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eMachines EL1300G-01w review: eMachines EL1300G-01w

eMachines EL1300G-01w

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
5 min read

We're this close to really liking eMachines' most affordable desktop. The $298 EL1300G-01w has a sharp design, and sacrifices little in the way of core features. Our hang-up lies mostly in its pokey performance. We recognize that many of you are willing to sacrifice speed for a borderline throw-away PC that might be relegated to light duty Web browsing and media-playing duties. Spend just an extra $50, though, and you'll realize dramatic performance gains. Perhaps you really will only use the EL1300G-01w to check sports scores in the morning. But when it comes to a screeching halt the minute you try to rip music from a CD or create a photo album, you can't say we didn't warn you.

6.8

eMachines EL1300G-01w

The Good

Pleasing, compact design; rock-bottom price; DVD burner and media card reader.

The Bad

Dog-slow performance; easily outclassed if you spend just $50 more.

The Bottom Line

We cringe at the idea of recommending such a slow PC when you can get significantly better performance for just a few more dollars. That said, it's hard to argue with the eMachines EL1300G-01w's low price, clean good looks, and relatively complete budget feature set. As long as you have no ambitions for this PC performing anything resembling serious work, it will make a fine second or third home system.

The EL1300G-01w's case design slots it firmly into the slim-tower family, alongside HP's SlimLine series, Acer's Aspire X line, and various trimmed down Dells. Unlike a Mac Mini, the Asus Eee Box, or other small desktops, the slim tower gives you the same reduced size, but still lets you get at the interior to make upgrades like a normal tower system. The front of the EL1300G-01w features a concealed DVD burner, as well as a set of USB, audio, and media card ports along the bottom edge. Aesthetically, the EL1300G-01w has neither the industrial polish of the Mac Mini nor the glossy black panache of HP's SlimLines, but between its predominantly white plastic casing and a few subtle curves, there's a certain charm to this eMachines system. We'd feel comfortable putting it almost anywhere.

We could pick several other PCs to compare with the EL1300G-01w, many from eMachines' own stable. Dell, HP, and others also have PCs in this price range, with Dell's Inspiron 530 scraping bottom at $269. We'll go with what we've laid our hands on, which makes the $349 eMachines ET1161-07 the best comparison among desktops we've actually tested.

You'll note a few differences between these two systems. The ET1161-07 is more expensive by $50, but that gets you a faster processor, 50 percent more memory, and twice the hard-drive space as the EL1300G-01w. If the ET1161-07's midtower case turns you off, eMachines also has the EL1210-11, also for $349. That system features a slim-tower case similar to that of the EL1300G-01w's, but with almost the exact same specs as the ET1161-07. The key feature to note is the ET1161-07's processor, the 2.1GHz AMD Athlon 4050e. Compared with the EL1300G-01w's 1.6GHz Athlon 2560e, the 2.1GHz model is an Olympic sprinter.

Adobe Photoshop CS3 image-processing test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
eMachines EL1300G-01w
403 

Apple iTunes encoding test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
eMachines EL1300G-01w
351 

Multimedia multitasking (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Asus Eee Box
4,080 
eMachines EL1300G-01w
4,157 

Cinebench
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Rendering single CPU  
eMachines EL1300G-01w
1,305 

From top to bottom, the EL1300G-01w turned in disappointing test results. Only Asus' limp Eee Box Nettop performs worse. This is not to suggest that any of the PCs in this price range set records, but the iTunes test illustrates the difference with the AMD CPUs we mentioned above. The eMachines EL1300G-01w took 6 minutes to convert a CD's worth of MP3 audio files to the AAC format. The eMachines ET1161-07, which costs just $50 more, performed the same task in almost half the time. Each test has different characteristics, but the winners stay basically the same, leaving the eMachines EL1300G-01w at the bottom of the pile every time.

We see little hope for the EL1300G-01w by way of upgrades, either. We don't imagine a sizable number of eMachines' target audience will crack the EL1300G-01w open, and the wisdom behind spending money to upgrade such a low-end PC is suspect at best. Those who'd still venture forth into this system's interior might be surprised to find that while the case seemingly has room for a half-height PCI or PCI Express card, eMachines left out the physical card slot. That leaves you only a single half-height 1X PCI Express slot to play with, which is currently occupied here by the modem card. Both memory slots are also taken, as is the lone hard-drive bay. Aside from discarding the extant components and swapping in new ones, your upgrade options for the EL1300G-01w are as limited as its performance.

Given its price, it's hard for us to fault eMachines too badly, either for its limited upgrade path or its spare collection of external inputs and outputs. The back panel has only four USB 2.0 ports, a networking jack, a set of analog 5.1 audio outputs, and a VGA video port. You'll find no HDMI, eSATA, DVI, or even FireWire here, but we didn't expect to. A wired mouse and keyboard come in the box, as do a set of 2.0 USB speakers. For its intended usage scenario as a low impact, second, or third PC, the ports and spare peripherals you get will suffice.

eMachines backs the EL1300G-01w with a one-year, parts-and-labor warranty. Technical support is available seven days a week from 5 a.m. to midnight (PST), and the support section of the Web site offers live chat with a technician from 3 a.m. to midnight. For $99, you can also extend the warranty for two additional years. Given the $298 price of the system itself, it's most certainly not worth extending the warranty.

Find out more about how we test desktop systems.

System configurations:

eMachines EL1300G-01w
32-bit Windows Vista Home Basic; 1.6GHz AMD Athlon 2650e; 2GB 800MHz DDR2 SDRAM; 128MB (shared) Nvidia GeForce 6150SE integrated graphics chip; 160GB 7,200rpm hard drive

Acer Aspire X1700
64-bit Windows Vista Home Premium; 2.4GHz Intel Pentium Dual CPU E2220; 4GB 800MHz DDR2 SDRAM; 128MB (shared) NVIDIA GeForce G100 integrated graphics chip; 6400GB 7,200rpm hard drive

Asus Eee Box
Windows XP Home SP3; 1.6Ghz Intel Atom N270; 1GB DDR2 SDRAM; 32MB (shared) Intel GMA 950 integrated graphics chip; 80GB, 5,400rpm Seagate hard drive

Dell Inspiron 530s
64-bit Windows Vista Home Premium; 2.5GHz Intel Pentium Dual-Core CPU E5200; 4GB 800MHz DDR2 SDRAM; 128MB (shared) Intel GMA 3100 integrated graphics chip; 500GB 7,200rpm hard drive


eMachines ET1161-03
32-bit Windows Vista Home Premium; 2.1GHz AMD Athlon Dual Core Processor 4050e; 3GB 800MHz DDR2 SDRAM; 128MB (shared) NVIDIA GeForce 6150SE integrated graphics chip; 320GB, 7,200rpm hard drive.

6.8

eMachines EL1300G-01w

Score Breakdown

Design 8Features 7Performance 4Support 7