At a Glance
Inexpensive system contains low-end components that delivered lackluster performance.
With a CRT monitor and a single-core processor that appeared in the fastest, high-end PCs just a couple of years ago, the T5048 feels like a throwback system. Now, this machine--with its 3.06-GHz Pentium 4 CPU and 512MB of memory--costs just $600 (as of November 6, 2006). At the time of our review, you could have shaved $100 from that price with the available mail-in rebates.
Systems with newer processors are much faster. The T5048 garnered a WorldBench 5 score of 77--slightly lower than the mark earned by the similarly priced Dell Dimension E521. That's adequate for many uses (such as Web browsing or word processing), but you can expect video or image editing to proceed extremely slowly. Despite having only 512MB of memory, the T5048 passed our informal multitasking hands-on test, simultaneously playing a movie DVD smoothly and encoding an MP3 file.
Performance on our graphics tests was weak: The T5048, which relies on integrated ATI Radeon Xpress 200 graphics, topped out at an unplayable 6 frames per second on our Doom 3 test, at 1280 by 1024 resolution.
At this price, eMachines bundles its 17-inch eView 17F3 CRT monitor with the T5048. The monitor is very heavy (nearly 40 pounds) and bulky (at a depth of about 17 inches) but produced adequate image quality. Still images and movie disc images lacked sharpness and had dull, unappetizing color.
The T5048's case is much more appealing. It has a striking silver design, with a panel at the bottom of the front surface to cover the headphone and microphone socket; a front-mounted USB 2.0 port; and multiformat memory card reader. Thumbscrews hold the side of the case on, but you'll need a screwdriver to install a hard drive in the vacant internal drive bay, or a second optical drive (or other device) in the external drive bay (it comes with a dual-layer DVD burner). Another limitation is the audio output, which supports stereo speakers only. To support multichannel sound, the T5048 would need a sound card added to one of its two available PCI slots.
The company bills the system as Vista-capable; eMachines offers Vista upgrade information on its site.
The manufacturer does not allow you to customize the system before you buy. You have to buy the system as is, and then add or replace components yourself. The T5048 is an attractive, inexpensive system with modest features, to be sure--but for a little more money, you can get a much better performer.