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eMachines T5254 review: eMachines T5254

eMachines T5254

Rich Brown Former Senior Editorial Director - Home and Wellness
Rich was the editorial lead for CNET's Home and Wellness sections, based in Louisville, Kentucky. 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...)
Rich Brown
5 min read

The eMachines T5254 is a little less powerful than its last system in this price range, but it's also a bit less expensive. For $400, we're willing to accept a slightly slower CPU and a slightly smaller hard drive, especially when the alternatives from Dell and HP can't come close on price. The T5254 will take care of pretty much any day-to-day computing task, and as long as you keep your expectations free of such advanced features as wireless networking or fast 3D graphics, you won't be disappointed. You might also like that thanks to a power-efficient CPU, it will give some environmentally-conscious bragging rights.


eMachines T5254

The Good

Solid desktop computer for less than the competition; power-efficient dual-core CPU.

The Bad

No extra features such as Bluetooth or Wi-Fi (not that we expect them at this price); minor software clutter.

The Bottom Line

The eMachines T5254 costs less than similar systems from Dell and HP, and it outperforms them (in some cases), and uses less power while doing so. You can't configure it before making a purchase, but eMachines has chosen this system's specs wisely, and with a level of environmental consciousness that make it a very enticing deal.

eMachines has stuck with the same core design of its systems for more than a year. Its visual appearance is classy enough to fit pretty much anywhere thanks to the glossy black and gray chassis. It's also stuck with some of the same core features, and true to past eMachines desktops, both the T5254 and the even lower-end T3646 (which goes for $300) will net you a media card reader, a dual-layer DVD burner, and a graphics card slot inside if you'd like to add a little gaming power to this otherwise straightforward PC.

  eMachines T5254 HP Pavilion a6400z
Price $400 $340
CPU 2.1GHz AMD Athlon 64 X2 BE-2350 1.8GHz AMD Sempron X2 2100
Memory 2GB 667MHz DDR2 SDRAM 2GB 800MHz DDR2 SDRAM
Graphics 128MB (shared) Nvidia GeForce 6100 128MB (shared) Nvidia GeForce 6150SE
Hard drive 320GB, 7,200 rpm 250GB, 7,200 rpm
Optical drives 16x dual-layer DVD burner 16x dual-layer DVD burner
Operating system Windows Vista Home Premium Windows Vista Basic

The new features of the T5254 compare well against the $349 HP Pavilion a6400z we reviewed a few weeks back. Unlike this eMachines, that HP is a configurable system, but we found that even if you play with HP's configurator, while the two don't quite match up exactly, the eMachines system comes in about $20 less, but with a slightly slower CPU. That Athlon 64 X2 BE-2350 dual-core processor in the eMachines is actually a special energy-efficient chip, though, and it requires about 20 watts less to operate than the CPUs offered by HP, or by Dell in its Inspiron 530. Our charts show that you pay a small penalty in performance, but we'd argue that the benefit to your power bill and the environment is a worthy trade-off.

You can see the exact performance difference on our benchmark results fairly clearly. Compared with last quarter's eMachines T5246, the new T5254 is just a bit slower across the board. The older model was also more expensive. What we find more interesting is the fact that the eMachines T5254 so thoroughly trounces the Pavilion a6400z. It also passes the $539 Dell Inspiron 530 on both Cinebench and iTunes. In truth, the performance differences between these systems are not that significant (at least until you get into the $700 territory, as represented by the Mac Mini and the quad-core Acer system), and as long as you stick with basic multimedia editing and stay away from 3D gaming, we expect most budget buyers will be satisfied with their speed. We'll give the eMachines T5254 credit, though, because it uses less power to deliver performance similar to other desktops in its price range.

We mentioned above that the eMachines T5254 offers a little room to upgrade, and you can indeed add a discrete 3D card, a second hard drive, and even a PCI expansion card or two. But unlike the Dell Inspiron 530, there's no truly distinct feature here. That Dell system, for example, has a Bluetooth receiver built into its media card reader. We certainly don't expect to see such features in a $400 system (and, in fact, we were surprised to find it in the $539 Dell), but it's worth noting that while you can make changes to the system yourself after your initial purchase, the core package is fairly spare, at least as far as hardware.

The software that comes with the eMachines T5254 was not as modest as we'd like, though. A handful of icons for things such as eBay and AOL clutter the desktop, and the Napster music download service loads automatically, which has an impact on performance. You can always delete or disable those things, so none of them should stop you from making a purchase. We also like, as always, the BigFix application, which provides you with direct support help from Gateway, eMachines' parent company (which is, in turn, owned by Acer).

For the rest of this system's support, eMachines offers one year of parts and labor coverage, as well as 24-7 toll-free phone support. Online you get system-specific support resources, as well, along the lines of driver downloads, live chat, and other features. Because each eMachines is a fixed configuration, any support tech you come across should know exactly what kind of hardware you have, at least out of the box.

Adobe Photoshop CS2 image-processing test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
eMachines T5254

Apple iTunes encoding test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
eMachines T5254

Multimedia multitasking (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
eMachines T5254

(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Rendering multiple CPU  
Rendering single CPU  
Acer Aspire m5100
Apple Mac Mini
eMachines T5246
eMachines T5254
Dell Inspiron 530
HP Pavilion a6400z

Find out more about how we test desktop systems.

System configurations:

eMachines T5254
Windows Vista Home Premium; 2.1GHz AMD Athlon 64 X2 BE-2350; 2GB 667MHz DDR2 SDRAM; 128MB (shared) Nvidia GeForce 6100 graphics chip 320GB 7,200 rpm Western Digital hard drive

Acer Aspire M5100
Windows Vista Home Premium; 2.19GHz AMD Phenom 9500; 3GB DDR2 667MHz SDRAM; 256MB (shared) ATI Radeon HD 1250 graphics chip; 500GB 7,200 rpm hard drive

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 530
Windows Vista Home Premium; 1.8GHz Intel Pentium E2160; 2GB 667MHz DDR2 SDRAMl 128MB Nvidia GeForce 8300GS graphics; 320GB 7,200 rpm Hitachi hard drive

eMachines T5246
Windows Vista Home Premium; 2.21GHz AMD Athlon 64 X2 4200+; 2GB 667MHz DDR2 SDRAM; 128MB (shared) Nvidia GeForce 6100 graphics chip; 400GB 7,200 rpm Western Digital hard drive

HP Pavilion a6400z
Windows Vista Home Basic; 2.1GHz AMD Sempron X2 2100+; 2GB 800MHz DDR2 SDRAM; 128 MB (shared) Nvidia GeForce 6150 SE graphics chip; 250GB 7,200 rpm Hitachi hard drive


eMachines T5254

Score Breakdown

Design 8Features 8Performance 7Support 7