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First Look: Dell Dimension E521

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First Look: Dell Dimension E521

1:59 /

Dell's Dimension E521 doesn't have many bells and whistles, but a powerful dual-core AMD processor lends it unexpected performance and a strong bang for the buck.

[ Music ] ^M00:00:01 >> Hi I'm Rich Brown, senior editor for CNET.com. Today we're going to take a look at the Dell Dimension E521. This is a main stream desktop. It has Windows Vista and is powered by a dual core AMD processor. That makes it a pretty fast system. Dell chose the parts wisely in this review config they sent us. This is a Dell so of course you can customize it some. But you can only go so high on this model. If you really want a Dell and you really want a gaming system, you should probably look at the XPS one. Still for basic computing and kind of light multimedia stuff, you do pretty well with this system. On the front panel you'll see a DVD burner and a DVD CDRW combo drive as well as a media card reader. That pretty much covers you for removable storage. Inside you'll see that there's some room for expansion and generally it's a pretty good system. Underneath this big plastic piece, you'll find an AMD Athlon 64 X2 5000 processor. That's a nice fast chip and gives you good bang for the buck. That's important with this system too because it's a mainstream desktop. That means you're not going to do a lot of gaming, mostly because the 3D card is pretty limited. It'll do Vista even with the aero glass affects. It plays movies no problem. We found that with gaming though, it was hardly able to get through any of our tests. So we definitely do not recommend it for any 3D work. Now like we said, you can't add a higher end 3D card through Dell site. You can always buy one yourself and stick it in later. But the power supply is pretty limited, so you can't go to the top of the line. Now the top of the system, you'll see there's two gigs of memory in place. There's also room for two more sticks. So you do have plenty of room for memory expansion. Down here there's a single hard drive as well as room for another. Dell typically offers this system with what it calls Data Safe, which is really just Raid 1 memory backup. Dell said it found problems with Raid in Vista though, so it's holding off on Data Safe for this model until it gets the problems sorted out. So for a mainstream desktop, Dell has come up with a pretty good configuration here. We like the nice, fast chip. It could probably use a little bit more 3D power, but with the right upgrades you can make that your own. So I'm Rich Brown and this is the Dell Dimension E521. ^M00:01:58 [ Music ]

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