Arbico is used to sitting at the top of the pile when it comes to performance, and this sub-£500 system is no exception. With a WorldBench 6 processing-speed score of 119, the Arbico Elite 8400 is a clear winner in this category, even beating a couple of the latest £751-£1,000 models.

The key to the Arbico Elite 8400's success is a 3GHz Intel Core 2 Duo E8400 processor, which offers exceptional performance for the price and is widely used throughout our charts.

The similarly specified Chillblast Fusion Rogue comes close but loses out when it comes to gaming. Both PCs use nVidia 8600 GT graphics cards, but the Arbico Elite 8400’s 1,024MB model offers a distinct advantage over the Rogue’s 512MB XpertVision card.

The Arbico Elite 8400 boasts 2GB of RAM – a standard offering at this price point – while sound is limited to the motherboard’s onboard audio, played through the monitor’s rather tinny integrated speakers.

Some may prefer to make a small performance sacrifice and go for the Chillblast Fusion Rogue instead of the Arbico Elite 8400. Unusually for a sub-£500 PC, it features five external speakers and a subwoofer.

Like the Chillblast Fusion Rogue, the Arbico Elite 8400 comes with Hannspree’s popular and distinctive-looking XM New York flat-panel. It’s a well-made product that’s high on style and low on flimsy plastic components. Image quality isn’t the greatest, but it’s much better than you generally get at this price.

Arbico has plumped for the popular CoolerMaster Elite 330 case with the Elite 8400, which has room for plenty of additional drives. The supplied 232GB SATA hard disk is plenty to be getting along with, however.

Budget desktop PCs chart ranking (July 08 issue)

  1. Arbico Elite 8400
  2. Chillblast Fusion Rogue
  3. Mesh Delta GT
  4. CyberPower Gamer Ultra 930
  5. CyberPower Gamer Infinity 750