Dell's Studio XPS makes good use of its Intel Core i7 920 and 6GB allocation of RAM, scoring a commendable 128 points in WorldBench 6. It's also built into a compact and rather stylish case, which gives it a much tidier appearance than most built-to-order PCs. Flush panels conceal the DVD driver and a selection of front-facing ports, including a card reader and four USB ports.

However, while it may cost £50 less than the competition, the Dell Studio XPS' specification falls well below that which we're used to in this chart.

Whereas we'd normally expect at least a 22in display, Dell supplies an 18.5in Ultrasharp model that lacks a digital input with the Studio XPS. We appreciate that bigger is not always better, but we would expect to pay considerably less for the smaller model. To its credit, this monitor does look very sleek - perhaps even cute.

While the processing performance is more than adequate for all but the most speed-hungry power user, the story is a little different when it comes to gaming. By selecting AMD's mid-range card, the Radeon HD 4670, Dell has restricted 3D performance to sub-£500 PC levels. CyberPower's £499 AMD Pre-Build 2 Cores will outclass the Dell Studio XPS on any game you throw at it.

You could argue that this level of graphics power is well matched to the 1,366x768 resolution of the monitor, but bear in mind that your graphics card won't be able to keep up if you decide to add a larger screen.

The Dell Studio XPS' two 500GB hard drives are configured in a Raid 0 array to provide a total 1TB storage capacity. This configuration can increase performance, but it also increases the likelihood of total data loss following a disk failure.

Things are pretty cramped inside the case, but if you decide to attempt any significant hardware improvements you'll need to upgrade the Dell Studio XPS's 350W PSU too.

Chart ranking: Power desktop PCs (Sep 09 issue)

  1. Eclipse Titan X58-Crossfire i792R489
  2. Arbico Elite i750 Pro
  3. CyberPower Mega Sales IV
  4. Palicomp Phoenix Ballistix E86-24
  5. Dell Studio XPS