EMachines M6811 Review (pics, specs)

by Reads (72,050)

by Joell Haugan —  Swift Current Saskatchewan, Canada

EMachines M6811 (view larger image)

I’ve been building and fixing PC’s as a hobby for many years and have spent way too many hours fighting with hardware and software! My first foray into the work of notebook/laptop computers, which was prompted my a job change, has been a steep learning curve for me.  After much deliberation I have ended up settling for the eMachines m6811.  This article serves as a full review of this notebook.

EMachines Desktop Replacment Notebook Specs

Audio Type PC2001 Compliant AC’97
Average Battery Life Info Not Available
Battery Type Lithium-Ion
Cache 1MB L2
CPU Speed 2.2GHz
CPU Type Mobile AMD Athlon 64
Fax/Modem 56K V.92
Hard Drive 80GB – 4200 RPM
I/O Ports 4 x USB 2.0, 1 x IEEE1394, 1 x VGA
Network Cards 10/100 Ethernet, Internal 802.11g
Optical Drives 4X-DVD+/-RW Drive
PC Card Slots Type I Or II Cardbus
Pointing Device Touchpad With Vertical Scroll
Preloaded Operating System Microsoft Windows XP Home Edition -SP1
Product Dimensions 26.4(W) x 4.1(H) x 35.6(D) cm
Product Weight 4.0 kg
RAM (Preloaded / Maximum) 512 MB PC2700 (2 x 256mb)
Removable Storage No
Screen Size 15.4″
Screen Type TFT WXGA
Speakers Built-In Speakers
System Bus 1600MHz
Video Type 64MB ATI Radeon 9600
Warranty 1 Year Parts & Labour
Detailed Specs

Click here to See appendix for detailed specs from Everest Home Edition

Reasons for Buying:

In the Box (view larger image)

Going in to my search I knew that I was looking for some important features. 

  • A price point of around $2000 CDN (about $1600 US)
    • An AMD64 processor
        • I love my desktop AMD64 3000 and have already tested Microsoft 64bit verison of XPpro and so I want to be free to upgrade when the day comes when MS releases the new OS.
        • A machine that could perform for gaming
            • My research made it clear that the ATI mobility 9700 was the video adapter of choice for those who wanted to do any gaming.  Since I’ve got a bunch of children who fight over our PC I figured it best to ensure there was another gaming option around if need be.  In fact, I had settled on a custom designed notebook from DirectPC.ca (based upon the Uniwell 258KA0) which included an ATI 9700 128mb.  However, I wanted to ensure that they swapped out the pc2700 ram for pc3200 (which the website didn’t offer).  I ordered it for a price in the $2100 range after talking to their sales department and convincing them that they could swap the RAM.  However, due to Christmas and New Year’s holidays slowing down their ordering process (I ordered it on Dec 28th) I never got my order confirmation until over a week later.  By that time I had began looking at the m6811 again and wondering if I was missing a great deal.  So, I cancelled my order and contacted Future Shop.
            • The m6811 came on sale for $1819 but it has the 9600 instead.  My research also showed that the performance of the ATI mobility 9600 was only slightly less than the 9700 so I decided it was better to save $300 (which will end up being $400 as another $100 US rebate was offered at checkout time).
            • PC3200 DDR400 RAM
                • Now, you’ll notice this laptop doesn’t have this! And, originally, I had eliminated it as an option when I found out that one of the RAM sticks is not user changeable!  However, it turns out that it 2nd stick can be changed if you don’t mind voiding your warranty.  So, what I’ll do instead, is wait until the warranty period is over and then upgrade the speed of the RAM (I may simply add a 1gig pc3200 stick to the 1st slot for now and then change the 2nd slot later on…and, yes, that means that the system will run at pc2700 until I upgrade the internal strip).
                • Wide Screen
                    • Since I will be using this as a desktop replacement I wanted to go with the wider screen.  This will also be nice on the long road trips for the kids when they are watching movies.
                    • Other considerations.
                        • I looked long and hard at the Compaqs with AMD64s in them… but the video adapters were just not up to the task.  Had gaming not been a priority I probably would have snapped one up before I came across this one.
                        Where and How Purchased

                          I purchased the unit from Future Shop in Red Deer, Alberta Canada (over the phone) after seeing the price on their website. Had the unit not been such a good deal I would have gone with a Uniwell laptop from DirectPC.ca 

                            Form & Design

                              I’ve seen many EMachines desktops in my day and, if you lined up three desktops and this laptop you’d here the Sesame Street gang start singing “one of these things just doesn’t belong here”.  It’s a good looking laptop.  It is a Desktop Replacment so it’s 4kg weight isn’t a surprise but, since I don’t travel more than 3 or 4 times a year this won’t bother me.

