Editors' note: This review is part of our 2010 retail laptop and desktop back-to-school roundup, covering specific fixed configurations of popular systems that can be found in retail stores.
We won't spend too many words on this review since it's a straightforward case. Considering it features lesser specs than a $429 eMachines desktop, we cannot recommend the $489 Dell Inspiron i560-2050NBK.
We don't have anything against the Dell's chassis, but it's not that remarkable, either. Like most midtower PCs, it comes in unobtrusive glossy black. A media card reader and a DVD burner hide behind two doors on the front panel, features you'll also find on the eMachines ET1831-07.
|Dell Inspiron i560-2050NBK||eMachines ET1831-07|
|CPU||2.7GHz Intel Pentium Dual Core E5400||2.7GHz Intel Pentium Dual Core E5400|
|Memory||4GB 800MHz DDR2 SDRAM||4GB 800MHz DDR2 SDRAM|
|Graphics||32MB (shared) Intel GMA X4500 HD||256MB (shared) NVIDIA GeForce 7050 integrated graphics chip|
|Hard drives||500GB, 7,200 rpm||750GB, 7,200 rpm|
|Optical drive||dual-layer DVD burner||dual-layer DVD burner|
|Networking||Gigabit Ethernet||10/100 Ethernet LAN|
|Operating system||Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit)||Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit)|
The side-by-side comparison between these two PCs tells you most of what you need to know. They have the same CPU and the same amount of 800MHz system memory. Neither offers wireless networking or other unique features, but the eMachines has a larger hard drive for a lower price than the Dell. We've even seen that eMachines on sale for $389, so be sure to shop around. Perhaps within the confines of a Best Buy store, where you won't find the eMachines system, the Inspiron i560-2050NBK might look like a reasonable deal. Hopefully you'll have read this review first, or conducted your own comparison, and will know better.
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
|Rendering multiple CPUs||Rendering single CPU|
We find it interesting when PCs with roughly the same specs have noticeable performance variations. We suspect the Dell enjoys a minor edge over the eMachines on our iTunes and Photoshop tests due to its Intel P45 chipset, which is more recent, and allocates less memory to graphics than the eMachines' Nvidia NForce 620i chipset. It's also possible that the eMachines' beefier graphics memory allocation helps propel it slightly past the Dell on our CineBench multithreaded test. In any case, neither systems' performance advantage is large enough to make a dramatic impact on your daily productivity. We can comfortably call the performance comparison a wash between these two PCs. If you're looking for a bit more speed in a low-cost desktop, we'd point you to the Asus Essentio CM5671-05. That system costs $499, $10 more than the Dell, and features both a faster CPU and twice as much hard-drive space.
We'll concede that the Dell can claim its HDMI output as its single material feature advantage over the eMachines. We don't expect many people would willingly connect a midtower PC to a TV in their living room, especially considering the smaller slim tower and Nettop options in the same price range. For that reason, we don't place a premium on HDMI in budget midtowers.
We can't say we'd prefer fewer video outputs, either, but like the eMachines, the Dell is limited in its video-playback capabilities. It will handle Flash and Silverlight-based video online, which covers the likes of Hulu, NetFlix, YouTube, and other sources, including streamed 1080p content. The Dell stumbled on 1080p Quicktime video, though, dropping enough frames to make for an irritating viewing experience. Perhaps due to its video chip, the eMachines system had a harder time with some video files, so the Dell has a minor edge here as well, but that's not enough to overcome its generally poor value.
You do get some room to expand the Inspiron i560-2050NBK, although we don't recommend it as an upgrade platform any more than we do for its current specifications. You get a 16x PCI Express graphics card slot, two 1x PCI Express slots, and a single standard PCI slot. There's also room to add a second hard drive, but all four RAM slots are occupied.