CNET logo Why You Can Trust CNET

Our expert, award-winning staff selects the products we cover and rigorously researches and tests our top picks. If you buy through our links, we may get a commission. Reviews ethics statement

ZT Affinity 7221Xa review: ZT Affinity 7221Xa

ZT Affinity 7221Xa

Justin Yu Associate Editor / Reviews - Printers and peripherals
Justin Yu covered headphones and peripherals for CNET.
Justin Yu
4 min read

The $600 ZT Affinity 7221Xa is the cheaper sibling of the recently reviewed ZT Affinity 7225Xi-35. Its fixed configuration includes most of what we expect to find in a system in this price range. Like the 7225Xi-35, the 7221Xa is geared toward those who need a simple desktop with basic functionality, and we recommend this setup for light to moderate users that need a desktop in the home.


ZT Affinity 7221Xa

The Good

Triple-core processor; 4GB memory; plenty of room for expansion; low price.

The Bad

32-bit Windows doesn't take advantage of all 4GB of RAM.

The Bottom Line

The ZT Affinity 7221Xa is an inexpensive, relatively powerful computer. You definitely won't be gaming with the integrated graphics chip, but if you just need an inexpensive, no frills desktop for light photo editing and to run simple applications, the 7221Xa won't disappoint.

The exterior of the 7221Xa is identical to the ZT Affinity 7225Xi-35. The top drive slot contains the dual-layer burner for copying DVDs and the bottom slot is ready to accept another optical drive, should you choose to expand in the future. Below the two drive slots, you'll find a media bay with ports for Memory Stick, CompactFlash/Microdrive, SmartMedia, and SD/MMC cards.

The inside of the tower is very minimalist, with a few extra hard drive bays, a video card slot, and an extra PCI expansion card slot. You get a total of four slots for RAM, two of which are taken by two 2GB dual in-line memory modules. We were surprised to see four memory slots inside the 7221Xa, since the 7225Xi-35, a more expensive and supposedly more robust system, only has two, but we're happy that this desktop gives you more expansion flexibility.

  ZT Affinity 7221Xa Gateway GT5674
Price $599 $649
CPU 2.1GHz AMD Phenom X3 8450 2.2GHz AMD Phenom 9500
Memory 4GB 667MHz DDR2 SDRAM 3GB 667MHz DDR2 SDRAM
Graphics ATI Radeon HD 3200 128MB (shared) Nvidia GeForce 6150SE
Hard Drive 500GB, 7,200rpm 500GB, 7,200rpm
Optical Drive dual-layer DVD burner dual-layer DVD burner
Operating System Windows Vista Home Premium SP1 (32-bit) Windows Vista Home Premium SP1 (32-bit)

Compared with the Gateway GT5674, the 7221Xa is a fair deal. The extra gigabyte of memory in the ZT is offset by the Gateway's higher-end processor, but the difference in speed is negligible, so the $50 price difference makes the ZT a better overall deal. Gateway has newer desktops on the market as well, and we'll be reviewing those shortly, so you may want to hold back on a purchase until then.

Adobe Photoshop CS3 image-processing test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
ZT Affinity 7221Xa

Apple iTunes encoding test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
ZT Affinity 7221Xa

Multimedia multitasking (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
ZT Affinity 7221Xa

(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Rendering Multiple CPUs  
Rendering Single CPU  
ZT Affinity 7225Xi-35
Acer Aspire M5100
Gateway GT5674
ZT Affinity 7221Xa
Dell Inspiron 530

The ZT 7221Xa placed in the middle of our benchmark tests in all areas except for the Cinebench single-core test and the multitasking test, where it trudged in at dead last, because of its slower clock speed. However, the extra gigabyte of memory and its multicore processor did put the ZT in third place, playing a significant role in the Photoshop and iTunes speed tests. Compared with other desktops in its price range, the ZT Affinity 7221Xa is an adequate, average performer--as expected. With its integrated ATI Radeon graphics chip, the ZT system is far from a capable gaming desktop. Even if gaming isn't one of your interests, adding a discrete video card with its own memory can help multimedia performance, not least because it will free up system memory that's being consumed by the integrated ATI Radeon graphics chip. A spare PCI Express graphics card slot stands ready to accept an upgrade, and it's the first after-market purchase we'd make.

Service and Support
The ZT 7221Xa is protected by ZT's relatively generous two-year limited warranty, which includes 24-7, toll-free phone support. More help, including product registration, FAQs, and step by step user guides, is available online at the ZT Web site, although it's not as thorough nor as product-specific as the support Web sites of other vendors

Find out more about how we test desktop systems.

System configurations:

ZT Affinity 7221Xa
Windows Vista Home Premium; 2.1GHz AMD Phenom X3 8450; 4GB DDR2 SDRAM; 256MB (shared) ATI Radeon HD 3200 graphics chip; 500GB 7,200rpm Seagate 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 7,200rpm hard drive.

Dell Inspiron 530 (reconfigured)
Windows Vista Home Premium; 2.00GHz Intel dual-core E2180; 2GB 667MHz DDR2 SDRAM; Integrated Intel Graphics Media Accelerator 3100; 320GB 7,200rpm hard drive.

Gateway GT5674
Windows Vista Home Premium; 2.2GHz AMD Phenom 9500; 3GB 667MHz DDR2 SDRAM; 128MB (shared) Nvidia GeForce 6150SE graphics chip; 500GB 7,200rpm hard drive.

ZT Affinity 7225Xi
Windows Vista Home Premium SP1; 2.4GHz Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600; 4GB 667MHz DDR2 SDRAM; 512MB ATI Radeon HD 3450 graphics card; 500GB 7,200rpm Seagate hard drive.


ZT Affinity 7221Xa

Score Breakdown

Design 7Features 6Performance 7Support 7