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The low cost Presario SR5610f is in Compaq's budget "SR" line of prebuilt PCs. The no frills chassis echoes our excitement about the internal components; the system features a 2.5GHz AMD Athlon 64 X2 4800 CPU, 3GB of RAM, an integrated Nvidia graphics chip, a single 320GB hard drive, and 32-bit Windows Vista Home Premium. The parts actually match up almost perfectly with the eMachines ET1161-03, another low-cost desktop PC. Although the Presario's CPU is slightly beefier than the eMachines, the rest of the components aren't blowing minds and the stock configuration leaves scant room for upgrades. To its credit, the Presario SR5610f is simple and affordable, but we actually recommend saving up an extra $50 for the Aspire AX3200-U3600A, a sexier, slim-line, desktop computer that will give you far better components at a very reasonable price.
The SR5610f tower is simple, with very light design touches, including a silver-sparkle finish wrapped around the front panel. The dual layer DVD lives on top of the faceplate and a space is available directly below it for another IDE-loading hard drive. Toward the bottom of the tower, you'll find two USB 2.0 ports and a couple of audio jacks for a stereo mic and a set of headphones. Unfortunately, the Presario misses a step by omitting a front-mounted media-card reader, like the one on the eMachines ET1161-03. This oversight will force amateur photographers to plug their digital cameras directly into one of the USB 2.0 ports--annoying, not crippling. For a run down of the internal hardware, we put the Presario up against the Aspire AX3200-U3600A, a high-rated budget system with an impressive list of features.
|Compaq Presario SR5610f||Acer Aspire X3200|
|CPU||2.5GHz AMD Athlon 64, X2 Dual Core 4800||2.1GHz AMD Phenom X3 8450|
|Memory||3GB 667MHz DDR2 SDRAM||4GB 800MHz DDR2 SDRAM|
|Graphics||128MB (shared) NVIDIA GeForce 6150SE integrated graphics chip||256MB (shared) Nvidia GeForce 8200 integrated graphics chip|
|Hard drives||320GB, 7,200 rpm||320GB, 7,200 rpm|
|Optical drive||dual-layer DVD burner||dual-layer DVD burner|
|Networking||10/100Mbps Ethernet LAN||Gigabit Ethernet|
|Operating system||Windows Vista Home Premium SP1 (32-bit)||Windows Vista Home Premium SP1 (32-bit)|
The Presario's components will limit you to the most basic applications, word processing, and Web browsing, but you can spend an extra $50 for the Acer Aspire and enjoy an extra CPU core, more memory, a Gigabit Ethernet connection, and even a HDMI port to play high definition video. You do get two PCI slots as well as an open PCIe slot for an aftermarket video card in the Compaq, but it lacks additional SATA ports and both DIMM slots are already filled with two memory sticks. If you want to add more memory in the future, plan on sacrificing at least one gigabyte stick of RAM. Given the low-end parts, you'd likely be better off saving for a faster PC than spending the money on upgrading this system.
|Rendering Multiple CPUs||Rendering Single CPU|
The Presario can't keep up with the other systems in the lineup, especially in the Photoshop and multitasking tests that benefit from more memory and faster processors. As expected, the Acer Aspire x3200 puts the Presario to shame in three out the four tests, but the Compaq manages to squeeze out a victory in the iTunes tests, where the encoder takes full advantage of the Compaq CPU's faster clock speed.
However, the results are generously in favor of Acer Aspire x3200. It sticks out as the best multitasker amongst the rest of the budget comparison systems, but as with all budget desktop computers, your final shopping decision should be influenced by two major factors: extended features and how you plan to use the computer in your home. If your budget just can't afford the $50 boost, the Presario will keep you happy running light programs, but the Acer offers a definite improvement in overall performance, as well as more versatility in where and how you use the system.
The Compaq Presario comes with HP's Total Care Advisor software, a customizable desktop toolbar that constantly feeds you system-resource information, shopping information, and purchase recommendations, and support for troubleshooting minor issues. In addition, Compaq includes a one-year limited warranty that includes 24-7 phone and online-chat support. You can also upgrade your warranty with different packages to increase coverage for two or three additional years. There's also HP's Total Care Extended Service Plan with Next-Day Exchange that gives you exactly what it says: more service and next day delivery of your replacement computer. Finally, technical support is conveniently available in either English or Spanish.
Find out more about how we test desktop systems.
Compaq Presario SR5610f
Windows Vista Home Premium SP1 (32-bit); 2.5GHz AMD Athlon 64 X2 Dual Core 4800; 3GB 667MHz DDR2 SDRAM; 128MB (shared) NVIDIA GeForce 6150SE integrated graphics chip; 320GB 7,200rpm SATA hard drive.
Dell Inspiron 530
Windows Vista Home Premium SP1; 1.8GHz Intel Pentium E2160; 2GB 667MHz DDR2 SDRAM; 128MB Nvidia GeForce 8300 GS graphics card; 320GB, 7,200 rpm hard drive.
Dell Inspiron 530s
Windows Vista Home Premium SP1 (64-bit); 2.2GHz Intel Pentium E2200; 4GB 800MHz DDR2 SDRAM; 128MB (shared) Intel GMA 3100 integrated graphics chip; 3200GB 7,200 rpm Western Digital hard drive
Acer Aspire X3200
Windows Vista Home Premium SP1 (64-bit); 2.1GHz AMD Phenom X3 8400; 4GB 800MHz DDR2 SDRAM; 256MB (shared) Nvidia GeForce 8200 integrated graphics chip; 320GB 7,200rpm Western Digital hard drive.
Windows Vista Home Premium SP1 (32-bit); 2.3GHz AMD Athlon 64 X2 Dual Core 4400; 3GB 800MHz DDR2 SDRAM; 128MB (shared) NVIDIA GeForce 6150SE integrated graphics chip; 320GB 7,200rpm SATA hard drive.