The Eclipse Solar Crossfire i786r585 desktop PC uses a powerful 2.8GHz Intel Core i7 860 quad-core CPU, an ATI Radeon HD 5850 graphics card and a Gigabyte motherboard that features an Intel P55 chipset.

Like our Best Buy Chillblast, the Eclipse Solar Crossfire i786r585 desktop PC uses a powerful 2.8GHz Intel Core i7 860 quad-core CPU, an ATI Radeon HD 5850 graphics card and a Gigabyte motherboard that features an Intel P55 chipset.

Both systems perform very well in our gaming tests and can deliver playable framerates at high-quality settings, even at the top resolution of the Eclipse Solar Crossfire i786r585 desktop PC's monitor.

Eclipse bundles a 23.6in Hanns-G full-HD display with the Solar Crossfire i786r585 desktop PC. One of the best monitors in the group, the Hanns-G comes with dual inputs, including HDMI.

General computing speed is also very good, with the Eclipse Solar Crossfire i786r585 desktop PC coming second only to the Arbico in our benchmarking. Its score of 136 points in WorldBench 6 is a great result for a quad-core system, which has plenty more potential power when running multithreaded applications than our benchmark can assess.

The Eclipse Solar Crossfire i786r585 desktop PC's Gigabyte P55A-UD3 motherboard offers everything that the Chillblast's GA-P55-USB3 does - USB 3.0, six SATA 3Gbps connectors and two PCI Express x16, two PCI Express X1 and two PCI slots - but there's one important difference: it adds a pair of SATA 6Gbps connectors.

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

The Eclipse Solar Crossfire i786r585 desktop PC uses a powerful 2.8GHz Intel Core i7 860 quad-core CPU, an ATI Radeon HD 5850 graphics card and a Gigabyte motherboard that features an Intel P55 chipset.

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

Eclipse Solar Crossfire i786r585: Specs

  • 2.8GHz Intel Core i7 860
  • Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit
  • 4GB DDR3 RAM
  • 1TB SATA
  • Gigabyte P55A-UD3 motherboard
  • 600W EZCool PSU
  • 8 x USB 2.0
  • 23.6in Hanns-G HH241H (0.27mm pixel pitch
  • 1920x1080)
  • 1GB ATI Radeon HD 5850 (games scores: Crysis [High/Very High] = 74/37fps
  • Fear = 315fps)
  • onboard sound
  • speakers built into monitor
  • max DVD speeds: 22x/22x/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: 136
  • 2.8GHz Intel Core i7 860
  • Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit
  • 4GB DDR3 RAM
  • 1TB SATA
  • Gigabyte P55A-UD3 motherboard
  • 600W EZCool PSU
  • 8 x USB 2.0
  • 23.6in Hanns-G HH241H (0.27mm pixel pitch
  • 1920x1080)
  • 1GB ATI Radeon HD 5850 (games scores: Crysis [High/Very High] = 74/37fps
  • Fear = 315fps)
  • onboard sound
  • speakers built into monitor
  • max DVD speeds: 22x/22x/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: 136

OUR VERDICT

Very fast, and incorporating the latest USB 3.0 and 6Gbps SATA technologies, the Eclipse Solar Crossfire i786r585 is well ahead of the game in both performance and features. However, it lacks the surround-sound speakers provided with the Chillblast and comes with a less powerful PSU. It also comes with only a 12-month return-to-base warranty, whereas Chillblast offers a two-year collect-and-return service.

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