The low-cost EMachines T6212 minitower is fine for most home and office tasks, and its $780 price is especially easy on the wallet. But you get what you pay for--in this case, a minimal PC in many respects.
Considering that the T6212 is fitted with a low-end CPU--a 2-GHz Athlon 64 3200+--and 512MB of DDR400 SDRAM, we weren't surprised at its relatively low WorldBench 5 score of 78. However, its performance was better than all but one of the similarly priced systems in our March 2005 roundup of cheap PCs. And the T6212's 160GB hard drive space provides more storage than you would expect at this price.
With its integrated ATI Radeon Xpress 200 graphics relying on system memory, the T6212 posted a comparatively sluggish 43 frames per second in Castle Wolfenstein and 49 fps in Unreal Tournament 2003 at 1024-by-768 resolution, the highest supported by the bundled monitor. That kind of performance is good enough for low-impact games, but it's generally too slow for 3D action games.
The silver-and-black case houses two optical drives--a double-layer DVD
After removing two thumbscrews I easily opened the T6212. It has a tidy interior, with two open memory slots, one empty internal drive bay, and three open slots (including a PCI Express X16 slot). Adding components to this system is straightforward but requires tools.
Considering that many other low-cost PCs now include 17-inch LCDs, I was disappointed with the 15-inch EMachines E15T3r LCD monitor that came with our test system. In our tests, the monitor displayed reasonably sharp text, but graphics seemed a bit dark and lacked good detail. Using the monitor's color control, I was able to tweak the image and produce brighter color with better details. However, I also found it somewhat awkward to use the display's adjustment controls, which are on the right side and in back. Sometimes when physically adjusting the monitor's placement (it tilts but doesn't swivel), I'd accidentally grab and activate the brightness/contrast controls.
The Diamond Audio EMC 2.0 two-speaker system bundled with this unit performed about as well as I expected--its lack of strong bass performance was evident during some of our CD and DVD playback tests.
An enhanced keyboard that provides several shortcut keys (such as CD player controls) was a welcome addition, along with thorough user manuals for both the system and monitor.
The budget-priced T6212 is a no-frills system that can serve as a starter PC for family members or employees who don't need high-power performance.
WorldBench 5 score of 78, 2.0-GHz Athlon 64 3200+ CPU, 512MB of DDR400 SDRAM, Windows XP Home, 160GB hard drive, DVD+R double-layer/ DVD