Quad-core chips haven't perhaps come of age in the way we might have expected a few months ago. But for the floating voters, the newly trimmed (chopped even) price tag of the CyberPower Gamer Infinity Quad GT could swing the balance in favour of quad-core.

And why not? In theory, the CyberPower Gamer Infinity Quad GT ought to fly in a future software landscape populated by multi-threaded populations. The problem is, we don't know when this CPU utopia may be arriving. And in the meantime, that 13 point performance gap between this and the similarly priced Arbico is hard to swallow. But the rest of the components are undoubtedly impressive for the price.

The CyberPower Gamer Infinity Quad GT's dual 8800 GTs still pack quite a punch when it comes to gaming, and the 4GB of DDR2-800 memory and 500GB hard drive are hard to fault. The sound system is good too, with only the Acer screen not quite at the top of the pile. But for those prepared to sacrifice a bit of speed today, this well-priced CyberPower Gamer Infinity Quad GT hints at a lip-smacking payoff in the future.

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Power PCs buying advice

Buying advice: £1,001+ desktop PCs

Processor: The once all-conquering E6850 processor seems to be on its way out, overmatched by the new Penryn E8500 chip. The E8500 will register the same performance scores as the E6850 with just half the RAM.

The E8500 remains a more expensive option, however. It’ll be worth watching out for bargains on E6850 machines as manufacturers look to offload supplies.

If you’ve got one eye on the future, you might also want to consider a Core 2 Quad chip. You’ll sacrifice a little speed for the money in the short term, but you could see a serious performance boost when multithreaded software applications start hitting the stores.

Memory: No sooner had the age of the 2GB PC been ushered in than PC makers started deluging us with 4GB machines. Virtually all models over £1,000 come with such a configuration. If you want a PC that’ll be able to cope easily with programs in 2008 and beyond, 4GB of RAM is the key. For the best performance, look for high-quality memory from a reputable maker such as Corsair.

Storage: It’s hard to believe, but anything less than 500GB is now considered a small amount of storage space – most manufacturers supply somewhere between 500GB and 1 terabyte (TB). Unless you pursue a particularly gigabyte-hungry pastime such as video editing, however, you’re unlikely to need more than 400GB or 500GB. Get serial ATA cabling for rapid transfer rates.

Cover backup with a multiformat DVD writer. Dual-layer capabilities (allowing you to store 8.5GB rather than 4.7GB on a disc) are a must, and make sure the drive supports DVD+R DL at eight-speed or more. Eight-speed DVD-R DL is nice but not essential. Also, look for good eight-speed DVD+RW facilities. Other optional formats include DVD-RAM.

Display: You might think a £1,001-plus PC would be guaranteed to come with a superior flat-panel display – but you’d be mistaken. The PCs in our chart all come with high-quality 22in displays, but there are some 24in screens to be had – and these are of less consistent quality. Some of the 24in monitors out there suffer from poor colours and fuzzy images, which can be a serious problem for those with sensitive eyes. It’s a safer bet to go for a 22in screen, provided you don’t mind inferior resolution support.

Graphics card: At this price point, you should be able to get something rather startling. Of the single cards, the GeForce 8800 Ultra is the most prized acquisition. Its support for DirectX 10.x means Vista users can look forward to some impressive games titles in the future.

The Ultra also has bags of performance and a slew of sizzling features. Stocks of the Ultra are running low, however, and many manufacturers are supplying one or two 8800 GT or 8800 GTS 512 cards. These aren’t actually very far behind the Ultra (and the impressive 8800 GTX) on performance. A pair of 8800 GTs is an excellent choice for high-level gaming speed.

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 find a PC with a Creative Audigy card or, better still, one from the excellent X-Fi range. If you only want 2.1-channel speakers then make sure they’re high-quality models; most firms are bundling 5.1 speakers. If you want audio excellence you’d be best off holding out for a set of 7.1 speakers, which are becoming less common.

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CyberPower Gamer Infinity Quad GT: expert review

Our first look

Quad-core chips continue to cause us quite a dilemma. And, with both AMD and Intel looking to push the concept in the coming months, it’s a problem that isn’t going to go away any time soon.

The CyberPower Gamer Infinity Quad GT’s quad-core Q6600 processor makes this a machine that ought to fly in the future world of multithreaded applications. The CyberPower Gamer Infinity Quad GT’s best months may remain ahead of it and, given that it already scores 114 real-world speed points in our WorldBench tests, that’s quite a promise.

In today’s software market, it won’t pack the same speed as the E6850-powered Mesh G92 Titan and Arbico Elite 8800GT SLI PCs. The CyberPower Gamer Infinity Quad GT is, however, the best of the quad-cores – particularly if you’re ogling its juicy £1,169 price tag. CyberPower’s brainwave is to realise that two graphics cards are better than one. The 8800 GT has both the firepower and the price tag to allow CyberPower to include two in this PC and, as a result, it flies through games tests. Whether you’re playing Crysis or a game from several years ago, the CyberPower Gamer Infinity Quad GT makes short work of the graphical demands.

And the CyberPower Gamer Infinity Quad GT has some good components elsewhere. The RAM allocation of 4GB is high-speed PC2-6400, while the 500GB hard drive is ample. You could quibble that the Chillblast Fusion Terminator offers better value with 750GB of storage, but we suspect that 500GB will be enough for most users.

The 22in Acer is a solid display, while the sound system is excellent. The DVD writer is one of the slower models in the chart but, overall, the CyberPower Gamer Infinity Quad GT is an excellent choice for those who like the idea of sacrificing a little speed now in exchange for a potential boost when multithreaded applications take over.

CyberPower Gamer Infinity Quad GT: Specs

  • 2.4GHz Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600
  • Windows Vista Home Premium
  • 4GB DDR RAM
  • 500GB serial ATA
  • MSI P6N SLI
  • 6 x USB ports
  • 22in Acer AL2216W (0.282mm pixel pitch, 1,680x1,050 max resolution @75Hz)
  • 2 x 512MB PCI Express EVGA nVidia GeForce 8800 GT
  • Creative SB X-Fi XtremeAudio
  • 5 x Creative Inspire T6100
  • subwoofer
  • max DVD speeds: 18x/18x/8x/8x/6x/8x/12x/16x (DVD-R/+R/-R DL/+R DL/-RW/+RW/-RAM/-ROM)
  • three-year return-to-base warranty
  • WorldBench 6.0 score: 114
  • 2.4GHz Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600
  • Windows Vista Home Premium
  • 4GB DDR RAM
  • 500GB serial ATA
  • MSI P6N SLI
  • 6 x USB ports
  • 22in Acer AL2216W (0.282mm pixel pitch, 1,680x1,050 max resolution @75Hz)
  • 2 x 512MB PCI Express EVGA nVidia GeForce 8800 GT
  • Creative SB X-Fi XtremeAudio
  • 5 x Creative Inspire T6100
  • subwoofer
  • max DVD speeds: 18x/18x/8x/8x/6x/8x/12x/16x (DVD-R/+R/-R DL/+R DL/-RW/+RW/-RAM/-ROM)
  • three-year return-to-base warranty
  • WorldBench 6.0 score: 114

OUR VERDICT

The CyberPower Gamer Infinity Quad GT is an excellent choice for those who like the idea of sacrificing a little speed now in exchange for a potential boost when multithreaded applications take over.

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