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Why Did Our Freezer Have To Ruin Everything?: E MACHINES T3256 PC

  • Jan 18, 2005
  • by
Rating:
+5
Pros: fast, nice components, gorgeous case, roomy, well designed, expandable.

Cons: keyboard, mouse, and speakers cheap, manuals sparse

The Bottom Line: I usually only build my own computers, but this system is one of the nicest prefabs I have used. Quite a good deal for the money. Really nice!

"I am very happy with my old Athlon machine running Win 98SE. In fact, I am so happy with it, that I will be happy to be 90 years old with my same little computer running my same old software happily coasting along while the rest of the world plummets head-long into the sea of self defeat- trying to keep up with the Gates(formerly known as Joneses)".

You know, all I have to do is say something like that, and before you can say "Windows Stinks", I am somehow stranded in a sea of new components trying wildly to figure out how I got there.

Since very early in the 1990's, I have built and worked on my own computer systems. I have been through a lot of nightmares from the proprietary parts of pre-constructed computer systems to the lack of compatibility of so-called compatible parts.

It is against my nature to invest in anything premade. I have never liked "on board" anything- that is mother boards soldered together with sound cards, modems, video chips, etc. It is reminiscent of the all in one stereo units- turntable, cassette, CD all in one. If one goes, you have to replace the whole thing to get all of the parts working together again.

I had hit a point of burn out a while back. Having a baby made it hard to continue the computer business that I had been running for some time. Computer components make rather dangerous teething rings and toddler toys- fascinating but not quite child-safe.

I have been enjoying my lack of time to stay up all night solving computer problems and compatibility issues.

I really enjoyed seeing the people around me get confounded with the new Windows from ME to XP. It was FUN to know that I did not have to worry about that nightmare anymore.

Yes, I was content to stay just where I was........

......and then our freezer broke.


HOW I ENDED UP WITH AN EMACHINE T3256 XP MACHINE

One would think that a freezer breaking would hardly relate to a computer, now wouldn't one? Well, unfortunately, life took a rather bizarre turn, when Best Buy (who had not seen us in literally YEARS) ended up having the only freezer we could buy with 2 years and no interest.

And then that stupid sales person (or is he?) mentioned that if I bought anything else on that nifty little 2 year no interest loan that I would get it on that too- like a computer..........

NO! I would not. I COULD NOT....... But there was that issue of the new Sherlock Holmes game that I had been interested in playing........

Oh, I would just take a look.

Yep, that is what they ALL say.

I took a cynical look at the machines that they were offering. I was doing fine keeping up my resolve until I met the EMACHINE model T3256. For the price of $599, the features clearly did not match up with what I could make myself in that price range. Besides, without the 2 year no interest, there was NO WAY I could have gotten anything anyway.

I went home, researched the whole thing. I called my friends whom I had trusted over the years- they knew how I thought about computers, and we had similar thought patterns. Surely they would talk me out of it.

They were no help at all. "MAN! You can not MAKE a computer like that for that price- I might get one!!!" was the response to my plea. In fact, I was hanging up while still hearing on guy still going on and on about what a deal and where could he get it again......

Upon further research, it seemed to me that there was one of those RARE windows of time where a formerly troublesome computer line takes a plunge, makes their products top notch and offers great customer service-all for a great price.

Sometimes those windows only last for a few months.


WHY DID I PICK THE T3256?

One thing that I have always resented is that industry;s insistence that we take what they shove at us, pay a premium price for it and then end up with NO upgradibility despite their claims.

The T3256, however, was different. Although the motherboard which is not a name brand that I know of, the features of this machine allow for me to override the on board video and sound if I want.

There is an additional AGP 8X slot on the mother board. That is where I put my Radeon 9550 256MB DDR card (whoo hoo screaming gamer here).

The modem is not on board, but in a PCI slot. There are 3 PCI slots- two were left for me to use, one of which I put my sound card in (Sound Blaster Audigy2).

The guts of this system are well arranged. Easy to access- it is a nice compact tower, but with well laid out plans. I am impressed with this system. Before I carry on about this machine, let me get down to the essentials of what it contains.

I will list the component and my comments in italics with each, finishing with a summary.


DETAILS IN DEPTH

CASE
The case of this machine is really slick looking. Seriuosly- as an artist, I love looking at it. A combination of black, gray, silver and a neon blue ring around the power button, this computer is delightful to look at. I have never seen a case that has excited me before. Someone was using their head when designing this.

