Dell Dimension 4700C
Home-office workers and corporate buyers alike will find an attractive all-around package in the space-saving Dell Dimension 4700C. Gamers, graphics gurus, and upgrade-silly enthusiasts will hold their noses aloft, but the 4700C has no such pretensions. This mainstream system offers the right combination of features to handle most standard computing tasks and lets you have a modicum of fun doing it. Moreover, it takes up little desk space in doing so. Who says a PC needs to be exciting to be successful?
Our $1,499 (as of November 2004) test system is nearly identical to the roomierwe reviewed earlier this year. Each uses a 3.0GHz Pentium 4 530 processor, 512MB of DDR2 memory, a Serial ATA 160GB hard drive, and a crisp 17-inch LCD. Both systems are based on the Intel 915G chipset, which uses the PCI Express (PCIe) bus interface. Although the 4700C's case is about half as wide as the 4700's, it is still able to accommodate a media-card reader, which the 4700 system can't.
Aesthetically speaking, the Dimension 4700C is sleek but understated. Viewed dead-on, the 4700C's narrow, curved front panel looks like a space-age thermos. All in all, the thing doesn't take up much more space than one of today's larger laptops, and it can work in a tower or horizontal desktop configuration. Its silver-and-black cladding is consistent across all peripherals, including the nifty multimedia USB keyboard, with its excellent hardware volume control.
Two release buttons, one each on the top and the bottom of the 4700C's case allow for tool-free entry, should you really need to go there. Inside, there's a well-ordered interior but not much in the way of expansion--one of the 4700C's chief drawbacks: It features only a x1 PCIe slot and one half-height x16 PCIe slot. Should you opt initially to have Dell configure your 4700C with integrated graphics, you'll have very few options for upgrading the subsystem later because there are fewer half-height graphics cards than full-size cards. Still, unlike slim systems we've seen in the past that bind you to integrated graphics due to their lack of an AGP slot, PCIe gives you the option of upgrading the 4700C's graphics.
Our test system came with many of the features we recommend you choose if you go for a Dell 4700 series machine: a 160GB 7,200rpm hard drive, an eight-in-one flash-media reader, and 512MB of DDR2 memory. Our system also included a combo DVD-ROM/CD-RW drive, hidden behind the hinged front case cover, and Dell offers an upgrade to a double-layer DVD burner for movie lovers and videographers. FireWire ports in front and back, an S/PDIF connector, and built-in 5-channel surround-sound audio are all welcome features that come thanks to the 4700C's Intel 915G chipset. The Dell A215 stereo speakers we tested are fine for office use, but home buyers may want to spend more for some audio oomph.
As you'll find with the Dimension 4700, Dell offers a single third-party graphics card option for the 4700C: the half-height 64MB ATI Radeon X300 SE. It works with the motherboard's single PCIe x16 slot, but our test system used the integrated Intel Graphics Media Accelerator 900, courtesy of the 915G chipset. DVD playback looked smooth, and the system delivered a playable 50 frames per second in 3D testing--granted, that was on an older game at a relatively low resolution. Forget CAD modeling and Doom 3, but you should be able to play some midrange games. Also, Dell offers a number of display options, including standalone LCDs, as well as several multifunction LCD monitors with TV capability. The 17-inch LCD that shipped with our system is a $289 option (not bad at all) and looked very bright and crisp.
The software bundle will serve mainstream users well and includes Dell PictureStudio 2.0, Dell-branded Musicmatch Jukebox, Sonic RecordNow, and WordPerfect Office 12.0. We'd happily trade Corel's WordPerfect suite, however, for the less expensive Microsoft Works Suite. Dell also includes Dell Media Experience, which is a lite Media Center app that gives you easy access to your music, photos, and videos. If this idea appeals to you, opt for the $17 remote control, which our test system lacked.
The price of our review system includes Dell's standard one-year warranty, with onsite service and 24/7 toll-free phone support. You can, of course, upgrade this in many different ways, as is the Dell custom. Small-business customers can extend coverage to three years, home users to four years. Also available to home users is a nights-and-weekend package, wherein you can schedule an onsite service call when you're actually home. Business users are promised next-day onsite service. Both home and business users can opt to pay extra for accidental damage protection, onsite installation, and data migration service, including connecting your new PC(s) to your home or office network.
|BAPCo SysMark 2004 rating||SysMark 2004 Internet-content-creation rating||SysMark 2004 office-productivity rating|
To measure application performance, CNET Labs uses BAPCo's SysMark 2004, an industry-standard benchmark. Using off-the-shelf applications, SysMark measures a desktop's performance using office-productivity applications (such as Microsoft Office and McAfee VirusScan) and Internet-content-creation applications (such as Adobe Photoshop and Macromedia Dreamweaver).