Dell Inspiron i545s-1476N review: Dell Inspiron i545s-1476N

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MSRP: $479.99

The Good Space-saving slim tower case offers room for future expansion; decent light-duty performance.

The Bad Limited connectivity options.

The Bottom Line With similar results as its ancestors, the Dell Inspiron 545s-1476N registers decent benchmarks and offers respectable upgradability, but we hesitate to recommend it over the older Gateway SX2800-01 that leaves Dell in the dust regarding both performance and features.

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5.9 Overall
  • Design 5
  • Features 6
  • Performance 6
  • Support 7

Editors' note: This review is part of our 2009 Retail Laptop and Desktop Holiday Roundup, which covers specific fixed configurations of popular systems found in retail stores.

The $480 Inspiron 545s-1476 is the third Dell desktop we've reviewed with the company's current slim tower chassis, and we can't say our opinion has changed since the last time we saw it. We're still satisfied with its design, but we remain disappointed with the features Dell seems to have locked into its retail desktops. The slim case leaves room for future upgrades and offers some decent setup flexibility, but its out-of-date connectivity options and slow performance next to a less expensive older Gateway prevent us from recommending this PC.

Our opinion on the Inspiron 545s-1476N's remains the same as the other systems, mainly since it retains the same chassis as older Inspiron 545s models from the last six months. The slim tower design and subtle gloss on the front panel will likely earn the approval of designers and space savers alike. You get a dual-layer DVD burner, a side-loading media card reader, two USB 2.0 ports, and two standard audio jacks for headphones and a microphone on the front of the case. The Gateway SX2800-01 is smaller on all sides, but the advantage of Dell's larger case is that it gives you more room for expansion by way of two standard PCI slots and an extra hard drive bay.

  Dell Inspiron 545s-1476N HP Pavilion Slimline s5220y
Price $480 $480
CPU 2.6GHz Intel Pentium Dual-Core E5300 2.6GHz Intel Pentium Dual-Core E5300
Memory 4GB 800MHz DDR2 SDRAM 4GB 667MHz DDR2 SDRAM
Graphics 256MB (shared) Intel GMA 3100 integrated graphics chip 256MB (shared) Intel GMA 3100 integrated graphics chip
Hard drives 640GB, 5,400rpm 640GB, 7,200rpm
Optical drive dual-layer DVD burner dual-layer DVD burner
Networking 10/100 Ethernet LAN 10/100 Ethernet LAN
Operating system Windows 7 Premium 64-bit Windows 7 Premium 64-bit

We reviewed the Gateway system in July and it's still the slim tower PC to beat for the holiday season. However, we'll expand our comparison to include the HP Pavilion Slimline s5220y, simply because it's the practically the same computer as the Dell. Both PCs cost $480 and include the same 2.6GHz dual-core processor and 4GB of RAM, but subtle differences like the Dell's faster RAM, and HP's lack of card expansion ports keep Dell ahead of the game. However, the HP tower diminutive neither helps its internal wiggle room nor is the system Energy Star certified, whereas the Dell offers a bit more room to expand and adheres to Energy Star's standards, as you can see in the power consumption chart.

For $450, (after a $30 price drop), the Gateway flaunts an Intel Core 2 Quad CPU, an array of ports including HDMI video output, eSATA, FireWire, digital audio, several USB 2.0 ports, Ethernet, and 7.1 analog audio. The Dell, on the other hand, brings a VGA port, a couple USB ports, Ethernet, and a set of 7.1 analog audio jacks to the table. Trapped in the analog past, Dell fails to match Gateway in capitalizing on the living room friendliness of these slim tower cases

Adobe Photoshop CS3 image-processing test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Dell Inspiron i545s-1476N

Apple iTunes encoding test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Dell Inspiron i545s-1476N

Multimedia multitasking (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Dell Inspiron i545s-1476N

Cinebench test
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Rendering multiple CPUs  
Rendering single CPU  
Gateway SX2800-01
Asus Essentio CM5570-AP003
HP Pavilion Slimline s5220y
Gateway DX4822-01
Dell Inspiron i545s-1476N

The Inspiron 545s-1476N's performance came in about where we expect it to, given its configuration; however, the Dell and a handful of newer systems like it all come in behind the Gateway SX2800-01. As expected, the Dell can't keep up with the Gateway's quad-core CPU when multitasking applications and in multithreaded CPU performance. That said, none of the PCs on these charts set performance records.

Dell's one advantage over the Gateway is that it gives you plenty of upgrade room. You get a 16x PCI Express graphics card slot (half-height cards only, because of the slim case), a 1x PCI Express slot, two standard PCI slots, an extra hard drive bay, and two open memory upgrade slots. The Gateway has only a graphics card expansion slot and no room for an extra hard drive. Adding a graphics card with an HDMI output could go a long way toward making the Dell more useful as a media-streaming box. The Gateway, however, offers that feature out of the box, and for less money.

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