The Eclipse Solar a55R487 is a budget Windows 7 PC that's a strong performer with potential for upgrading.

Eclipse's Solar a55R487 is the third system here to make use of AMD's Phenom II X2 550 processor. Once again, this CPU has enabled the vendor to create a well-balanced system that performs solidly in business tasks and can handle 3D gaming too.

The Eclipse Solar a55R487 matches the Chillblast Fusion Tempest's WorldBench 6 score of 115 points and performs almost identically when playing Crysis and Fear. In common with our top two systems, the power behind this gaming performance is an ATI Radeon HD 4870 - this time in its 512MB version.

The Eclipse's MSI motherboard is better specified than the Asus model used by Mesh and Chillblast. In particular, it offers more expandability: there are four memory slots rather than two and twice as many expansion slots. In fact, had it not come with a paltry 320GB hard drive, the Eclipse Solar a55R487 would have found itself higher up the chart.

The Eclipse Solar a55R487's black EZCool N-880D case is a rather basic model. We were less than impressed by the ease with which the drive bay covers can be knocked out of position - our review sample arrived looking rather worse for wear. Below these drive bays, a small, vertically hinged flap hides a pair of front-facing USB ports and audio jacks.

The Eclipse Solar a55R487's monitor, meanwhile is a 19in Hannspree HF207. Its glossy piano-black bezel renders it rather more eye-catching than the sober-looking examples found elsewhere. It, too, lacks a DVI connector, so the screen's image quality isn't as good as it could have been.

Chart ranking (issue 174)

  1. Mesh Matrix II 550BE PCA
  2. Chillblast Fusion Tempest
  3. Eclipse Solar a55R487
  4. Arbico CD8567 Pro
  5. RL Supplies Modula 9010

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