In an otherwise dependable but slightly dull PC from Zoostorm, the 4-2353's Samsung DVD writer may just tip the scales if you need the fastest write speeds.

It’s not simply the 20-speed DVD-R/+R facilities that impress on this drive; you’ll also be amazed by the stunning 16-speed DVD+R DL capabilities, which allow you to store up to 8.5GB of data in next to no time. Of course, the media isn’t fast enough to get the most out of this drive yet, but the Zoostorm 4-2353’s Samsung DVD writer is undoubtedly a product for the future.

Otherwise, the Zoostorm 4-2353 chugs happily along. It’s not disastrous in any area, although it’s not eye-catching either. The Zoostorm 4-2353's Intel Core 2 Duo E6550 is a very solid chip at this price point and the WorldBench score of 90 is just the right side of acceptable. A RAM allocation of 2GB is welcome – even if it’s matched by all of the other PCs in the chart.

We quite like the Zoostorm 4-2353's steady 19in AMW flat-panel, although the GeForce 8500 GT is the slowest graphics card in this chart. Admittedly, those shopping around for a £500 PC can hardly have the very latest games in mind – a good gaming card by itself will cost more than half the price of this entire system – but, even so, an 8500 rather than an 8600 is disappointing.

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)