We haven't reviewed many $400 desktops recently, so we're left to compare the eMachines T5274 with a few pricier PCs. As expected, the eMachines system was not as fast, but the performance gap seems reasonable, and we actually found a few surprises. We were most impressed by the eMachines' scores on our Photoshop, iTunes, and Cinebench tests. The eMachines system outpaced the Dell Inspiron 530, a $540 PC just three months ago, on these tests. Dell has since updated its specifications, and you can get a slightly faster CPU in current Inspiron 530's for the same price, but that would only aid its performance by a small margin, and it's still about $140 more expensive than the eMachines system. Thus, in some respects, the eMachines T5274 is a great deal, but if you look across the full spectrum of desktops on sale in its price range, we think you'll be able to find a similar PC for less.
As the eMachines' case and configuration are predictable, so is its level of expandability. You get a spare graphics card slot, which we'd recommend taking advantage of first if you have any thoughts of making aftermarket upgrades. Even a $50 budget 3D card would free up some system memory and give you better overall performance. You can also add two PCI cards (once you get rid of the PCI modem card), a hard drive, and an extra optical drive, which is a typical amount of room for upgrading in a midtower PC. We wish you had two more memory slots to play with, like the ZT Affinity 7221Xa has. The eMachines T5274 has only two slots that are already populated, so to upgrade the memory, you'll have to replace the existing RAM.
eMachines' service and support policies are on par with the rest of the desktop industry. You get one year of parts and labor coverage, as well as phone support lines open from 5 a.m. to noon, PT, 7 days a week. That's a nice big support window so we're not too concerned that it's not technically 24-7, but we'd be happier if the phone number was toll-free. On the system itself you get the BigFix application to help you diagnose systems problems and to allow an eMachines tech to take remote control of your PC, if you're so willing. You'll also find a relatively useful array of support resources on the eMachines Web site.
Find out more about how we test desktop systems.
Dell Inspiron 530
Windows Vista Home Premium; 1.8GHz Intel Pentium E2160; 2GB 667MHz DDR2 SDRAM; 128MB Nvidia GeForce 8300GS graphics chip; 320GB 7,200rpm Hitachi hard drive.
Windows Vista Home Premium; 2.0GHz Intel Dual Core Pentium E2180; 2GB 800MHz DDR2 SDRAM; 64MB shared Intel GMA 950 graphics chip; 320GB 7,200rpm Western Digital hard drive.
Windows Vista Home Premium; 2.2GHz AMD Phenom 9500; 3GB DDR2 667MHz SDRAM; 128MB (shared) Nvidia GeForce 6150SE graphics chip; 500GB 7,200rpm Western Digital hard drive.
ZT Affinity 7221Xa
Windows Vista Home Premium; 2.1GHz AMD Phenom X4 8450; 4GB DDR2 SDRAM; 256MB (shared) ATI Radeon HD 3200 graphics chip; 500GB 7,200rpm Seagate hard drive.
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