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ZT Group ZT A5305 review: ZT Group ZT A5305

Let the system memory be your guide. CPU speeds have climbed high enough so that even the lowest-end chip you can find in a new PC is technically adequate to power a Windows XP-based PC. But with only 256MB in this budget box, even a new processor from AMD can't save this computer's abysmal performance.

Bill O'Brien
3 min read
ZT Group ZT A5305
There's nothing wrong with buying a $500 computer. Extreme gaming is pretty much out with a cheap PC, but there are plenty of other things you can do with a low-end system. We thought that the ZT Group ZT A5305 might prove itself a worthy budget desktop, not least because of its brand-new AMD Sempron 2800+ processor. We were disappointed to find that while the new CPU demonstrated the performance we had hoped for, the ZT A5305 as a whole doesn't offer a compelling bargain.

The Sempron 2800+ processor is AMD's newest budget CPU, a successor to the Duron chips that competed with Intel's Celerons. Our performance testing shows that the Sempron 2800+ does outperform a Celeron CPU of similar clock speed and with similar surrounding components, but the fact that the ZT A5305 matches the Sempron with only 256MB of system memory makes this a second-to-last sort of victory. Windows XP (in this case the Home version) wants 512MB to run all but the most basic applications, so playing music, games, and other media-oriented applications becomes a dicey proposition.


ZT Group ZT A5305

The Good

State-of-the-art CPU; seven-in-one media-card reader.

The Bad

Limited memory; shared graphics memory; last-generation hard disk; no software bundle.

The Bottom Line

The ZT A5305 works for small jobs, but a tightly configured eMachines PC offers more for the same price. And if you have a bigger job to do, opt for ZT's upscale A5306 instead.

If you elect to spend $200 more, you can purchase the step-up ZT Group ZT A5306, which comes with 512MB of system memory, among other upgrades. Overall though, if you're looking for a budget PC, we'd recommend starting with the eMachines T2958, a fast and capable entry-level computer, with 512MB of RAM, for only $100 more (after rebates) than the ZT A5305.

Scan the ZT A5305's other specs, and you'll find only a sparse assortment of budget parts. This computer is one of the few we've seen lately that includes only a standard 52X CD-ROM drive--we can't recall the last time we saw a PC without at least a CD burner. The ZT A5305's barrel-bottom Via/S3 Unichrome integrated graphics chip also returned some of the worst 3D scores we've seen in a long time, making this PC virtually incapable of playing games. It comes with a seven-in-one media-card reader, but there's no editing software, nor the processing capability to adequately manipulate photos, rendering the media drive only marginally useful. At least the 17-inch Envision CRT monitor displayed a respectable image, and it will set you back only an additional $100.

If nothing else, ZT Group backs the ZT A5305 with a decent warranty, offering a three-year parts-and-labor package as a standard deal. You'll find a tech-support e-mail address, driver downloads, and a knowledge base on the company's support Web site, and you can call for assistance via the toll-free phone number that's available from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. ET, Monday through Friday.

Application performance  (Longer bars indicate better performance)
BAPCo SysMark 2004 rating  
SysMark 2004 Internet-content-creation rating  
SysMark 2004 office-productivity rating  
Monarch Sempron 3100+ System Special (1.8GHz, AMD Sempron 3100+, 512MB DDR SDRAM 400MHz)

3D gaming performance (in fps)   (Longer bars indicate better performance)
Unreal Tournament 2003 Flyby-Antalus 1,024x768  

Find out more about how we test desktop systems.

System configurations:

eMachines T2824
Windows XP Home; 2.53GHz Intel Celeron D 325; Intel 845G chipset; 512MB DDR SDRAM 333MHz; 64MB (shared memory) integrated Intel 845G; Seagate ST34001SA 40GB 5,400rpm

eMachines T2958
Windows XP Home; 2.66GHz Intel Celeron D 330; Intel 845G chipset; 512MB DDR SDRAM 333MHz; 64MB (shared memory) integrated Intel 845G; WDC WD800EB-11JEFO 80GB 5,400rpm

Monarch Sempron 3100+ System Special
Windows XP Home; 1.8GHz AMD Sempron 3100+; Via K8T800 chipset; 512MB DDR SDRAM 400MHz; 128MB ATI Radeon 9600SE; WDC W1200JD-00GBB0 120GB SATA 7,200rpm

Systemax Ascent 64
Windows XP Home; 2.0GHz AMD Athlon 64 3000+; Via K8T800 chipset; 256MB DDR SDRAM 333MHz; 64MB ATI Radeon 7000; Samsung SP1203N 120GB 7,200rpm

ZT Group ZT A5305
Windows XP Home; 2.0GHz AMD Sempron 2800+; Via KM400 chipset; 256MB DDR SDRAM 333MHz; 64MB (shared memory) integrated Via/S3 Unichrome Graphics; Seagate ST380011A 80GB 7,200rpm