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

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MSRP: $489.99

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.

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5.8 Overall
  • Design 7
  • Features 4
  • Performance 6
  • Support 7

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.

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.

  Dell Inspiron i560-2050NBK eMachines ET1831-07
Price $489 $429
CPU 2.7GHz Intel Pentium Dual Core E5400 2.7GHz Intel Pentium Dual Core E5400
Memory 4GB 800MHz DDR2 SDRAM 4GB 800MHz DDR2 SDRAM
Graphics 32MB (shared) Intel GMA X4500 HD 256MB (shared) NVIDIA GeForce 7050 integrated graphics chip
Hard drives 500GB, 7,200 rpm 750GB, 7,200 rpm
Optical drive dual-layer DVD burner dual-layer DVD burner
Networking Gigabit Ethernet 10/100 Ethernet LAN
Operating system Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit) Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit)

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.

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

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
Dell Inspiron i560-2050NBK
HP Pavilion Slimline s5510y

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.

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