The Zoostorm 64-5300 proved a good performer in our Test Centre, but would benefit from a little more elbow room inside its compact case.

Zoostorm's E8600-based 64-5300 comes in a smart, compact case with gentle curves and a brushed-metal finish. It's a little smaller than the other PCs in the chart, and lacks some of their expansion room.

Inside, things are a bit cluttered, with cable wraps keeping the Zoostorm 64-5300's internal wiring tidy but also obstructing the few remaining internal expansion bays. The compact motherboard leaves little expansion room, with no room for additional memory and only one free PCI slot. The 4GB allocation of RAM and 500GB hard drive should be adequate for most users, however.

Zoostorm is unique in its choice of graphics-card manufacturer this month. Its 896MB GTX 260 performed a little slower than the HD 4850 in Fear, but we wouldn't grumble at 164fps. And where the performance counts, in more demanding games such as Crysis, the Zoostorm 64-5300's GTX 260 outperformed the ATI card favoured by the competition.

The Zoostorm 64-5300 didn't fare quite so well on desktop apps, however; its performance was generally high, but there were individual tests in which the system struggled.

The 22in AMW monitor has a thin, silver bezel, which fits in well with the case design. It comes with both digital and analogue inputs, and provides good image quality for a budget display. It also features a pair of concealed speakers; the Zoostorm 64-5300 doesn't have a standalone set, giving it a distinct disadvantage when compared to the audio offerings of the Chillblast, Arbico and Mesh.

Budget PCs chart ranking (April 09 issue)

  1. Chillblast Fusion Anubis
  2. Arbico CD8850 XL
  3. Mesh Matrix II 920
  4. CyberPower Gamer Infinity Silent Edition
  5. Zoostorm 64-5300

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