When it comes to exterior appearance, few machines at this price point - not even the otherwise stunning Best Buy Eclipse Ultimate A60N86GT - manage to hide their bargain status. Yet the CyberPower £500 PCA Machine comes with a futuristic casing that gives it the air of a far costlier system.

Whether the cost of the CyberPower £500 PCA Machine's flashy case is responsible for the memory being just 1GB of DDR RAM, we couldn't say. If so, this could be a mistake. All the 1GB PCs we've recently reviewed have lagged behind the 2GB Eclipse Ultimate A60N86GT in our WorldBench speed tests - although the fine Athlon processor may also be a factor - and Vista users will find their Windows experience smoother if they pay a little extra for the increased memory.

The CyberPower £500 PCA Machine's 1GB of DDR RAM and Core 2 Duo E4300 chip produced a WorldBench score of 82 - not eye-popping, but there are slower PCs for the money.

The CyberPower £500 PCA Machine's Yuraku MA9BBA is a decent flat-panel with an acceptable colour palette, although the lack of widescreen support might irk some users. The GeForce 8500 GT isn't an outstanding graphics card, but it's pretty standard at this price point - only the Eclipse Ultimate A60N86GT comes with a genuinely superior model. The CyberPower £500 PCA Machine's sound system is satisfactory, if hardly earth-shattering, and the DVD writer offers solid speeds.


That exotic casing aside, there's little to distance the CyberPower £500 PCA Machine from other sub-£500 machines. That's not a significant mark against it, however, and this is a PC that will churn through your workload effectively.

Chart ranking: budget PCs September 07 issue

1st place: Eclipse Ultimate A60N86GT
2nd place: Arbico CD7460GT
3rd place: CyberPower £500 PCA Machine
4th place: Arbico CD6320XL (last month 1st place)
5th place: Zoostorm 2-3305 Versatile PC