The Zoostorm 4-2354 is the first sub-£500 quad-core PC to break into Budget PCs category. Current software doesn’t take full advantage of quad-core systems’ power, and the Zoostorm’s WorldBench 6 processing-speed score is some distance behind the leading dual-core systems. However, 105 points is still very creditable and, in the future, applications and games will take better advantage of multicore technology.

It’s also worth mentioning that in two sections of the WorldBench test, Autodesk 3DS Max 8.0 rendering and Nero 7.0 Ultra, the Zoostorm 4-2354 outperformed all of the competition in the Budget PCs category, and even beat all five of this month's Power PCs. In some areas quad-core technology already offers significant benefits.

Avid gamers need not apply, however. With graphics powered by an onboard Intel G33, most modern games will be pretty much unplayable. Audio is also handled by an onboard chipset. This leaves all the Zoostorm 4-2354's internal slots free for upgrades – although, with only a 350W power supply, it would be unwise to load up the system with anything too demanding. The case is also rather small.

Budget PCs chart ranking (May issue)

  1. Arbico CD8400 XL
  2. CyberPower Gamer Infinity 750
  3. Eclipse Matrix A64N88GS
  4. Zoostorm 4-2354
  5. Arbico CD6570 SX