Fujitsu Siemens Esprimo E5600 review

17 Feb 2006

Despite the dated looks, the Esprimo is a great PC for business. It's fast, quiet and comes with a decent warranty

Price when reviewed: 
450(£529 inc VAT)
5

From the outside, the angular, beige Esprimo E5600 looks old-fashioned. But slide off the lid with the quick-release catches and you quickly realise it's right up-to-date under the skin.

You won't find any Intel logos, though: instead, there's a 2GHz AMD Athlon 64 3200+ processor and 512MB of PC3200 RAM. This gave the E5600 a clear lead over others, with an overall 2D benchmark score of 0.84. The Intel Hyper-Threading CPUs remained quicker at multitasking, although the Esprimo was clearly faster overall.

There's no BTX equivalent for AMD-powered PCs, but Fujitsu Siemens' removable motherboard still adopts an identical layout, which means the CPU and intake fan assembly are at the front. Air flows over the chipset and expansion cards before exiting out the back, making it a nearly silent PC. In our scientific tests, we measured the idle hum to be no greater than the test room's background noise at 29dBA.

All drives are on the left, with green plastic levers highlighting which parts to pull for tool-free access. Removing the optical drive is a breeze, or you can release a catch and tip the drive bay forward with the spare 3.5in bay attached. Getting the 80GB hard disk out requires more work, however, but it can be done without tools.

A spare Serial ATA/150 port means that instead of adding a floppy in the spare bay you could fit another hard disk in a RAID configuration. We were pleased to find that a dual-layer DVD writer resides in the 5.25in bay - the only one in this Labs.

Although this is a compact PC (it's as small as the Dell and Acer), you can fit two full-height PCI cards with the supplied 90-degree riser. PCI Express slots are also available, with half-height 16x and 1x slots flanking the PCIs. All of the backplate hardware is tool-free.

At £450, the E5600 is the second most expensive here, and the three-year warranty has only a 48-hour response time when others are next-business-day. However, the premium is worth it thanks to the DVD writer and the fact that Fujitsu Siemens won a Highly Commended Award in our recent Reliability & Service Awards. It's a deserving winner.