When quad-core hits the mainstream you know that it's a good time to buy.
Like the current housing market, prices are falling fast. The difference is, of course, that you won't have trouble financing a purchase like the Apollo V930: £600 will get you a quad-core PC, widescreen monitor and peripherals. Set this lot up and you'll already feel happy with your buying acumen, but under the hood the Apollo V930 broadens that smile developing on your face.
The Intel Core 2 Quad Q9300 has a clock speed of 2.5GHz on each core, which is blisteringly fast for a home PC.
This, coupled with 2GB RAM, a 320GB Western Digital Caviar hard drive and a respectable ATI Radeon 2600 graphics card (512MB RAM) means that this setup is no slouch. The quality Asus P5KI motherboard gives you good upgrading options, but the 350W power supply from FSP is a little underwhelming.
However, this is easily changed and for keeping the price of all this kit under £600 PC Specialist should be applauded, especially when you consider that you'll see little change from £200 when buying the CPU on its own.
The Apollo V930 Pro isn't built for gaming - there are other options if you want to go down this road to get the most from your quad-core processor - but home office applications will be lapped up by a machine of this calibre. Graphics clocked in at 4,263 under 3DMark. This is a highly respectable score, but a better card would simply sail through tests with a quad-core chip behind it.
Small and relatively cheap upgrades are possible thanks to the choice of motherboard, such as better quality RAM and a beefier graphics card. The case is one that PC Specialist has used for a while now and although it's not spectacular, it's good enough to house upgrades and keep your system cool.
Two spare 5.25-inch drive bays might come in handy further down the line, while two front USB2 ports are essentials for a desktop system.
To match the home focus of the tower, the Apollo V930 comes with an excellent 19-inch widescreen monitor and a reasonable set of 2.1 speakers from Logitech. The native resolution of 1,440 x 900 and a bright screen means that the image quality won't disappoint; to be honest, for a bundle like this you'll be amazed that a monitor was included at all.
The machine comes with Nero 7 and PowerDVD 7 as well as Vista Home Premium, so your DVD watching and burning activities are well catered for. Compared to many other similarly priced systems, the Apollo V930 is pleasingly thin on the ground when it comes to "additional software" (also known as bloatware), keeping your new system clean out of the box.
We would have liked to have seen a better PSU and a 22-inch monitor, as sold with many other PC Specialist systems, but in the value-for-money stakes £600 gets you a lot of PC kit. Your total ownership cost of such a machine - making small upgrades and what-not - over the years needn't be much at all.