The Arbico Elite Z685 uses its 3.4GHz Intel Core i7-2600K processor to good effect, but recorded the lowest score in WorldBench 6. Nevertheless, it packs in plenty of performance and a very good specification.
Using an SSD to store the operating system can provide a greater performance boost than that offered by SRT. Arbico has preinstalled Windows 7 Home Premium on a 64GB OCZ Agility 3 SSD in the Elite Z685, leaving some space free for applications.
The Arbico Elite Z685's lower WorldBench 6 score is due to its 8GB provision of system memory; some rivals pack in 16GB. Its SSD makes a huge difference to overall responsiveness, however, and reduces bootup times noticeably. You may even find this PC feels faster in use than the Eclipse.
You won’t find the Arbico Elite Z685 so fast when it comes to gaming, though. It’s significantly better equipped than the Medion, but its GTX 560 Ti is inferior to the GTX 570 and HD 6970 cards seen elsewhere.
The Asus P8Z68-V LX motherboard supports 6Gbps SATA and USB 3.0, but the Arbico Elite Z685 has only two USB 3.0 ports.
An excellent Asus VS247 full-HD monitor is included, the same display selected by Chillblast. It’s complemented with a pair of Arbico-branded stereo speakers, although these lack bass. The Arbico Elite Z685's Blu-ray drive is another appealing component for multimedia fans.
The Arbico Elite Z685 is a good all-round system. Although it feels snappy and responsive in use, it lacks the graphics firepower of some of its rivals. You’ll also have to keep an eye on the remaining capacity of its fast SSD.
£1,000 PCs chart ranking
- 1. Chillblast Fusion Claymore
2. Arbico Elite Z685
3. Eclipse Matrix i726R697
4. Medion Akoya P5704 D
5. Chillblast Fusion Volt
£1,000 PCs buying advice
Processor: Intel’s second-gen Core i5 and i7 CPUs are the only serious contenders at this price. These ‘Sandy Bridge’ chips are much faster and use less power than their predecessors.
The 3.4GHz Core i7-2600K is the fastest available, with its ‘K’ designation denoting an unlocked multiplier. K-series CPUs are designed for overclocking, but demand a compatible motherboard.
At 3.3GHz, the Core i5-2500K offers a slightly lower specification. Unlike the Core i7, it has no support for hyperthreading and has 6MB rather than 8MB of level-three cache.
Motherboard: K-series chips require a motherboard that supports overclocking. These boards cost a little more, but a good version will do the hard work for you, providing a significant speed boost without any specialist knowledge.
Never pair a K-series CPU with a motherboard based on the H67 chipset – these don’t support overclocking. If you want to overclock, you should also invest in a third-party CPU cooler.
A 64bit OS will take full advantage of your RAM, but check that your software and drivers will be supported.
Storage: With storage prices falling, expect 1TB. We’re even seeing systems with 2TB at this price. An SSD may be available, providing a noticeable improvement in bootup times and system responsiveness. Their price requires cutbacks elsewhere, however.
Paired with a Z68 motherboard, a low-capacity SSD can boost hard-drive performance using Intel’s SRT.
Get a multiformat DVD writer that can write to a dual-layer format if you want to store 8.5GB on a single disc. Look for a minimum of eight-speed DVD+R DL. Try to get eight-speed DVD+RW.
It’s not uncommon to find a DVD drive that also reads Blu-ray discs, but DVD-burning speeds will be slower. Look for separate Blu-ray and DVD drives for the fastest performance.
Flat-panel: 24in flat-panels are standard at this price. Many vendors supply cheap screens to leave more cash for other components, but it’s worth spending more on a display if you intend to work with digital photos or video.
All twisted-nematic (TN) screens now have a response time of 8ms or less to minimise blur on fast-moving images. For image editing, contrast ratio and colour fidelity are more important – look for better in-pane switching (IPS) tech here.
An LED backlight doesn’t guarantee a superior display, but such models are often slimmer and more stylish. A digital input preserves picture quality.
Graphics card: At this price, the AMD Radeon HD 6970 is an excellent choice for gamers. It offers multi-screen and DirectX 11.0 support. nVidia’s GeForce GTX 560 Ti delivers similar performance, as well as support for 3D Vision.
You may find a GeForce GTX 570 at this price, which will give you even better gaming framerates.
Look for souped-up versions with faster clock speeds or additional memory.
Many graphics cards can be upgraded to dual-card setups. However, current motherboards have limited support for multiple graphics cards, so we advise you to buy the fastest single card you can.
Power supply: The level of power you require will depend on the graphics card you want to use. Look for at least a 500W unit or 750W-plus if you plan to add another card or overclock the CPU.