"Fantastic PC"on by swampydonkey
Pros Fast, Quite, Upgradable, Price
Cons Hard Drive Noise
Summary I have had my 531 for a couple weeks and I have to say it is one fantastic PC. In this review I'll hit a few of the highs, and the only low point that I've noticed and also refute some claims in other reviews.
This PC is incredibly quiet. When the hard drive isn't writing it is almost completely silent. I can hear it if I put my head down near the case, but that's about it.
It's fast. The way I have mine configured (5000+ Dual Core AMD Athlon, 2GB RAM) it makes short work of tasks that take my XP computer ages to complete. Prime examples are writing photoshop files, compressing audio and editing video files. For the price you can hardly beat the level of performance you get.
I have opened my case once already and added a video card upgrade. I went from integrated graphics to an MSI NX8600GT. At first I was a little concerned with the 531s ability to cope with the power demands of an actively cooled card (it has a fan), but those concerns have been put to rest. I am running it in the factory settings which is overclocked from 540mhz to 580mhz and have had no issues whatsoever. The install took 5-10 minutes. Also worth mentioning are the 4 RAM slots that make upgrading a breeze. I still might be hesitant to ask it to support a card that requires a PSU connector, but I think it could support it.
The hard drive is a little noisy when writing data. It makes a little clicking sound that is pretty constant. However, if I am more than 5 feet away it is almost inaudible so it's not that big of an issue.
Corrections for other reviews:
Other reviews have cited that drivers are a problem with Windows vista. In particular, the have cited not being able to manually override drivers from unidentified publishers. This is false, it can be done from within device manager. I installed my PS2 Eyetoy on my 531 and it works flawlessly. It uses hacked unverified drivers so of course I had to install them manually.
Finally, I would like to say a few things about how fantastic Vista is. I was a little wary at first because it has gotten some bad press in the past, but I can't say enough how happy I am to have chosen Vista over XP. Graphically and functionally it is just better. I play several games including Civ IV, AOE, Far Cry and RACE 07 and have had zero compatibility issues. Unless you work in an environment that utilizes specific programs that are known to not work with Vista then there is no reason to stay with XP. Vista is the way to go for 99% of users.
"Excellent budget PC"on by mew905
Pros Cheap, DVD burner, optional bluetooth, almost dead silent
Cons Cheap power supply, weak video card, no overclocking
Summary This is going to be long, I separated the sections in case you want to skip through.
Noise - It's quiet, very quiet. In fact 80% of the time its dead silent, 1% of the time its abnoxiously loud (only when it boots up and only for a half second), and the other 19% it is well within tolerable range (only during gaming can you slightly hear the fans).
Options - It's cheap, I got mine for just under $1000 without a monitor but I opted for the GeForce 8600GT and built in blutooth. The harddrive is bare minimum 160GB at the time I bought mine, I got the X2 3800+ (minimum is 4400+ now I think) and it has 8 USB ports and the blutooth has a card reader built in. No firewire, not sure if its optional.
Physical - The case is JUST long enough to stick a GeForce 8800GT in it, but you will have to buy a new power supply. The included supply is cheap, has 4 SATA connections as well as the motherboard connectors. You will need a new one if you plan on upgrading to anything above an 8600 or need some molex plugs (no, it doesnt have these either).
Performance - Get 2GB bare minimum RAM, trust me, you'll need it. I have 3GB and my PC boots up using 1GB. I've never seen it go past 2GB and I'm running a 512MB swap file (alot of programs need this, don't shut it off!). The 3800+ is enough for me, I'm going to be upgrading it eventually but I get 27fps in Crysis at 1680x1050 high detail, severely limited by my CPU. I'm running an 8800GT, which isn't an option on this PC. Card reader is decently fast, no worse than a floppy drive, but then again I've only tried the slower, 20x-40x cards. Vista is snappy and quick, booting up does take some time though for some reason. Mine in particular takes up to 15 seconds to get through the Dell screen (the actual logo only shows for approx 4 seconds). Mine also takes about 20 seconds to become responsive after Vista is loaded but I do have alot of things running on boot, including but not limited to MSN, Chameleon Clock, FRAPS, Rivatuner Statistics, STEAM, and l33tsig.
Value - All in all, great value. Unless you're looking to play Crysis and your screen maxes out at 1280x1024, you'll be fine with the 8600GT option. However, if your screen is larger than that and/or you want to play Crysis at high graphical levels, go with the integrated option and buy the 8800GT separately. I dont know if the 8800GTS, GTX or 9800's will fit, so check on this compared to the 8800's length.
Built in surround sound is also a good feature for gamers, but I definitely recommend a dedicated card (buy this separately as well).
Cheap Power supply - Again, the power supply is only 300 watt, and has no molex or PCI-e connections. Should you want to upgrade your video card you will need a new power supply. It has 4 SATA connections so you will have enough to add another harddrive and DVD/BluRay drive, or two of either.
Weak Video card - Again the 8600GT is only useful if you have a 17-19" square monitor or you use it on a 720p HDTV. Will also fail horribly at Crysis at any resolution. If you plan on going with an 8800 or higher, opt for the integrated graphics and buy a separate card (dell does sell the 8800GT and GTX models separately!)
