At $298 (as of August 23, 2009), the compact eMachines EL1300G-01w is the least-expensive value PC we've tested at PC World in more than a year. While its performance equals or exceeds that of similarly configured compact PCs, it doesn't rank anywhere near the top of the charts for the value PC category overall. As you might expect, the system appears to be geared toward consumers on a strict budget; if you can afford to move up to the $500 mark, you can pick up a competing machine that more than doubles the EL1300G-01w's performance and offers an even greater jump in storage capacity.
Powering the EL1300G-01w is a 1.6GHz AMD Athlon 2650e processor. In a category dominated by Intel processors, it's good to see an AMD-based chipset that delivers comparable performance at a significantly lower cost. The included 2GB of DDR2-800 memory is the bare minimum you need to experience the system's 32-bit Windows Vista Home Basic OS adequately. The preinstalled operating system subtracts a chunk of space from the EL1300G-01w's small 160GB hard drive.
The system's WorldBench 6 score of 47 is on the low side of the scale in the value PC category, but it still beats the marks posted by the $320 MSI Wind Nettop CS 120 (42) and the $588 Polywell ITX-9400B (38). On the other hand, the $500 Acer Veriton X270 compact PC more than doubled the EL1300G-01w's score with a 97; and eMachines' own ET1161-03, a minitower system, turned in a score of 79. The EL1300G-01w isn't a breakout system, but its performance is very reasonable for the price.
The shiny white exterior of this system, coupled with its glowing green logo, vaguely resembles the robot Eve from WALL-E, or a typical Apple system. The interior is compactly put together, but you won't be able to upgrade most parts without a herculean effort: All of the slots and connections are already spoken for.
The rear of the system accommodates four USB ports, a gigabit ethernet port, integrated 5.1 surround sound, and a VGA output for video. Regrettably absent are a DVI port for video, and wireless networking--unlike in the competing Nettop CS 120, which has built-in 802.11g Wi-Fi. The front of the eMachines system collects five more USB ports and a multicard reader beneath a standard DVD burner.
The black input devices that eMachines included with our test configuration contrast oddly with the case's all-white color scheme. (The all-white look certainly works for another system manufacturer.) The white-trimmed keyboard differs includes volume control buttons at the top, but the mouse is strictly generic: a plain, two-button device.
It doesn't win awards for high performance or comprehensive features, but the eMachines EL1300G-01 is a solid offering at its price.