If you need a second computer for simple office and online tasks or a basic system for the college-bound, picking up a preconfigured PC from a retail chain is a stress-free option. You'll get ample firepower and waste little time poring over configuration options. The $650 HP Compaq Presario SR1430NX is a case in point. With its double-layer DVD burner, 160GB hard drive, and integrated flash-card reader, it delivers good features at a decent price. But remember, for a few hundred dollars more, machines such as the iBuyPower Value-Pro and ZT Group Pro A7055 will do more and last longer.
The Presario SR1430NX's smart-looking midtower case features a black-and-silver color scheme and rounded edges. But the plastic panel covering the front is cheaply made. One of the retractable optical-drive covers on our test system snapped off during shipping. The single-thumbscrew case opened easily enough to let us access and remove the decorative front panel for possible replacement or repair.
With the case open, you'll notice a tidy interior providing easy access to most components. But you'll also see that the motherboard does not offer a dedicated AGP slot (much less PCI Express), meaning you're stuck with the integrated graphics provided by the Intel 915G chipset.
On the front of the case, there's a double-layer DVD+/-RW drive, a CD-ROM drive, and an 8-in-1 flash-card reader, along with USB 2.0, FireWire, and audio ports. Around back, there are audio jacks (including digital), four more USB 2.0 ports, and another FireWire connector. Intrepid users will find some room for expansion inside: two PCI slots, two RAM slots, and two internal 5.25-inch drive bays remain free. The system comes with a single 160GB hard drive--spacious for such a cheap PC--and 512MB of RAM, which is enough for running Windows XP Home.
At the heart of the system is the 515J processor from Intel, a 2.93GHz CPU at the very bottom of the Pentium 4 line. It does not support Hyper-Threading and has only a 533MHz frontside bus and 1MB L2 cache. Its application performance was in line with our expectations, and 3D testing, not surprisingly, revealed a system suitable only for playing games from a generation or two ago at moderate resolutions.
Try as we might, the HP Compaq Presario SR1430NX would not run CNET Labs' Doom 3 or Half-Life 2 benchmarks, not surprising for a system without a dedicated graphics card. Our Unreal Tournament 2004 test at 1,024x768, however, yielded a playable 49.8fps. By comparison, the similarly budget-minded Gateway 5310S, also with an integrated graphics chip, scored 50.1fps on Unreal. The iBuyPower Value-Pro, adds an Nvidia GeForce 6200 card for a noticeable boost to 91.4fps. SysMark 2004 scores were similar, with the Presario SR1430NX scoring 151, statistically even with the Gateway 5310S and its 3.0GHz Intel Pentium 4 519 CPU and 21 percent slower than the iBuyPower Value-Pro, which is powered by an AMD Athlon 64 3500+.
The SR1430NX comes preloaded with Microsoft Works 8.0, Quicken 2005 New User Edition, Money Standard 2005, Microsoft Encarta 2005, InterVideo WinDVD Creator, Apple iTunes, Sonic RecordNow, Adobe Photoshop Album Starter Edition, and a 60-day subscription to Norton Internet Security. Electronic versions of manuals and support documents are also preloaded. The HP Compaq Presario SR1430NX includes a standard one-year warranty, which you can upgrade through extended service plans available at HPShopping.com. Prices vary, but a basic two-year extension costs an additional $99.
|BAPCo SysMark 2004 rating||SysMark 2004 Internet-content-creation rating||SysMark 2004 office-productivity rating|
|1,024x768 with no antialiasing and no anisotropic filtering|
Find out more about how we test desktop systems.
Windows XP Home SP2; 3.066GHz Intel Pentium 4 519; Intel 915GV chipset; 512MB DDR SDRAM 400MHz; integrated Intel 915GV graphics chip using 128MB shared memory; Seagate ST3160023AS 160GB 7,200rpm Serial ATA
HP Compaq Presario SR1430NX
Windows XP Home SP2; 2.93GHz Intel Pentium 4 515J; Intel 915GV chipset; 512MB DDR SDRAM 400MHz; integrated Intel 915GV graphics chip using 128MB shared memory; Seagate ST3160023AS 160GB 7,200rpm, Serial ATA
Windows XP Home SP2; 2.2GHz AMD Athlon 64 3500+; Nvidia Nforce-4 chipset; 1,024MB DDR SDRAM 400MHz; 256MB Nvidia GeForce 6200 Turbocache PCI Express; Western Digital WD1600JD-98HBB0 160GB 7,200rpm Serial ATA
Sys MediaMax S2600
Windows XP Home SP2; 1.8GHz AMD Sempron 3100+; Via K8M800 chipset; 512MB DDR SDRAM 400MHz; 128MB Nvidia GeForce FX 5200 AGP; Western Digital WD800JD-75JNCO 80GB 7,200rpm Serial ATA
ZT Group Pro A7055
Windows XP Home SP2; 2.4GHz AMD Athlon 64 3400+; Via K8T800 chipset; 512MB DDR SDRAM 400MHz; 128MB Nvidia GeForce4 MX 400 AGP; Western Digital WD2000JB-00GVC0 200GB 7,200rpm EIDE