capsule review

Compaq Presario SR5350F Value Desktop PC

At a Glance
  • Compaq Presario SR5350F

    PCWorld Rating

    Inexpensive PC with big hard drive succeeds at standard multimedia tasks, but its graphics are too weak for serious gamers.

The low-cost Compaq Presario SR5350F is an enticing Vista Home Premium system that's well-suited for running standard applications and for managing a large digital library of video, music, and photos. Like the eMachines T5246, the SR5350F is a prebuilt retail system available in only one configuration, so you can't select different components before you buy it. Priced at $680 (as of 2/7/08), the system's components include a 1.8-GHz Intel Pentium Dual-Core E2160 processor and two sticks of 1GB PC2-5300 DDR2 memory (2GB total) mounted on an Asus IPILP-LC motherboard with integrated Intel GMA 950 graphics.

The SR5350F also comes with a 360GB Seagate hard drive that provides much more storage space than most value systems. Other goodies include a DVD/CD combo writer with LightScribe labeling capability, and a memory card reader. The bundled Compaq Wf1907 19-inch LCD (1440 by 900 native resolution) has lightweight built-in speakers that are best suited for Windows sounds rather than movie sound tracks. Though the monitor provides both digital and analog inputs, the SR5350F's integrated graphics allows only a VGA connection. Still, image quality was good, and the screen displayed accurate color graphics and readable text even at small sizes.

The SR5350F earned a score of 71 on WorldBench 6 Beta 2, placing it just behind the 73 scored by the Dell Inspiron 530, which uses the same CPU. Its performance in the Nero image-burning component of the test suite was the best of all value systems we've seen of late. But the SR5350F's graphics performance in running our gaming tests was poor, due to its underpowered integrated graphics, which also lacks full-scene antialiasing support for rendering smoother edges in graphics frames during game play.

In addition to stickers for system components, the SR5350F's glossy black-and-silver minitower case is peppered with connectivity port labels and customer support info-nice hand-holding for the complete novice. All external connections are easy to access, but you'll find no FireWire ports. Though thumbscrews hold the side panel in place, inside you'll need a screwdriver to secure any expansion cards and to work on the drive bays. Three open drive bays (two 5.25-inch external, one 3.5-inch internal) and three card slots (one PCIe x16, one PCIe x1, and one PCI) are available for upgrades.

One slight hassle: Accessing the open internal drive bay requires unscrewing the internal drive cage first, since its opening is blocked by the external drive bay cage. (Other systems position the internal drive cage in such a way that you can access the open area without having to remove the drive cage.)

As for the Compaq-branded input devices, the multifunction keyboard worked fine, but the ball mouse felt clumsy compared with the optical mice bundled these days with most value systems. Compaq's helpful online documentation is thorough and nicely illustrated.

All in all, Compaq's Presario SR5350F is a good-performing system with plenty of storage space, but you may want to add a discrete graphics card after you get it home.

--Richard Jantz

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At a Glance
  • PCWorld Rating

    Inexpensive PC with big hard drive succeeds at standard multimedia tasks, but its graphics are too weak for serious gamers.

    Pros

    • Very inexpensive
    • Large (360GB) hard drive

    Cons

    • Poor integrated graphics
    • Bundled mouse is ball-style, not optical
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