As newer, faster PC components arrive, so the prices of older, slower models fall. That's great news for budget PC shoppers who already own a monitor or another suitable display, as you can now get some excellent desktop base units for relatively little money.
At the cheapest end of the scale, the HP dx5150 Small Form Factor PC can be bought for as little as £390. The top-spec model uses a relatively quick Athlon 64 3200+ processor, which is fast enough to cope with every application you care to throw at it. And though its 80GB hard drive and lack of a DVD rewriter mean its storage space is limited, there's little else to fault, given its price.
Likewise the Acer Aspire E300. This is slightly more pricey at £440, but it's still great value for money. It's also more flexible than the other PCs in this group as it can also be used to play games, and has a very large 200GB hard drive.
Media junkies with an eye for style should also consider the Evesham Mini PC, a tiny unit that's about half the size of a cereal box. It's not as fast as the other PCs in this category, but it can cope with most everyday applications and is equipped with Microsoft Windows XP Media Center Edition, which allows you to watch DVDs, view pictures, listen to music and watch and record digital TV (with an add-on TV tuner) from an easy-to-use interface.
If you're a PC user and you're feeling adventurous, you could take a stab at using Apple OS X, which is included on the Mac Mini. Many argue it's a slicker interface than its Windows counterpart, and the latest Mini features a dual-core processor, ample memory and styling to die for. Today, migrating to a Mac isn't as huge a step as it once was, as Apple's newer Intel-based computers can also run Windows XP via Apple's Boot Camp software.