Another thing I love about this case is that there are accessibly ports in front as well as back. AND THE SERIAL NUMBER AND INFORMATION IS IN THE FRONT EASILY READ!!!!! HOORAY!!!

There is room for one more hard drive. Although there is room for another 3.5" drive, there does not seem to be an external acess to it.

The case itself is a breeze to get into- thumb screws easy to open and shut- no tools needed if you do not crank them shut too tight. Love the way it opens and shuts tightly yet easily.


CPU

AMD Athlon XP 3200 with Quanti Speed operating a t~ 2.4 GHZ, 512KB L2 Cache and 400 FSB.
The emachines site lists the processor as operating at 2.2 GHZ but doing the math with the pentium conversion formula
[MHz = (XP rating/1.5) (500/1.5)], I arrived at 2.467 GHZ as being the pentium equivalent.

Keep in mind, however, the different architecture of the AMD chip allows it to function more quickly with less "bottlenecking" than comparable Pentium chips, therefore it is unfair to try to compare Hz to Hz."


OPERATING SYSTEM
Win XP Home Edition
Mine came with Service Pack 2 installed already- it comes with a Restore disk that also has all of the preloaded programs on it supposedly, but I have not had to reload them yet.

CHIPSET
NVIDIA NFORCE 2


MEMORY
512 DDR RAM (PC 2700) (remember 64 MB of this is shared with the video chip on board)

There are two slots on the machine- it takes up to 2GHz of RAM. One of the slots has the 512 RAM card in it, so you can pull that and add a 1GHz card if you desire. I opted for an extra GHz of RAM which I put into the other slot. Went in beautifully- nice slot- not chintzy.

HARD DRIVE
160 GB HDD (7200 RPM)
Have not had this out yet, so not sure of the one that manufactured my hard drive.

OPTICAL DRIVES
DVD /- RW drive( Write Max: 8x DVD /-R, 4x DVD /-RW, 32X CD-R, 16X CD-RW; Reads 40x CD, 12x DVD);
Also comes with 48x max CD - ROM

I am not sure why, but I burned a few CD's with the Nero program that comes with this and it was listed as burning at 40X. FAST, and quite good so far, but I have only done two CD's - have to get better disks to use soon. Mine are too slow. I have also yet to try Myst IV which is notorious for not working with some DVDROM drives. I will post results if I do try it out, however.


8 in one digital media reader
USB 2.0, Secure Digital, Smart Media, Compact Flash, Memory Stick, Memory Stick PRO, Micro Drive, Mulitmedia Card.
I have nothing that uses most of these things yet, but I have used the USB port for a flash drive. Works great! I plan to test out memory stick soon too.

VIDEO
NVIDIA GEFORCE4 MX with 64 MB SHARED memory- that comes from your total RAM on the motherboard.
Nice running card- for basic programs and non-video-intensive games, it would be great.

I opted for the Radeon 9550 card with 256 DDR RAM on it so I could play more intense games, if I so desire. The extra AGP slot which is rated 8X worked beautifully, and a simple switch in the BIOS allowed me to run it and not the onboard video.


SOUND
NFORCE 6 channel Audio

Really nice sound- probably did not need to use my Audigy, but I am averted to on board anything. Audigy is nicer, but this on board card is more than enough for most people.

MODEM
56K ITU v.92 ready FaxModem

Works fast and well. Used for extensive online dial up service. Nice so far. Still have to try faxing on it though.

NETWORK
10/100Mbps built in Ethernet

Do not use DSL or anything else that might network with me right now, so this is something I am not using yet.

PERIPHERALS
Premium Plus Multimedia Keyboard, 2 button wheel mouse, Amplified Stereo Speakers.

Ehhh. If you are hard up and do not have anything else, these are okay, but I am using my old ergonomic keyboard with built in mousepad that I have had for years and LOVE IT. The speakers I do not use- I have a set of BOSE (good deal on them ) which are AWESOME!!!

DIMENSIONS
7.25"w x 14.25"h x 16" d

This case is not only wonderful to look at, it is compact and takes up relatively little space. Well laid out, it is really a design milestone from anything else I have ever seen. Nice Size.

PORTS / OTHER
5 USB 2.0 ports (4 in back and 1 in front media reader), 1 serial, 1 parallel, 2 PS/2, Audio In , Audio Out

Love the port being in front- makes excellent access for flash drive.

