The Eclipse Ultimate A60N86GT budget PC's WorldBench real-world speed score of 89 easily outshone many other PCs at this price point, with their low-end Core 2 Duo chips. The presence of 2GB of DDR RAM makes it clear that Eclipse has created something a little bit special.

AMD is losing out to Intel in our other areas of the PC market, but it's a different story in the sub-£500 category. The success of the Athlon 64 X2 6000+, as featured in the Eclipse Ultimate A60N86GT, shows there's life left in this range of processors.

The quality of screens available with £500 PCs has improved enormously in recent months, but the 19in HannsG still impressed us with its steady image and colourful palette. (Update - Eclipse has now changed this to the 19in HannsStar AH191DP flat-panel.) It's given excellent support by the GeForce 8600 GT graphics card, one of the more powerful sub-£150 DirectX 10.0 nVidia cards available. Combine this with the Eclipse Ultimate A60N86GT's speed and this is clearly the best gaming PC for the money.

There are compromises, but these are fairly minor. The 160GB hard drive looks stingy compared with the 250GB units that proliferate elsewhere, but even 160GB is a sizeable amount of storage space. If you like storing audio and video files you may find space a little tight, but it's enough for the average user. We aren't fans of onboard sound either - although frankly it's a fact of life at this price - and the Eclipse Ultimate A60N86GT's warranty is a little skimpy.

The Athlon 64 X2 6000+ is an inspired choice of chip for a £500 PC. The Eclipse Ultimate A60N86GT combines good baseline speed with strong RAM and graphics and a decent DVD writer - for the money, this overall package leaves little to be desired.


Externally, the Eclipse Ultimate A60N86GT isn't a looker. But peek under the lid and it's a true work of art.

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