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Arbico Excel 2168 CS review

Barry de la Rosa
9 Jan 2012
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
500
inc VAT

A well-rounded PC with room for expansion and a smart monitor, but AMD Llano-powered systems are better value

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Specifications

3.3GHz Intel Core i3-2120, 4GB RAM, 21.5in 1,920x1,080 display, Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit

The current increase in hard disk prices has led PC makers to produce some interesting systems, with some PCs being fitted with an SSD in place of a hard disk, while others were well-prepared and supplied a 1TB disk – the kind of capacity we’d expect at this price. Arbico has compromised on disk space and opted for a 500GB model, not the rest of the specification is decent, including an Intel Core i3 processor and a 22in Full HD monitor. It has also chosen a decent motherboard with plenty of room for expansion.

Arbico Excel 2168 CS

Intel's Core i3-2120 may be at the lower end of the company's range, but it's still a capable processor, scoring 67 overall in our multimedia benchmarks - a respectable score, and one that shows that the Excel 2168 CS is capable of taking on most Windows tasks, excluding heavy video- or photo-editing work.

The i3-2120's integrated graphics chip isn't very powerful however. It's capable of decoding HD video content, but its gaming potential is limited. A score of 13.2fps in our DiRT 3 benchmark is about as low as it gets and, even with settings turned down to their lowest, you'll find most games run very slowly, if at all.

While we've come to expect a Full HD monitor with even the cheapest PCs, the Acer S220HQL that ships with the Excel 2168 CS is cut above the usual budget monitors. It's incredibly thin, although this means that it requires an external power brick and can't be wall-mounted. Its LED backlight is bright, if a bit uneven, but image quality is good, with bold colours and good contrast. Arbico cuts a corner by including only a VGA cable in the box, which means you’ll have to buy a DVI lead to use the monitor's digital input.

Arbico Excel 2168 CS

Arbico's choice of peripherals is also stylish and practical. The wireless Logitech keyboard and mouse set requires only a single USB port for its dongle. The mouse is a bit lightweight for and the keyboard’s keys have a soggy action that provides little feedback for touch-typists.

Buying a PC for £500, you shouldn't expect a decent 3D graphics card. The Excel 2168 CS is perfectly suited to upgrades later, though. Its Asus motherboard has plenty of room for expansion cards as there are two free PCI-E x16 slots, two PCI-E x1 slots and three PCI slots. The branded 500W power supply has two free Molex connectors, so you'll just need a Molex-to-PCI-E adaptor to power a new graphics card.

Arbico Excel 2168 CS

You also get four free SATA headers and plenty of free drive bays for adding extra hard disks or optical drives - three of the bays are externally accessible, so they're ideal for memory card readers or fan controllers. Two of the four RAM slots are free too, so you won't need to throw away the existing memory in order to upgrade. As usual, Arbico has made the case interior tidy, with well-bundled cables, and fans at the front and back of the case for adequate cooling while producing very little noise.

The Excel 2168 CS is a well-built PC with decent components and a sensible approach to graphics, but sadly it can't compete with AMD-powered PCs at the same price, which are faster and have better graphics performance. The Palicomp Hyper Flame is faster in both Windows applications and games, and comes with a Blu-ray drive and a 1TB hard disk, so it's far better value.

Basic Specifications

Rating***
ProcessorIntel Core i3-2120
Processor external bus100MHz (DMI)
Processor multiplierx33
Processor clock speed3.3GHz
Processor socketLGA1155
Memory4
Memory typeDDR3
Maximum memory32GB
MotherboardAsustek P8Z68-V LX
Motherboard chipsetIntel Z68

Ports

USB2 ports (front/rear)2/6
Firewire ports (front/rear)0/0
eSATA ports (front/rear)0/0
Wired network ports1x 10/100/1000
Wireless networking supportnone

Internal Expansion

Casetower
PCI-E x1 slots (free)2 (2)
PCI-E x16 slots (free)2 (2)
Free Serial ATA ports4
Free memory slots2
Free 3.5in drive bays6

Hard Disk

Hard disk model(s)Seagate Barracuda (ST500DM002)
InterfaceSATA3
Total storage capacity500GB

Graphics

Graphics card(s)Intel HD Graphics 2000
Graphics/video portsVGA, DVI, HDMI

Sound

SoundRealtek HD Audio
Sound outputs7.1 line out, optical S/PDIF out
Speakersnone

Removable Drives

Supported memory cardsnone
Optical drive type(s)DVD+/-RW +/-DL

Display

Viewable size21.5 in
Screen modelAcer S220HQL
Native resolution1,920x1,080
Screen inputsVGA, DVI

Other Hardware

KeyboardLogitech K260
MouseLogitech M210

Software

Software includednone
Operating systemWindows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
Operating system restore optionWindows disc

Buying Information

Warrantytwo years RTB
Price£500
Detailswww.arbico.co.uk

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