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HP Compaq Presario Media Center SR2050NX (Pentium D 2.8 GHz review: HP Compaq Presario Media Center SR2050NX (Pentium D 2.8 GHz

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The Good CPU may not be the most current, but it does have two cores; open x16 PCI Express slot will come in handy when Vista hits; includes media card reader and DVD burner; attractive and functional chassis.

The Bad Outdated CPU; rollerball mouse; an abundance of preloaded software trial offers.

The Bottom Line We don't recommend paying list price for HP's budget Compaq Presario Media Center SR2050NX, but if you can find it for less, this desktop makes a fine choice as a cheap second PC.

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7.2 Overall
  • Design 8
  • Features 7
  • Performance 7
  • Support 5

Review Sections

Six hundred nine dollars is too much to pay for a PC that uses a first-generation Intel dual-core CPU. Even after you mail in the $50 rebate, you're still paying too much for the HP Compaq Presario Media Center SR2050NX. CompUSA has it for a more reasonable $399 (after a sizable $200 mail-in rebate), and at that price the SR2050NX is a decent selection for a cheap second PC. Spend a bit more, however, and you'll get a PC with current technology and one that's better equipped out of the box to make the leap to Windows Vista next year. The Pentium D 820 processor was released in May of last year, and since then Intel came out with the Pentium D 900 series, then made two huge leaps, to Core Duo then to Core 2 Duo. With some Core 2 Duo desktops priced around the $1,000 mark, the Presario SR2050NX doesn't make sense unless you find it for $400 or less and plan to use it only as a second PC.

Aside from the outdated processor, the fixed-configuration Presario SR2050NX features an impressive list of specs for a budget PC, including 1GB of DDR2 memory, a 250GB SATA hard drive, and a double-layer LightScribe DVD burner. The system relies on integrated graphics, courtesy of the ATI Radeon Xpress 200 chipset. The chipset supports dual-channel memory, but unfortunately, the Presario SR2050NX doesn't take advantage of it because it uses a single 1GB DIMM rather than a pair of 512MB sticks. The motherboard features not four but two memory slots, which isn't uncommon for a low-end PC.

Although the Pentium D 820 chip is capable of running Vista, you'll probably want to add in another 1GB of memory and also drop at least a low-end graphics card in the system's open x16 PCI Express slot before upgrading to Microsoft's upcoming OS--if you plan on running the premium version, anyway. The system is labeled as Vista capable, which means as configured, it will let you run a basic version of Vista. The lack of a graphics card is what will hold you back from Vista's Aero effects and other premium features. The system's Windows XP Media Center OS qualifies you for a free upgrade to Vista Home Premium when it is released.

With its glossy black exterior and gray trim, the compact, midtower system looks classy. There are flaps to cover the unsightly optical drives, and a handy media card reader sits prominently in the middle of the front panel. The front panel also features three USB 2.0 ports, a 6-pin FireWire port, and three audio jacks. You'll find four more USB 2.0 ports on the back panel, along with another FireWire port. The back panel also supplies two video ports--VGA and S-Video--but not DVI. A legacy parallel port allows you to connect an ancient printer. The integrated audio chip supports 7.1 surround, and there's also a coax audio-out port. Networking is handled via the 10/100 Ethernet jack or the 56Kbps modem connector.

To the Presario SR2050NX's credit, it bests the similarly priced eMachines T5212 on CNET Labs' benchmarks, a not unsurprisingly result given that the T5212 features more low-end processor from the same Intel Pentium D 800 series. The picture becomes less rosy when you look at the $599 Cyberpower Back to School. Thanks to its more advanced dual-core Athlon 64 X2 3800+ and dedicated graphics card, it was 8 percent faster on our multitasking test. The Cyberpower system showed an even greater advantage on our Photoshop and iTunes tests, finishing 20 and 18 percent faster, respectively.

Multitasking test
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Adobe Photoshop CS2 image-processing test
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Apple iTunes encoding test
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Microsoft Office productivity test
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The Presario's Pentium D 820 CPU really starts to show its age, however, when you look it up against the $999 Velocity Micro Vector GX Campus Edition and its entry-level Core 2 Duo processor. Granted, the Velocity Micro PC costs about double that of the Presario SR2050NX, but it was considerably faster on our of our tests. Most telling was the Microsoft Office productivity benchmark, where the Presario took more than half again as long to complete the test: 16.4 minutes to 10.6 minutes. In the end, the Presario SR2050NX provides a level of performance that's more than adequate for basic home and office use, but spending a bit more for a PC with a newer CPU will better protect your investment against obsolescence.

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