At first glance, Eclipse's Titan X58 Crossfire looks like an excellent buy. It's an ideal machine for both gaming and general-purpose use, with a 1GB HD 4870 graphics card installed and an impressive score of 129 points achieved in WorldBench 6. It's also the only system here to come with a full 6GB of DDR3 RAM - twice what you get from any of the competing Core i7-based PCs.

Despite this, any desktop PC that provides no method of burning DVDs simply isn't acceptable in this day and age - even if you gain the ability to play Blu-ray films with the Eclipse Titan X58 Crossfire.

The supplied 21.6in Yuraku monitor has no digital input, meaning image quality is considerably worse than that offered by the competition. The Eclipse Titan X58 Crossfire's lack of external speakers also mean you'll be relying on the monitor to provide sound output.

Our review machine shipped with the 32bit version of Windows Vista, rendering the extra 3GB of RAM useless. Be sure to specify the 64bit version when ordering the Eclipse Titan X58 Crossfire - it should come at no extra cost.

The Eclipse Titan X58 Crossfire is housed in a black Arial AL-01 case with mesh side panels that expose the illuminated components inside. It's a subtler effect than a transparent side panel, and it assists with ventilation.

The Eclipse Titan X58 Crossfire's Gigabyte motherboard comes with only four memory slots, rather than the usual six, so those who want to expand beyond 6GB will be disappointed. As the system name might suggest, it also exploits CrossfireX technology to support a second graphics card although, oddly, the installed power supply lacks the power connectors for such an upgrade.


Chart ranking: Power desktop PCs (July issue)

  1. Chillblast Fusion Fury
  2. Arbico Elite i750 Pro
  3. Mesh Whisper 4850 HD
  4. CyberPower Gamer Infinity i7 Andromeda
  5. Eclipse Titan X58 Crossfire

>> NEXT PAGE: Power desktop PCs buying advice

Buying advice: Power desktop PCs (July issue)

Processor: Intel's new 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-gen 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 overall system costs. Intel's E8600 chip 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 PCs and can offer huge speed advantages if you run multithreaded applications.

Memory: Consider 4GB as a minimum, particularly if you're running Vista. If you're buying a Core i7-based PC, however, expect 3GB (such PCs 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 400GB is now considered a small amount of storage space. Many users will get by with 320GB but, with prices continuing to fall, it isn't impossible to find a terabyte of storage 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, but it's worth spending a little more if you intend to work with digital photos or video. Try before you buy to ensure you can put up with the quality.

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+ displays that offer full-HD playback.

Graphics card: At this price, it's a pitched battle between nVidia's GeForce GTX 260 (or even 280) and the Radeon HD 4870 - most of our Top 5 go for the HD 4870.

The GTX 260 and HD 4870 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.

The HD 4890 should soon be available at a competitive price, offering a decent speed boost over the HD 4870.

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.

Eclipse Titan X58 Crossfire: Specs

  • 2.66GHz Intel Core i7 920
  • Windows Vista Home Premium 32bit
  • 6GB DDR3 RAM
  • 500GB SATA
  • Gigabyte GA-EX58-UD3R motherboard
  • 8 x USB 2.0
  • 600W Storm PSU
  • 21.6in Yuraku MABWBA flat-panel monitor (0.28mm pixel pitch
  • 1,680x1,050)
  • 1,024MB PCI Express ATI Radeon HD 4870 graphics card (games scores: Crysis (High/Very High) = 64/26fps
  • Fear = 232fps)
  • onboard Realtek ALC888 sound card
  • speakers built into monitor
  • 2x BD-ROM
  • 8x DVD-ROM
  • one-year return-to-base warranty
  • WorldBench 6 score: 129
  • 2.66GHz Intel Core i7 920
  • Windows Vista Home Premium 32bit
  • 6GB DDR3 RAM
  • 500GB SATA
  • Gigabyte GA-EX58-UD3R motherboard
  • 8 x USB 2.0
  • 600W Storm PSU
  • 21.6in Yuraku MABWBA flat-panel monitor (0.28mm pixel pitch
  • 1,680x1,050)
  • 1,024MB PCI Express ATI Radeon HD 4870 graphics card (games scores: Crysis (High/Very High) = 64/26fps
  • Fear = 232fps)
  • onboard Realtek ALC888 sound card
  • speakers built into monitor
  • 2x BD-ROM
  • 8x DVD-ROM
  • one-year return-to-base warranty
  • WorldBench 6 score: 129

OUR VERDICT

On paper, the Eclipse Titan X58 Crossfire's specifications are good. But it comes with so many contradictions: there's excellent general-purpose performance and yet there's no DVD drive; a Blu-ray drive is present, but the monitor is analogue-only and comes with no standalone speakers to make the most out of it; and while there's 6GB of RAM under the hood, the choice of operating system can use only 3GB.

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