We use cookies to provide you with a better experience. If you continue to use this site, we'll assume you're happy with this. Alternatively, click here to find out how to manage these cookies

hide cookie message
PCs Reviews
15,669 Reviews

PC Specialist Apollo 880GT Sli power desktop PC review

£1,189 inc VAT

Manufacturer: PC Specialist

Our Rating: We rate this 4 out of 5

When we first saw the specifications of the PC Specialist Apollo 880GT Sli, we felt it had a good chance of grabbing top spot in our £1,001+ desktop PCs chart. But we hadn’t reckoned on the success of the Penryn revolution.

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.

See also:

PC Specialist Apollo 880GT Sli: expert review

PC Specialist Apollo 880GT Sli Expert Verdict »

3GHz Intel Core 2 Duo E6850
Windows Vista Home Premium
4GB DDR2-800 RAM
2 x 500GB SATA
Asus P5N-E SLI
9 x USB
22in LG L226WTQ (0.282mm pixel pitch
1,680x1,050 maximum resolution @75Hz)
2 x 512MB PCI Express Palit nVidia GeForce 8800 GT
Creative SB X-Fi XtremeAudio
5 x Creative Inspire T6100
20x/20x/10x/10x/6x/8x/12x/16x (DVD-R/+R/-R DL/+R DL/-RW/+RW/-RAM/-ROM)
Ahead Nero
CyberLink PowerDVD 7.0
flash memory drive
one-year return-to-base and one-year collect-and-return warranty
WorldBench 6 score: 120
  • Build Quality: We give this item 8 of 10 for build quality
  • Features: We give this item 8 of 10 for features
  • Value for Money: We give this item 8 of 10 for value for money
  • Overall: We give this item 8 of 10 overall

The Apollo 880GT Sli is another fine effort from PC Specialist, which falls narrowly short of picking up an award.

  • Mesh G92 Extreme Media power desktop PC review

    Mesh G92 Extreme Media power desktop PC

    Essentially an inferior reworking of the excellent PC Specialist Apollo 880GT Sli, the Mesh G92 Extreme Media needs to do better in a few areas to compete with the top machines in this price category.

  • Arbico Elite 8500GTS power desktop PC review

    Arbico Elite 8500GTS power desktop PC

    Even with the newly priced CyberPower breathing down its neck, the Arbico Elite 8500GTS retains enough clout to keep its place at the head of our £1,001+ PCs chart. This is mostly down to some juicy hardware components.

  • PC Specialist Apollo 880GT budget desktop PC

    PC Specialist Apollo 880GT budget desktop PC

    One number can make a big difference. The Core 2 Duo E6750 processor sounds like it ought to be a close match for the E6850, but that fatal digit is enough to squeeze the PC Specialist Apollo 880GT into fourth place. The real-world difference between the chips isn’t huge, but it becomes noticeable when speed and performance are pushed to the limit.

  • Chillblast Fusion Zodiac power desktop PC review

    Chillblast Fusion Zodiac power desktop PC

    Another impressive machine from Chillblast, only the Fusion Zodiac's comparatively high price tag keeps it locked out of the top two in our current £1,001+ desktop PCs chart. It does have its strengths though and, for pure gaming speed, the Fusion Zodiac actually surpasses the Arbico Elite 8500GTS.

  • PC Specialist E840GT SLI power desktop PC review

    PC Specialist E840GT SLI power desktop PC

    This is a decent all-round system. But the PC Specialist E840GT SLI remains unremarkable.

IDG UK Sites

What is Google Photos? How to back up and share all of your photos for free

IDG UK Sites

Why I think the Apple Watch sucks and you'd be mad to buy it

IDG UK Sites

Swatch launches a colourful smartwatch

IDG UK Sites

New Apple TV 2015 release date rumours: TV streaming service delayed, hand gesture interface being...