Pick up the eMachines T3085 with the E15T flat panel for a combined $968 (after rebates), and you'll get a system that's well suited out of the box to handle most office chores and some multimedia tasks, such as editing photos, ripping MP3s, and burning DVDs. And with its open AGP slot, fast Athlon XP processor, multiformat DVD burner, and surprisingly spacious hard drive, this budget PC will grow with you. Just replace the onboard graphics with an advanced graphics card, should you find your calling as a digital-video editor or a 3D gamer. Movie buffs will want a larger display and a DVD-ROM drive--rather than the system's CD-ROM drive--paired with the DVD burner, but for general home use, the versatile eMachines T3085 is a strong budget buy that gives you room for future growth. The eMachines T3085, like the other three preconfigured desktops from eMachines, comes housed in an attractive and functional case, with the not-uncommon silver-and-black color scheme. The top-of-the-line T3085 offers two optical drive bays, a floppy drive, and a multiformat media-card reader. (Choose either of the lower two configurations, and you sacrifice the media-card reader.) The back panel is quite busy, with the usual legacy ports, plus four USB 2.0 ports, audio in/out and mike jacks, and a 10/100 LAN port. eMachines duplicates the microphone and earphone jacks up front under a sliding panel, while an additional USB 2.0 port comes courtesy of the media-card reader.
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|Although its minitower case doesn't allow for much drive expansion, the T3085 does provide three PCI slots with which to work, plus the all-important AGP slot, should you feel the need to add a graphics card at a later date.|
For such a cheap PC, the eMachines T3085 comes surprisingly well outfitted. In turn, however, you don't get much room on the inside for expansion. Undo the two thumbscrews and slide off the side panel, and you'll find that both of the 5.25-inch drive bays are occupied, as are two of the four 3.5-inch bays. Neither of the free 3.5-inch bays is accessible from the front panel, but they are available should you want to add hard drives.
You have more options with the motherboard's expansion slots. The eMachines T3085 includes a PCI modem card, but if you're going the broadband route and using the integrated 10/100 Ethernet port, you can remove the modem card and have all three PCI slots at your disposal. One of the two memory sockets is unfilled, and after pushing aside the drive cables and wires, you can expand the memory up to 2GB. The jewel of this system, however, is the 8X AGP slot, which will let you replace the integrated graphics that shares system memory with a dedicated graphics card. This is an important option should you or someone in your home develop an interest in 3D gaming at some point down the road.
The black-and-silver color scheme extends to the keyboard and the scrollwheel optical mouse. The keyboard's Windows navigation shortcut keys and Windows Media Player controls make it more than just a pretty face.
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We were happy to see a multiformat DVD burner on such a low-cost system--too bad eMachines pairs it with a less-than-useful CD-ROM drive.
Of the four T-series eMachines models, the top-of-the-line T3085 is the only system that serves up a DVD burner--and a multiformat drive, at that. You can record to DVD-R and DVD+R discs at a speedy 4X clip, but you'll top out at a comparatively slow 16X speed when writing to CD-Rs. The other drive is a rather useless CD-ROM drive. A smarter choice would have been a DVD-ROM drive, which would let you make quick disc-to-disc copies of both CDs and DVDs.
If you plan to watch DVDs on the T3085, you'll want to choose a larger display than the E15T flat panel that eMachines bundled with our test system. At only 15 inches, the screen didn't do DVDs justice, but it did display sharp text and accurate colors, making it a good choice for basic use. (And if you purchase the monitor at retail, eMachines offers a $100 mail-in rebate.) Similarly, if movies are your thing, we'd suggest upgrading the bundled two-piece speaker set to a surround-sound set or at least a 2.1 set that gives you rich bass via a subwoofer. (Although the onboard audio looks like a two-channel setup, you can redirect line-in to the rear speakers and the mike to the center and subwoofer through Windows' Control Panel.)
