Here at PC Advisor, we adopt a sceptical approach towards overclocking, so we were less than thrilled when the CyberPower Gamer Ultra 550 came with its AMD Athlon 64 X2 6000+ boosted from a base speed of 3GHz to 3.16GHz. The CyberPower Gamer Ultra 550 seemed perfectly stable, however, and the high-quality PC2-6400 RAM allows you to push things pretty safely.

For the purposes of the chart, we’re going with the (still impressive) score of 92 WorldBench 6 points achieved at the chip’s base speed of 3GHz, but you can squeeze out an extra five points if you want to risk the overclocked chip. Even when it’s overclocked, however, the CyberPower Gamer Ultra 550 can’t match the superb Arbico CD6750 SX’s processing speed.

Aside from that, the lengthy warranty is probably the CyberPower Gamer Ultra 550’s best feature. Three years of protection is rare at this price point – provided the company continues to thrive in the difficult PC market (and there’s no reason to suppose it won’t), you can rest easy in the knowledge that you won’t have to bear the full cost if anything goes wrong.

There’s plenty to be pleased about elsewhere, despite the CyberPower Gamer Ultra 550 being older than some of its competitors. The 250GB hard drive still looks pleasingly capacious, although the 512MB 8600 GT is no longer the fastest graphics card in the chart – being trumped by the 1GB version and, more impressively, by the Eclipse Fusion i670A385HD’s Radeon HD 3850. The CyberPower Gamer Ultra 550's 19in Yuraku flat-panel is a solid screen, while the inclusion of decent Logitech speakers – even if no subwoofer is offered – makes this one of the better-sounding PCs in the chart.

Budget PCs chart ranking (March 08 issue)

  1. Arbico CD6750 SX
  2. Eclipse Fusion i670A385HD
  3. Advance Technologies AT-FX Air+
  4. CyberPower Gamer Ultra 550 - last month 2
  5. Eclipse Mirage Sli a60n86GT - last month 3