As for Windows Vista on this machine, we can report that it runs well. We didn't notice any obvious compatibility issues with the hardware or the software that Dell sent us. But we did have some trouble with CNET's own multitasking test: It wouldn't run without freezing, which is why there's no chart with those results. Whether that was due to a problem with our test script or something else we can't say, but since an internally generated program was the only thing that wouldn't work, we're not inclined to blame this machine. You can also configure a Dimension E521 with Windows Vista Basic and the Business edition for the same price as an upgrade to Home Premium, although we'd miss the Media Center functions of Home Premium on either of those other versions.
Dell's one year of parts-and-labor coverage of the Dimension E521 is about average for systems in this class. Toll-free phone service is available 24/7, and included onsite repairs improve the outlook. As usual, Dell's Web site is valuable for its FAQs and other information, as well as for its live support chat. As always, we also like Dell's DellConnect service, which lets you turn your PC cursor over to a Dell technician (remotely and with your constant oversight) for remote control assistance.
Find out more about how we test desktop systems.
Windows Vista Home Premium; 2.6GHz AMD Athlon 64 X2 5000+; 2,048MB 533MHz DDR2 SDRAM; 256MB ATI Radeon X1300 Pro HyperMemory graphics card; 320GB Western Digital 7,200rpm hard drive
Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005 SP2; 2.4GHz Intel Core 2 Duo E6600; Intel P965 Express chipset; 1,024MB 667MHz DDR2 SDRAM; 256MB Nvidia GeForce 7900 GT; (2) 250GB Hitachi 7,200rpm hard drives
Windows Vista Home Premium; 1.6GHz AMD Turion 64 X2 TL-51; 2GB 667MHz DDR2 SDRAM; 256MB Nvidia GeForce 7600 Go; 320GB 7,200rpm hard drive
Windows Vista Home Premium; 2.13GHz Intel Core 2 Duo E6400; Intel P965 Express chipset; 1,024MB 677MHz DDR2 SDRAM; 256MB Nvidia GeForce 7600 GS; 320GB Seagate 7,200rpm Serial ATA hard drive
Windows Vista Home Premium; 1.66GHz Intel T2300 Core 2 Duo; 1,024MB 667MHz DDR2 SDRAM; 256MB (shared) Intel 950 GMA graphics chip; 250GB 7,200rpm Seagate Barracuda hard drive