We understand if you still like the idea of an affordable midtower to use for upgrading. The Asus has two PCI slots to spare, next to occupied PCI Express graphics card and 1X slots. You only get a 300-watt power supply, which limits your 3D card upgrade options. Given that the GeForce G100 card managed only 16 frames per second on our low-end Unreal Tournament 3 test, you wouldn't lose much gaming performance by swapping it out for a more robust GPU.
Ironically, because it has a dedicated graphics card, you can't use the Asus' built-in HDMI video output, which is tied to the integrated graphics chip. You can always remove the card and reinstall the integrated Intel chip's video drivers if you really want to connect it via HDMI to an HDTV. You can also buy a DVI-to-HDMI adapter to connect to the 3D card. You get the usual array of analog and digital audio outputs, along with a handful of USB 2.0 jacks. The Asus has no advanced storage connections, though, so FireWire and eSATA are both out.
|Asus Essentio CM5570-AP006|
|Raw (annual kWh)||287.93682|
|Annual operating cost (@$0.1135/kWh)||$32.68|
The Essentio CM5570-AP006 trends towards the less-efficient side of our power-testing results, which means you'll have to pay more per year in power bills to operate this PC. You'll see that our cost comparison chart highlights yet another positive for the Gateway. Not only is the Gateway SX2800-01 as fast or faster than this Asus system, but it also requires less power to provide that performance. We can't get too upset about Asus' annual operating cost, since it only breaks down to about $3 a month, but based on its performance next to the Gateway, it's clear that the Essentio is not as efficient as it could be.
We mentioned in the HP review that its only saving grace is HP's well-established customer support services, both online and via its warranty. Asus does have a warranty, which backs the Essentio for a year, but its phone support is limited to 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. PT, and only from Monday to Friday. Good luck if you have a job. And even though Asus includes links on the Windows desktop to its support page, even that only gets you as far as its woefully underdeveloped drop-down menu-based help site. HP and Gateway (along with pretty much every other PC vendor) both offer much more robust online assistance.
Find out more about how we test desktop systems.
Asus Essentio CM5570-AP006
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