SOFTWARE ETC
Microsoft Works 7.0, MS Money 2004, MS Picture It! Standard Edition, Encarta Online, Adobe Acrobat Reader, Microsoft Media Player, Real Player, Nero 6 Suite, Power DVD, Internet Explorer 6, AOL, Norton Antivirus 2004 with three months complimentary subscription, Big Fix.

Just enough not too clogged down with junk, this software package is perfect for me. I deleted AOL right away from the add/delete programs in control panel. Nero 6 works wonderfully so far. Have not used the MS programs yet. Acrobat works nicely, as does Internet Explorer, but then again, it comes with XP, doesn't it? I have not enabled Norton yet, but did remove it from a client's system this weekend and installed 2005 instead.

Big Fix is great for beginners or those with little time. It is a network through Emachines that will link you to free update and alert fix sites so that you do not have to do it yourself. So far, so good. My client's computer had a few fix updates show and then Big Fix stayed out of the way.


DOCUMENTATION

manual very sparse, and initial set up sheet included is poster sized. Helpful and concise, it is not fancy. Most of the information you get online is better than that. You have to remember, however, I am used to reading through highly technical motherboard manuals, and the like. I am not used to the "dummied down" documentation like that which comes with this system. One of the only things I am frustrated with- I like to know EVERYTHING I can learn about a system.

Also you can take classes for free at the www.emachines.com site. They are classes you have to register for, but they are free. They change every month and are low key, but still helpful. Really nice feature for such a bargain priced computer.

I also called customer support just to test it out and they were pleasant and helpful. Hopefully they will stay that way.


NOTE- THERE IS NO FLOPPY DRIVE WITH THIS SYSTEM!!

The digital camera that I use is very old and uses floppy disks to record photos on. I need a floppy drive for that, so I purchased a USB floppy drive to use on it.

My camera does have a memory stick adapter which I plan to use now that I have the digital media reader, but I have not tried it yet.





SUMMARY

I liked my computer so much that I recommended that my client get one as well. I spent all day setting it up and installing things for them this weekend, and their system was as nice as mine- only had a few crashing issues which were because older software wanted lower video resolutions. Other than that, it was very fast, smooth and exciting to use.

I highly recommend this system as long as they are still made well like these. The Best Buy plan was $199 for three years in home service (I got it for parts coverage in case something needs replacing), and from Emachines, the same on site coverage is only $139. I got the two years no interest loan on the plan, so I got the Best Buy one. I did not have the money to come up with right then for the Emachines plan.

Whether you are an experienced computer person, or a beginner, the T3256 from Emachines is a very good value. It is the closest thing to building a system that I would build, if I could, and it is expandable. Unusually good parts and set up for the price, I thought that $599 was a bargain. The nice part was that I did not have to do the hard work myself- yet.


If you have any questions that you do not think I covered well enough here, please let me know and I will try to update when I can. Owning a system is a long learning experience and I hope to be as helpful as possible. I know how much I appreciate people being helpful when I want to make a purchase!


ADDENDUM
In response to a request about loading time etc from a "non-computer technician" point of view- the loading time of the programs is fast, smooth and the video loading time is also very nice for moderate games.

Because I have updated with a Radeon Graphics card, I am basing this upon the other T3256 system that I have been working on for my client. They have some moderately demanding software on their system.

Video ran very smoothly (once I set the video settings back at the right resolution) and the sound was excellent. They have okay speakers, and it was still exceptional compared to their former system from Compaq, also running XP.

I am impressed with the disk copying time of the DVD/CD R/RW drive. Smooth, no problems and two fully filled CD's made in about 10 minutes. No problems with the copy either. The Nero Suite 6 that comes with it is very easy to use and nicely set up. Very impressed.

My system adapted beautifully to the Radeon card and the Audigy sound card that I installed, no problems at this point.

Again, owning a new system is a long time learning experience. Should any significant problems or concerns arise, I will update this review to indicate this.









Recommended:
Yes

Amount Paid (US$): 599
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

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About the reviewer
Capri G ()
   I am a woman of many hats.      I am an artist with makeup and other media. I am a clothing designer. I have such a huge list of things that I like to do that sometimes … more
About this desktop pc

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This revolutionary PC was designed to put an exciting multimedia experience at your fingertips. The top-performing T3256 comes packed with features any savvy PC user and gamer will appreciate.
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Details

Model: T3256
Brand: eMachines

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