Dell Dimension 5100 (Pentium 4 3.4GHz review: Dell Dimension 5100 (Pentium 4 3.4GHz

The supplied ATI Radeon X300 SE video card is underpowered for serious 3D gaming, although you can upgrade to the Radeon X600 SE for only $23. To its credit, the Dimension 5100 was able to run Half-Life 2, while our 5100C test system (with integrated Intel 950G graphics) could not. Still, 13.4 frames per second (fps) isn't what you'd call playable. Dell's top-of-the-line Dimension, the 9100 , uses an Nvidia GeForce 6800 to churn out 64.5fps on the same test.

Our test system also featured a 160GB SATA hard drive, 512MB of 400MHz DDR2 SDRAM, and a dual TV tuner. The 160GB drive seems skimpy for a Media Center, and at 250GB, even the largest hard drive offered is really too small for a PC that will be recording lots of television shows. (Though our test system featured Windows XP Media Center, you can configure the system without a TV tuner and choose XP Home or Pro.) We were pleased to see a multiformat media-card reader included as a $15 upgrade option, but on such a seemingly versatile mainstream PC, we wish Dell would offer it as standard equipment. It's easy to overlook in the Dimension 5100's lengthy online configurator.

The system offers seven USB 2.0 ports--two on the front and five on the rear--and our custom Dell multimedia keyboard offered another two; however, you won't find a single FireWire port, which strikes us as bizarre. More bizarre: a FireWire card isn't even listed as an option. The slight software bundle includes Musicmatch Jukebox Basic and Corel Photo Album Starter Edition.

Dell's standard limited-support option could be called "extremely limited support," because it offers only a 90-day limited warranty and 90 days of tech support and onsite service (which Dell calls at-home service). An additional $275 gets you up to four years of support; you should at least spring for the 12-month plan, which will cost an extra $22. Dell's Web site offers a variety of user guides, FAQs, and forums. Phone support is available 24/7, but be prepared to wade through endless menus. As we've noted in other Dell reviews, most manuals come preinstalled on the hard drive, which makes them harder to reference in a pinch.

Application performance
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
BAPCo's SysMark 2004 rating  
SysMark 2004 Internet-content-creation rating  
SysMark 2004 office-productivity rating  

Half-Life 2 custom demo (in fps)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Half-Life 2 1,024x768 4XAA 8XAF  
Half-Life 2 1,600x1,200 4XAA 8XAF  

Find out more about how we test desktop systems.

System configurations
Dell Dimension 5100
Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005; 3.0GHz Intel Pentium 4 531; Intel 945G chipset; 512MB DDR2 SDRAM 400MHz; ATI Radeon X300 SE; Maxtor 6L160M0 160GB 7,200rpm Serial ATA

Dell Dimension 5100C
Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005 SP2; 3.0GHz Intel Pentium D 830; Intel 945G chipset; 512MB DDR2 SDRAM 533MHz; integrated Intel 950G; Maxtor 6L160M0 160GB 7,200rpm Serial ATA

Dell Dimension 9100
Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005 SP2; 3.2GHz Intel Pentium D 840; Intel 945GP chipset; 1,024MB DDR2 SDRAM 533MHz; 256MB Nvidia GeForce 6800 (PCIe); two WDC WD160JD-75HBB0 160GB Serial ATA 7,200rpm; integrated Intel 82801GR/GH SATA RAID Controller (RAID 0)

HP Pavilion d4100e
Windows XP Home SP2; 2.4GHz AMD Athlon 64 4000+; ATI Radeon RS480 (ATI Radeon X200 Xpress) chipset; 1,024MB DDR SDRAM 400MHz; 256MB Nvidia GeForce 6800 (PCIe); Seagate ST3400832AS 400GB 7,200rpm Serial ATA

Sony VAIO VGC-RA842G
Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005 SP2; 3.0GHz Intel Pentium D 830; Intel 945G chipset; 1GB DDR2 SDRAM 533MHz; Nvidia GeForce 6600 (PCIe); 250GB 7,200rpm Serial ATA

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    Where to Buy

    Dell Dimension 5100 (Pentium 4 3.4GHz, 256MB RAM, 80GB HDD, XP Home)

    Part Number: DIM51MIN Released: Jun. 29, 2005

    This product is no longer available.
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    Quick Specifications See All

    • Release date Jun. 29, 2005