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$500 to $750 retail desktop review roundup

Reviews of four retail desktops from $500 to $750.

Updated to correct CPU name typo.

We're in the home stretch of our retail desktop review for this quarter. The low-end and mid-range have both been covered, and we just wrapped up the $500 to $750 middle ground on Friday.

We had four contenders in this category, with one each from Dell and Gateway, plus HP's Pavilion a6700y and the step-up Pavilion a6750y.

Of the four, we liked the $710 Pavilion a6750y the most. It offers the best all-around performance thanks to its quad-core AMD chip, with a hearty 8GB of RAM and a large 750GB hard drive to boot (get it? "to boot"...). Honorable mention goes to the $650 Dell Inspiron I530-120B and its Core 2 Duo E7400 chip, which rocked our single application tests (less so on multitasking).

If we must pick one from this price range, HP's Pavilion a6750y gets the nod. Sarah Tew/CNET

We wouldn't blame you if you found it strange that we picked a $710 PC from this category, it being so close in price to the $780 Gateway LX6810-01 from the $750 to $1,000 segment. In general, we think that says something about the $500 to $750 price range as a whole.

PCs in this price range seem to occupy an uncomfortable middle ground. If all you want is a basic PC, there's no need to spend even $510 on, say, the Gateway DX4200-09, when the $480 Acer Aspire X1700 is almost as fast (in some cases faster), and offers unique features like HDMI and eSATA in a small-form-factor case. On the other side, spending $780 nets you the Gateway LX6810-01, which is faster than the $710 HP and also includes a discrete graphics card where the HP is stuck with an integrated chip.

Limited to just the $500 to $750 bracket, we like the HP the best. Extend your search both below and above that price range, depending on your needs and your budget, and we suggest you'll find better values.

Read our reviews of $500 to $750 retail desktops.