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ZT Affinity 7225Xi-35 review: ZT Affinity 7225Xi-35

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The $750 ZT Affinity 7225Xi-35 is a fairly ambitious lower-midrange PC. This fixed configuration includes a lower-end quad-core chip, 4GB of memory, and a discrete graphics card. The result is solid everyday performance, and if you need a basic, capable desktop, this system will serve. Its lack of 64-bit Windows Vista prevents us from getting too excited, but in general, the Affinity Xi-35 is a fair deal.

7.0

ZT Affinity 7225Xi-35

Pricing Not Available

The Good

Unobtrusive design; appropriate performance for its category.

The Bad

Only has 32-bit Windows; somewhat limited upgrading.

The Bottom Line

ZT's Affinity 7225Xi-35 is a cleanly built midrange PC that will get you through all of your everyday tasks with ease. It's not a particularly flashy desktop, and you may be able to find more aggressively configured PCs for the same price, but if you need an affordable workhorse, this system will do the job.

You'll find the Affinity 7225Xi-35 directly from the vendor's Web site. Like other staid desktops, this one is mostly geared toward basic productivity. The simple, nongarish matte black case will fit anywhere and likely disappear into the environment.

It's always been hard for sub-$1,000 midtower PCs to distinguish themselves as anything other than basic desktops, and the 7225Xi-35 is no exception. Even six months ago we might have a found a $750 PC with 4GB of RAM, a quad-core CPU, and a discrete 3D card unique, but thanks to falling memory prices and a recent influx of new processors, those features have become much more commonplace. Compared with the Velocity Micro Vector Campus Edition the ZT Affinity 7225Xi-35 at least shows itself to be a good deal, although competition in this price range will heat up soon by way of new Gateway desktops.

  ZT Affinity 7225Xi-35 Velocity Micro Vector Campus Edition
Price $749 $999
CPU 2.4GHz Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600 2.53GHz Intel Core 2 Duo E7200
Memory 4GB 667MHz DDR2 SDRAM 2GB 667MHz DDR2 SDRAM
Graphics 512MB ATI Radeon HD 3450 384MB Nvidia GeForce 8800 GS
Hard drives 500GB, 7,200rpm 500GB, 7,200rpm
Optical drive dual-layer DVD burner dual-layer DVD burner
Networking Gigabit Ethernet Gigabit Ethernet, 802/11g
Operating system Windows Vista Home Premium SP1 (32-bit) Windows Vista Home Premium SP1 (32-bit)
TV Tuner No Yes

The ZT Affinity 7225Xi-35 compares very well with the more expensive Velocity Micro system. The slower graphics card is the ZT's only major weakness, but a $200 after-market upgrade would easily bring it inline, plus you'd get the benefit of more RAM. As you'll see from our performance charts below, the ZT's quad-core CPU and extra system memory serve it very well.

Adobe Photoshop CS3 image-processing test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Gateway FX7026
106 
ZT Affinity 7225Xi-35
145 

Apple iTunes encoding test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Gateway FX7026
142 
ZT Affinity 7225Xi-35
168 

Multimedia multitasking test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Gateway FX7026
523 
ZT Affinity 7225Xi-35
548 

CineBench
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Rendering Multiple CPUs  
Rendering Single CPU  
Gateway FX7026
10,306 
3,008 
ZT Affinity 7225Xi-35
8,696 
2,449 
Acer Aspire M5100
6,364 
1,713 
Gateway GT5674
6,265 
1,783 

Unreal Tournament 3 (in frames per second)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
1,280x1,024  
ZT Affinity 7225Xi-35
14 
Gateway FX7026
123 

The only test on which the Affinity 7225Xi-35 is significantly slower than the Velocity Micro system is iTunes encoding, which is largely reliant on raw processor speed. But the ZT's 2.4GHz quad-core chip is awfully close to the Velocity's 2.53GHz dual-core CPU, and because the ZT system has twice the cores and twice the system memory, it's able to outpace the Velocity Micro PC on all of our other benchmarks that benefit from a more well rounded PC. Gaming is the other exception here, and while we'd much rather have the ZT's discrete 3D card than not, the Velocity Micro's higher-end Nvidia card is much more robust.

There's one caveat to the ZT's performance, and which is best exemplified by the Gateway FX7026. That $1,099 PC has a faster CPU, but it also comes with 64-bit Windows Vista, that puts all 4GB of the Gateway's memory to work. Because of the limitations of 32-bit Vista and the way it uses memory, the ZT system actually uses less than the full amount of RAM. Gateway has a number of PCs due out soon in the $700 to $1,200 price range that have 6GB of RAM and 64-bit Vista that we expect will have similar performance to the Gateway FX7026. You would be wise to wait to see how those systems perform before making a midrange desktop purchase.

As the Affinity 7225Xi-35 is unremarkable on the outside, the same goes for its interior. The cabling is clean enough, but like most systems like this, you get only basic expansion room. Both memory slots come occupied, so you'll have to throw away the two 1GB sticks if you want to make an upgrade. And in addition to the graphics card, you also get a PCI modem card, leaving one free PCI expansion card slot. Two free hard drive bays round out the internal flexibility.

There's also little in the way of bloatware on the Affinity 7225Xi-35. You get a few desktop icons in addition to the Vista defaults, the usual Microsoft Office 2007 trial, and shortcuts to various disc burning applications. All of those are easy enough to delete if the desktop clutter bothers you, and fortunately, there's nothing running on the system that takes up an excessive amount of memory.

ZT's service and support plan has a few advantages over others in the industry. The default parts and labor warranty covers you for two years instead of the usual one. You also get 24-7 phone-based technical support. Online help is a bit more limited, with little in the way of system-specific information, although you can enter a serial number to find specific drivers. E-mail support is also an option.

Find out more about how we test desktop systems.

System configurations:

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.

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

Velocity Micro Vector Campus Edition
Windows Vista Home Premium SP1; 2.53Ghz Intel Core 2 Duo E7200; 2GB 667MHz DDR2 SDRAM; 384MB Nvidia GeForce 8800 GS graphics card; 500GB 7,200rpm Hitachi hard drive.

ZT Affinity 7225Xi-35
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.

7.0

ZT Affinity 7225Xi-35

Pricing Not Available

Score Breakdown

Design 7Features 7Performance 7Support 7