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The MOST bang for your buck in a current computer

  • Jun 11, 2010
  • by
Rating:
+5
Pros: excellent value for price, well stocked, easy to use

Cons: video card is sub par and would make gamers cringe

The Bottom Line: Read my review - really the best value-priced computer I could find anywhere currently on the market. Excellent investment.

When my not even 2 year old PC died recently, I needed to replace it fast. The motherboard went bad and I couldn’t justify spending $250 to repair it when there are so many newer computers on the market for under $500 with significantly more power than what I had been working with. And so, my search began.

After much research on several websites, I settled on this Emachines desktop. I ended up purchasing it from Best Buy for $350, as a matter of convenience because of their proximity to my house, but it is also available from a number of other retailers, in store and online, in the $350 to $400 price range. Since I hadn’t been expecting to need to purchase a computer, I wanted something relatively cheap so that I wouldn’t blow my budget (or bank account) and this is pretty much the ideal price point in that respect.

My biggest needs from a computer are fairly simple. I want to be able to run multiple programs at once, and I spend an above average amount of time gaming, so I want something that can handle high-intensity graphics. This computer addresses most of those demands.

I’m adding this in after the fact: in the rest of my review, I frequently use the term “average user”. Just to clarify what I mean, I would generally consider an average user to be someone who uses their computer for just the typical everyday tasks: checking e-mail, some word processing or spreadsheets for finances, casual games, internet, etc. Basically someone who isn’t looking to necessarily push the maximum power from their computer.

This Emachines model sports a dual core Intel Pentium E5400 processor, which is comparable - if not better - than most other machines in it’s competitive price range. The next option up is really to move to a quad core, which brings along a generally hefty price increase. To give you the technical aspects, it features a 2.7 Ghz processor, 800MHz front side bus, and 2MB L2 cache. The processing speed is more than adequate for the average or above-average user, and the computer starts up, shuts down, and boots up programs like a breeze. Even while simultaneously running multiple internet browser windows, iTunes, Microsoft Works, and a few miscellaneous applications, this desktop powered along like a champ with no distinguishable lag or delay.

As far as memory goes, I was very surprised to find that this desktop is very generously packed. It comes standard with 4GB of DDR2 RAM - far more than most people would generally have straight out of the box. And, 4GB of RAM is beyond what you would need to run even the maximum settings for most current computer games. There is also a huge 750GB hard drive for storing all of your stuff. Really, this is all almost memory overkill for the average user - even on my old PC I had barely made a dent in my 250GB hard drive, and that was with thousands of pictures, videos, music, games and more.

One of the nice, and surprising features I found in this model is the DVD and CD burner that is included. It supports multiple formats, including the newer high capacity dual layer discs. Again, most people will likely not use the higher functions of this feature (including myself) but it was really nice to see it included. There is a built in 10/100 (standard) Ethernet connection for your internet - which is to be expected. Wireless is not included out of the box, although in fairness I did not come across any of the lower-priced computers that did include wireless.

My favorite feature, though, is the multi-format card reader, which is conveniently located on the front of the case. It supports CompactFlash I/II, CompactFlash Plus, Microdrive, Secure Digital, miniSD, MultiMediaCard, MultiMediaCard mobile, MultiMediaCard micro, Reduced-Size MultiMediaCard and xD-Picture Card formats, as well as Memory Stick, Memory Stick PRO, Memory Stick Duo, Memory Stick PRO Duo and Memory Stick Micro formats. This is pretty much every single memory card style that I can think of, for every digital device, ever. From your digital camera photos, to your Sony Playstation Portable game saves, this card reader can do it all. Since I upload and edit an extreme amount of photos every month, this is one of the first features I played with. The computer quickly recognized any card I popped into the slot, and prompted me for what I wanted to do with it the first time I used it. I tested out four of the above mentioned card formats, and everything went smoothly with each one. This makes getting your super important information saved to your computer a snap.

My only real issue with this computer, out of the box, was the video card. It comes with an Nvidia GeForce 7050 graphics card, which is only 256MB of video. This is, again, ok for the average user. However, it fails completely when it comes to gaming. 256MB is really insufficient to run today’s average games. I’m currently playing World Of Warcraft, Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2, and the Sims 3. Of those three, only Warcraft ran comfortably on this card, and that was at the absolute lowest possible settings. This is something to bear in mind if one of the users of this computer will be a gamer - you should be prepared to invest additional money in upgrading that later. And, generally speaking, it does not make this a bad computer. In fact, even many higher-end (and higher-priced) computers come with a comparable, stock-quality video card. So, in this case, you wouldn’t be gaining more by spending more.

The tower case itself is a nice, compact size. It is primarily a glossy black finish with a pretty slick looking green light on the front when powered on. It hosts a fairly generous 8 USB 2.0 ports - two in front, six in back - for plugging in your keyboard, mouse, MP3 player, and all other gadgets. I like that there are rubber pads on the bottom that keep it from accidentally getting pushed across our tiled floor. The power button, disc drive, and card readers are all easily accessible. I also appreciate that it runs extremely quietly. Currently, this model comes with the Windows 7 operating system, and some basic software such as the Adobe Reader and Microsoft Works. I was very pleasantly surprised to find that this computer was NOT loaded down with a bunch of advertisements and “free 30-day trials”. There are a few, albeit useful ones, but they don’t bog down the whole machine.

As far as miscellaneous extras go, you get the power cord and a basic mouse and keyboard with this desktop. Nothing fancy, just exactly what you need. It is, of course, fully compatible with all other peripherals.

My overall opinion? Excellent. Almost everyone will find this to be one of the most user-friendly and easily accessible computers on the market straight out of the box. And pretty much everything you’ll likely need is already provided for you. The initial setup took less than half an hour and was so easy, my five year old could have done it for me - literally. Honestly this computer is so user-friendly that I’m seriously considering buying one for my mother as well, one of the most computer illiterate people in the world. The value is really over the top for the price, as far as I’m concerned. And, a one-year warranty is included as well.

As far as my personal use goes, I also found this computer to be very easily upgradeable. As I mentioned at the beginning, graphics were a huge factor for me. I almost immediately upgraded the video card to a newer, 1GB nVidia 9850 card, which fits nicely inside the case even though it is a quite large card. I also upgraded the power supply from the stock 200 watt to a 700 watt to support my upgrades.

This computer is ideal for the very basic user, as well as an excellent, cost effective starting point for a higher-end user to make minor modifications to.

Recommended:
Yes

Amount Paid (US$): 349.99
Operating System: Windows
Processor: Intel Pentium
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
Tina Duncan ()
   Always super busy mom to a very energetic kid and a very devilish cat. Forever starting new hobbies and working on old ones. In my spare time I enjoy reading, video games, World Of Warcraft … more
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About this product

Wiki

A great everyday performer, the eMachines ET1831-07 desktop PC delivers multitasking performance and expansion possibilities. Listen to music, edit digital photography, manage your finances and stay connected to your social networks without breaking the bank. The ET1831-07 includes a large 750 GB hard drive (great for storing your entire music and video library), dual-core Intel Pentium processor, a SuperMulti Optical Drive for burning CDs and DVDs, and NVIDIA GeForce 7050 graphics for excellent video playback.
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