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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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.
As we said, the eMachines T5224 features an updated design over last year's models. It's still a fairly sleek-looking PC, and as long as HP sticks with its boring old all-gray design, eMachines will remain our low-end aesthetic pick. The changes are mostly cosmetic, though. Gateway, eMachines's owner, made a point to show us the removable faceplate on the bottom half of the front panel when it gave us a preview of its new desktops at ; it may one day offer a customization option for the front panel. Whether you can ever make it your own, we'd rather Gateway find a way to make it less of a lint magnet: within five minutes of putting the eMachines T5224 on our Labs' bench, the plate was covered in dust.
In our reviews, we've called out eMachines', Dell's, and HP's remote tech-support capabilities, which let you hand over control of your mouse to a company tech for fixing problems that you're not sure about, ever since those companies introduced this plan for their systems. We remain fans of that service today, as it seems to be a feature only large companies have the resources to offer. We're glad that Gateway, among the others, continues to offer customers this functionality with its current desktops, as well. In addition, the eMachines T5224 comes with a year of parts-and-labor coverage. You also get e-mail-based support and phone-based help, but the latter is a toll call outside of the 408 area code. While not 24/7, its seven day, 5 a.m. to 12 noon PT operating hours are still fairly generous.
Windows Vista Home Premium; 2.6GHz AMD Athlon 64 X2 5000+; 2,048MB 533MHz DDR2 SDRAM; 256MB ATI Radeon X1300 Pro HyperMemory graphics card; 320GB Western Digital 7,200rpm hard drive
Windows Vista Home Premium; 2.8GHz Intel Pentium D 820; 1GB 533MHz DDR2 SDRAM; 224MB (shared) Intel GMA 950 graphics chip; 250GB 7,200rpm Western Digital hard drive
Windows Vista Home Premium; 2.13GHz Intel Core 2 Duo E6400; 1,024MB DDR2 533MHz SDRAM; 256MB Nvidia GeForce 7600GS graphics card; 320GB 7,200rpm Seagate hard drive
Windows Vista Home Premium; 1.66GHz Intel T2300 Core 2 Duo; 1,024MB 667MHz DDR2 SDRAM; 256MB (shared) Intel 950 GMA graphics chip; 250GB 7,200rpm Seagate Barracuda hard drive
Windows Vista Home Premium; 1.86GHz Intel Core 2 Duo E6300; 2,048MB 533MHz DDR2 SDRAM; 256MB Nvidia GeForce 7300 GT graphics card; 300GB 7,200rpm Samsung hard drive