We’ve been finding it hard to choose between the future potential of the quad-core processors and the performance-today merits of the Core 2 Duos. And we’re not the only ones. Arbico has let its existing 880 GTX system fly the flag for the Core 2 Duo, while submitting the Arbico QC2900 XT as a star of the quad world. As you can see, the victory hasn’t gone the way of the Arbico QC2900 XT, but those of you who are prepared to sacrifice a little speed today in return for possible glory a year or two down the line may still find this system the most compelling choice of all.

Should multithreaded applications storm the software world in the coming years, quad-core chips such as the Arbico QC2900 XT’s Quad Q6600 ought to provide a considerable performance boost. In the meantime, though, they don’t offer quite the same burst of speed as today’s E6850 systems.

A RAM allocation of 4GB is another nice touch that today’s software doesn’t really take advantage of. There’s no doubt that higher amounts of memory will become more valuable with time, however. The Arbico QC2900 XT's 320GB hard drive is a touch skimpy, on the other hand, while the Radeon HD 2900 XT isn’t the best card here.

The 22in Hyundai is a solid screen and the Arbico QC2900 XT’s sound system is one of the better ones available. The Audigy SE 7.1 isn’t a stellar sound card, but the 5.1 Cyber Acoustics speakers are suitably throaty.

Chart ranking: £751-£1,000 power PCs, January 08 issue

  1. Chillblast Fusion Tomcat
  2. Arbico 880 GTX (last month 1)
  3. Eclipse Genesis SLI i685n88GTX
  4. Arbico QC2900 XT
  5. Evesham Oxegen RD1500