At a Glance
Nicely priced system was a mediocre performer; its 19-inch wide-screen LCD offered disappointing image quality.
Compared with its bargain-basement cousin the T5048, the eMachines T5212 has better specs, better features, and a higher price. Unfortunately, the improvements aren't enough to move the $870 T5212 (as of November 6, 2006) ahead of the T5048 on our chart. (The price we quote for the T5212 does not include two mail-in rebates available at the time of our review: $50 on the computer, and $50 on the monitor.)
With its dual-core 2.66GHz Intel Pentium D processor (an older CPU than the Core 2 Duo processors that other cheap PCs in this roundup use) and 1GB of memory, the T5212 chugged to a lackluster WorldBench 5 score of 79. That's certainly sufficient for tasks like exchanging e-mail and browsing the Web, but it would make editing video or digital photos slow and tedious. Its graphics performance was poor, too: At 1280 by 1024 resolution, the system eked out puny frame rates of 6 frames per second on our Doom 3 test and 12 fps on our Far Cry test.
Another advantage of the T5212 over the T5048 is its 19-inch wide-screen E19T5W LCD (the T5048 comes with a 17-inch CRT monitor). But the monitor's color handling and viewing angle have some limitations. Text was sharp, but colors were too blue at the default settings; and though tweaking the settings helped, the colors continued to look unnatural and rather pale. With regard to viewing angle, we found that if you moved more than about 15 degrees off-axis, the monitor's brightness declined sharply.
The T5212's plain, unassuming black-and-silver case is awkward to work with. It comes off after you loosen two thumbscrews, but you'll need a screwdriver to install new components. The unit has three available slots (one each for PCI, PCI Express, and PCI Express x1), plus two open drive bays (one internal and externally accessible). The system comes with a media card slot, a dual-layer DVD burner, and Windows XP Media Center Edition.
This is a Vista-capable system, according to eMachines, and the company offers Vista upgrade information on its site.
The T5212 delivers solid features for the price, but it is constrained by its sluggish performance, scoring 17 percent lower on our WorldBench 5 tests than the Dell Dimension C521, which costs about $150 less.