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Dell Inspiron i580-5108NBC review: Dell Inspiron i580-5108NBC

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MSRP: $799.99

The Good Excellent all-around system performance; discreet graphics card permits basic gameplay; eco-friendly.

The Bad No FireWire or eSATA ports.

The Bottom Line The Dell i580-5108NBC offers a generous mix of components including a discreet graphics card, Intel's newest Core i5 processor, and a wireless networking card. Coupled with an affordable price tag and chart-topping system performance, this multipurpose PC is well deserving of our recommendation.

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7.7 Overall
  • Design 7
  • Features 8
  • Performance 8
  • Support 7

Editors' note: This review is part of our , which covers specific fixed configurations of popular systems found in retail stores.

The Dell Inspiron i580-5108NBC is an ideal match for users with computing habits that lean toward general applications like simple Internet surfing, word processing, and light media editing. Its 3.2GHz Intel Core i5 560 CPU is well equipped to handle applications like iTunes and Photoshop, and it excelled against the competition in a multitasking environment as well. Dell includes a decent 3D graphics card for casual gaming, but keeps the system affordable with an $830 price tag. If you haven't figured it out by now, we recommend this versatile system for shoppers on a flexible budget that want more functionality than what a low-grade budget computer can offer.

Unfortunately, spending the extra money for this i560-5108NBC will net you the same basic tower case that you get on the cheaper Inspiron i560-4000NBK, but we're not complaining too much. The simple black finish is elegantly subtle, if not a little bland, especially compared with a competing Asus tower. Aesthetics aside, the PC's front panel offers quite a bit of utility via a media card reader with two USB ports and a couple audio jacks, in addition to a dual-layer DVD burner on top and an additional optical drive below.

  Dell Inspiron i580-5108NBC HP Pavilion Elite HPE-112Y
Price 830 900
CPU 3.2GHz Intel Core i5 560 2.8GHz AMD Phenom II X4 925
Memory 8GB 1,333MHz DDR3 SDRAM 8GB 1,333MHz DDR2 SDRAM
Graphics 1TB Nvidia GeForce 220GT graphics card 512MB ATI Radeon HD 4350 graphics card
Hard drives 1TB, 7,200rpm 1TB, 7,200rpm
Optical drive dual-layer DVD burner dual-layer DVD burner; Blu-ray drive
Networking 10/100 Ethernet LAN, 802.11a/b/g/n wireless 10/100 Ethernet LAN, 802.11a/b/g/n wireless
Operating system Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit) Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit)

For $70 more, the HP Pavilion Elite HPE-112Y and its AMD CPU gives you two more physical cores than the Dell, but it steps down to a 2.8GHz clock speed that hurts its capability to compete in all four performance tests including the multithreading Cinebench test that usually caters to systems with more cores. HP includes a Blu-ray drive as a consolation prize, and though it's a reasonably well-rounded system overall, we think most general PC shoppers will favor the faster Dell.

Adobe Photoshop CS3 image-processing test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Dell Inspiron i580-5108NBC

Apple iTunes encoding test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Dell Inspiron i580-5108NBC

Multimedia multitasking (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Dell Inspiron i580-5108NBC

Cinebench tests
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Rendering multiple CPUs  
Rendering single CPU  
HP Pavilion p6320y
Gateway DX4300-15e
Dell Inspiron i580-5108NBC
Asus CG5275-AR003
HP Pavilion Elite HPE-112Y

The Dell i580-5108NBC jumps to the front of the pack in single applications, like the iTunes and Photoshop tests, as well as the multimedia multitasking test, thanks to its relatively new Intel Core i5 560 chip, another dual-core processor similar to Core i3 that can shift to a four-threaded design when needed. The only test where Dell steps out of first place is the single and multicore Cinebench test, where its faster processor isn't enough to outgun the HP Pavilion Elite p6320y's four physical cores, although this score should only sway your decision if you use video-encoding programs that demand full use of a multicore chip.

The i580-5108NBC also offers plenty of connections on the motherboard to satiate the majority of mainstream computer users. The Nvidia GeForce 220GT discreet graphics card should suffice for casual gaming on lowered settings, although hardcore gamers will need to upgrade to enjoy the latest games at a playable rate. There's also room inside the case for another PCI card and hard drive, but we're miffed to see FireWire and eSATA missing from the external ports; it's not the end of the world, but it's worth noting that you can find them on the less expensive Gateway DX4831-01e. Regardless, the back of the tower supports a variety of displays with VGA, DVI, and an HDMI port. You also get a handful of USB ports, Ethernet, as well as the standard fare of 7.1 analog audio jacks.

We don't typically recommend a midtower like the i580-5108NBC in the living room, but we certainly appreciate the option that the HDMI port provides. We connected the PC to an HDTV via HDMI and it played full 1080p HD movie trailers from as well as full-screen HD video from sites like YouTube, Hulu, Vimeo, and Netflix without a glitch.

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