After the hype, the reality. Following the false starts, rumour and hyperbole, Windows Vista is finally here. And it's one snazzy piece of code. But how does Microsoft’s baby work in the real-world? We tested a phalanx of Vista PCs to find out.

This article appears in the April 07 issue of PC Advisor, available now in all good newsagents.

Unless you've spent the past couple of years hiding under a rock (and well done if that is the case), you'll have heard of something called 'Windows Vista'. For five years the PC community has watched Microsoft thrash itself into a frenzy made up of anticipation, creativity and hype, as it struggled to give life to its 'most revolutionary release ever'.

Now Windows Vista walks among us. And, as we reported last issue, it's an impressive operating system. But will it change your computing life? Is it worth the hassle of upgrading from XP, or is Vista, as some have suggested, little more than Mac OS X in fancy new clothes? As ever, much depends on the hardware you use.

We challenged the PC industry to build and sell real-world, shop-floor Vista PCs, ready for PC Advisor readers to buy off the peg. Once safely ensconced in the PCA Test Centre, we put the resulting systems through an exhausting series of tests and benchmarks, to bring you the definitive guide to the very best Vista systems available, right now.

So read on, as we present the best Vista PCs your money can buy.

Ultimate Vista PCs (£1,000-plus)

Arbico CD1950EX The winner of our Best Buy award, the Arbico is a fantastic combination of speed and value for money

Mesh E6700 X-Treme PCA This is the best Vista PC we've seen - but it'll cost you

Evesham Solar Creation GT There's very little wrong with the Evesham, and it features great audio and an impressive screen

Bargain Vista PCs (< £1,000)

Zoostorm 2-3305 Versatile PC Just £500, and it includes Vista Home Premium - sounds like a bargain to us

Chillblast Fusion Vista 6300 OCTV This Recommended award winner includes Vista Home Premium and an excellent flat-panel

Zoostorm 4-5404 Versatile PC The 4-5404 is a very good Windows Vista PC, but only Vista Home Basic is included

Arbico CD7950XL At £750, Arbico's CD7950XL is an excellent buy, and gamers will be interested in the high framerates it achieved

Mesh E6400 Vistra PC There's a lot about the E6400 that's right, but the lack of any stand-out components leaves it trailing the competition

Evesham Solar GSI It's not all bad, but the Evesham didn't convince us with its specs and general performance