No Overclocking - This is a big one for me, this is where we (the consumer) get the most bang for our buck. Why buy a high end processor when you can buy a cheap one, overclock it, and get the same performance for half the price? The only thing overclockable on this PC is the video card (yes even the 8600 is overclockable). The BIOS has minimal options and there is no software to do this in Windows for a 531.
Conclusion - Vista is a great OS, and I recommend it to everyone who doesnt require XP (there are very few programs now that dont run on Vista). I can even play Tribes 2 on Vista, which came out I believe during the time of Windows ME. This system is fast, get what you need only, and buy other stuff separately. For gaming I recommend buying a separate video card and choosing the Integrated option when buying the PC, I will only recommend the 8600 if you dont play Crysis and your screen is 1280x1024 MAX. People who dont play games, I suggest the 8400GS for watching HD content, or if you wont be doing that either, go with integrated. For audiophiles I recommend buying a separate card and choosing integrated when buying the PC (no, the Software edition Audigy wont do crap, sound is only as good as the weakest link, which is the chip). Buy the monitor with dell, Mine was going to come with a 19" LCD and it only cost $100, but I said no because I already had one. Buy the built in bluetooth, no sense wasting a USB port on a dongle and it's only $40 with a card reader built in (cellphone and digital camera users should definitely pick this option). Get the bluetooth keyboard and mouse as well, it takes a little getting used to but honestly cordless is the way of the future and it makes it so much easier to place your keyboard and mouse. Plus theirs is $80 whereas the Logitech bundle at Staples is $180+. no dongle to fight with, and some cellphones can use the keyboard as well, which is a great feature.
To see a video of this PC in action, see http://www.youtube.com/mew905 and look at $1000 gaming PC runs Crysis maxed out.Updated
check here for my first review:
YES! the inspiron 531 CAN be overclocked! I was misinformed. For those who want to learn how to overclock the 531, contact me at OLPfirstname.lastname@example.org, I will provide detailed instructions on how to do this.
Updated on Nov 26, 2008Turns out the overclocking was a false alarm. The program used said it was successful but Windows and Everest confirmed it wasnt. Still trying, help me out and let me know if you find a way. The board chip is an MCP61 (model)ORY206
Pros Beautiful monitor, very fast, handles all my needs very well
Cons CD-rom a little noisy when opening, only a recovery disk available (not true OS install disk)
Summary I got the 530 with all options maxxed out:
-Intel Core2 Duo processor E6550 (2.33GHz 1333FSB & 4MB cache)
-2GB DDR2 SDRAM at 667MHz
-2407WFP Widescreen Digital Flat Panel (GORGEOUS!)
-256MB NVIDIA GeForce 8600GT- DDR3
-X-Fi PCI Sound Card
-13-in-1 Media Reader with Bluetooth & headphones
-320GB Serial ATA 2 Hard Drive (7200RPM)
I also got Vista Ultimate and Office 2007 and have had no issues with anything. I'm thinking about getting Bioshock to see how it handles it. I love the Bluetooth headphones- they have great sound quality and are easy to switch back and forth from the speakers. The case is laid out very well with some room for upgrades available. I was suprised at how light the computer was, as well as how quiet it runs. I'm stoked!!!
Pros Pretty Box
Cons Loud fan/HD noise
Summary In my household there are seven Dell computers, all being used by family members.
Three weeks ago I bought a refurbished Dell and it arrived missing parts. After two hours of being put on hold or transfered or speaking to a Dell rep who speaks a language that is vaguely similar to English, I quit and shipped it back.
One week ago I ordered a new Dell Inspiron531 and it was so noisy that I could hear it loudly downstairs. Shipped it back also.
SO IF YOU HAVE LOTS OF $ AND ENJOY SPEAKING IN FOREIGN TONGUES AND LOVE PAYING FOR SHIPPING ITEMS BACK, THEN BUY A DELL.
Mac, here I come. Besides one of my kids is teaching me to speak Mac already.
"Great System"on by swissjoy
Pros Good performance, silent, nice looking design, good price, works great with Vista
Cons none so far
Summary I bought the system several weeks ago and I use it as a multi purpose machine. I use it to work at home two days a week. I use it for programming, graphical work and a lot of spreadsheet work.
The Machine is equipped with 2gb Ram, Indel Core 2 Duo E6750 2.66Ghz, 600 GB Ram. TV-card from dell with remote control and creative SoundBlaster X-Fi. With Windows Vista Home Premium. And 22' Dell screen and Dell Bluetooth mouse and keyboard.
At first I was critical because only few people I know use Vista already. But I thought to give it a try and now I'm impressed by the improved usability. Vista runs smooth and the office 2007 applications work pretty fast. But it takes longer to boot than my previous XP-machine.
All my programming applications work well and fast on this machine and even the graphical applications such as InDesign work smooth. The combination of the remote control and the new windows media center makes watching TV on the computer a pleasure. It is nice to watch sports besides working.
This machine serves all my needs and with this configuration it is a great and fast platform to work with.