                                Screen

                                EMachines M6811 Frontview / Screen (view larger image)

                                  The screen is 1280×800 and is pleasant to look at right out of the box.  I haven’t had to adjust at thing!  No dead pixels.  I messed around with the brightness and found I could increase the brightness 3 more “steps” using the function (fn) keys.  Also, it could be adjusted to go quit dim which will come in handy when making presentations in dark rooms.

                                    Speakers

                                      Well… it does play sound.. but, if you’ve got a video file with volume that’s a tad low forget about playing it in any place that has ambient noise!  Audio files play just adequately but I wish it had more gain. External speakers will definitely be a valid option for those who will be parking this on their desk and pick up an adapter for the car stereo or you won’t hear a thing.

                                        Processor and Performance

                                          Well, the AMD64 3400 is an awesome processor and the ATI 9600 video card isn’t a slouch either.  The system, while still being very impressive, could be even more so if one get’s a faster hard drive and more/faster RAM.  My particular needs at this time though dictate a larger hard disk to store my desktop’s files…so, for the time being, a 4200 rpm 80 gig hard disk is fine.  As for the RAM,  even though 512 MB is very adequate for basic work I do plan on bumping that up ASAP.

                                            I fired up Wolfenstein – Enemy Territory and 1024×768 and it played quite well.  No lag at all.   I ran 3dmark03 and it crashed during the first scene (it did manage to get me back to the desktop in order to reboot though).  When I did complete it the score was a measly 991…and then I realized the power cord was unplugged and the system was saving power!  Then, I plugged it in and ran it again and got a score of 2333 (my desktop with a 9600xt, AMD64 3200 and 512 mb of DDR400 scores 3726).

                                              Keyboard and Touchpad

                                              EMachines M6811 Touchpad (view larger image)

                                              EMachines M6811 Keyboard (view larger image)

                                                The touchpad is fairly standard with a “scroll area” on the right side of the touchpad.  I only wish they included a little button to push to disable it instead of having to go through the software menu.  The keyboard is quite impressive and comfortable.  The volume control has it’s own buttons next to the power button and is easily accessible.

                                                Input and Output Ports

                                                  The laptop comes withs 4 USB plugs (2 on the left and 2 on the back) all of which are USB 2.0 capable. There is a mini-FireWire port on the left side which is mildly irritating as it should be a full size plug…but it’s better than nothing!  Also, there is a 3-1 card reader (Memory Stick and Compact Flash compliant) which makes sharing files a snap.  There is an S-Video TV out on the back along with a VGA, modem, ethernet, audio out and microphone jacks.

                                                  EMachines M6811 Leftside of Notebook (view larger image)

                                                  EMachines M6811 Backside of Notebook (view larger image)

                                                  EMachines M6811 Frontside of Notebook (view larger image)

                                                  EMachines M6811 Rightside of Notebook (view larger image)

                                                  EMachines M6811 Top view (view larger image)

                                                    Wireless

                                                      The wireless card included with the EMachines M6811 is a Broadcom 54g 802.11b/g internal adapter capable of 54mbps.   No bluetooth and no infrared (neither of which I will miss).

                                                        Battery

                                                          I took the notebook to work sans the power cord as a test on battery life.  The notebook lasted most of the day with intermittent use. Under load it will last a maximum of two hours but for doing email and word processing I can see it getting closer to three hours if I fold the screen down to the off position when not in use. However, if you’re going to game and turn the video card up to full speed then you’ll get one hour of battery life tops.

                                                            Operating System and Software

                                                              The EMachines 6811 comes shipped with XP Home service pack 1 which is kind of a nuisance.  I immediately put on SP2 and it seems to be cooperating so far.  The bundled software includes Roxio Easy CD and DVD Creator 6 (yawn),  PowerDVD 5 (a bit dated already but, still, woo hoo!), Norton Antivirus (3 month edition… yawn), MS Works 7 (yuck!… Wordperfect would have been a much nicer choice).   Other free software includes Netscape 6.2 (dated), Winamp, Realplayer 8 (dated),  MS Picture It (never heard of it), Acrobat Reader 6,  ICQ, MSN and AOL messenger.  (Just FYI, I have now installed Wordperfect Office 12,  Nero 6 Ultra Edition, Firefox, Thunderbird, Itunes, Realplayer 10.5, SecondCopy, Trillian (instant messenger) and, once my 3 month trial is up I will remove Norton and install Etrust Antivirus from Computer Associates.  Also, Corel Draw Suite 12 will round out my core applications).

