Asus Essentio CM5675-07 review: Asus Essentio CM5675-07

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The Good New case design adds polish; convenient port access; relatively fast single-core and multitasking performance.

The Bad Emulated four-core Intel chip slower than less-expensive competition on multithreaded apps; few remarkable features; Essentio brand unacknowledged on the Asus Web site.

The Bottom Line As much as we like the new chassis, a sparse feature set limits the Asus Essentio CM5675-07's shelf appeal. It's certainly not a bad computer, and its Intel Core i5 650 CPU is fast enough for most tasks, but we wish Asus had done more to help this lower midrange midtower stand out.

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6.5 Overall
  • Design 8
  • Features 6
  • Performance 6
  • Support 4

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 CM5675-07 features a welcome new midtower case design, and relatively fast performance for its $749 price. Those are about its only distinguishing qualities. It lacks interesting features like wireless networking, Blu-ray, or a dedicated graphics card, which makes it hard to generate much enthusiasm for a desktop that simply performs certain tasks (not all) a few seconds faster than its less-expensive competition. The Essentio CM5675-07 would make a workable upgrade platform, and it would be a fine productivity box if you weren't overly focused on digital media editing. Otherwise, you can spend less for desktops with more useful features.

We'll give Asus credit for the Essentio CM5675-07's updated chassis. It replaces the boring, boxy case from the

  Asus Essentio CM5675-07 HP Pavilion p6540y
Price $749 $699
CPU 3.2GHz Intel Core i5 650 2.8GHz AMD Athlon II X4 830
Memory 8GB 1,333MHz DDR3 SDRAM 8GB 1,333MHz DDR3 SDRAM
Graphics 32MB (shared) Intel GMA HD X4500 integrated graphics chip 256MB (shared) ATI Radeon HD 4200 integrated graphics chip
Hard drives 1TB, 7,200rpm 1TB, 7,200rpm
Optical drive Dual-layer DVD burner Dual-layer DVD burner
Networking Gigabit Ethernet Gigabit Ethernet
Operating system Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit) Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit)

The closest competitor to the Essentio CM5675-07 is the $699 HP Pavilion p6540y, an AMD-based midtower in a color HP refers to as "magnesium gray." And here we thought all Windows midtowers were supposed to be black.

In most respects, the two systems have nearly identical features. Each has 8GB of RAM, a DVD burner, wired networking only, and a 1TB hard drive. The Asus has a few more connectivity options, including HDMI and S/PDIF digital audio output in addition to its DVI and VGA video ports and analog audio jacks. The HP has no HDMI or S/PDIF, but it does have FireWire, arguably more useful in a midtower desktop you're not likely to bring into the living room.

We'd prefer more variety in the Asus' data ports, and we're also surprised Asus couldn't squeeze in Wi-Fi or some other nonstandard feature to help the Essentio stand out. You'll find wireless networking in the $649 Gateway DX4840-03e, a slower, but still worthy desktop. We suspect Asus is relying on the fast Intel Core i5 560 CPU to set this competent but otherwise bland desktop apart.

Adobe Photoshop CS3 image-processing test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Asus Essentio CM5675-07

Apple iTunes encoding test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Asus Essentio CM5675-07

Multimedia multitasking (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Asus Essentio CM5675-07

(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Rendering multiple CPUs  
Rendering single CPU  
HP Pavilion p6540y
HP Pavilion p6510y
Asus Essentio CM5675-07
Gateway DX4840-03e

The Essentio's performance on our benchmark tests for the most part justifies relying on the CPU to sell this system, but we wish its victory over the Pavilion 6540f was more decisive. On single-core, and even multitasking tests, the Asus wins, by margins ranging from dramatic to simply noticeable. The Essentio beat the HP by nearly a minute in our multitasking test, a fairly indicative measure of how people actually use their PCs.

For more-specialized work, like our single-application, multithreaded Cinebench test that exercises all of a CPU's processing threads, we suspect the Essentio falls behind the AMD-powered HP because of the Asus' Core i5 650 chip, a dual-core CPU that can emulate a quad-core chip thanks to Intel's HyperThreading technology. The AMD Athlon II X4 830 in the HP is a native four-core processor. The HP might not be as fast on programs that require fewer cores, but on software written to take advantage of multiple CPU cores, like more and more games and digital-media editing apps, it seems a native quad-core chip still provides an advantage over Intel's emulation strategy.

This is not to say that the Asus is slow on multithreaded programs. It's not. It will ably handle any consumer-level task, or series of tasks. It will also make a respectable gaming box if you add a graphics card. It can't support a high-end 3D card because of its modest 300-watt power supply, but anything in the $100 to $200 range should work, and provide at least acceptable performance for most titles.

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