Just how important is the CPU in a gaming rig? Apparently not all that crucial, according to ZooStorm. Thanks to the inclusion of a budget-orientated version of Intel's Core 2 Duo chip, this system risks an immediate pummelling from the more powerful competition.

On paper, as well as the Core 2 Duo E4500 2.2GHz chip Zoostorm has chosen giving up frequency compared with similar rigs, it's also at a disadvantage courtesy of a much more sluggish 800MHz CPU bus and offers just 2MB of cache memory. Not a good start.

In practice, however, it has to be said this PC pumps out remarkably competitive performance numbers. Granted, the slower processor is pretty apparent when running lower resolutions in older, more CPU-limited titles such as Half-Life 2, but more modern games running at higher resolutions are almost entirely GPU-bound.

That fact does an excellent job of obscuring any shortage of pure CPU number-crunching grunt. The fact that ZooStorm managed to ship the Advanced PC preconfigured with the latest Nvidia graphics driver certainly didn't hurt its gaming performance, either.

After all, there's the same GeForce 8800 GTS 320MB graphics on offer here. What's more, that slightly stingy CPU doesn't translate into slower game level load times, either. However, in our high definition H.264 video decoding test we did expose the Core 2 Duo E4500's relative lack of oomph. That said it still decoded our 1080p test file with ludicrous ease.

It's also worth mentioning that the presence of MSI's P6N SLI motherboard provides plenty of future-proofing potential. For starters, there's the obvious option of adding another graphics card for dual-rendering SLI fun. Just as handy, however, is support for the latest Intel CPUs with the faster 1,333MHz bus.

The real problem, therefore, is that the cost savings delivered by that cheaper CPU have not been translated into premium components elsewhere. There's the budget Buffalo DDR2 RAM, a rather basic Alkasa CPU cooler and an own-branded power supply that lacks a hard power switch.

Noise isolation is another weak point on this system. OK, we're not talking about hurricane levels of fan chatter, but you would do well to get any sleep sharing a bedroom with this rig when it was on. Factor in a fairly uninspiring chassis design (despite a light sprinkling of brushed metal) and you're left with a system that falls significantly short of the best.