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Asus Essentio CM5570-AP002 review: Asus Essentio CM5570-AP002

Asus Essentio CM5570-AP002

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 2009 Retail Laptop and Desktop Back-to-School roundup, covering specific fixed configurations of popular systems that can be found in retail stores.


Asus Essentio CM5570-AP002

The Good

HDMI port and Wi-Fi uncommon in midtowers in this price range; slight performance edge due to more recent integrated graphics chip.

The Bad

Seemingly nonexistent online support.

The Bottom Line

The Asus Essentio CM5570-AP002 isn't an overly remarkable desktop, but it has a few extra features that help it stand out. Its Wi-Fi and HDMI video out port give it some unique capabilities, and the best part is that Asus still manages to keep the price down. It's hard not to like this system, even though we wish Asus had more comprehensive support.

Aside from the fact that it's a midtower system, the Asus Essentio CM5570-AP002 has much of the same charm that we found in a slim tower version from Asus last year. At a reasonable $510, the Asus offers living-room-friendly features like wireless networking and HDMI video output in a competent budget system. You might not necessarily want those features in a midtower, but you also don't have to sacrifice anything to get them. If you demand a slim tower with these kinds of features, Gateway's SX2800-01 offers a similarly priced alternative to the Asus midtower. For those who might want living-room-friendly features in a more upgradable case, or who are simply in the market for an affordable, well-rounded PC, the Asus Essentio CM5570-AP002 is a great option.

Asus has previously ventured into the all-in-one and slim tower desktop arenas before, but this is the first midtower case we've seen from the Taiwanese vendor. Asus has dutifully followed the glossy black case trend common to the majority of recent Windows desktops with this Essentio. While it might not impress anyone on its looks alone, the design is perfectly serviceable, and it will fit into any environment.

We'll get right to comparing the Essentio with its competition, and HP's Pavilion p6110y makes a great head-to-head. We won't begrudge HP the $10 price difference, but it's interesting to note just how much these systems have in common. The only significant component variation lies in the motherboard/graphics chipset in each system. Asus has an Intel GMA X4500 chip, a more recent integrated graphics chip from Intel than the HP. The Asus' chip is technically DirectX 10 capable, but practically speaking, you won't be playing modern PC games on either desktop, at least without a post-purchase 3D card upgrade.

HD movie playback is also limited in that neither system can support Blu-ray content. Of course neither system comes with a Blu-ray drive, but if the Asus' HDMI output had you thinking about adding a Blu-ray drive post-purchase, you're out of luck.

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

Apple iTunes encoding test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)

Multimedia multitasking (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)

(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Rendering multi-CPU  
Rendering single CPU  
Gateway SX2800-01
Asus CM5570-AP002
HP Pavilion p6110y
Dell Inspiron 537s

For the most part, performance is a wash between the two systems as well. Gateway's SX2800-01 leads the budget retail desktop category thanks to its quad-core CPU, but between the Asus and HP systems, Asus enjoys only a slight advantage, most notably on our multimedia multitasking test, where it edged the HP by roughly 30 seconds. We suspect this test, which involves video encoding on top of an MP3 file conversion, is where the Asus' more up-to-date graphics chip pays off. Which is not to say that the Essentio is a multimedia powerhouse. If you think you'll be spending significant time encoding or transcoding video files, we'd encourage you to at least consider the Gateway system, if not a higher-end PC. Still, of the two $500-ish midtowers we've tested for the back to school season, the Asus system should give you a minor performance edge over the HP Pavilion p6110y in the long run.

We mentioned the HDMI video output and the wireless networking earlier in the review as evidence of the Asus' living-room-readiness. Because of the midtower design of this system, however, those features function more like added bonuses. If you have an HDMI-equipped desktop monitor with built-in speakers, for example, the Asus and its HDMI port will let you connect to that display and take advantage of the fact that HDMI carries an audio signal as well as video. In other words, you won't need to connect your PC's audio to the monitor speakers through a separate cable. Wireless networking also helps minimize cable clutter. This is probably less of an issue for a deskbound office PC than a portable system. But if you were to drag the Essentio into your living room, we imagine you'd appreciate not having to string yet another cable to get this system on your network.

The Essentio offers modest upgrade room, and it can accommodate a lower-end 3D card via its 16x PCI Express slot, as well as two other standard PCI cards. You get room for a few more hard drives, as well as room for one more memory stick. In general, we don't recommend spending money to upgrade budget PCs post-purchase, as you can typically get a better deal if you're willing to spend an extra $100 or $200 on a complete system.

Juice box
Asus Essentio CM5570-AP002  
Off (watts) 2.359
Sleep (watts) 3.66
Idle (watts) 55.68
Load (watts) 82.84
Raw (annual kWh) 219.9675
Energy Star compliant No
Annual operating cost (@$0.1135/kWh) $24.97

Annual power consumption cost
Asus CM5570-AP002

Armed with our new desktop power tests, we learned that the Asus Essentio CM5570-AP002 is relatively inefficient compared with other desktops in its price range. Asus doesn't claim that this system is Energy Star compliant, so we're not disproving any claims with our tests, but while the Pavilion p6110y barely makes the cut, this Asus system draws too much power to qualify. This might be where the more up-to-date Intel graphics chipset hurts this system, but given the relatively low draw overall, we suspect most of you would be willing to trade a few extra cents on your monthly power bill if it saves you a few seconds transcoding the occasional video file.

If we have a generally positive impression of the Essentio CM5570-AP002, we can't say the same for Asus' service and support of this system. Aside from the one year parts and labor warranty, its phone-based service has a toll-free number, but it's only open for Pacific Time business hours, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. PT, Monday through Friday. Asus' support Web site is also borderline impenetrable, and the Essentio brand name isn't mentioned anywhere on any of the FAQs or driver download pages.

Find out more about how we test desktop systems.

System configurations:

Asus Essentio CM5570-AP002
Windows Vista Home Premium SP1 (64-bit); 2.6GHz Intel Pentium Dual-Core E5300; 6GB 800MHz DDR2 SDRAM; 32MB (shared) Intel GMA X4500 integrated graphics chip; 640MB 7,200 rpm hard drive

Dell Inspiron 537s
Windows Vista Home Premium SP1 (64-bit); 2.5GHz Intel Pentium Dual Core E5200; 4GB 800MHz DDR2 SDRAM; TKMB (shared) Intel GMA X4500 integrated graphics chip; 640GB 7,200 rpm hard drive

Gateway SX2800-01
Windows Vista Home Premium SP1 (64-bit); 2.3GHz Intel Core 2 Quad Q8200; 4GB 800MHz DDR2 SDRAM; TKMB (shared) Intel GMA X4500 integrated graphics chip; 640GB 7,200 rpm hard drive

HP Pavilion p6110y
Windows Vista Home Premium SP1 (64-bit); 2.6GHz Intel Pentium Dual-Core E5300; 6GB 800MHz DDR2 SDRAM; 128MB (shared) Intel GMA 3100 integrated graphics chip; 640MB 7,200 rpm hard drive

HP Pavilion Slimline s5120y
Windows Vista Home Premium SP1 (64-bit); 2.7GHz AMD Athlon X2 7750 ; 4GB 800MHz DDR2 SDRAM; 128MB Nvidia Geforce 6150SE integrated graphics chip; 500GB 7,200 rpm hard drive


Asus Essentio CM5570-AP002

Score Breakdown

Design 7Features 7Performance 7Support 4