No, you haven't misread the price - the Gladiator Proteus PCA200 PC can be yours for a shade under £200. However, when you take a look at the specifications you'll notice that there's something missing: Windows XP.

An OS-free system is an option on all Gladiator products, so if you fancied it you could go for a free Linux distro such as Ubuntu (on this month's DVD) or pay Gladiator £79 and have Windows XP Home installed. Even if you factor the Microsoft option into the price the Proteus still only costs £278, which is an absolute bargain.

You're probably thinking that because the price is so low, the system can't be much cop. Stop right there. The Proteus has everything that most home users will want from a PC.

Granted, it doesn't feature a dedicated graphics card, but you only really need one of these if you plan to play the latest 3D games. The built-in graphics are more than adequate for everyday tasks.

Sempron inside

It also has the lower-performing AMD Sempron chip. If you wished, you could replace the Sempron chip with an Athlon64 instead. We had a quick look on eBay and you can pick one of these up for as little as £50. However, we take the view that the Sempron will handle most standard tasks without trouble.

In addition, the Asus motherboard has built-in audio and plenty of USB ports, as well as LAN and the other usual suspects for your keyboard, mouse and so on. The system isn't supplied with a keyboard, mouse or monitor, which makes the Proteus the ideal replacement for an outgoing PC. This will save you from having to dispose of an unwanted monitor or other peripherals.

PCs are a little bit like clothes - eventually you grow out of them. That shouldn't be the case with the Proteus, as you'll see when you open it up. The components that are already in place are neatly installed and there's plenty of space for new parts, making the system ideal for future upgrades.

Hard storage

The hard drive is no slouch (it runs at 7,200rpm), but it's only 40GB. Even if you don't store many photos or music files on your PC, you'll find that this quickly fills up. Adding new drives won't be a problem because the Asus board features two free SATA ports and there's room enough inside the case for as many as four more drives.

We just can't get over what you get for your money with this system. It comes with 512MB of 400MHz DDR memory, which only a few years back would have cost almost as much as this entire PC. 512MB is plenty for day-to-day tasks and it's possible to add more because there's a free DIMM slot on the motherboard.

Some would say that the price point is a gimmick and that the product isn't particularly good. Yet we believe that the OS-free Gladiator Proteus is a great value piece of kit. If you've got a PC that's coming to the end of its life and you want to replace it but want to keep all your peripherals, then this is the system for you.

And if you want to stick with Microsoft, you can wipe Windows off the old machine and install the OS on the Proteus, as long as it's not an OEM version. For the money you can't go wrong.