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ZT Affinity 7288Li review: ZT Affinity 7288Li

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MSRP: $649.99

The Good Organized interior; power-efficient.

The Bad Cheaper Gateway system offers faster performance and twice the storage.

The Bottom Line The ZT Affinity 7288Li offers nothing to set it apart from the competition. Its Intel Core i3 processor and 500GB of memory are both subpar components for its price, especially compared with $100 cheaper Gateway's DX4831-01e. We recommend staying away from this desktop.

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5.7 Overall
  • Design 6
  • Features 5
  • Performance 5
  • Support 8

Editors' note: This review is part of our , which covers specific fixed configurations of popular systems found in retail stores.

We review plenty of systems that share almost the same configuration as the ZT Affinity 7288Li. You get Intel's newest Core i3 530 CPU, 6GB of RAM, and a 500GB hard drive in an unassuming tower that has room for memory and expansion card upgrades. However, that doesn't make up for this systems price tag. At $649, this system is above average in cost relative to the competition, specifically the Editors'-Choice-winning Gateway DX4831-01e, a budget system that offers 1TB of storage, Gigabit Ethernet, and a FireWire connection for $100 less than the ZT. If you're on the hunt for a PC, we recommend staying away from this overpriced computer and checking out Gateway's offering instead.

ZT went with a subdued approach to its tower design on this system. It features a matte black finish and the most basic layout: a dual-layer DVD player sits up top with a blank optical bay below it, followed by a media card reader, two USB ports, and a collection of audio jacks down below. We never expect too much aesthetically from budget PCs, but even the $550 Gateway DX4831-01e offers extra design touches like a nonslip tray on top of the tower and an angled media bay that makes it easier to access while the tower is on the floor. The ZT Affinity 7288Li, on the other hand, offers only the bare minimum.

  Gateway DX4831-01e  
Price $649 $549
CPU 2.93GHz Intel Core i3 530 2.93GHz Intel Core i3 530
Graphics 128MB (shared) Intel GMA HD integrated graphics chip 32MB (shared) Intel GMA HD integrated graphics chip
Hard drives 500GB, 7,200rpm 1TB, 7,200rpm
Optical drive dual-layer DVD burner dual-layer DVD burner
Networking 10/100 Ethernet LAN 10/100 Ethernet LAN, Gigabit Ethernet
Operating system Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit) Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit)

As you can see by the comparison chart, the ZT Affinity 7288Li and the Gateway DX4831-01e have a lot in common. Both use the Intel Core i3 chip, 6GB of memory, and dual-layer DVD burners, but the Gateway has a noticeable advantage in its larger hard drive. Even if the prices were the same, the Gateway's 1TB drive would seal the buying decision. Throw in the fact that ZT Group wants $100 more for a lesser configuration, and the Affinity 7288Li is a nonstarter.

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

Apple iTunes encoding test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
ZT Affinity 7288Li

Multimedia multitasking tests (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
ZT Affinity 7288Li

Because they share the same CPU and memory, the ZT system and the Gateway have nearly identical performance scores across our benchmark tests. The two systems differ by seconds here and there, but there's not enough variation to say one PC is better than the other is. If you're considering the ZT because your budget permits you to spend $600 or more on a PC, you might consider the HP Pavilion P6320y for its faster multithreaded CPU performance. However, if the ZT's $650 is at your upper spending limit, save your money and buy the Gateway.

Gateway drives the stake in further with its comprehensive set of external connections. The back of the ZT has six more USB ports, three display options including DVI, VGA, and HDMI, Ethernet, and more audio jacks. Gateway gives you all of the above but adds extra versatility by way of two additional USB ports (eight total), two eSATA ports for external storage, and optical S/PDIF audio. Connected to a standard desktop monitor via HDMI, both systems ran full-screen video from Web sites such as YouTube, Hulu, Vimeo, and Netflix without a glitch. We were also able to watch full 1080p HD movie trailers from Apple's Web site, but we strongly recommend the slim tower Gateway SX2840-01 over either of these systems if you plan to view your media on a TV in the living room.

If nothing else, we give ZT credit for an organized interior that leaves it open for easy upgrades. The motherboard has plenty of room for a 3D video card, two 1X PCI Express cards, and an additional full-size PCI card. There's also additional space for two more hard drives, another optical disc drive, and an open memory slot.

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