SAN FRANCISCO (10/09/2003) - WHAT'S HOT: Designed for homes, our review Compaq Presario S5300nx came with an optional 15-inch Hewlett-Packard Co. Compaq FP5315 LCD monitor, a 120GB hard drive, plenty of built-in ports, and pretty good upgrading options for just US$1107.
WHAT'S NOT: This system has a 2.4-GHz Pentium 4 processor with hyperthreading technology enabled and a fast 800-MHz frontside bus. This bus was previously available only on higher-end and costlier Pentium 4 processors. It also has 512MB of DDR333 memory. The package creates an expectation that the machine is going to be a great performer, but it comes up short in important respects. Its PC WorldBench 4 score was only 109, just a point faster than a machine with half the RAM and an older, slower version of the 2.4-GHz P4 (the Premio Calypso). This system would work fine for tasks such as word processing or e-mail, but it won't be quick at applications that tax the CPU, like games and graphics or video editing.
HP is touting the S5300nx as an inexpensive game machine, but again, our tests didn't bear this out. Its Intel Extreme Graphics 2 integrated graphics delivered weak frame rates, which is consistent with our experience with other systems--regardless of CPU type--that use the system's main memory for graphics tasks. The slow frame rates showed up as jerkiness and grainy foreground textures while playing Return to Castle Wolfenstein and Unreal Tournament 2003. When we popped in a DVD movie, we saw dark colors and periodic stutters.
The LCD monitor displayed fairly sharp text, but colors looked a bit too dark for our liking at default settings. The monitor has built-in speakers, with a thumbwheel under the bezel to adjust volume and a headphone jack; unfortunately, the speakers were disappointing, emitting weak bass notes and flat trebles. For improved sound quality, we'd recommend adding a stand-alone speaker set.
WHAT ELSE: The case's front is designed for convenience, with two well-labeled USB 2.0 ports and one FireWire port. These are supplemented with four more USB 2.0 ports and another FireWire port on the case back, which should be plenty for most users. You can also expand the system a bit via two PCI slots, two memory slots, and an open internal drive bay.
The system's documentation consists of a large manual with plenty of helpful illustrations; however, it applies to the whole Presario line and doesn't contain information specific to this model. For that, the manual refers you to HP's Web site.
Bundled software includes WordPerfect 2002, Microsoft Works 7.0, and Microsoft Money 2003, Standard Edition. Oddly, our test machine came with copy of Arcsoft ShowBiz, which seemed superfluous since there's no recordable DVD drive.
UPSHOT: The Compaq Presario S5300nx has an undeniably nice price, but there are better-performing, less-expensive systems out there, such as the NuTrend Mega 2, for starters.
HP Compaq Presario S5300nx
PC WorldBench 4 score of 109, 2.4-GHz Pentium 4 CPU, 512MB of DDR333 SDRAM, Windows XP Home, 120GB hard drive, 16X DVD-ROM drive, 48X/16X/40X CD-RW drive, integrated Intel 845G graphics using main system memory, 15-inch Compaq FP5315 LCD monitor, JBL Platinum speakers, network adapter, V.92 modem, minitower case; Microsoft Works 7.0 and Money 2003. One-year parts and labor warranty; 24-hour daily toll-free support during warranty period.