capsule review

eMac 1.25GHz

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Though it was once reserved for the education market, the all-in-one eMac has become a great choice for anyone who needs an inexpensive desktop Mac. Apple’s latest eMacs are no exception: they feature more processing power, faster RAM and bus speeds, greater graphics prowess, and more storage and connectivity options—all at lower prices and with fewer limitations than their predecessors (   ; August 2003).

The eMac is available in two configurations: a $999 model with an 80GB hard drive and a CD- and DVD-burning SuperDrive (our test system), and a $799 model with a 40GB hard drive and a DVD-reading and CD-burning Combo drive. (The model with a Combo drive was previously $999, and the SuperDrive model was previously $1,299.) Each model sports a 1.25GHz G4 processor (up from 1GHz), 512K of Level 2 cache (twice as much as before), and a faster system bus (up from 133MHz to 167MHz). Both models ship with 256MB of memory and can accept as much as 1GB of RAM.

In our Speedmark tests, our test model came through with a 26 percent jump in overall score. The 1.25GHz eMac also bested its 1GHz predecessor by more than 6 minutes and 30 seconds when compressing video, and it shaved 2 minutes (about 40 percent) off the time it takes to encode a CD in iTunes. Even in our Cinema 4D XL rendering test, the new eMac was 28 percent faster. And thanks to the inclusion of the 32MB ATI Radeon 9200 graphics chip with 4x AGP support, the 1.25GHz model pushed out nearly 70 percent more frames per second in our Unreal Tournament test, going from a poor 9.7 fps to a more respectable 16.4 fps. On the new eMac, the game looked great and felt extremely fast.

Each model has three USB 2.0 ports (and two USB1.1 ports on the keyboard), two FireWire 400 ports, a 100-Mbps Ethernet port, a 56-Kbps modem, and a built-in microphone. Like the previous models, these eMacs are wired for AirPort Extreme but don’t include AirPort cards. The $999 eMac comes with an 8x SuperDrive, the same drive that’s in the Power Mac G5.

The design of the eMac, the only product in Apple’s lineup that still uses a CRT display, remains unchanged—a potential drawback for fashion-conscious or space-challenged users. Both models feature a 17-inch flat CRT monitor and have a mini-VGA port for mirroring your desktop on an additional monitor or a TV.

The 1.25GHz eMac is comparable to Apple’s other 17-inch all-in-one system, the 1.25GHz iMac G4 (   ; January 2004), which costs $800 more. This eMac beat the iMac in many of our tests but lost in MPEG-2 encoding by about 6 percent. And the iMac’s 64MB of graphics RAM gives it a healthy edge in frame-rate tests.

Macworld’s Buying Advice

The 1.25GHz eMac is an impressive computer that holds its own against the pricier iMac, and the lowered price makes the top-of-the-line eMac even more appealing.

Apple's eMac 1.25GHz
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