                                                                Customer Support

                                                                    I was a tad miffed though when I found out that laptops are not covered by the optional extended warranty for those who live in Canada (yes, I knew this before I purchased it).  For some reason all desktops are covered but not laptops.  Come on guys!  I’ve also learned the EMachines is letting Gateway carry the laptop line from now on which apparently means the end of the line for all EMachines branded laptops.  Currently their website only displays one model as being for sale.  Equally troubling is the fact that m6811 didn’t appear on the support site as an option until a few days after I mentioned it to the “live chat support” guy (see below).  Another irritating thing is that their support pages are not fully functional with Firefox.

                                                                    EMachines has a nifty real time chat on their website which I have tested out.  The tech was quite pleasant but he wasn’t able to give me answers as to why the extended coverage wasn’t available in Canada…. nor why the M6811 isn’t on the support page.

                                                                    The M6811 includes some support software called “bigfix” which apparently notifiies and installs needed updates.  I really haven’t figured it out yet!

                                                                      Complaints
                                                                        • Other than the speakers not having enough volume I am very pleased, so far, with this lappy.  I just wish my backpack bag was 1/2 an inch deeper! 🙁
                                                                        • I’ve read a bunch of reviews that point to a problem with the casing on the hinges cracking.  Mine is fine right now… but I anticipate this in the future.

                                                                        Praises

                                                                        • Perfomance and Value in one!  This is a great machine for the price.  If they would put in DDR400 and a 7200 rpm hard drive then this would be an elite machine!
                                                                        Conclusion
                                                                        • Bottom line: I’m pleased.  All my goals have been met (or come very close to meeting them) with a priority on value winning the day. I’d have no problem recommending this to a buddy!  Now, off to buy some RAM with the money I saved!

                                                                        Pricing and Availability

                                                                        Detailed Specs

                                                                        Generated by EVEREST Home Edition (c) 2003, 2004 Lavalys, Inc.

                                                                          Version  EVEREST v1.52.211
                                                                          Homepage  http://www.lavalys.com/
                                                                          Report Type  Report Wizard
                                                                          Computer  NOTEBOOK (dad’s notebook)
                                                                          Generator  dad
                                                                          Operating System  Microsoft Windows XP Home Edition 5.1.2600 (WinXP Retail)
                                                                          Date  2005-01-08
                                                                          Time  22:51

                                                                        Summary

                                                                          Computer:
                                                                          Operating System  Microsoft Windows XP Home Edition
                                                                          OS Service Pack  Service Pack 1

                                                                          Motherboard:
                                                                          CPU Type  Mobile AMD Athlon 64, 2200 MHz (11 x 200) 3400+
                                                                          Motherboard Name  eMachine Shadow-K8
                                                                          Motherboard Chipset  VIA VT8383/5 Apollo K8T800(M), AMD Hammer
                                                                          System Memory  512 MB  (DDR SDRAM)
                                                                          BIOS Type  Phoenix (07/28/04)

                                                                          Display:
                                                                          Video Adapter  ATI MOBILITY RADEON 9600/9700 Series  (64 MB)
                                                                          Video Adapter  ATI MOBILITY RADEON 9600/9700 Series  (64 MB)
                                                                          3D Accelerator  ATI Mobility Radeon 9600/9700 (M10/M11)
                                                                          Monitor  Plug and Play Monitor

                                                                          Multimedia:
                                                                          Audio Adapter  VIA AC’97 Enhanced Audio Controller

                                                                          Storage:
                                                                          IDE Controller  VIA Bus Master IDE Controller
                                                                          Disk Drive  IC25N080ATMR04-0  (80 GB, 4200 RPM, Ultra-ATA/100)
                                                                          Optical Drive  HL-DT-ST DVD-RW GWA-4040N  (DVD+RW:4x/2.4x, DVD-RW:2x/2x, DVD-ROM:8x, CD:16x/10x/24x DVD+RW/DVD-RW)
                                                                          SMART Hard Disks Status  OK

                                                                          Partitions:
                                                                          C: (NTFS)  76316 MB (47117 MB free)

                                                                          Input:
                                                                          Keyboard  Standard 101/102-Key or Microsoft Natural PS/2 Keyboard
                                                                          Mouse  Synaptics PS/2 Port Pointing Device

                                                                          Network:
                                                                          Network Adapter  MAC Bridge Miniport – Packet Scheduler Miniport  (192.168.0.122)
                                                                          Modem  Conexant SoftK56 Data Fax Modem

                                                                          Peripherals:
                                                                          USB1 Controller  VIA VT83C572 PCI-USB Controller
                                                                          USB1 Controller  VIA VT83C572 PCI-USB Controller
                                                                          USB1 Controller  VIA VT83C572 PCI-USB Controller
                                                                          USB2 Controller  VIA USB 2.0 Enhanced Host Controller
                                                                          USB Device  Logitech USB Cordless Mouse
                                                                          Battery  Microsoft AC Adapter
                                                                          Battery  Microsoft ACPI-Compliant Control Method Battery

