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eMachines M6811 review: eMachines M6811

eMachines M6811

Stephanie Bruzzese
6 min read
The new M6811 desktop-replacement laptop from eMachines marks some advances over its previous iteration, the eMachines M6807. Some of the M6807's better features survive in the M6811, such as a movie- and game-friendly 15.4-inch display; a broad, comfortable keyboard; an integrated DVD+/-RW drive; 802.11g wireless hardware; and a comparatively low price ($1,699 as of September 2004). The M6811 has also evolved into a faster laptop, powered by a quicker Mobile Athlon 64 3400+ processor and a bigger 80GB hard drive. Unfortunately, the M6811's older 64MB ATI Radeon Mobility 9600 graphics chip, scant 512MB of memory, and toll-based phone support prove that this system still has some room to grow before it joins the legions of top-performing laptops. And since it's sold only through retail outlets, you can't configure it with better parts before you buy. We recommend the HP Pavilion zd7000 as a comparably priced, superior desktop replacement. Where cool laptop cases are concerned, the eMachines M6811 lacks the satanic flash of the skull-laden and decidedly higher-end Dell Inspiron XPS. Still, we like the M6811's black-and-silver composition. It's a decently designed desktop-replacement laptop, though it's a little bigger than the competition; it weighs in at 7.5 pounds and measures 1.6 inches thick, 14 inches wide, and 10.4 inches deep.

This laptop's bulk affords it some design features that your fingers and eyes will appreciate. The spacious keyboard keeps the former from cramping up, though the keys are somewhat noisy and the spacebar is extra short. By the same token, the touch pad and the mouse buttons are big enough for comfortable use, and the touch pad also includes a handy scroll control. Lining the keyboard's upper-right edge are six handy buttons for launching a variety of applications and adjusting the audio volume. The wide-aspect 15.4-inch display provides a truly pleasant visual experience. The system's two speakers, positioned in the corners of the front edge, sound flat.


eMachines M6811

The Good

Reasonably priced; big, 15.4-inch display; DVD+/-RW drive; spacious keyboard; 802.11g Wi-Fi.

The Bad

Heavier than comparable systems; phone support isn't free; aging graphics chip; can't be configured with better components at purchase.

The Bottom Line

The M6811 is a decent desktop-replacement laptop, but there are better systems for the money.

The M6811 includes a full set of ports and slots. The system's left edge offers three card slots: one Type II PC Card, one CompactFlash/MicroDrive, and one MultiMediaCard/Secure Digital/Memory Stick/Memory Stick Pro. Nearby are one FireWire and two USB 2.0 ports. Two more USB 2.0 ports sit along the M6811's back edge, along with headphone, microphone, 56Kbps modem, Ethernet, S-Video out, and VGA ports. The right edge is consumed by the M6811's integrated DVD+/-RW drive.

The eMachines M6811 offers a mixed bag of features. On the positive side, the system is powered by a speedy Mobile Athlon 64 3400+ processor running at 2.2GHz. It also features a wide-screen 15.4-inch display; a cutting-edge DVD+/-RW drive; a 54g wireless radio; and a big, 80GB hard drive. However, the display has a relatively low, 1,280x800 native resolution, and that big hard drive spins at a slow 4,200rpm. Also discouraging: the M6811 includes only 512MB of memory and uses the aging 64MB ATI Mobility Radeon 9600 graphics card. CNET no longer tests the battery life of desktop-replacement laptops, but we can tell you that the M6811 features a fairly big 14.8V, 4,400mAh battery that should provide at least a few hours of battery life.

We wouldn't mind the M6811's unremarkable components if eMachines gave us the option to upgrade them for better ones. But the M6811 is not configurable. You can, however, opt instead for the even cheaper $1,499 (as of September 2004) M6810, which includes a slightly slower Mobile Athlon 64 3200+ processor; a 60GB, 4,200rpm hard drive; and a DVD/CD-RW drive. The M6810's performance isn't diminished much, either: it finished just a few points behind the M6811 in CNET Labs tests.

The software that eMachines bundles with the M6811 is decent for the price. Both the M6810 and the M6811 run Microsoft Windows XP Home, and each includes Microsoft's severely scaled-down office suite, Works 7.0. eMachines also throws in a copy of Microsoft's Money 2004 financial-management application.

