eMachines ER1402-05: The Best of the Bottom-Rung Compact PCs
At a Glance
This inexpensive compact PC performs well for the price.
Though the $300 (as of September 27, 2010) eMachines ER1402-05 can't compare in features or performance to pricier desktops, it avoids critical design lapses that might have made it a bad investment at any price.
For the brains of its Compact PC, eMachines selected a 1.7GHz AMD Athlon II Neo K125 processor and a category-average 2GB of DDR3 memory. The Neo K125 enables the ER1402-05 hold its own against similarly configured machines that incorporate Intel processors.
With a score of 62 on our WorldBench 6 benchmark test suite, the ER1402-05 outperforms many other compact PCs we've reviewed, though the Dell Inspiron Zino HD (which runs on a 1.5GHz Athlon 3250e) gives it a run for its money with a WorldBench score of 59. Meanwhile, the ViewSonic VOT530 PC Mini, the category leader, rode a 2.2GHz CPU to a WorldBench 6 score of 90.
Though it lacks special features (including upgradability), the ER1402-05's case is quite pretty to look at. And the included stand permits angled setup for quick access to the system's two front-facing USB ports and multiformat card reader.
The array of connections on the back of the system is disappointing in number and diversity: two USB ports, one optical audio connection, an HDMI port, a gigabit ethernet port, and a VGA connection.
The ER1402-05 ships without an optical drive, but eMachines does nestle Wireless-N networking inside the PC's tiny frame. The company carries the wireless motif over to its included mouse and keyboard, too. Those input devices may lack extra buttons and features, but at least you can use them in your lap.
If the ER1402-05 has an Achilles' heel, that weakness is the system's puny 160GB hard drive--which holds the dubious distinction of tying for the smallest amount of storage among compact PCs currently in our rankings.
Nevertheless, eMachine's ER1402-05 is the best of the low-end models in the compact PC category. You get an well-designed system whose specs (aside from the hard drive) and performance meet or exceed what you'd expect to find in a $300 miniature desktop. You can't have it all at this price, but eMachines did a deft job of handling most of the essentials.