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Dell Inspiron 545 review: Dell Inspiron 545

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Inside the Inspiron 545, Dell offers a reasonable amount of upgrade room. You get two PCI slots (one taken by the modem), a PCI Express graphics card slot, and a 1X PCI Express slot. The 30- watt power supply will limit you to midrange 3D cards and lower, but you could still turn this into a respectable budget gaming PC if you had the inclination. Even after a faster 3D card, you would still have room for a TV tuner, a wireless networking card, or other expansion upgrades. All four memory slots are occupied, but the 8GB of RAM should last you for a while. You can also add a second hard drive if you like, and Dell's panel-mounted hard-drive bays make installation no more complicated than sliding a drive up against the free slot, connecting the power and data cables, and screwing the four screws into the bottom of the drive to attach it to the panel.

Juice box
Dell Inspiron 545 Average watts per hour
Off 1.3
Sleep 2.26
Idle 64.39
Load 103.64
Raw (annual kWh) 250.06734
Energy Star compliant Yes
Annual energy cost $28.38

Annual power consumption cost
Dell Inspiron 545

You can see a noticeable difference between the energy consumption cost of the Inspiron 545 and both the Gateway and the Inspiron 545s. We suspect that's mostly because the Inspiron 545 has a discrete 3D card. The other systems have only an integrated chip. We don't have enough data to say whether a $7 or $8 jump is disproportionate once you factor in a graphics card, but we can at least say that the Inspiron 545 remains within the power consumption threshold that Energy Star deems reasonable for a system with these specs.

Dell's service and support is perhaps the one aspect of this system that Asus can't compete with. Dell has a much more comprehensive array of services online, including system- and configuration-specific information via Dell's code-based registration process. Asus' online offerings are basically nonexistent next to those from Dell. You also get the obligatory yearlong parts and labor warranty with the Inspiron 545, as well as 24-7 toll-free phone support.

Find out more about how we test desktop systems.

System configurations:
Asus Essentio CM5570-AP006
Windows Vista Home Premium SP1 (64-bit); 2.3GHz Intel Core 2 Quad Q8200; 6GB 800MHz DDR2 SDRAM; 512MB Nvidia GeForce G100; 750GB 7,200rpm Seagate hard drive.

Dell Inspiron 545-006B
Windows Vista Home Premium SP1 (64-bit); 2.3GHz Intel Core 2 Quad Q8200; 8GB 800MHz DDR2 SDRAM; 256MB ATI Radeon HD 3450 graphics card; 1TB Seagate 7,200rpm hard drive.

Dell Inspiron 545s-004B
Windows Vista Home Premium SP1 (64-bit); 2.8GHz Intel Core 2 Duo E7400; 6GB 800MHz DDR2 SDRAM; 128MB (shared) Intel GMA X3100 integrated graphics chip; 750GB 7,200rpm Seagate hard drive.

Gateway SX2800-01
Windows Vista Home Premium SP1 (64-bit); 2.3GHz Intel Core 2 Quad Q8200; 4GB 800MHz DDR2 SDRAM; 32MB (shared) Intel GMA X4500 integrated graphics chip; 640GB 7,200rpm Hitachi hard drive.

Asus Essentio CG5270-BP003
Windows Vista Home Premium SP1 (64-bit); 2.5GHz Intel Core 2 Quad Q8300; 8GB 800MHz DDR2 SDRAM; 1GB Nvidia GeForce GT 220 graphics card; 750GB 7,200 rpm Seagate hard drive.

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