Asus Essentio CM5675-07
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|
|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.
|Rendering multiple CPUs||Rendering single CPU|
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.
For further expansion, the Essentio provides a pair of 4x PCI Express slots, as well as a single 1x PCI Express slot. That gives you room to add a TV tuner, a video encoding card, as well as a FireWire or other alternate data input. You can also add a second hard drive, although all four RAM slots are occupied.
|Asus Essentio CM5675-07||Average watts per hour|
|Raw (annual kWh)||223.50264|
|Energy Star compliant||No|
|Annual operating cost (@$0.1135/kWh)||$25.37|
The Essentio's power consumption falls right where we expect it to in this price range, coming in almost identically with that of a Dell Studio XPS 8100, a pricier system with a dedicated graphics card (a feature that doesn't get tested on our mainstream power consumption benchmark). HP, as usual with its AMD-based systems, looks inefficient compared with the Intel-based midtower in its same price ballpark.
Asus says it offers 24-7 tech support by phone, and it also claims a year of parts and labor coverage for the Essentio CM5675-07 on the warranty card in the box. What you won't find, inexplicably, is any mention of the Essentio brand on Asus' Web site. The Essentio has gone basically unacknowledged by the Asus site since the brand launched last year. That makes the prospects for downloading drivers or finding online support help dismal to nonexistent.
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Asus Essentio CM5675-07
Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit); 3.2GHz Intel Core i5 650; 8GB 1,333MHz DDR3 SDRAM; 32MB (shared) Intel GMA X4500 HD integrated graphics chip; 1TB 7,200rpm Hitachi hard drive
Asus Essentio CM5671-05
Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit); 2.8GHz Intel Pentium Dual Core E5500; 4GB 1,333MHz DDR3 SDRAM; 128MB (shared) Intel GMA X4500 HD integrated graphics chip; 1TB 7,200rpm Hitachi 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 7,200rpm Western Digital hard drive
Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit); 3.0GHz Intel Core i3 540; 8GB 1,333MHz DDR3 SDRAM; 64MB (shared) Intel GMA X4500 HD integrated graphics chip; 1TB 7,200rpm Western Digital hard drive
HP Pavilion p6510f
Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit); 2.8GHz AMD Athlon II X4 630; 4GB 1,333MHz DDR3 SDRAM; 256MB (shared) Radeon HD 4200 integrated graphics chip; 750GB 7,200rpm Seagate hard drive