CNET también está disponible en español.

Ir a español

Don't show this again

Dell Inspiron I530S-114B review: Dell Inspiron I530S-114B

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5

The Good Fast 2D image processing and multitasking; slim design.

The Bad Fewer features than similar PCs that cost $50 to $100 less.

The Bottom Line On certain tests, Dell's off-the-shelf Inspiron 530s comes out ahead of its slim-tower competition, but its situational performance edge isn't dramatic enough to overcome its underwhelming features. You can find cheaper systems that might be a tick slower on certain tasks, but on balance they'll let you do more.

Visit for details.

6.3 Overall
  • Design 7
  • Features 5
  • Performance 7
  • Support 7

We first reviewed a Dell Inspiron with the S-model chassis over a year ago, back when Dell used AMD chips in its lower-end PCs. Since that time, the Inspiron has become Dell's budget sub-brand, and it's moved back to an Intel-only shop, at least for now. Based on this recent $499 Inspiron 530s model, which you'll find on shelves at Best Buy, you may appreciate Dell's return to Intel if you value image editing and multitasking. We tend to prefer features over performance in budget PCs, however, and in that case, this Inspiron 530s has less to offer than its competition.

Dell was not the first PC vendor to offer a slim-and-trim desktop, and at this point every major vendor has a similar model. Not quite as small as a Mac Mini and Dell's own Studio Hybrid, the Inspiron 530s shares a design philosophy with HP's Slimline, Acer's Aspire X1200, as well as the new eMachines EL1200 series. The idea is that by sacrificing some expandability and power, the smaller chassis gives you the option to put the system wherever you want it. Unlike a standard midtower, a small PC like this one can go in the living room, the kitchen, or some other non-traditional spot, and it's also less of an eyesore.

On a basic level, the Inspiron 530s achieves everything a system in this class is supposed to. At just over 3.75 inches wide, it's almost 3 inches narrower than a typical budget midtower. Dell also provides a respectable degree of upgrade room if you have a mind to crack this system open. To this configuration, you can add a second hard drive and a variety of half-height expansion cards, including a graphics card. The half-height card limit prevents you from turning this system into a small-scale gaming powerhouse (although it will play less demanding PC games), but you can still add a TV tuner, a wireless networking card, and other upgrades post-purchase.

  Dell Inspiron 530s Acer Aspire X1200-U1520A
Price $499 $450
CPU 2.2GHz Intel Pentium E2100 2.5GHz AMD Athlon X2 4850e Dual Core
Memory 4GB 800MHz DDR2 SDRAM 4GB 800MHz DDR2 SDRAM
Graphics 128MB (shared) Intel GMA 3100 integrated graphics chip 256MB (shared) Nvidia GeForce 8200 integrated graphics chip
Hard drives 320GB, 7,200 rpm 320GB, 7,200rpm
Optical drive dual-layer DVD burner dual-layer DVD burner
Networking 10/100 Ethernet 10/100 Ethernet
Video outputs VGA VGA, HDMI
Operating system Windows Vista Home Premium SP1 (64-bit) Windows Vista Home Premium SP1 (64-bit)

We just wish that Dell had made this PC a bit more compelling out of the box. Compared with the nearly identical Acer Aspire X1200, the Dell costs $50 more, and while it's faster in some cases, it offers fewer features. The Acer system boasts a media-card reader and an HDMI video output that makes it much more living-room-friendly. Dell has neither.

While those are perhaps not crucial features, even eMachines' new $350 EL1200 system comes with a media reader, an HDMI output, and an eSATA port. Considering the Dell's higher price and situational performance edge, its feature-lag looks particularly glaring.

Adobe Photoshop CS3 image-processing test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Dell Inspiron 530s

Apple iTunes encoding test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Dell Inspiron 530s

Multimedia multitasking (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Dell Inspiron 530s

(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Rendering Multiple CPUs  
Rendering Single CPU  
Gateway GT5692
HP Pavilion Slimline s3500f
Dell Inspiron 530s
Dell Studio Hybrid
Acer Aspire X1200

The Dell's most significant speed advantage comes on our multitasking test. We'd expect the Gateway and its triple-core AMD CPU to have an edge here (that standard desktop system also offers better features than the Dell, for only $50 more), but we'll give Dell credit by outpacing the Acer by a significant margin. We attribute this to the fact that the Acer uses an energy-friendly chip design, which might not handle multiprocessing as well as a comparable full-power CPU.

Best Desktops for 2020

All best desktops

More Best Products

All best products