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eMachines T3626 review: eMachines T3626

eMachines T3626

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Rich Brown
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Rich Brown Senior Editorial Director - Home and Wellness

Rich is the editorial lead for CNET's Home and Wellness sections, based in Louisville, KY. 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...)
4 min read

Of the super budget PCs currently available from mainstream retailers and Dell.com, the $399 eMachines T3626 is the second best deal available. We found a system from Acer that has more features for the money, but the eMachines edges that one out by offering a $50 rebate. If that deferred $50 means more to you than a larger hard drive and likely faster overall performance, this eMachines system gives you the most computer for the money. Otherwise, we'd suggest springing for the Acer or another slightly higher-end system.

7.0

eMachines T3626

The Good

Most fully featured PC for the dollar (counting the rebate); reasonably good-looking desktop; room for internal expansion.

The Bad

Single-core CPU incurs a major performance drop-off compared with dual-core in most modern programs; 160GB hard drive will fill up quickly with digital photos and music.

The Bottom Line

They don't call them budget PCs for nothing. If price is your first concern, the eMachines T3626 seems to offer the best computing deal for the money, but only thanks to its $50 rebate. If you can stand to spend $400 or more, you can get substantially more computer for your dollar.

As we pointed out in our review of the eMachines T5234, the eMachines midtower case is functional and reasonably attractive. It's no style-piece, but it won't kill the look of a room, either. The compact midtower design will fit on or under any desk, and a well-organized front panel gives you ready access to the DVD-burner drive, the media card reader, and the USB and audio ports. Inside, you'll find room to upgrade. Your first order of business should be the memory, although with only two slots, you'll have to throw away the current pair of 512MB sticks if you want to go to 2GB. You can try a graphics card if you have your eye on gaming, but the 300-watt power supply will limit you to midrange 3D cards.

Compared with its linemate, the $485 eMachines T5234, the T3626 is similar in all but its processor and its hard drive capacity. The T3626 has a single-core budget Sempron chip and a 160GB drive, while the T5234 has a full-fledged dual-core Athlon and 320GB of storage. The extra storage speaks for itself. As for the processing power, we didn't love even the T5234's performance compared with the older eMachines T5230, but as you can see, the difference between dual-core and single-core chips is noticeable, if you know where to look.

Adobe Photoshop CS2 image-processing test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)

Apple iTunes encoding test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)

CineBench (in frames per second)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Rendering single CPU  

The T5234 doesn't show up on our Photoshop test, largely due to testing irregularities that we're still trying to resolve. But compared with the Dell Inspiron 531S, which has the same CPU as the T5234 (although twice the RAM), the eMachines T3626 looks awfully slow. More telling is the iTunes test, which is especially processor-sensitive. There it took the T3626 a full minute longer to process the same workload as the T5234. The Cinebench scores reveal that for tasks that only use a single core (word processing, basic Web browsing, e-mail) you won't be too far behind other similar systems due to the raw CPU clock speed. But in addition to Windows Vista in general, you can expect that more and more programs will benefit from dual-core CPUs. That makes the T3626's performance suited only to the most basic computing tasks.

Still, thanks to its media card reader and the DVD burner, primarily, the T3626 could work as a basic digital media workstation. Its relative puny hard drive will run out of space quickly if you plan to store entire collections of photos, music, or video on it. For this price, though, it's the best deal going. Dell forces you to get a 250GB hard drive in its most spare Inspiron 531, but you can't get both a DVD burner and a media card reader and keep the price under $400. Neither can Hewlett-Packard's Best Buy or Circuit City offerings. The Acer Aspire we found at Circuit City offers a 250GB hard drive and the rest of the same features for $399, but again, no rebate.

Service wise, these systems are all very similar. eMachines offers one year of parts and labor coverage with this system for free. You can't order it from eMachines directly, so you can't upgrade the eMachines warranty, but we're confident that either Best Buy or Circuit City would be very excited to sell you an upgraded warranty, in-home set-up, or other services. You can turn to eMachines' Web site for various support links, though, which we found comprehensive and easy to understand.

Find out more about how we test desktop systems.

System configurations:

Apple Mac Mini
Apple OS X; 2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo; 1GB 667MHz DDR2 SDRAM; 64MB (shared) Intel GMA 950 integrated graphics chip; 120GB 5,400rpm Hitachi hard drive

Dell Inspiron 531s
Windows Vista Home Premium; 2.3GHz AMD Athlon 64 X2 4400+; 2GB 667MHz DDR2 SDRAM; 64MB (shared) Nvidia GeForce 6150SE integrated graphics chip; 250GB 7,200 rpm Western Digital hard drive

eMachines T3626
Windows Vista Home Premium; 2.2GHz AMD Sempron 3800+; 1GB 667MHz DDR2 SDRAM; 128MB (shared) Nvidia GeForce 6150SE graphics chip; 160GB 7,200 rpm Western Digital hard drive

eMachines T5234
Windows Vista Home Premium; 2.3GHz AMD Athlon 64 X2 4000+; 1GB 667MHz DDR2 SDRAM; 128MB (shared) Nvidia GeForce 6150SE graphics chip; 320GB 7,200 rpm Western Digital hard drive

HP Compaq Presario SR5050NX
Windows Vista Home Premium; 3.0GHz Intel Pentium D 925; 1GB 533MHz DDR2 SDRAM; 224MB (shared) Intel GMA 950 graphics chip; 250GB 7,200rpm Samsung hard drive

HP Pavilion SlimLine s3020n PC
Windows Vista Home Premium; 2.0GHz AMD Athlon 64 X2 3800+; 1,024MB 533MHz DDR2 SDRAM; 128MB (shared) integrated Nvidia GeForce 6150LE graphics chip; 250GB 7,200 rpm Samsung hard drive

7.0

eMachines T3626

Score Breakdown

Design 8Features 7Performance 5Support 7
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