If you're faced with a strict budget, the inexpensive Compaq SR5610f can handle all of your basic applications, Web surfing, and streaming online video without lag, but don't expect it to run graphics-intensive software; for that, you'll need a more robust system, and if you can wait to drum up an extra Ben Franklin for your investment, your reward can be Acer's newest machine--the Aspire X1700. We don't have a full review of that unit up just yet, but you'll benefit from an additional gigabyte of RAM, a larger 640GB hard drive, an HDMI video-out, an eSATA port for fast external hard drive connections, and a speedier Intel dual-core CPU, all housed in a slimmer, sexier form factor. In the meantime, start saving your pocket change and read up on the Acer Aspire X1200 and the Acer Aspire AX3200 for a preview of what's to come.
Finally, eMachines backs the ET1161-07 with its default warranty that covers parts and labor for a year. Technical support is available seven days a week from 5 a.m. to 12 a.m. (PST), and the support section of the Web site offers live chat with a technician from 3 a.m. to 12 a.m., as well. For $99, you can also extend the warranty for two additional years.
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Acer Aspire X1200-U1520A
64-bit Windows Vista Home Premium; 2.5GHz AMD Athlon X2 4850e Dual Core; 4GB DDR2 SDRAM; 64MB 256MB (shared) Nvidia GeForce 8200 integrated graphics chip; 320GB 7,200rpm hard drive.
Compaq Presario SR5610f
32-bit Windows Vista Home Premium; 2.5GHz AMD Athlon 64, X2 Dual Core 4800; 3GB 667MHz DDR2 SDRAM; 128MB (shared) NVIDIA GeForce 6150SE integrated graphics chip; 320GB, 7,20 rpm hard drive.
32-bit Windows Vista Home Premium; 2.1GHz AMD Athlon Dual Core Processor 4050e; 3GB 800MHz DDR2 SDRAM; 128MB (shared) NVIDIA GeForce 6150SE integrated graphics chip; 320GB, 7,200rpm hard drive.
Acer Aspire X1700-U3700A
64-bit Windows Vista Home Premium; 2.4GHz Intel Pentium Dual CPU E2220; 4GB 800MHz DDR2 SDRAM; 128MB (shared) NVIDIA GeForce G100 integrated graphics chip; 6400GB 7,200rpm hard drive.
Dell Inspiron I530S-119B
64-bit Windows Vista Home Premium; 2.5GHz Intel Pentium Dual-Core CPU E5200; 4GB 800MHz DDR2 SDRAM; 128MB (shared) Intel GMA 3100 integrated graphics chip; 500GB 7,200rpm hard drive
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