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

Asus Essentio CG1330-05

Rich Brown Former Senior Editorial Director - Home and Wellness
Rich was the editorial lead for CNET's Home and Wellness sections, based in Louisville, Kentucky. Before moving to Louisville in 2013, Rich ran CNET's desktop computer review section for 10 years in New York City. He has worked as a tech journalist since 1994, covering everything from 3D printing to Z-Wave smart locks.
Expertise Smart home, Windows PCs, cooking (sometimes), woodworking tools (getting there...)
Rich Brown
6 min read

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.


Asus Essentio CG1330-05

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.

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)  
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)  
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.

That said, you could certainly replace the 3D card in this system if you currently own faster hardware than the included Radeon HD 5750. The 400-watt power supply in the Asus should be able to support a faster GPU. PCs in this price range don't generally support two 3D cards, and this system is no exception, but you do get a spare 1X PCI Express slot, as well as a standard PCI slot. That should let you add a Wi-Fi card or other expansion cards with relative ease. The four RAM slots are all occupied, but you do get room for two more hard drives in a convenient outward-facing drive cage.

We're a little disappointed in the Asus' connectivity options. You get the usual raft of USB ports, digital and analog audio jacks, as well as VGA, DVI, and HDMI display options on the graphics card. You'll find no alternative data ports on this PC, though. We know FireWire and eSATA aren't crucial for everyone, but with so many less expensive desktops offering those ports, it seems problematic that the Asus should leave them off.

Juice box
Asus Essentio CG1330-05  
Off (watts) 0.68
Sleep (watts) 1.67
Idle (watts) 114.88
Load (watts) 186.06
Raw (annual kWh) 468.9009
EnergyStar compliant No
Annual operating cost (@$0.1135/kWh) $53.22

Annual power consumption cost
Gateway FX6840-03e
Asus Essentio CG1330-05

The Asus' power consumption is also a concern, especially relative to its competition. At an estimated $53 for the year, that almost comes out to $4.50 a month in extra energy bill charges. We don't expect that would bankrupt anyone who could responsibly purchase a $950 PC, but it would add a noticeable uptick to your power bill. Compare that $53 figure with the Gateway, which costs roughly $35 a year to operate and is universally faster, and, like other recent AMD-based desktops, this Asus system looks woefully energy inefficient.

Asus continues to neglect the Essentio brand on its Web site. You get a year-long, parts-and-labor warranty with this system, as well as 24-7 phone support, but online help is essentially nonexistent. For a brand that appears in major retailers nationwide, this continued omission is hard to comprehend and presents a perpetual difficulty for recommending Asus' Essentio desktops to average consumers.

Find out more about how we test desktop systems.

System configurations:

Asus Essentio CG1330-05
Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit); 2.6GHz AMD Phenom II X6 1035T; 8GB 1,333MHz DDR3 SDRAM; 1GB ATI Radeon HD 5750; 1TB 7,200 rpm Hitachi hard drive

Dell Studio XPS 7100
Windows 7Home Premium SP1 (64-bit); 2.8GHz AMD Phenom II X6 1055T; 6GB 1,333MHz DDR3 SDRAM; 1GB ATI Radeon HD 5870; 1.5GB, 7,200 rpm Seagate hard drive

Dell Studio XPS SX8100-1408NBC
Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit); 3.2GHz Intel Core i5 650; 8GB 1,333MHz DDR3 SDRAM; 1GB Nvidia GeForce GT 220 graphics card; 1TB 7,200 rpm Western Digital hard drive

Gateway FX6831-01
Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit; 2.8GHz Intel Core i7 860; 8GB 1,333MHz DDR3 SDRAM; 1GB ATI Radeon HD 5850; 1.5TB Seagate 7,200rpm hard drive

Gateway FX6840-03e
Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit); 2.8GHz Intel Core i7 860; 8GB 1,333MHz DDR3 SDRAM; 1GB ATI Radeon HD 5770; 1TB 7,200 rpm Seagate hard drive


Asus Essentio CG1330-05

Score Breakdown

Design 8Features 5Performance 6Support 3