Eclipse Ultra xFire i6600 review

£821
Price when reviewed

A quick glance at the feature table on p88 shows that the Eclipse’s core components outstrip every other £699 PC on test. The combination of a Core 2 Duo E6600 CPU, 1GB of 667MHz DDR2 memory and an ATi Radeon X1950 XT is stunning at this price. If you have only £699 to spend and performance is your overriding priority, you should pick up the phone and simply order one now.

But, while the combination of a 2D application score of 1.45 and blistering 3D frame rates are unrivalled, some corners have been cut.

The chassis is a basic affair with no tool-free fittings, and there isn’t a great deal of room inside. This is partly because both the floppy drive and DVD writer use untidy flat ribbon cables. The DVD writer is the only optical drive, albeit a brand-new 18x model with DVD-RAM support. The ASRock motherboard shows its budget status by using a previous-generation chipset, and no speakers are included either, apart from those built into the TFT.

The keyboard and mouse are both Microsoft’s cheapest offerings and warranty is the bare minimum – one-year return-to-base cover; collect-and-return cover is offered for a month, but it’s a small consolation. The final gripe is the fan noise from the PSU, which is the noisiest we’ve heard for quite some time.

However, there are plenty of things to like about the xFire i6600 aside from its outright speed. For one, it’s the only PC here to boast a card reader to accompany the floppy drive. Usefully, there are three USB ports at the front, while at the rear there’s a six-pin FireWire port, Gigabit LAN and two eSATA ports – ideal for quickly adding fast external storage to complement the 250GB hard disk.

The 19in widescreen TFT is another good choice. The V7 L19WD may look unusual design-wise, but it has DVI and VGA inputs, and image quality is easily acceptable and a step up from the Cibox C1905 (as chosen by Carrera and Evesham). Whether playing games, using office apps or editing a photo, it’s more than capable of accurate colours and quick response times.

Overall, the xFire i6600 represents great value, but the warranty sacrifice means we can’t recommend it over the Vantage. We’d also advise asking Eclipse for an upgrade to a much quieter PSU if you decide to order.

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