                                                                        DMI

                                                                          [ BIOS ]

                                                                          BIOS Properties:
                                                                          Vendor  Phoenix
                                                                          Version  NSF03.P0
                                                                          Release Date  07/28/2004
                                                                          Size  512 KB
                                                                          Boot Devices  Floppy Disk, Hard Disk, CD-ROM
                                                                          Capabilities  Flash BIOS, Shadow BIOS, Selectable Boot, BBS, Smart Battery
                                                                          Supported Standards  DMI, APM, ACPI, ESCD, PnP
                                                                          Expansion Capabilities  ISA, PCI, AGP, PCMCIA, USB

                                                                          [ System ]

                                                                          System Properties:
                                                                          Manufacturer  eMachine
                                                                          Product  Shadow-K8
                                                                          Version  VT8385/VT8235
                                                                          Serial Number  XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX
                                                                          Universal Unique ID  XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX
                                                                          Wake-Up Type  Power Switch

                                                                          [ Motherboard ]

                                                                          Motherboard Properties:
                                                                          Manufacturer  eMachine
                                                                          Product  Shadow-K8
                                                                          Version  KBC Revision: 3354
                                                                          Serial Number  None

                                                                          [ Chassis ]

                                                                          Chassis Properties:
                                                                          Manufacturer  eMachine
                                                                          Version  None
                                                                          Serial Number  None
                                                                          Asset Tag  No Asset Tag
                                                                          Boot-Up State  Safe
                                                                          Power Supply State  Safe
                                                                          Thermal State  Safe
                                                                          Security Status  None

                                                                          [ Processors / AMD Athlon(tm) 64 ]

                                                                          Processor Properties:
                                                                          Manufacturer  AuthenticAMD
                                                                          Version  AMD Athlon(tm) 64
                                                                          Maximum Clock  2500 MHz
                                                                          Current Clock  2200 MHz
                                                                          Type  Central Processor
                                                                          Voltage  1.5 V
                                                                          Status  Enabled
                                                                          Upgrade  ZIF
                                                                          Socket Designation  Socket 754

                                                                          [ Caches / L1 Cache ]

                                                                          Cache Properties:
                                                                          Type  Internal
                                                                          Status  Enabled
                                                                          Operational Mode  Write-Back
                                                                          Associativity  2-way Set-Associative
                                                                          Maximum Size  128 KB
                                                                          Installed Size  128 KB
                                                                          Supported SRAM Type  Synchronous, Burst, Pipeline Burst
                                                                          Current SRAM Type  Synchronous
                                                                          Error Correction  Single-bit ECC
                                                                          Socket Designation  L1 Cache

                                                                          [ Caches / L2 Cache ]

                                                                          Cache Properties:
                                                                          Type  Internal
                                                                          Status  Enabled
                                                                          Operational Mode  Write-Through
                                                                          Associativity  Fully Associative
                                                                          Maximum Size  1024 KB
                                                                          Installed Size  1024 KB
                                                                          Supported SRAM Type  Synchronous, Burst, Pipeline Burst
                                                                          Current SRAM Type  Synchronous
                                                                          Error Correction  Single-bit ECC
                                                                          Socket Designation  L2 Cache

                                                                          [ Memory Modules / DIMM 1 ]

                                                                          Memory Module Properties:
                                                                          Socket Designation  DIMM 1
                                                                          Type  DIMM, SDRAM
                                                                          Installed Size  128 MB
                                                                          Enabled Size  128 MB

                                                                          [ Memory Modules / DIMM 2 ]

                                                                          Memory Module Properties:
                                                                          Socket Designation  DIMM 2
                                                                          Type  DIMM, SDRAM
                                                                          Installed Size  128 MB
                                                                          Enabled Size  128 MB

                                                                          [ Memory Devices / M1 ]

                                                                          Memory Device Properties:
                                                                          Form Factor  DIMM
                                                                          Type  DRAM
                                                                          Type Detail  Synchronous
                                                                          Size  256 MB
                                                                          Total Width  64-bit
                                                                          Data Width  64-bit
                                                                          Device Locator  M1
                                                                          Bank Locator  Bank 0

                                                                          [ Memory Devices / M2 ]

                                                                          Memory Device Properties:
                                                                          Form Factor  DIMM
                                                                          Type  DRAM
                                                                          Type Detail  Synchronous
                                                                          Size  256 MB
                                                                          Total Width  64-bit
                                                                          Data Width  64-bit
                                                                          Device Locator  M2
                                                                          Bank Locator  Bank 1


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