Asus Essentio CG5275-AR003 review: Asus Essentio CG5275-AR003

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CNET Editors' Rating

3.5 stars Very good
  • Overall: 7.4
  • Design: 7.0
  • Features: 8.0
  • Performance: 8.0
  • Service and support: 4.0
Review Date:
Updated on:

The Good Excels in single application and multitasking performance tests; massive case gives plenty of room for upgrades; ample motherboard connections; power-efficient.

The Bad Lacks wireless; quad-core HP system is faster in multithreaded applications; uniquely designed tower not for everyone.

The Bottom Line If you don't mind its massive, distinct case, the Asus Essentio CG5275-AR003 offers a compelling set of features and enough room inside to satisfy upgraders. Hard-core media hounds can spend less on a competing HP system, but few systems challenge Asus in single application and multitasking performance, making it an easy recommendation.

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Editors' note: This review is part of our , which covers specific fixed configurations of popular systems found in retail stores.

For $730, the Asus Essentio CG5275-AR003 offers a well-rounded mix of midrange components and more than enough room inside the massive case. We understand if you're not the biggest fan of its design, but there's no arguing with this PC's performance that stands out from the majority of its competition. If the programs you use demand a multicore processor, you should check out the HP Pavilion p6320y, but most mainstream shoppers can satisfy their computing needs with this Asus system.

Love it or hate it, Asus went with the same slanted case that we saw last year on the Essentio CG5270-BP004. We'll repeat our sentiments and say that its monolithic appearance might deter people shopping for an unassuming PC for the home, but the brushed-metal finish and smooth, angular faceplate is growing on us. The size alone helps facilitate lots of wiggle room inside for adding an extra hard drive, 3D video card, or other components.

  Asus CG5275-AR003 HP Pavilion p6320y
Price 730 700
CPU 3.2GHz Intel Core i5 650 2.8GHz AMD Phenom II X4 820
Memory 8GB 1,333 DDR3 SDRAM 8GB 1,066MHz DDR3 SDRAM
Graphics 32MB (shared) Intel GMA HD integrated graphics chip 256MB (shared) Nvidia GeForce 9100 integrated graphics chip
Hard drives 1TB, 7,200rpm 1TB, 7,200 rpm
Optical drive dual-layer DVD burner dual-layer DVD burner
Networking 10/100 Ethernet LAN (no wireless) 10/100 Ethernet LAN, 802.11a/b/g/n wireless
Operating system Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit) Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit)

The $700 AMD-based HP Pavilion p6320y is a viable opponent for the Asus in our side-by-side comparison. Spend $30 more and the Asus gives you Intel's new 3.2GHz Core i5 dual-core chip that enjoys a respectable speed boost in our Photoshop, iTunes, and multitasking tests. Asus also gives you an HDMI port on the back to lure you into hooking it up to an HDTV, but unfortunately leaves out a wireless card. Living room hookups aren't the first thing we look for in a midtower PC (we'd point you to the Gateway SX2840-01 as a slim tower alternative), but, prices being relatively equal, we'd certainly rather have more connectivity options than less. With a similar spread of features between these two systems, the decision comes down to the performance scores below.

Adobe Photoshop CS3 image-processing test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Asus CG5275-AR003
91 

Apple iTunes encoding test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Asus CG5275-AR003
129 

Multimedia multitasking (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Asus CG5275-AR003
464 

CineBench (score)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Rendering Multiple CPUs  
Rendering Single CPU  
HP Pavilion p6320y
11,356 
3,249 
HP Pavilion p6310y
10,515 
2,993 
Gateway DX4300-15e
10,402 
2,964 
Asus CG5275-AR003
9,610 
4,398 
Gateway DX4831-01e
9,263 
4,018 

The Asus and its Intel Core i5 650 CPU takes HP in the majority of the performance tests. Similar to Core i3, this particular model is also a dual core-chip that can shift to a four thread design on-the-fly, but a faster clock speed and other features help it outperform the Gateway Core i3 systems across the board, as well as the HP's Phenom II X4 820 in the single application and multitasking tests. In a real-world scenario, the Asus is fit to handle almost any day-to-day application you throw at it.

The HP stands out only on our multithreaded Cinebench test. That suggests that on single programs that really take advantage of multicore processors, it might provide a boost. If the majority of your favorite programs are designed to take full advantage of multicore CPUs (Photoshop, for example, only uses multiple processing threads on certain filters), the HP might be a more viable option.

The Asus is ready to accept a generous portion of modern connections, including a couple of USB ports, 7.1 analog audio, optical S/PDIF audio, and three display options: HDMI, VGA, and DVI. Just to make sure, we connected up the Asus to an HDTV and it ran full 1080p HD movie trailers from Apple.com, as well as full-screen HD video from sites like YouTube, Hulu, Vimeo, and Netflix without interruption.

The massive case does present an open invitation for upgrades, with room for an aftermarket 3D video card along with two standard PCI slots and a 1X PCI Express slot. The roomy interior also has a fan mount inside, and the canted front portion of the tower helps with system cooling. We should also note that all four RAM slots are currently occupied, so any memory upgrades down the line will require you to toss out a couple sticks. Finally, Asus gives you additional space to add storage with another hard drive and an optical disc drive.

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Where to Buy

Asus Essentio CG5275-AR003

Part Number: CG5275-AR003

MSRP: $730.00

See manufacturer website for availability.

About The Author

Justin Yu covers headphones and peripherals for CNET. When he's not wading through Web gulch or challenging colleagues to typing tests, you can find him making fun of technology with Jeff Bakalar every afternoon on The 404 show.