Intel’s superb Core 2 Duo E8500 processor continues to deliver tremendous performance at an appealing price, dominating our desktop PC charts across three categories.

Arbico has put the chip to stunning use in the Elite 8070EX. This system outperforms the competition in the budget price range, then beats all of the power systems for good measure.

The Arbico Elite 8070EX’s utter dominance when handling general office and productivity applications doesn’t extend to games, but it’s no gaming slouch. With 4GB of DDR2-800 memory and an ATI Radeon HD 3870 graphics card, it’s able to deliver a very playable Crysis experience at high-quality settings. You’ll have to keep the resolution somewhat lower than the 21.6in Hanns-G display’s maximum 1,680x1,050, however.

This monitor has proved highly popular in our charts. The design is basic, but it delivers relatively good performance for the price and provides the Arbico Elite 8070EX with both analogue VGA and digital high-definition multimedia interface (HDMI) inputs.

Once again, Arbico has opted for the reliable Coolermaster Elite 330 casing. This is smart and practical, with just enough style to prevent it looking boring and plenty of space inside for expansion. In any case, the Arbico Elite 8070EX's supplied 465GB hard drive is ample to be getting on with.

The components inside the Arbico Elite 8070EX's chassis are fairly standard. This isn’t a system designed with overclocking in mind – which is fine with us, considering that it manages an outstanding WorldBench 6 real-world speed score of 126.

If you’re expecting a full home-theatre experience from the Arbico Elite 8070EX, the 2.1-channel Logitech S220 set, with its compact subwoofer, will be a disappointment. But it should be enough to meet most people’s audio needs.

Chart ranking: budget desktop PCs (August issue)

  1. Arbico Elite 8070EX
  2. Mesh Elite Q9300 Pro
  3. CyberPower Gamer Infinity GT
  4. Eclipse Elite i85n98GTX
  5. Dell Inspiron 530/1142

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