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Asus Essentio CG1330-05 review: Asus Essentio CG1330-05

MSRP: $979.99

The Good Sharp-looking new case design; decent gaming performance; room to upgrade.

The Bad Slower than PCs that cost just a bit more; few advantages over less expensive systems; no FireWire or eSATA ports; nonexistent online help.

The Bottom Line The new Asus Essentio CG1330-05 has a more polished appearance than Asus' previous desktop efforts, but that's one of its only selling points. You get reasonable gaming performance for the price, but its overall value falls short compared with competing systems on either end of the price spectrum.

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5.8 Overall
  • Design 8
  • Features 5
  • Performance 6
  • Support 3

Editors' note: This review is part of our 2010 retail laptop and desktop back-to-school roundup, covering specific fixed configurations of popular systems that can be found in retail stores.

We haven't seen many desktop PCs in the $900-to-$1,000 price range lately. Perhaps it's because that price band represents a sort of in-between segment--more expensive than the $800-or-so group that boast impressive performance and feature gains over budget PCs, but not far away from the $1,000-plus segment and the strong bang-for-the-buck therein. Like Asus' other retail tower desktops, the $949 Asus Essentio CG1330-05 boasts an attractive new case. Inside, though, despite a six-core AMD CPU, this system can't set itself apart from a less expensive Dell PC, nor from the desktops that cost just $150 more. We like its new case design, but considering its competition, we can't recommend this PC over similar PCs in its price range.

If we don't love this PC, we at least hope Asus decides to stick with the new high-end Essentio case design. The gunmetal and glossy-black case isn't a big departure from other desktop cases PCs out there, but it's a major improvement over the sharp-angled monolith Asus sold previously. The gadget tray on the top, and the smartly angled front panel port and card slot hub, are nice touches as well.

  Asus Essentio CG1330-05 Dell Studio XPS SX8100-1408NBC
Price $949 $899
CPU 2.6GHz AMD Phenom II X6 1035T 3.2GHz Intel Core i5 650
Motherboard chipset AMD 780G Intel H57
Memory 8GB 1,333MHz DDR3 SDRAM 8GB 1,333MHz DDR3 SDRAM
Graphics 1GB ATI Radeon HD 5750 1GB Nvidia GeForce GT220
Hard drives 1TB, 7,200 rpm 1TB, 7,200 rpm
Optical drive dual-layer DVD burner dual-layer DVD burner
Networking Gigabit Ethernet Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11n wireless
Operating system Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit) Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit)

The Dell Studio XPS SX8100-1408NBC represents the Asus' primary retail competition, thanks to its price proximity. There's only a $50 difference between these two PCs, compared with a $150 gap between the Asus and the higher-end Gateway FX6480-03E. The Asus' chief distinction from the Dell is its six-core 2.6GHz AMD Phenom II X6 1035T processor. It has a slower core clock speed than the Dell's 3.2GHz Intel Core i5 650, which for the most part can't be improved by the six cores. More on performance below.

A quick glance down the rest of the Asus' feature list shows that the only other core differentiator is its graphics card. Its more-current Radeon HD 5750 is a far more capable gaming card than the Dell's GeForce GT220. For some, that performance boost might be enough. But remember that faster performance is just $150 away in the Gateway.

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

Apple iTunes encoding test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Asus Essentio CG1330-05

Multimedia multitasking test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Asus Essentio CG1330-05

(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Rendering Multiple CPUs  
Rendering Single CPU  
Gateway FX6840-03e
Gateway FX6831-01
Dell Studio XPS 7100
Asus Essentio CG1330-05

The Asus simply finishes too close to the bottom across our performance tests for us to recommend it. We were surprised by the Cinebench multithreaded test in particular, given its six-core CPU. That test has been the differentiator for recent lower-end AMD quad-core systems, in which they've been able to outpace competing dual-core Intel Core i5 and Core i3-based desktops. It seems at this price range that the quad-core 2.8GHz Core i7 CPUs can compensate for having two fewer cores than the Asus, and the raw power of those models propels them ahead on every test.

Crysis (in fps)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
1,600 x 1,200 (4x aa)  
1,280 x 1,024 (4x aa)  
Gateway FX6831-01
Gateway FX6840-03e
Asus Essentio CG1330-05

Far Cry 2 (in fps)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
1,920x1,200 (DirectX 10, 4x aa, very high)  
1,440 x 900 (DirectX 10, 4x aa, very high)  
Gateway FX6831-01
Gateway FX6840-03e
Asus Essentio CG1330-05

Our Far Cry 2 test provides a fair indication of a PC's general gaming performance. We're happy to see the Asus break the 60 frames per second barrier on our lower resolution test, but the true gauge of a PC's gaming prowess these days comes at larger resolutions, and on our 1,920x1,200-pixel resolution test, this system doesn't quite live up to our hopes.

For less-demanding games and gamers, the Asus should be adequate. You can drop the image-quality settings, or settle for the occasional choppy frame rate, and still enjoy most titles. Spend just a few hundred dollars more, though, and you can be sure of a worry-free gaming experience, as well as have confidence that your PC will handle titles coming out in the near future. We get no such reassurance from this Asus, which makes a faster PC a wiser investment.

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