Quad-core systems are gaining ground, but a fast dual-core machine is still a safe bet. With higher clock speeds, dual-core systems such as the Arbico Elite 8260 XL can still outpace their quad-core rivals on single-threaded applications and the majority of games.

The current king of the dual-core CPUs, Intel's 3.33GHz Core 2 Duo E8600, powers Arbico's Elite 8260 XL to an impressive 126 points in WorldBench 6. The money saved on the processor also allows for such extras as Logitech 2.1-channel speakers (two speakers and a subwoofer) and a Blu-ray drive, so you can watch HD movies on your desktop.

Arbico supplies a high-quality 22in LG monitor with the Elite 8260 XL, which is a considerable step up from some of the cheaper models in the chart from the likes of Digimate and Hanton.

Graphics are powered by an nVidia GeForce GTX 260 - an excellent graphics card that's capable of playing current games at good-quality settings. In our gaming tests, the Arbico Elite 8260 XL was consistently top of the pile.

Arbico has achieved a high-level of build quality and accessibility with the Cooler Master Elite 330 system case. No sound card is fitted, leaving ample room for upgrades. Disappointingly, the Arbico Elite 8260 XL's 4GB allocation of RAM is provided in 1GB modules - an upgrade would mean discarding the original chips.

Chart ranking: Power desktop PCs (March 09 issue)

  1. Eclipse Storm i7920n98GTX
  2. Arbico Elite 8260 XL
  3. Palicomp Phoenix E86-22
  4. Mesh Elite GTX260 Power
  5. RL Supplies Modula i8470