Dell Studio MT review: Dell Studio MT

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CNET Editors' Rating

4 stars Excellent
  • Overall: 8.3
  • Design: 7.0
  • Features: 9.0
  • Performance: 9.0
  • Service and support: 7.0
Review Date:
Updated on:

The Good Best performance in its class; dedicated graphics card; large hard drive.

The Bad No need to spend $800 for a basic day-to-day desktop.

The Bottom Line This off-the-shelf version of the Dell Studio Desktop reminds us of a classic Dell computer. This system is faster and better equipped than its competition, and at a better price. You can certainly get away with a cheaper everyday PC, but this one is a bargain among lower midrange desktops.

CNET Editors' Choice Oct '08

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When we looked at the customizable version of the Dell Studio Desktop a month ago, we were unimpressed with Dell's effort. This off-the-shelf model is much more compelling. Available at Best Buy, this $799 PC is faster than its competition, offers more useful features, and it's also better designed. Adding a $400 24-inch LCD would also net you a significantly more capable PC for the most part than what you can find from Apple for the same total cost. You likely don't need to spend $800 if you just want a PC for basic computing. And there's not enough computer here to satisfy gamers or professional digital media editors. But this iteration of the Dell Studio Desktop is perfect for anyone in need of more than a simple budget PC.

We weren't overly impressed with the Studio Desktop we reviewed last month, largely because it delivered fewer features than competing systems from Gateway and HP, but at $1,200 it also cost more. This $799 model actually has better hardware in some cases, with a 750GB hard drive and 6GB of RAM, compared with 640GB and 4GB in the other version. It also comes with no clunky accessories, which hurt that other model's design rating.

At its core, the Studio Desktop represents Dell's standard mainstream workhorse PC. You get little in the way of gaming or living-room-friendly hardware; instead this system provides a solid everyday Vista experience. You get a speedy-enough Intel quad-core CPU, plenty of RAM and hard-drive space, as well as a basic level of external connectivity and room for modest internal expansion.

Dell Studio Desktop HP Pavilion Elite m9402f
$799 $819
2.3GHz Intel Core 2 Quad Q8200 2.3GHz AMD Phenom X4 9650
6GB 800MHz DDR2 SDRAM 7GB 800MHz DDR2 SDRAM
256MB ATI Radeon HD 3450 128MB (shared) Nvidia GeForce 6150 SE integrated graphics chip
750GB, 7,200 rpm 640GB, 7,200rpm
dual-layer DVD burner dual-layer DVD burner
Gigabit Ethernet 10/100 Ethernet, 802.11b/g/n wireless
Windows Vista Home Premium SP1 (64-bit) Windows Vista Home Premium SP1 (64-bit)

You'll likely find the Dell Studio Desktop sitting somewhere on the shelf near the pricier, AMD-powered HP Pavilion Elite m9402f PC. Compare the two and while they seem similar, we'd take the Dell's larger hard drive and full-fledged 3D card over the HP's extra GB of RAM and its wireless network adapter. We don't value Wi-Fi in standard desktops as much as we do with all-in-ones and small form factor PCs, and as you'll see in our performance charts, the extra memory can't help the HP outpace the Dell, making the Dell's larger hard drive that much more attractive.

Adobe Photoshop CS3 image-processing test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Dell Studio Desktop
113 
Apple iMac
143 

Apple iTunes encoding test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Dell Studio Desktop
154 
Apple iMac
159 

Multimedia multitasking (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Apple iMac
455 
Dell Studio Desktop
550 

CineBench
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Rendering multiple CPUs  
Rendering single CPU  
Dell Studio Desktop
9,914 
2,747 
HP Pavilion Elite m9402f
8,759 
2,277 
Gateway DX4200
6,987 
1,842 
Apple iMac
5,225 
2,763 

As you can see from our tests, the Dell rolls over the HP and the $750 Editors' Choice-winning Gateway DX4200 we reviewed in August. The only surprise is the iMac's multitasking score, which continues to completely outclass its Vista-based competition, even when the Windows systems have six or seven times the RAM. But as we noted above, the 20-inch iMac in these tests costs $1,200. For that price you can buy this Dell and a 24-inch LCD to go with it.

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Where to Buy

Dell Studio MT

Part Number: DDCGMB4

This product is no longer available from Dell.
Click here to view Dell's latest offers.

Quick Specifications See All

  • Video Memory 256 MB
  • Graphics Processor ATI Radeon HD 3450
  • Capacity 1 x 750 GB
  • Color piano black
  • OS Provided Microsoft Windows Vista Home Premium 64-bit Edition
  • Installed Size 6 GB / 8 GB (max)
  • Monitor Type None.
About The Author

Rich Brown is an executive editor for CNET Reviews. He has worked as a technology journalist since 1994.