Considerably less bulky than a large-format movie theatre, the Packard Bell imax 3414 is by far the smallest PC system this month. At 17x30x28cm, it’s barely larger than the small form-factor PCs from companies like Shuttle. It’s a PC you can put just about anywhere.

Sadly it’s not just the dimensions of the Packard Bell imax 3414 that are small: it’s the one system in this category fitted with only 2GB of DDR2 memory – half what you’ll find in any other PC. Two free memory slots remain available for upgrades.

Also tiny by today’s standards is the Packard Bell imax 3414's 250GB internal hard drive. We’re used to double or even triple this capacity. The modestly sized monitor, a 19in Advent model, is of very high build quality with metal stand and glossy finish but has no DVI connector.

The Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600 doesn’t perform as well under WorldBench 6 as the Core 2 Duo E8500 found in the remaining PCs, mainly due to its considerably lower clock speed of 2.4GHz. Even so, quad-core processors come into their own in highly parallel applications such as video encoding, so if this is the kind of thing you want to do, the Packard Bell imax 3414 may still be a good choice.

Gaming performance is virtually non-existent. The Packard Bell imax 3414's 256MB nVidia GeForce 8400 GS simply won’t cut it if you wish to progress much beyond Solitaire.

The Packard Bell imax 3414 does, however, provide more than adequate performance for most users, is compact, bundled with a huge amount of software and, perhaps most importantly, £200 cheaper than the first four systems in the chart.

Budget desktop PCs: chart ranking (October issue)

  1. Arbico CD 4850
  2. Chillblast Fusion Hornet
  3. Eclipse Matrix i85A487
  4. CyberPower Gamer Infinity GT
  5. Packard Bell imax 3414

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