eMachines T5224 review: eMachines T5224

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The Good Sharp new design; affordable, powerful-enough Windows Vista configuration; DVD burner and 15-in-1 media card reader give you lots of removable storage options.

The Bad An equivalently priced AMD chip would likely deliver more bang for the buck; gaming is not an option with the integrated 3D chip.

The Bottom Line It has a sleek new look and it runs Windows Vista as well as you'd want, but we wish Gateway had taken more risks with the new eMachines T5224 desktop. This system delivers respectable budget performance with most of the features you'd want, but we think you can find a better PC for the money if you shop around.

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7.0 Overall
  • Design 8
  • Features 6
  • Performance 7
  • Support 7

The eMachines T5224 is the first true budget-class PC we've seen with Windows Vista on it. We mostly like what we've seen so far, but we can't help but wonder what would happen if Gateway/eMachines took better advantage of AMD's aggressive chip pricing. This $580 PC (before $50 rebate) comes with Vista Home Premium, an older dual-core Intel processor, and a DVD burner, a combination that makes this a capable desktop at a fair price. On top of all of that, a new chassis design gives this eMachines desktop an attractive updated look. Still, a more recent AMD processor would deliver better performance, likely without driving up costs. If you're looking for an affordable Windows Vista PC, the eMachines T5224 will do the job, but you can find a better-looking configuration for the dollar from other vendors.

Before we even knew about HP's , we looked at the eMachines T5224 and its Pentium D 820 chip and thought that a similarly priced PC with an Athlon 64 X2 3800+ chip would be a better idea. We showed a while ago that , and knowing that Dell had used AMD to give its

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Rendering Multiple CPUs  
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Dell Dimension E521
iBuyPower Value 640
eMachines T5224
Shuttle XPC X200

Find out more about how we test .

That said, we were pleased with the eMachines' overall performance. We've reviewed only $800 and up Vista-based PCs thus far, so we don't have benchmark results for anything approaching an apples-to-apples comparison. Still, you can take heart that the eMachines was consistently faster than a laptop CPU-powered Shuttle, and it came within striking distance of the unimpressive but significantly more expensive on a few tests. The eMachines wouldn't play Quake 4, and on our most forgiving F.E.A.R. 3D gaming test, it turned in 3 frames per second, an unplayable score that doesn't even warrant a comparison chart. Given its integrated Intel Graphics Media Accelerator 950 chip, we're not surprised that its gaming score is so lame. So it's not for gaming, but it should get you through most day-to-day tasks and light digital media editing with little effort. Still, we're anxious to take a look at that new HP system for comparison.

Alongside the Intel chip, eMachines includes a 250GB hard drive and 1GB of 533MHz DDR2 SDRAM. As our tests showed, that's an adequate amount for Windows Vista and even Vista's AERO visual effects, but we think photo editors and others will benefit from at least doubling the memory. Thankfully, there's room inside for more. Additionally, extra hard drive and optical drive bays let you expand the T5224's removable and internal storage space if the default 250GB hard drive isn't enough.

We're happy to see a DVD burner and a media card reader on this system, as they seem to be near-universal accessories at this point. There's also room inside for a few expansion cards, including a PCI Express graphics slot, should you want to turn the T5224 into a more capable gaming system. A 300-watt power supply will let you upgrade to only a low-end or a midrange 3D card, but any improvement over the integrated graphics chip will have an impact.

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