Mobile application performance
The eMachines M6811's performance score came in 11 percent behind that of the ABS Mayhem G3, which has an identical Mobile Athlon 64 3400+ 2.2GHz processor. The Mayhem G3 surely benefited from its 7,200rpm hard drive, which is much faster than the M6811's 4,200rpm drive. The Mayhem G3 has twice as much (and faster) RAM, too. The Gateway M520, also equipped with a 4,200rpm hard drive, delivered a virtually identical performance to that of the eMachines system.

The slightly lower-end eMachines M6810, which runs a Mobile Athlon 64 3200+ 2GHz processor, tested about 6 percent slower than its big brother. Both the eMachines M6811 and the M6810 offer decent performance, but neither burns up the speedway.

SysMark 2004 performance  (Longer bars indicate better performance)
BAPCo SysMark 2004 rating  
SysMark 2004 Internet content creation  
SysMark 2004 office productivity  
ABS Mayhem G3
eMachines M6811
Gateway M520

Performance analysis written by CNET Labs assistant lab manager Eric Franklin.

The Unreal Tournament 2004 test draws mostly upon a system's video card and CPU. The eMachines M6811, which uses an ATI Mobility 9600 64MB video card and a Mobile Athlon 64 3400+ 2.2GHz CPU, delivered a decent performance. The Gateway M520, using the same video card, was about 11 percent behind the M6811. This was due to the eMachines' CPU, which can feed its video adapter more information per second than the Gateway's Mobile Pentium 4 3.06GHz. The ABS Mayhem G3 was way out in front, thanks to its more powerful ATI Mobility Radeon 9700 128MB video card. We also tested the eMachines M6810, which delivered a virtually identical performance to that of the M6811. eMachines' decision to use the Athlon 64 processor was smart, and while these systems' performances were not incredible, both eMachines systems offer a very playable experience.

Unreal Tournament 2004 performance  (Longer bars indicate better performance)
Atari Games/Epic Games Unreal Tournament 2004  
ABS Mayhem G3
Gateway M520

Analysis written by CNET Labs assistant lab manager Eric Franklin.

To measure mobile application performance and battery life, CNET Labs uses BAPCo's MobileMark 2002. MobileMark measures both application performance and battery life concurrently using a number of popular applications (Microsoft Word 2002, Microsoft Excel 2002, Microsoft PowerPoint 2002, Microsoft Outlook 2002, Netscape Communicator 6.0, WinZip Computing WinZip 8.0, McAfee VirusScan 5.13, Adobe Photoshop 6.0.1, and Macromedia Flash 5.0).

System configurations:

ABS Mayhem G3
Windows XP Professional; Athlon 64 3400+ 2.2GHz; 1GB DDR SDRAM 400MHz; ATI Mobility Radeon 9700 128MB; Hitachi Travelstar 7K60 60GB 7,200rpm

eMachines M6811
Windows XP Home; Mobile Athlon 64 3400+ 2.2GHz; 512MB DDR SDRAM 333MHz; ATI Mobility Radeon 9600 64MB; IBM Travelstar 80GN 80GB 4,200rpm

Gateway M520
Windows XP Professional; 3.06GHz Intel Mobile Pentium 4; 1GB DDR SDRAM 333MHz; ATI Mobility Radeon 9600 64MB; Hitachi Travelstar 80GN 80GB 4,200rpm

Come on, Gateway: now that you own eMachines, it's time to ax the tacky toll-based phone support. Even old stalwarts such as HP have finally disconnected their for-pay support lines in favor of toll-free numbers.

Until Gateway takes our advice, you'll be forced to cover the long-distance charges for tech-support calls for your M6811. After the standard one-year warranty ends, you'll also be expected to pay $20 for every call; tech support is available between the hours of 6 a.m. and 10 p.m. PT. As an unsatisfying compromise, eMachines offers the ability to engage in a real-time Web chat with its support reps Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. PT. At least the online response time is extremely quick, and the rep's information is generally helpful. Just don't count on eMachines' support Web site for much help: its FAQ list includes just 15 entries, none specific to the M6811 or the M6810.


eMachines M6811

Score Breakdown

Design 7Features 7Performance 7Support 5