Even two months after its first appearance, this PC tops the chart for raw performance. This achievement is mostly down to the Arbico 880 GTX’s good use of the Intel Core 2 Duo E6850 chip – one of the most earth-shattering processors we’ve seen. But with stiffer competition from the Chillblast Fusion Tomcat and Eclipse Genesis SLI i685n88GTX, its performance lead is cut to just one WorldBench real-world speed point.

It won’t be long before 4GB is almost compulsory at this price point, but we haven’t reached such a time yet. Although the very latest PC from Arbico (the Arbico QC2900 XT) comes with 4GB, the Arbico 880 GTX doesn't – something which it has in common with three of the other PCs in the Top 5. The 768MB GeForce 8800 GTX graphics card is something of a force to be reckoned with. Only the Ultra throws up higher framerates in games testing and, for gamers and speed freaks, this PC is one of the best choices available – even if the Chillblast Fusion Tomcat shades it slightly on game framerates.

The Arbico 880 GTX is not without its faults, however. The onboard sound is no match for the cream of the Creative X-Fi sound cards, while the Chillblast Fusion Tomcat has a superior speaker setup. The Arbico 880 GTX trails on hard-disk drive space, offering just 320GB compared with the 500GB of the Chillblast Fusion Tomcat.

Arbico has upgraded the 880 GTX's flat-panel, and the 22in Hyundai is a very decent screen. It’s nothing spectacular, but the resolution support and viewing area are impressive.

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

There are areas where the Arbico 880 GTX shows its age slightly, and the sound system could certainly have been better. But if you want acres of performance then this machine is an excellent alternative to the Chillblast Fusion Tomcat.

Last issue

This chart boils down to a fight between an all-rounder from Mesh and a couple of more specialised systems from Arbico - the bargain Arbico CD-8870GS and this speed demon. Arbico likes to be on top of the performance charts and the Arbico 880 GTX obliges its maker. It's perhaps not surprising, since the Arbico 880 GTX makes good use of the Intel Core 2 Duo E6850 - one of the most earth-shattering processors we've seen.

The Arbico 880 GTX beats its nearest rival by five points in our WorldBench tests. That the Arbico 880 GTX doesn't finish even further ahead is down to the extra lashings of RAM served up with the third-placed Mesh Elite Q-Express TV PCA. Still, the Arbico 880 GTX will remain a sprightly devil for some time to come.

Strong performance is reinforced by the Arbico 880 GTX's graphics card - the 768MB GeForce 8800 GTX is a force to be reckoned with. Only the 8800 Ultra throws up higher framerates in games testing.

Not that every base is covered, though - you may wish to consider upgrading the Arbico 880 GTX's sound. While the Cyber Acoustics speakers have a satisfyingly throaty growl, the onboard sound can't compare with the Creative X-Fi sound cards. Those looking to stock up on music and video files may also cast covetous glances at the 400GB and 500GB hard drives seen in the other PCs in this chart - the Arbico 880 GTX forces you to make do with (a pretty substantial but comparatively poor) 320GB.

Power PCs chart ranking as of Nov 07 issue


  1. Arbico 880 GTX
  2. Arbico CD-8870GS - last month 1
  3. Mesh Elite Q-Express TV PCA
  4. Mesh Elite Quad-Express PCA - last month 2
  5. Evesham Solar Flame

Buying advice: Power PCs as of Nov 07 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 320GB 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 nVidia GeForce 8800 GTS is making great waves in its 640MB incarnation. This card has some excellent graphics features, wonderful visual quality and also packs DirectX 10.0 support. There aren't any real DirectX 10.0 games titles around yet, so it remains to be seen whether this card is powerful enough to handle its demands.

Hunt around and you could do even better - it's possible to get an 8800 GTX for this money. If you're not into games, save money in this area: a 320MB 8800 GTS will be more than enough for you.

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.

Arbico 880 GTX: Specs

  • 3GHz Intel Core 2 Duo E8650
  • Windows Vista Home Premium
  • 2GB DDR Ram
  • 320GB serial ATA
  • Gigabyte GA-P35-DS3R motherboard
  • 6 x USB ports
  • 20.1in V7 S20PD flat-panel (0.292mm pixel pitch, 1,400x1,050 maximum resolution at 75Hz)
  • 768MB PCI Express XFX nVidia GeForce 8800 GTX
  • onboard ALC889A sound
  • 2 x Cyber Acoustics CA3095 speakers
  • subwoofer
  • maximum DVD speeds: 16x/18x/18x/8x/8x/6x/8x/12x (DVD-ROM/-R/+R/-R DL/+R DL/-RW/+RW/-RAM)
  • 2-year RTB warranty
  • WorldBench 6 score: 116
  • bundles Ahead Nero, CyberLink PowerDVD
  • 3GHz Intel Core 2 Duo E8650
  • Windows Vista Home Premium
  • 2GB DDR Ram
  • 320GB serial ATA
  • Gigabyte GA-P35-DS3R motherboard
  • 6 x USB ports
  • 20.1in V7 S20PD flat-panel (0.292mm pixel pitch, 1,400x1,050 maximum resolution at 75Hz)
  • 768MB PCI Express XFX nVidia GeForce 8800 GTX
  • onboard ALC889A sound
  • 2 x Cyber Acoustics CA3095 speakers
  • subwoofer
  • maximum DVD speeds: 16x/18x/18x/8x/8x/6x/8x/12x (DVD-ROM/-R/+R/-R DL/+R DL/-RW/+RW/-RAM)
  • 2-year RTB warranty
  • WorldBench 6 score: 116
  • bundles Ahead Nero, CyberLink PowerDVD

OUR VERDICT

There are areas where the Arbico 880 GTX shows its age slightly, and the sound system could certainly have been better. But if you want acres of performance then this machine is an excellent alternative to the Chillblast Fusion Tomcat.

Find the best price