For another $100, the eMachines T2958 doubles your pleasure, compared to the entry-level . The extra cash bumps the Celeron D processor up a notch while doubling the memory allotment and the hard drive capacity. As the middle child in eMachines' three-sibling line, the T2958 is a smart choice for budget buyers looking for only the most basic computer. If you have multimedia leanings, however, we suggest you lay out the extra cash for the top-of-the-line yet still fairly priced .
eMachines desktops all feature the same stylish black case and silver front panel. Indeed, the only noticeable difference in appearance between the T2824 and the T2958 is the latter's second optical drive. Instead of a CD-RW/DVD-ROM combo drive, the T2958 comes equipped with a 48X CD-RW drive and a separate 16X DVD-ROM drive, which allows you to perform direct disc-to-disc burning, saving you the extra step of moving the data to be copied to your hard drive first. Like all of the new T-series models, the T2958 has no floppy drive, a sacrifice we'd gladly make for the eight-in-one media-card reader. A sliding cover at the bottom of the front panel hides a microphone jack and a headphones jack within easy reach.
The back of the T2958 has the standard keyboard, mouse, parallel, serial, 10/100 Ethernet, and sound connectors, plus four more USB 2.0 ports. A modem card installed in one of the three PCI slots leaves two available for expansion. The lack of an AGP slot, however, means that you'll need to rely on the barely adequate Intel Extreme Graphics chip for graphics processing.
The case has three cooling fans: one on the power supply, one on the back of the case, and one on the 2.66GHz Celeron D 330 processor. Two of the three internal 3.5-inch drive bays are open, while the third houses an 80GB hard drive. For the budget class, the hard drive provides above-average capacity, but its 5,400rpm rotational speed lags behind that of standard 7,200rpm drives.
A slightly faster processor is always welcome, but what really separates the T2958 and the T2824 in terms of performance is the amount of memory each has. The low-end T2824 is really hampered by its meager 256MB of memory, whereas the T2958 hums along comfortably with its 512MB allotment. With a 32 percent edge in application performance, however, the T2958 trounces the T2824 in day-to-day use. Of course, 3D performance is abysmal for both systems because they rely on an integrated graphics chip that's more than two years old.
The eMachines T2958's typical keyboard has speaker volume, mute, and Internet keys, and it's accompanied by a straightforward ball mouse with a scrollwheel. The monitor is not included in the base unit price, but we were provided with a $109 (after $100 mail-in rebate) 17-inch flat-screen CRT display. The monitor delivered adequate image quality at a resolution of 1,024x768, but the image quality diminished noticeably at higher settings.
The unremarkable software bundle gives you Microsoft Works (but not Microsoft Word) and Microsoft Money, plus CyberLink (so you can watch movies), and a utility called BigFix that helps you manage software patches and system updates.
Printed documentation is skimpy and does not cover this particular configuration in detailed specifics. A knowledgeable user won't need it, but it should help novices get the cables connected correctly. The included recovery CD provides directions on how to use it to restore your system. eMachines has a helpful Web site with downloads for this specific model, along with useful reference information. In addition to a one-year parts-and-labor warranty, support includes access to help through a toll call (6 a.m. to 10 p.m. PT daily), e-mail, and online chat.
|BAPCo SysMark 2004 rating||SysMark 2004 Internet-content-creation rating||SysMark 2004 office-productivity rating|