On paper, the PC Specialist Apollo HD 8600 looks tasty: it’s the second system here to house Intel’s new E8600 chip. There’s also 4GB of RAM, a 750GB hard drive and a premium motherboard from Asus.

But the PC Specialist Apollo HD 8600 couldn’t meet our expectations, scoring a disappointing 119 points in our WorldBench 6 benchmark. In its defence, the E8600 is a new chip that has caused its fair share of compatibility headaches for manufacturers. By the time these processors start to ship in volume, we would expect any performance glitches such as these to be ironed out.

The PC Specialist Apollo HD 8600's Asus P5Q motherboard supports a number of high-end features, including an Intel P45 chipset, support for high-speed memory and advanced energy-saving functions. Its Express Gate mode allows you to boot the PC into a mini Linux OS in five seconds, from which you can surf the internet and quickly perform basic tasks without having to boot up Windows.

With graphics powered by an ATI Radeon HD 4870 card, the PC Specialist Apollo HD 8600 has the oomph necessary to run the most demanding 3D games – although the motherboard doesn’t support a Crossfire setup, so you won’t be able to add a second card later.

PC Specialist’s own Trigon case helps create a stylish and expensive-looking system with its solid build quality and four front-facing USB ports – these are accessible without opening the front door, which also conceals the PC’s Blu-ray drive.

Chart ranking: Power desktop PCs (Nov issue)

  1. Zoostorm 64-6502
  2. Mesh Elite GTX260 Pro
  3. CyberPower Gamer Infinity Silent Edition
  4. Chillblast Olympian
  5. PC Specialist Apollo HD8600

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