The Eclipse Titan X58-Crossfire i792R489 uses similar components to Arbico's second-placed Elite i750 Pro. And with good reason: the Intel Core i7 920 CPU and Gigabyte motherboard are a great combination at this price, delivering excellent processing performance.

Although this motherboard comes with only four memory slots, the 6GB of RAM supplied with the Eclipse Titan X58-Crossfire i792R489 will be adequate for most users.

AMD's brand-new HD 4890 graphics card delivers powerhouse performance. This achieved a superb 30fps in our ‘Very High' Crysis test; if you hunger for yet more power, CrossFire technology lets you add a second HD 4890. The Eclipse Titan X58-Crossfire i792R489's 850W PSU provides plenty of power for such an upgrade.

The Eclipse Titan X58-Crossfire i792R489's 750GB hard drive is relatively capacious, although it's not uncommon for £1,000 PCs to go still futher and supply a full terabyte (TB) of storage.

The Eclipse Titan X58-Crossfire i792R489's 21.6in Hanns-G monitor is a decent model and comes with a digital input. We've seen better examples in this price category, however. The 24in Acer display supplied by the fourth-placed Palicomp is one of them.

It scored four points less than the Arbico in our WorldBench 6 real-world speed test, but the Eclipse Titan X58-Crossfire i792R489 is sure to outpace that PC as more memory-intensive applications come into use. The lack of external speakers and smaller hard drive may make it a less attractive bundle to some users, however.

Chart ranking: Power desktop PCs (Sep 09 issue)

  1. Eclipse Titan X58-Crossfire i792R489
  2. Arbico Elite i750 Pro
  3. CyberPower Mega Sales IV
  4. Palicomp Phoenix Ballistix E86-24
  5. Dell Studio XPS

>> NEXT PAGE: Buying advice

Buying advice: Power desktop PCs

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, Core i7 chips require more expensive DDR3 memory and a new motherboard design, so expect to make sacrifices elsewhere.

Dual-core CPUs are still popular at this price point, offering good performance and considerably lower system costs. Intel's E8600 offers the best performance.

Quad-core processors, such as the Q9400, are another option. These chips use the same memory and motherboard as dual-core machines and can offer huge speed advantages if you run multithreaded applications such as video encoding.

Memory: Consider 4GB as a minimum, particularly if you're running Windows Vista. If you're buying a Core i7-based system, however, expect 3GB or 6GB of RAM (such machines install memory chips in threes). A 64bit operating system 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 operating system is essential.

Storage: Anything less than 500GB is now considered a small amount of storage space. Many users will get by with 320GB but, with prices falling, it isn't impossible to find a terabyte at this price point.

Get a multiformat DVD writer that can write to a dual-layer format if you want to store 8.5GB rather than 4.7GB on a disc. Look for a minimum of eight-speed DVD+R DL; DVD-R DL is nice but not essential. Try to get eight-speed DVD+RW.

At this price you should be able to find a drive that reads Blu-ray discs - note that it won't burn to Blu-ray, and DVD burning speeds will be slower.

Display: 22in flat-panels are the standard here. Many vendors supply budget screens in order to leave more cash in the pot for other components, but it's worth spending a little more if you intend to work 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 example.

Graphics card: At this price point, the ATI Radeon HD 4890 is an excellent choice for gamers. You'll also find good deals on nVidia's GeForce GTX 260 (or even 280). Look for souped-up versions with faster clock speeds or additional memory. Two of our Top 5 machines go for the HD 4890.

The GTX 260 and HD 4890 can be used in dual-card setups later but, to take advantage of this, your motherboard and PSU will need to be compatible. Ready-made dual-card solutions are available but can work out 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 PSU at this price point, but consider 750W upwards if you have any thoughts of moving up to a dual card solution later. Overclocking will also demand a powerful, high-quality PSU.

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

>> NEXT PAGE: Our expert verdict

Eclipse Titan X58-Crossfire i792R489: Specs

  • 2.66GHz Intel Core i7 920
  • Windows Vista Home Premium 64bit
  • 6GB DDR3 RAM
  • 750GB SATA
  • Gigabyte GA-EX58-UD3R
  • 10 x USB 2.0
  • 850W AlphaPower PSU
  • 21.6in Hanns-G Hi221DP (0.28mm pixel pitch
  • 1,680x1,050)
  • 1,024MB PCI Express Sapphire ATI Radeon HD 4890 (games scores: Crysis (High/Very High) = 67/30fps
  • Fear = 260fps)
  • onboard Realtek ALC888
  • speakers built into monitor
  • 22x/22x/12x/16x/6x/8x/12x/12x (DVD-R/+R/-R DL/+R DL/-RW/+RW/-RAM/-ROM)
  • one-year return-to-base warranty
  • WorldBench 6 score: 128
  • 2.66GHz Intel Core i7 920
  • Windows Vista Home Premium 64bit
  • 6GB DDR3 RAM
  • 750GB SATA
  • Gigabyte GA-EX58-UD3R
  • 10 x USB 2.0
  • 850W AlphaPower PSU
  • 21.6in Hanns-G Hi221DP (0.28mm pixel pitch
  • 1,680x1,050)
  • 1,024MB PCI Express Sapphire ATI Radeon HD 4890 (games scores: Crysis (High/Very High) = 67/30fps
  • Fear = 260fps)
  • onboard Realtek ALC888
  • speakers built into monitor
  • 22x/22x/12x/16x/6x/8x/12x/12x (DVD-R/+R/-R DL/+R DL/-RW/+RW/-RAM/-ROM)
  • one-year return-to-base warranty
  • WorldBench 6 score: 128

OUR VERDICT

The Eclipse Titan X58-Crossfire i792R489 is a definite improvement on last month’s Titan X58 Crossfire. A DVD drive replaces the read-only Blu-ray drive and graphics performance has also been improved.

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