eMachines EL1200-05w review: eMachines EL1200-05w

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CNET Editors' Rating

2 stars Mediocre
  • Overall: 4.8
  • Design: 5.0
  • Features: 5.0
  • Performance: 3.0
  • Service and support: 7.0
Review Date:
Updated on:

The Good Inexpensive; space-saving chassis.

The Bad Low-quality components produce poor performance scores; cramped interior with few expansion options.

The Bottom Line Although the eMachines EL1200-05w's price tag is tempting, an extra $100 will land you a competitive desktop that can handle a wider variety of applications and even leaves room for future expansion opportunities.

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The eMachines EL1200-05w is a Wal-Mart exclusive desktop that scrapes together a series of low-quality components in a cramped slim-tower chassis. Although it might look like a home theater PC at first glance, the interior reveals a barren landscape with very little room for expansion. This $298 desktop is one of the cheapest systems that eMachines offers, but we're dissatisfied with the outdated operating system and lackluster performance scores. We recommend saving $100 for a system that will allow you the freedom to multitask and run more robust applications.

Don't be fooled by the small chassis, the eMachines EL1200-05w is a far cry from the aesthetically similar Acer Aspire x3200. The case is almost the exact same size at 10 inches tall by 4 inches wide by 15 inches deep, and the front houses the vertical dual-layer DVD burner with a multimedia card reader , USB 2.0 ports, and audio jacks toward the bottom. The rear supplies an Ethernet port, four more USB connections, more audio plugs, and a modem. Two superfluous PS/2 ports for older mice and keyboards round out the back, but eMachines is remiss to exclude FireWire, although we wouldn't expect it at this price.

The Compaq Presario SR5610 is only $100 more than the eMachines but it achieves much more for the price. The most significant difference is in the processor speed and number of cores. The eMachines barely gets by with a single-core 1.6GHz AMD processor while the Compaq's 2.5GHz dual-core AMD Athlon CPU can handle a respectable amount of application multitasking and graphics heavy software. The Compaq can also brag about the additional 2 gigabytes of memory and double the amount of hard-drive storage space. Finally, the eMachines relies on the older Windows XP operating system while the Compaq runs on Microsoft's most recent OS that takes advantage of its extra hardware. At the same time, the retail price benefits from the low cost overhead provided by Windows XP over Vista that potentially gives you more performance for the dollar. Unfortunately, our test results speak differently, and we wish that this system made up for them with additional perks, especially with other budget PCs on the market give you much more horsepower at a slightly higher cost.

  eMachines EL1200-05w Compaq Presario SR5610F
Price $298 $399
CPU 1.6GHz AMD Athlon 64 single-core 2650e 2.5GHz AMD Athlon 64 X2 dual-core 4800
Memory 1GB 800MHz DDR2 SDRAM 3GB 667MHz DDR2 SDRAM
Graphics 128MB (shared) NVIDIA GeForce 6150SE integrated graphics chip 128MB (shared) NVIDIA GeForce 6150SE integrated graphics chip
Hard drives 160GB, 7200rpm 320GB, 7,200rpm
Optical drive dual-layer DVD burner dual-layer DVD burner
Networking 10/100Mbps Ethernet LAN 10/100Mbps Ethernet LAN
Operating system Windows XP Home Windows Vista Home Premium SP1 (32-bit)

The chassis is designed to fit into small spaces, but the side panel pulls off to reveal an overcrowded interior. An overbearing optical drive takes up half of the space, and you must remove the bay to access the hard drive and two memory slots (only one is occupied) behind it. Like most budget systems, there isn't much room for internal expansion aside from the stock components. The EL1200-05w has slots for a half-height PCI Express video card and a half-height PCI Express x1 card. If you do get the upgrade bug down the line, eMachines offers designated spaces on the rear panel for digital audio, eSATA, and HDMI.

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

Apple iTunes encoding test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)

Multimedia multitasking (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
eMachines EL1200-05w
5,220 

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Where to Buy

eMachines EL1200-05w

Part Number: EL1200-05w

As shown: $298

Check manufacturer's site for availability

Quick Specifications See All

  • Graphics Processor NVIDIA GeForce 6150 SE
  • OS Provided Microsoft Windows XP Home Edition
  • CPU AMD Athlon 64 2650e / 1.6 GHz
  • Monitor Type None.
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.