eMachines T6520 Media Center PC review: eMachines T6520 Media Center PC

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CNET Editors' Rating

3.5 stars Very good
  • Overall: 7.0
  • Design: 7.0
  • Features: 8.0
  • Performance: 7.0
  • Service and support: 6.0
Review Date:
Updated on:

The Good Great deal for the money; x16 PCI Express slot allows for future graphics upgrades; 1GB of memory; double-layer DVD burner; respectable application performance.

The Bad Fixed configuration; only two DIMM slots; wimpy speakers; grainy DVD playback; eMachines offers only 15-inch LCD panels.

The Bottom Line The versatile, expandable, reasonably powerful eMachines T6520 is a solid family computer and a perfect dorm-room companion that gets mainstream jobs done with aplomb.

Editors' Top Picks

eMachines T6520 Media Center PC

Gateway's low-end eMachines PCs target families, students, and the similarly budget-conscious with a tried-and-true formula: offering a tiny selection of cheap, ready-to-ship products. Want to configure your own system? Try somewhere else. Need a fancy graphics card or a big monitor? You're in the wrong place. But if you want the basics at a bargain price, you need look no further than the $920 ($650 without monitor) eMachines T6520 Media Center PC.

The T6520 we evaluated is actually the highest-end model in eMachines' current four-model fall lineup--indicating just how deep into budget country we've ventured. Like its brothers, the T6520 is available only through retail chains such as Circuit City and Best Buy, and in only one fixed configuration. All four models share the same silver-and-black external plastics (clearly bearing the stamp of Gateway's in-house designers), differing only in their guts.

Based on AMD's 2.4GHz Athlon 64 3400+ processor, the eMachines T6520 Media Center PC delivers impressive application performance for this class of system. In testing, it ran circles around the more expensive Gateway 5310S we covered in a recent sub-$1,000 PC roundup. The T6520 also held its own against the Editors' Choice-winning iBuyPower Value-Pro , falling only a few points short of the iBuyPower machine on our SysMark 2004 test.

Nonetheless, the T6520 didn't fare well on CNET Labs' 3D-gaming benchmarks, although low-cost PCs rarely do. Its integrated ATI Radeon Xpress 200 graphics chip handled our 1,024x768 resolution Unreal Tournament 2003 test with a passable 42.1 frames per second (fps). On our 1,024x768 Half-Life 2 test, the T6520 managed only 10.2fps--an unplayable clip by any standard. We don't recommend the T6520 for gaming as is; fortunately, its unoccupied x16 PCI Express graphics slot can accommodate an upgrade to a discrete graphics card.

Once you wrestle the deceptively difficult side panel off the case, you'll find a nifty interior that provides ample room to grow. In addition to the aforementioned PCI Express graphics port, you get plenty of spare PCI slots and drive bays, should you need them. There is one expansion drawback: the T6520's motherboard has only two DIMM slots, and both come filled (with, we must mention, a healthy 1GB of RAM). If you ever want to add more memory, you'll first have to discard one of the 512MB sticks that came with the system--a less than ideal solution.

Editors' Top Picks

 

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Where to Buy

eMachines T6520 Media Center PC

Part Number: T6520 Released: Jun. 23, 2005

Pricing is currently unavailable.

Quick Specifications See All

  • Release date Jun. 23, 2005
  • Graphics Processor ATI Radeon Xpress 200 shared video memory (UMA)
  • Color silver
  • OS Provided Microsoft Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005
  • Monitor Type None.
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