The Good Updated appearance; removable side panel provides easy access to case interior; quiet operation.
The Bad Dual-core CPU not an option; FireWire not offered; limited graphics-card options; too little storage for a media PC; stingy standard support.
The Bottom Line Dell's mainstream Dimension 5100 looks good from the outside, but surprisingly limited configuration options dampen our enthusiasm.
Dell Dimension 5100 (Pentium 4 3.4GHz
The Dell Dimension 5100, like its predecessor, the Dimension 4700, is a well-priced, decently powered option for family-room computing. In addition to a striking new design, the 5100 adds modern essentials such as a BTX motherboard and a 64-bit CPU that should keep you from having to replace your system for a few years. You can configure a Dell Dimension 5100 for less than $700, but our test system included the version of Windows XP, dual TV tuners, two-piece speakers, and a 15-inch LCD, among other upgrades, that bring the price to a still reasonable $1,136. Even so, the Dimension 5100's lack of a dual-core CPU makes the trim a better option. And if you want the expandability of a midtower case, the AMD-based mainstream HP Pavilion d4100e is a better choice.
With this release, Dell updates the look of its midrange home PC, and we like what we see. The case has been recast in a silver-and-white design, and a removable side panel makes accessing the internal components easier than ever. The insides are well organized, so it's easy to switch components or reach the sole free PCI slot or the two free RAM slots.