CyberPower Ultra Triton XT review
3.1GHz AMD Phenom II X2 550 (unlocked to 4 cores), 4.000000 RAM, 22in 1,920x1,080 display, Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
CyberPower has taken the unusual route of unlocking the two unused cores in the budget AMD Phenom II X2 550 processor to create this quad-core PC. There are some concerns that the company may not be able to guarantee the stability of these parts, but a generous three-year warranty should put your mind at rest. CyberPower claims that in its testing, 80 per cent of the 550s are unlockable, and it only sees a 1% failure rate in CPUs in general.
As expected, the unlocked 550 did well in our benchmarks, beating the dual-core Core i3-based PCs in our multi-tasking tests, only being pipped to the post overall by an overclocked Core i3 PC. Video encoding, and other multi-threaded applications, will run quickly on the Ultra Triton XT, although the Core i3 PCs did much better in single-threaded application such as image editing.
This extra performance won't benefit games, however, as they are rarely optimised for more than two cores. The ATI Radeon HD 5670 graphics card isn't the fastest on the market at the moment, but managed a respectable 45.8fps in Call of Duty 4. In the more demanding Crysis test, it scored 22 fps, and although you can reduce some settings to get a more playable frame rate, it's a sign that the card may not be able to play all the latest games at their best.
With a graphics card fitted, there are only two PCI slots accessible for upgrades, and one is dangerously close to the graphics card's fan. There are only two RAM slots, which are filled with two 2GB modules, so if you wanted to upgrade your memory, you'd have to replace these. There are plenty of disk and drive slots available, and four free eSATA headers. This inside of the case is tidy, with bundled cables, and CyberPower have even added some sound-dampening foam to the bottom of the case.
On the outside, we also found limited expansion potential. There are no eSATA or FireWire ports, and only six USB ports in total. CyberPower has supplied a keyboard and mouse using the older PS/2 connection, so if you wanted to replace these with USB models, you'd be left with only four USB ports. Both keyboard and mouse are budget models, and although functional, the keyboard is spongy and the mouse lightweight.
One component that can't be upgraded after you buy it is the monitor, and thankfully CyberPower has supplied a Full HD (1,920x1,080) resolution model. It's an unusual design: instead of a stand, there's a bar running underneath the screen, and an extendable foot protruding from the rear that balances it. This means that to tilt the screen, you have to reach around the back to adjust the foot.
Image quality was fine, even though the monitor only has a VGA input, which can result in a lack of sharpness. The backlight was slightly uneven, and there was a bit of bleed-through which meant contrast suffered and the image looked slightly washed out, but colours were natural.
Out of the box, the Ultra Triton XT is a reasonable gaming PC, with a Full HD monitor and the power to run multi-threaded applications. That's a pretyt impressive feat for a system at this price, and so it wins a Best Buy award. However, if you have no real interest in gaming and you would prefer a better quality monitor, Mesh's Ice3 530CS is a good alternative - just bear in mind that it has a one-year warranty, while CyberPower covers the Triton XT for three years.