Some great Vista PC deals are available for under £750, but should you want a PC that'll really be able to harness the power of Vista then you should expect to pay in excess of a thousand pounds. The Arbico CD1950EX worked out as the best pick in the money-no-object Vista PCs we looked at.
There’s no questioning the Arbico's base speed. The Intel Core 2 Duo E6700 processor is about as fast as current CPU technology gets - without it costing a ridiculous amount of money. Pair it with 2GB of DDR RAM, as Arbico has done here, and the results are quite fantastic. The healthy WorldBench real-world speed benchmark score of 150 is testament to the CD1950EX's superb turn of pace.
But while it narrowly beats the Mesh E6700 X-Treme PCA on everyday performance, the Arbico lags a little way behind in gaming. That's because, while the Mesh plays host to an nVidia GeForce 8800 GTS graphics card, the Arbico's Radeon X1950 XTX is slightly older hat. It's still a very good card - at a standard resolution of 1,280x1,024, the Mesh is generally only a few frames per second faster - but it doesn't support DirectX 10.0.
Since DirectX 10.0 is one of the cornerstones of the Vista revolution, that could be a problem. Having said that, it's likely to be 12 months (if not considerably longer) before you really need a DirectX 10.0 graphics card, and there are no guarantees that an 8800 GTS will be fast enough to fully cope with the demands of DirectX 10.0 in full flight.
The Arbico has a Belinea flat-panel which produces a pleasing image. It's not quite as impressive as that of the Mesh's Sony, but the colours are very attractive, and the 20.1in size and high resolution offer adequate compensation. The 400GB hard drive is the smallest of any of the Vista PCs we’ve reviewed that costs more than a grand, but 400GB is as much as the typical user is going to need. The DVD writer is an excellent model, burning 18-speed DVD+R and DVD-R discs. We also like the audio system, with the X-Fi XtremeAudio cementing its reputation as one of the best sound cards available.