With quad-core PCs readily available for about $500, along with reasonably fast dual-core systems at the same price, the Dell and its 2.5GHz Intel Pentium Dual Core E5200 chip looks inordinately slow. Again, we understand that this system costs $20 to $30 less than its competition, but that's not enough of a price cut to justify both subpar features and such slow performance. Sure, the Inspiron 537s will handle whatever basic tasks you might ask of it, but with so many faster systems available for just a few dollars more, we find little reason to accept this system's laggard speed.
We mentioned that the Gateway has a more compact case than the Inspiron 537s, and while these are still slim tower systems with limited upgrade paths, the larger size does afford the Dell a bit more upgrade room. Again, though, Gateway did a better job of playing to a slimtower's strengths. Dell gives you half-height expansion slots for a 1X PCI Express card, a 16X PCI Express graphics card, and a standard PCI card, and it has room for a second internal hard drive. Gateway lacks the extra PCI slot, and it can only take a single hard drive, but Gateway also wisely allows up to four memory sticks. The Dell also has only two RAM slots. We'll give Dell the nod for more expansion card options, but we'd much rather have room for more RAM than a space for a second hard drive. You can add more storage via an external drive or over a network. You have no such alternative if you want to expand the system memory.
|Dell Inspiron 537s||Average watts per hour|
|Raw annual kWh||181.367|
|Energy Star compliant||Yes|
|Annual energy cost (@$0.1135/kWh)||$20.59|
The Inspiron 537s did lead the pack on our power efficiency tests, and while none of the PCs in this price range are exactly power hogs, they all still use more juice than four of the six all-in-one PCs we power tested earlier this month. It's also worth pointing out that not only is the Gateway the fastest system overall in this price range, but it's also the second most power efficient, coming right behind the Dell. Likely that's because our mainstream load test only hits two cores, so the Gateway benefits from its quad-core chip's relatively low 2.33GHz clock speed.
For support, Dell is on par with the rest of the PC industry, offering one year of parts and labor coverage, 24-7 toll-free phone support, and a variety of support resources on its Web site. You'll also find a Dell icon dock running along the top edge of the Windows screen that connects you to a handful of included programs to help with system maintenance and troubleshooting.
Find out more about how we test desktop systems.
Windows Vista Home Premium SP1 (64-bit); 2.6GHz Intel Pentium Dual-Core E5300; 6GB 800MHz DDR2 SDRAM; 32MB (shared) Intel GMA X4500 integrated graphics chip; 640MB 7,200rpm hard drive.
Dell Inspiron 537s-002B
Windows Vista Home Premium SP1 (64-bit); 2.5GHz Intel Pentium Dual Core E5200; 4GB 800MHz DDR2 SDRAM; 32MB (shared) Intel GMA X4500 integrated graphics chip; 640GB 7,200rpm hard drive.
Windows Vista Home Premium SP1 (64-bit); 2.3GHz Intel Core 2 Quad Q8200; 4GB 800MHz DDR2 SDRAM; 32MB (shared) Intel GMA X4500 integrated graphics chip; 640GB 7,200rpm hard drive.
Windows Vista Home Premium SP1 (64-bit); 2.6GHz Intel Pentium Dual-Core E5300; 6GB 800MHz DDR2 SDRAM; 128MB (shared) Intel GMA 3100 integrated graphics chip; 640MB 7,200rpm hard drive.
Windows Vista Home Premium SP1 (64-bit); 2.7GHz AMD Athlon X2 7750 ; 4GB 800MHz DDR2 SDRAM; 128MB Nvidia GeForce 6150SE integrated graphics chip; 500GB 7,200rpm hard drive.