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Editors' note: This review is part of our , which covers specific fixed configurations of popular systems found in retail stores.
For $730, the Asus Essentio CG5275-AR003 offers a well-rounded mix of midrange components and more than enough room inside the massive case. We understand if you're not the biggest fan of its design, but there's no arguing with this PC's performance that stands out from the majority of its competition. If the programs you use demand a multicore processor, you should check out the HP Pavilion p6320y, but most mainstream shoppers can satisfy their computing needs with this Asus system.
Love it or hate it, Asus went with the same slanted case that we saw last year on the Essentio CG5270-BP004. We'll repeat our sentiments and say that its monolithic appearance might deter people shopping for an unassuming PC for the home, but the brushed-metal finish and smooth, angular faceplate is growing on us. The size alone helps facilitate lots of wiggle room inside for adding an extra hard drive, 3D video card, or other components.
|Asus CG5275-AR003||HP Pavilion p6320y|
|CPU||3.2GHz Intel Core i5 650||2.8GHz AMD Phenom II X4 820|
|Memory||8GB 1,333 DDR3 SDRAM||8GB 1,066MHz DDR3 SDRAM|
|Graphics||32MB (shared) Intel GMA HD integrated graphics chip||256MB (shared) Nvidia GeForce 9100 integrated graphics chip|
|Hard drives||1TB, 7,200rpm||1TB, 7,200 rpm|
|Optical drive||dual-layer DVD burner||dual-layer DVD burner|
|Networking||10/100 Ethernet LAN (no wireless)||10/100 Ethernet LAN, 802.11a/b/g/n wireless|
|Operating system||Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit)||Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit)|
The $700 AMD-based HP Pavilion p6320y is a viable opponent for the Asus in our side-by-side comparison. Spend $30 more and the Asus gives you Intel's new 3.2GHz Core i5 dual-core chip that enjoys a respectable speed boost in our Photoshop, iTunes, and multitasking tests. Asus also gives you an HDMI port on the back to lure you into hooking it up to an HDTV, but unfortunately leaves out a wireless card. Living room hookups aren't the first thing we look for in a midtower PC (we'd point you to the Gateway SX2840-01 as a slim tower alternative), but, prices being relatively equal, we'd certainly rather have more connectivity options than less. With a similar spread of features between these two systems, the decision comes down to the performance scores below.
|Rendering Multiple CPUs||Rendering Single CPU|
The Asus and its Intel Core i5 650 CPU takes HP in the majority of the performance tests. Similar to Core i3, this particular model is also a dual core-chip that can shift to a four thread design on-the-fly, but a faster clock speed and other features help it outperform the Gateway Core i3 systems across the board, as well as the HP's Phenom II X4 820 in the single application and multitasking tests. In a real-world scenario, the Asus is fit to handle almost any day-to-day application you throw at it.
The HP stands out only on our multithreaded Cinebench test. That suggests that on single programs that really take advantage of multicore processors, it might provide a boost. If the majority of your favorite programs are designed to take full advantage of multicore CPUs (Photoshop, for example, only uses multiple processing threads on certain filters), the HP might be a more viable option.
The Asus is ready to accept a generous portion of modern connections, including a couple of USB ports, 7.1 analog audio, optical S/PDIF audio, and three display options: HDMI, VGA, and DVI. Just to make sure, we connected up the Asus to an HDTV and it ran full 1080p HD movie trailers from Apple.com, as well as full-screen HD video from sites like YouTube, Hulu, Vimeo, and Netflix without interruption.
The massive case does present an open invitation for upgrades, with room for an aftermarket 3D video card along with two standard PCI slots and a 1X PCI Express slot. The roomy interior also has a fan mount inside, and the canted front portion of the tower helps with system cooling. We should also note that all four RAM slots are currently occupied, so any memory upgrades down the line will require you to toss out a couple sticks. Finally, Asus gives you additional space to add storage with another hard drive and an optical disc drive.
|Raw (annual kWh)||314.703|
|Annual operating cost (@$0.1135/kWh)||$35.72|
The chart above shows how much these systems will cost to run over the course of a full year. While the Gateway DX4300-15e and the two HP systems trend on the more expensive side, Asus manages to keep costs low at only $1.83 per month. The system still doesn't make the grade for Energy Star certification, but eco-friendly consumers can still save money by investing in this system.
Asus is fairly new in the desktop market, but that doesn't make it exempt from offering customer support on par with the rest of the industry. Unfortunately, its Web site and phone support are severely lacking. You only get a single year of parts-and-labor warranty coverage, and we found few relevant support results in a simple online search. The limited phone hours from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. PT on weekdays don't help its cause, either, when most of its off-the-shelf competition offers 24-7 phone support.
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System configurations :
Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit); 3.2GHz Intel Core i5 650; 8GB 1066MHz DDR3 SDRAM; 32MB(shared) Intel GMA HD integrated graphics chip; 1TB 7,200 rpm hard drive
Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit); 2.93GHz Intel Core i3 530; 6GB 1,333MHz DDR3 SDRAM; 32MB Intel GMA HD integrated graphics chip; 1TB, 7,200 rpm Western Digital hard drive
Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit); 2.6GHz AMD Phenom II X4 810; 8GB 800MHz DDR2 SDRAM; 256MB ATI Radeon HD 3200 integrated graphics chip; 1TB, 7,200 rpm Western Digital hard drive
HP Pavilion p6310y
Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit); 2.8GHz AMD Athlon II X4 630; 6GB 1,066MHz DDR3 SDRAM; 256MB NVIDIA nForce 720a; 1TB, 7,200 rpm Western Digital hard drive
HP Pavilion p6320y
Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit); 2.8GHz AMD Phenom II X4 820; 8GB 1,066MHz DDR3 SDRAM; 256MB (shared) NVIDIA GeForce 9100 integrated graphics chip; 1TB, 7,200 rpm Western Digital hard drive