One number can make a big difference. The Core 2 Duo E6750 processor sounds like it ought to be a close match for the E6850, but that fatal digit is enough to squeeze the PC Specialist Apollo 880GT into fourth place. The real-world difference between the chips isn’t huge, but it becomes noticeable when speed and performance are pushed to the limit.

If we look beyond processing power, however, the PC Specialist Apollo 880GT has a feature set that makes it stand out from the crowd. Its 2GB of DDR RAM is fast Corsair memory, and the 500GB hard drive is huge – we doubt the typical user will need such a large amount of space, but gigabyte-hungry video buffs will be able to fill their boots.

The LG DVD drive is a solid model, if not quite up to the standard set by the Chillblast Fusion Gladiator and Arbico CD6850 GT drives. The PC Specialist Apollo 880GT also comes armed with plenty of ports and connectors – seven USB and two FireWire, in fact.

In other respects, there’s little to distinguish the PC Specialist Apollo 880GT from the other machines here. The Hannspree flat-panel has proven a good, affordable option for this month’s sub-£750 PC manufacturers, as has the GeForce 8800 GT graphics card – so popular has this card been that, even with large stocks laid on, nVidia is running low on products. The PC Specialist Apollo 880GT also has a decent pair of speakers to boost the quality of its audio.

Budget PCs chart ranking as of Feb 08 issue

  1. Chillblast Fusion Gladiator
  2. Eclipse Mirage i685n88gtx
  3. Arbico CD6850 GT
  4. PC Specialist Apollo 880GT
  5. CyberPower Gamer Infinity XT Elite - last month 2

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