-ROM)
  • one-year return-to-base warranty
  • WorldBench 6 score: 113
  • 3GHz Intel Core 2 Duo E6850
  • Windows Vista Home Premium
  • 2GB DDR RAM
  • 500GB serial ATA
  • MSI P6N SLI
  • 6 x USB ports
  • 22in Hyundai BlueH H22W (0.282mm pixel pitch, 1,680x1,050 max resolution @ 75Hz)
  • 768MB Zotac nVidia GeForce 8800 GTX (PCI Express)
  • onboard Realtek
  • speakers built into flat-panel
  • subwoofer
  • max DVD speeds: 20x/20x/12x/16x/6x/8x/12x/16x (DVD-R/+R/-R DL/+R DL/-RW/+RW/-RAM/-ROM)
  • one-year return-to-base warranty
  • WorldBench 6 score: 113

OUR VERDICT

The sound system needs improvement, but the Eclipse Genesis SLI i685n88GTX certainly has its fill of features to catch the eye.

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