May 05, 2012, 7:20 AM — Here comes Ivy Bridge. The Asus Essentio CM6870 is one of the first budget desktops hitting the PCWorld Labs to run one of Intel’s brand-new Ivy Bridge processors and receive testing under the brand-new WorldBench 7 benchmarking suite.
The good news? This $999 system is plenty speedy, but that doesn’t mean it’s perfect. Gaming and upgrading are a hassle; however, these dull bits are balanced by the system’s Blu-ray support and impressive storage--two areas that tend to underwhelm on systems in the budget category. That said, you’re paying a premium for the perks.
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The key to the CM6870’s speeds is its Ivy Bridge processor, one of Intel’s Core i7-3770 chips clocked at 3.4 gigahertz. Eight gigabytes of memory (made usable by 64-bit Windows Home Premium) supplement the speedy chip and help the CM6870 achieve killer speeds within its category.
Here’s where it gets complicated. The CM6870 is the first budget desktop to face PCWorld’s new WorldBench 7 tests, which, unfortunately, can’t be compared apples-to-apples against their WorldBench 6 predecessors. As a silver lining, however, the CM6870’s final score of 106 indicates that it’s all of 6 percent faster than WorldBench 7’s baseline PC: an Intel Core i5-2500K rig with 8 gigabytes of memory and a single Nvidia GeForce GTX 560 Ti card. That’s slightly better than the 4 percent difference in clock speed, but not really significant.
The baseline system is a pretty similar configuration to Lenovo’s H330 budget desktop: Same processor, same gigahertz, same memory, equally dreadful graphics. At the time of its testing last year, the H330 crushed WorldBench 6 to deliver the strongest performance the budget category had yet seen. This gives the Ivy Bridge-based CM6870 the new speed crown in the budget category, an expected outcome given the 5 to 10 percent estimated performance boost between an i5-2500K CPU and an i7-3770.
It’s hard to offer much praise about the CM6870’s gaming capabilities--due to the general lack thereof. The system’s simple Nvidia GeForce GT 545 card holds its own on a DiRT 3 benchmark run, delivering a playable 40 frames per second at a 1920 by 1080 resolution (high quality). But don’t expect to fire up a game like Crysis 2 without turning everything ugly: The CM6870 finally coughed up a playable 45.0 frames per second at a 1024 by 768 resolution (high quality).