Although it was edged out of our pricier desktop PC categories long ago, Intel's 3.16GHz Core 2 Duo E8500 processor still delivers excellent value for money and can be found at the heart of many of the best budget PCs, including the Eclipse Solar i85a465HD.
This chip earned the Eclipse Solar i85a465HD an impressive 123 points in our WorldBench 6 real-world speed tests, making it the fastest system in our sub-£500 chart. With 4GB of memory also under the hood, you'll be hard pushed to notice the difference between the Solar's general performance and that of PCs that cost twice as much.
The Eclipse Solar i85a465HD's 1GB ATI Radeon HD 4650 delivers playable framerates on a wide range of games, provided that you keep the quality and resolution settings reasonably low. Gaming performance really doesn't come any better than this at this price.
Presented in a tidy black case, the Eclipse Solar i85a465HD is smart and unobtrusive. There's plenty of potential for expansion, with space inside the casing and available slots on the motherboard. Cooling provision is minimal, unfortunately - the benefit of this is that the system is very quiet - and we'd recommend installing a fan at the rear if you plan to upgrade any components.
The 19in Yuraku display's rear-mounted controls are easy to use and maintain a clean appearance at the front of the screen. Curiously, the Eclipse Solar i85a465HD's power LED is also hidden at the rear. The omission of a DVI connector means image quality can't match the sharpness and clarity seen on other displays.
Chart ranking: Budget desktop PCs (May 09 issue)
- Eclipse Solar i85a465HD
- CyberPower Gamer Infinity 600 (last month 1)
- Arbico CD8465 EX (last month 2)
- Palicomp Excalibur E85-19 (last month 4)
- Mesh Nero 9850 HD
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