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Dell Inspiron i560-2050NBK review: Dell Inspiron i560-2050NBK

Dell Inspiron i560-2050NBK

Rich Brown Former Senior Editorial Director - Home and Wellness
Rich was the editorial lead for CNET's Home and Wellness sections, based in Louisville, Kentucky. Before moving to Louisville in 2013, Rich ran CNET's desktop computer review section for 10 years in New York City. He has worked as a tech journalist since 1994, covering everything from 3D printing to Z-Wave smart locks.
Expertise Smart home | Windows PCs | Cooking (sometimes) | Woodworking tools (getting there...)
Rich Brown
5 min read

Editors' note: This review is part of our 2010 retail laptop and desktop back-to-school roundup, covering specific fixed configurations of popular systems that can be found in retail stores.


Dell Inspiron i560-2050NBK

The Good

HDMI port; plays 1080p Flash content well (but not HD QuickTime video).

The Bad

Subpar specs compared with an eMachines system that sells for $60 less (or more).

The Bottom Line

The Dell Inspiron i560-2050NBK has little to recommend it other than its semicapable video playback chops. It's not really a bad desktop, but with similar PCs available for significantly less, this Dell just doesn't offer enough value to earn our recommendation.

We won't spend too many words on this review since it's a straightforward case. Considering it features lesser specs than a $429 eMachines desktop, we cannot recommend the $489 Dell Inspiron i560-2050NBK.

We don't have anything against the Dell's chassis, but it's not that remarkable, either. Like most midtower PCs, it comes in unobtrusive glossy black. A media card reader and a DVD burner hide behind two doors on the front panel, features you'll also find on the eMachines ET1831-07.

The side-by-side comparison between these two PCs tells you most of what you need to know. They have the same CPU and the same amount of 800MHz system memory. Neither offers wireless networking or other unique features, but the eMachines has a larger hard drive for a lower price than the Dell. We've even seen that eMachines on sale for $389, so be sure to shop around. Perhaps within the confines of a Best Buy store, where you won't find the eMachines system, the Inspiron i560-2050NBK might look like a reasonable deal. Hopefully you'll have read this review first, or conducted your own comparison, and will know better.

Apple iTunes encoding test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)

(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Rendering multiple CPUs  
Rendering single CPU  
Asus Essentio CM5671
Gateway SX2801-01e
eMachines ET1831-07

We find it interesting when PCs with roughly the same specs have noticeable performance variations. We suspect the Dell enjoys a minor edge over the eMachines on our iTunes and Photoshop tests due to its Intel P45 chipset, which is more recent, and allocates less memory to graphics than the eMachines' Nvidia NForce 620i chipset. It's also possible that the eMachines' beefier graphics memory allocation helps propel it slightly past the Dell on our CineBench multithreaded test. In any case, neither systems' performance advantage is large enough to make a dramatic impact on your daily productivity. We can comfortably call the performance comparison a wash between these two PCs. If you're looking for a bit more speed in a low-cost desktop, we'd point you to the Asus Essentio CM5671-05. That system costs $499, $10 more than the Dell, and features both a faster CPU and twice as much hard-drive space.

We'll concede that the Dell can claim its HDMI output as its single material feature advantage over the eMachines. We don't expect many people would willingly connect a midtower PC to a TV in their living room, especially considering the smaller slim tower and Nettop options in the same price range. For that reason, we don't place a premium on HDMI in budget midtowers.

We can't say we'd prefer fewer video outputs, either, but like the eMachines, the Dell is limited in its video-playback capabilities. It will handle Flash and Silverlight-based video online, which covers the likes of Hulu, NetFlix, YouTube, and other sources, including streamed 1080p content. The Dell stumbled on 1080p Quicktime video, though, dropping enough frames to make for an irritating viewing experience. Perhaps due to its video chip, the eMachines system had a harder time with some video files, so the Dell has a minor edge here as well, but that's not enough to overcome its generally poor value.

You do get some room to expand the Inspiron i560-2050NBK, although we don't recommend it as an upgrade platform any more than we do for its current specifications. You get a 16x PCI Express graphics card slot, two 1x PCI Express slots, and a single standard PCI slot. There's also room to add a second hard drive, but all four RAM slots are occupied.

Ports on the back of the Dell include four USB 2.0 jacks (two of which are taken by the mouse and keyboard), a VGA video output, the aforementioned HDMI jack, a set of 7.1 audio jacks, and an Ethernet adapter. The front panel features another pair of USB jacks and a set of headphone and audio inputs. That's a reasonable level of connectivity for a PC in this price range, although we've seen less expensive systems with dedicated digital audio output, and extra data ports like FireWire or eSATA.

Juice box
Dell Inspiron i560-2050NBK Average watts per hour
Off (60 percent) 0.88
Sleep (10 percent) 1.99
Idle (25 percent) 43.14
Load (5 percent) 70.26
Raw kWh 168.15
EnergyStar compliant No
Annual energy consumption cost $19.09

Annual power consumption cost

We suspect the difference between Dell and the eMachines' power efficiency comes down to the different chipsets. Considering the different motherboard circuitry also likely accounts for the Dell's video playback edge, we can't feel too excited by the eMachines more modest power needs. We'd gladly pay $3 more over the course of the year for an uptick in the eMachines' video performance. Compared with other budget PCs with more modern chipsets than the eMachines, the Dell is right where it should be in terms of its power consumption.

Dell's service and support is more or less the same as that of its major retail competition. You get 24-7 phone support, a yearlong parts-and-labor warranty, and a variety of support resources online and on the system itself via various diagnostic tools.

Find out more about how we test desktop systems.

System configurations:
Asus Essentio CM5671-05
Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit); 2.8GHz Intel Pentium Dual Core E5500; 4GB 800MHz DDR2 SDRAM; 128MB (shared) Intel GMA X4500 HD integrated graphics chip; 1TB 7,200 rpm Hitachi hard drive

Dell Inspiron i560-2050NBK
Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit); 2.7GHz Intel Pentium Dual Core E5400; 4GB 800MHz DDR2 SDRAM; 32MB (shared) Intel GMA X4500 integrated graphics chip; 500GB 7,200 rpm Western Digital hard drive

eMachines ET1831-07
Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit); 2.7GHz Intel Pentium Dual Core E5400; 4GB 800MHz DDR2 SDRAM; 256MB (shared) Nvidia GeForce 7050 integrated graphics chip; 750GB 7,200 rpm Seagate hard drive

HP Pavilion Slimline s5510y
Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit); 2.8GHz AMD Athlon II X2 240; 3GB 800MHz DDR2 SDRAM; 256MB (shared) Nvidia GeForce 6150SE intergrated graphics chip; 640GB 7,200 rpm Western Digital hard drive


Dell Inspiron i560-2050NBK

Score Breakdown

Design 7Features 4Performance 6Support 7