HP Compaq Presario SR5050NX review: HP Compaq Presario SR5050NX

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MSRP: $559.99

The Good Attractive new chassis design and keyboard; LightScribe DVD burner uncommon at this price; robust support.

The Bad Outdated CPU; no built-in Wi-Fi.

The Bottom Line HP's new Compaq Presario SR5050NX squeaks by its direct eMachines competition, but both of those systems fall behind to HP's own SlimLine desktops in terms of features and performance. If you're looking for a basic desktop with expandability, though, we give this system the nod.

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

HP's reinvigorated Compaq Presario line, seen here in the $560 SR5050NX model, cuts a clean profile, thanks to a sharp new chassis design. But for all the thought that went into its visual appeal, it's hard for us to get too excited about the configuration of this particular system. The dated CPU, in particular, makes this system seem as if it was conceived to clear an inventory surplus, rather than to put a compelling product on the shelf. Some of you might forgive the lame processor for the benefits of this system's looks, its expandability, and its DVD burner. We'd certainly understand. But for our money, the best budget PC around remains HP's trimmer, faster Pavilion SlimLine, which will only cost you $20 more.

Once we got a look at the specs in the Presario SR5050NX, it felt as if we'd reviewed this exact PC before. And we practically have. At the core of this system, you'll find a 3.0Ghz Pentium D 925, 1GB of DDR2 533MHz RAM and its 250GB 7,200 rpm hard drive. That's a nearly identical config sheet to the eMachines T5226, a $550 PC that we reviewed at the end of April. The only real specs difference between the two is the hard drive. The eMachines has a Western Digital with a 16MB buffer, and the Presario has a Samsung with a smaller 8MB buffer. That difference and variations in driver versions might account for the slight variations in performance between the two systems on our benchmarks, but as you'll see, they don't vary by much.

Adobe Photoshop CS2 image-processing test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
HP Compaq Presario SR5050NX

Apple iTunes encoding test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
HP Compaq Presario SR5050NX

(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Rendering Multiple CPUs  
Rendering Single CPU  
iBuypower Value 640
eMachines T5226
HP Compaq Presario SR5050NX

Because the Presario and its main eMachines competition are so similar, we can make the same point here that we did in the eMachines review. These PCs both deliver acceptable performance for mainstream applications in Windows Vista, but for the money, HP's Pavilion SlimLine s3020n is a faster PC, thanks to a more robust AMD processor. It also has a major features benefit in its built-in wireless networking adapter. That system will only cost you $20 more than the Presario SR5050NX. Especially if you already have a wireless network set up at home, the SlimLine is a better investment for pure computing power.

Like the eMachines, the Presario does have an advantage over the SlimLine in that the former gives you the option to expand its capabilities with room for two full-size PCI cards and a single 16x PCI Express graphics card. Because of its trimmed-down case, the SlimLine can only offer a half-height card, which limits your expansion options. For some of you, that expandability might be very important, but we're willing to bet that most people looking at a $500-$600 PC don't really have it in mind to crack the case open.

In the event that you are looking for that expandability, we'll give Presario the nod over the eMachines, even though the two are nearly identical (down to their 15-in-1 media card readers). The reason we like the Presario better is because its DVD burner offers LightScribe capability, which means lets you print a custom image on the surface of your optical discs. We also like the Presario's new keyboard, which is sleek and simple, with just enough media and hot keys to be useful without cluttering things up.

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