So we went to Frys and we found the SR1150NX on sale for around $600. Certainly not a workhorse machine and not the Media Center my wife said I couldn't have. But a good machine that certainly suited my needs. And I haven't been disappointed. With one caveat: I was able to swap in some other hardware to make up for some of the low-end stuff they put in.
What's in it
Out of the box, you get:
Processor: 1 x AMD Athlon XP 3200+ / 2.2GHz
System Memory: 512MB (installed) / 2GB (max) - DDR SDRAM - 333MHz - PC2700
Installed Video Memory: 512MB / 2GB (max)
Hard Drive: 1 x 200GB - standard - DMA/ATA-100 (Ultra)
Optical Storage: 1 x DVD+RW
Optical Storage (2nd): CD-ROM
Audio: Sound card - 5.1 channel surround
OS Provided: Microsoft Windows XP Home Edition
Very cool black box with extra room for growth
The software that comes with it is mostly forgettable as I'd expect from OEM bundles. It comes with a free trial of Office, MS Money, and WinDVD. Those are the useful packages. The other stuff consists of silly image editing programs and other stuff you'll never use. Like most store bought computers, you don't actually get a copy of Windows XP. You get the Compaq recover disc with is an image of the operating system and all the OEM software. Luckily I had my own copy of Windows XP Pro. So the first thing I did was wipe the computer and install XP Pro.
Ok, yeah, and...?
Again, this is a value priced PC with only a few bells and whistles. But the first thing I noticed was the cruddy video card they put in. It wasn't a card per se, but an onboard video solution that shared the installed RAM. Not acceptable since WindowsXp takes 512M to run decently. Plus the video card barely support my monitor with a resolution of only 1024x768. Not acceptable for a 19 inch monitor. So I opened the case, swapped in my Geforce, and turned off the onboard video in the BIOS.
Same for the sound card. I have an Audigy and the sound solution that came with the SR1150NX is onboard sound. So I did the same as the video: put in my better soundcard and turned off the old one in the BIOS. Works like a champ. The only problem is that the front audio jacks are not hooked up. I could crack open the case and connect them, but it's not a big deal to me.
I left in the onboard LAN since I only have DSL which is much slower than the onboard LAN can handle so I saw no need to add the extra card.
I'm not going to give you benchmarks because I don't have any. Instead I'll give you my opinion based on sitting in front of it and doing what I need to do. It is a speedy little thing with no hardware conflicts and no driver issues. The hard drive is a whopping 200GB running at 7200RPM, plenty to store all of my files and some music. I've never come close to filling the drive.
Lameness Alert: The drive is partitioned into 2 drives: 1 for the main computer and the other to hold the recovery image. So that means you have a good 4+GB that is virtually unuseable. Why they didn't just give a DVD of the recovery stuff I don't know.
One thing to note is that this machine is very quiet, despite the fan that must be blowing through it to keep it cool. It's on top of my desk and I barely hear it.
The DVD burner supports the DVD+rW standard, but hacked drivers are available so it supports it DVD-RW. I have not done this because I see no reason to need both since blanks are identical in price. The speed of it was decent, but was noticeably slower when ripping movies (that I legally own) to the hard drive. Not a big deal because I usually set it up to run overnight anyway.
overall speed of the machine was quite satisfactory. When you get a new machine the relative speed differences based on bus speed and RAM speed are negligible and only show up in benchmarks. And since I replaced the video card, telling you that pages drew quickly and that games ran fine is a little misleading. Before I replaced the card, the video was very choppy on things so rudimentary as 3D screensavers. Again, the resolution was not up to par...
Some of the goodies that stand out:
5 (count em, 5!) USB 2.0 slots, 3 on front, 2 on the back.
Firewire on front and back
Audio inputs and outputs on the front
Media card readers for SD, compactflash and others supported by digital cameras.
As value priced PCs go, this one is pretty good. While the video isn't high quality it is probably suitable for most home users. Thankfully the case opens easily and there is plenty of room for expansion for those of us who want to upgrade without having to build our own computer.
Amount Paid (US$): 600
Operating System: Windows
Processor: AMD Athlon (K7)
Processor speed: over 1000
RAM: More than 256
Internal Storage: CD-RW and DVD
Hard Drive (GB): Over 50
What did you think of this review?