The eMachines T3085 includes Roxio Easy CD & DVD Creator Basic Edition and CyberLink PowerDVD to lend a hand in your CD-creation and DVD-playback endeavors. If it's work that you want, this system has you covered there as well, with the bundled Microsoft Works 7.0, Microsoft Money 2004, and Encarta Online. All in all, the eMachines T3085 comes with a strong software bundle, especially for its price. Application performance
The eMachines T3085 offers good bang for the buck. The system uses a 2.167GHz Athlon XP 3000+ processor, which gives performance that's on a par with that of a 2.6GHz Pentium 4. We were impressed by its SysMark 2004 score of 133, which trailed the 64-bit Athlon 64-based Systemax Ascent 64 system by a slim 6 percent and bested the Intel-based Dell Dimension 2400 by 3 percent. The eMachines T3085's performance would improve if it used 400MHz memory instead of the 333MHz variety, but out of the box, the eMachines T3085 is more than capable of running any office application.
|BAPCo SysMark 2004 rating||SysMark 2004 Internet-content-creation rating||SysMark 2004 office-productivity rating|
To measure application performance, CNET Labs uses BAPCo's SysMark 2004, an industry-standard benchmark. Using off-the-shelf applications, SysMark measures a desktop's performance using office-productivity applications (such as Microsoft Office and McAfee VirusScan) and Internet-content-creation applications (such as Adobe Photoshop and Macromedia Dreamweaver).
3D graphics and gaming performance
With an integrated Nvidia GeForce4 MX graphics chip, the eMachines T3085 wasn't built with 3D gaming in mind. Its score of 29.4 frames per second on our low-end Unreal Tournament benchmark is better than what you'd see with an integrated Intel Extreme graphics solution, but it's still not a fast-enough frame rate for consistently smooth gameplay. Luckily, the eMachines T3085 has an AGP slot should you want to add an advanced graphics card at some point.
|Unreal Tournament 2003 Flyby-Antalus 1,024x768|
To measure 3D gaming performance, CNET Labs uses Epic Games' Unreal Tournament 2003, widely used as an industry-standard benchmark. We use Unreal to measure a desktop's performance with the DirectX 8.0 (DX8) interface at a 32-bit color depth and at a resolution of 1,024x768 and 1,600x1,200. Antialiasing and anisotropic filtering are disabled during our 1,024x768 tests and are set to 4X and 8X respectively during our 1,600x1,200 tests. At this color depth and these resolutions, Unreal provides an excellent means of comparing the performance of low-end to high-end graphics subsystems. We report the results of Unreal's Flyby-Antalus test in frames per second (fps).
Performance analysis written by CNET Labs technician David Gussman.
Find out more about how we test desktop systems.
Windows XP Home; 1.92GHz AMD Athlon XP 2600+; Via KT600 chipset; 512MB DDR SDRAM 333MHz; Nvidia GeForce4 MX 440 64MB; Maxtor 6Y080P0 80GB 7,200rpm
Windows XP Home; 2.66GHz Intel P4; Intel 8645G chipset; 512MB DDR SDRAM 333MHz; integrated Intel 845G 64MB (shared memory); Seagate ST3120026A 120GB 7,200rpm
Windows XP Home; 2.17GHz AMD Athlon XP 3000+; Nvidia Nforce-2; 512MB DDR SDRAM 333MHz; integrated GeForce4 MX 64MB; WDC WD1600BB-00FTA0 160GB 7,200rpm
Windows XP Home; 2GHz AMD Athlon 64 3000+; Via K8T800 chipset; 256MB DDR SDRAM 333MHz; ATI Radeon 7000 64MB; Samsung SP1203N 120GB 7,200rpm eMachines offers reasonable support and repair polices for its desktops, including the eMachines T3085; this is especially true considering the low price the company charges for its systems. The eMachines Web site will be your primary source for support with this system; it features FAQ pages, driver downloads, and live chat with a tech-support rep, available weekdays between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. PT. eMachines provides phone support seven days a week from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. PT during the first year, but it's a toll call. Hardware repair via depot service or through a parts exchange is free during the initial year. You can upgrade the standard one-year warranty to either a two- or three-year plan for an additional charge, and the highlight of these extended plans is a "more than three repairs, and it's replaced" policy.