Once upon a time, you could count yourself fortunate to get much of a PC at all for £500. The Arbico CD6750 XL shows how far machines in this price range have come in a short space of time.

Rejecting the sub-standard E6550 and Athlon 64 X2 6000+ chips in favour of a rather stunning Intel Core 2 Duo E6750, the Arbico CD6750 XL simply flew through our WorldBench 6 test suite. The Arbico CD6750 XL notched up a hefty 99-point tally, which left it some distance in front of the unclocked CyberPower Gamer Infinity 550. And the Arbico CD6750 XL has made remarkably few compromises elsewhere to cram in this fantastic processor.

The picky might consider the Arbico CD6750 XL's 160GB hard drive somewhat skimpy compared to the 250GB units found in three of the other four PCs here. However, 160GB remains a decent amount of storage space. If you've got a big library of movies and audio files, you might find space a bit tight, but the majority of users will find 160GB satisfactory.

And there can be no quibbling about the Arbico CD6750 XL's 2GB of DDR RAM. Nor, for that matter, the GeForce 8600 GT graphics card. Only the 512MB version offered with the CyberPower Gamer Infinity 550 and PC Specialist Apollo Home GT systems are superior - and only marginally. Avid gamers aren't likely to be ecstatic with any of the cards found at this price level, but the 8600 GT offers very solid and playable framerates, provided you're prepared to tone down the detail levels.

The Arbico CD6750 XL's 19in Hannspree XM flat-panel offers perfectly adequate image quality, and its interesting looks will disguise the fact that you've been shopping for your PC on a tight budget. The onboard sound isn't stunning, but the DVD writer is an excellent model - if not quite as brilliant as the Zoostorm 4-2353's.

Chart ranking: Sub-£500 budget PCs, January 08 issue

  1. Arbico CD6750 XL
  2. CyberPower Gamer Infinity 550
  3. Zoostorm 4-2353
  4. Eclipse Matrix SLI A60n86GT
  5. PC Specialist Apollo Home GT (last month 4)