Along with Dell's Studio Hybrid, the Inspiron 518 is also one of the first Dell systems we've seen with the Dell Dock, a decidedly Apple-like cluster of icons at the top of the Windows desktop. You can move short cuts directly from the desktop to the Dock, and a settings page lets you reposition the Dock's location, or shut it down entirely. We are neither impressed nor offended by the Dell Dock. Our only recommendation for it is if you have a smaller monitor and you decide to leave the Dock on, you might end up with a crowded Windows desktop screen.
Dell's service and support stands out because it's one of the few vendors who still offer in-home service as part of the default warranty. You'll need to submit your computer to a remote diagnosis before Dell will agree to send a live technician, but that's a small inconvenience for in-home support. But the onsite plan and the warranty last for one year. You also get 24-7 toll-free phone support, as well as a variety of helpful resources from Dell online.
Find out more about how we test desktop systems.
Dell Studio Hybrid
Windows Vista Home Premium SP1; 2.1GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T8100; 2GB 667MHz DDR2 SDRAM; 128MB (shared) Intel GMA X3100 integrated graphics chip; 250GB 5,400rpm Samsung hard drive.
Windows Vista Home Premium SP1 (64-bit); 2.2Ghz AMD Phenom X4 9550; 6GB 667MHz DDR2 SDRAM; 256MB ATI Radeon HD 3450 graphics card; 640GB 7,200rpm Western Digital hard drive.
Dell Inspiron 518
Windows Vista Home Premium SP1; 2.4GHz Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600; 2GB 667MHz DDR2 SDRAM; 256MB ATI Radeon HD 3450 graphics card; 320GB 7,200rpm Western Digital hard drive.
Windows Vista Home Premium SP1; 2.53Ghz Intel Core 2 Duo E7200; 2GB 667MHz DDR2 SDRAM; 384MB Nvidia GeForce 8800 GS graphics card; 500GB 7,200rpm Hitachi hard drive.
Windows Vista Home Premium SP1; 2.4GHz Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600; 4GB 667MHz DDR2 SDRAM; 512MB ATI Radeon HD 3450 graphics card; 500GB 7,200rpm Seagate hard drive.