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In these financially stressful times value is paramount, so we've asked a few manufacturers to send us some budget-friendly gaming PCs. Coming in at just under £600 for a Core i5 machine, CyberPower's Infinity i5 Hercules SE certainly lives up to the budget part (and is incidentally also one of the lightest gaming systems we've reviewed), so let's see how it holds up in every other regard.
CyberPower has gone with a Cooler Master mini-tower case, specifically the Elite 310 which - contrary to what its name suggests - resides near the bottom of the Cooler Master range. Its main body is strong steel with a durable matte black paint job, but the front is glossy black plastic, so fingerprints, dust and scratches can quickly detract from the reasonably attractive look. This look is enhanced by a blue pearlescent strip running around the front, with blue hard drive and power LEDs at the front and lit from within by blue LEDs courtesy of CyberPower.
The 310 offers four 5.25in drive bays, one of which is filled by the LG 22x DVD-Rewriter. This optical drive is remarkable only in that it's an EIDE model, which is something of an unwelcome rarity nowadays. However, aside from aesthetics inside the case and possible compatibility issues with future motherboards that only feature SATA ports (as many do already), there's no practical downside to this.
Below the case's 5.25in bays resides a single external 3.5in one, while a second 'faux' 3.5in panel holds the pleasantly curved power and reset buttons. Two USB ports as well as silver headphone and microphone jacks are found near the 310's base. This is not a particularly handy location, however, and the only scenario where these are even usable is if you place the case on your desk.
At the back is a far more user-friendly and indeed generous selection, comprising a PS2 keyboard port, co-axial and optical digital audio outputs, ten USB ports, eSATA and FireWire connections, a Gigabit LAN port and six analogue audio jacks for eight-channel surround sound from the motherboard, plus DVI and VGA from the video card.
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