You'll find a 1.86GHz Intel Core 2 Duo E6300 CPU at the heart of the PowerSpec T470. That entry-level chip in Intel's dual-core line is exactly the type of processor we'd expect to find in a $1,000 PC two months ago, but based on new PCs we've seen since the launch of Windows Vista, desktops are beginning to offer more CPU for your dollar. And unfortunately for WinBook, it hasn't kept up. The $1,029 Dell Dimension E521 we reviewed came with a 2.6GHz AMD Athlon 64 X2 5000+. And an $860 iBuypower Value 640 showed up with a 2.13GHz Core 2 Duo E6400. It's certainly true that raw clock speed matters less than it used to in performance testing, but the benefits of Dell's faster chip were still apparent on CNET Labs' benchmark tests, and we can't ignore the results.
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Our iTunes test showed the biggest gap between the WinBook and the Dell. The PowerSpec T470 lagged behind the Dimension E521 by almost a full minute in MP3 encoding time. Our CineBench test also shows that the Dell is faster in video encoding, as well. We wouldn't recommend either of these PCs for intensive digital-media editing or gaming, but for day-to-day tasks such as resizing photos, ripping and converting CDs, and editing home movies, the Dell Dimension E521 is a better choice than the PowerSpec T470. You should also note the iBuyPower on these charts. It beat the WinBook on all but our Photoshop test (likely because the WinBook system has twice the RAM), and the iBuyPower costs about $150 less.
If you're not worried about performance and instead want strong features, it's more of a toss-up, but we'd still take the Dell. Both come with Windows Vista Home Premium, accompanied by 2GB of 533Mhz DDR2 SDRAM. Both also have a low-end 3D graphics card that's adequate only for gaming. The PowerSpec has a slight edge in its optical drive capabilities. Where the Dell has a DVD burner and a DVD/CD-RW combo drive, the WinBook has two DVD burners, one with LightScribe for putting an image on the face of your discs. We think the Dell's larger 320GB hard drive is more useful, however, and for hard disk storage, the WinBook's 300GB drive falls just short.
WinBook has one other minor edge, but it's not without some trade-offs. Its 14.5-inch-tall CoolerMaster case is 1.75 inches shorter than the Dimension E521. If you have a very specific place in mind for a PC, perhaps the WinBook's squatter stature makes a difference. Just know that by going with the smaller case, upgrading will be more difficult. Both systems have about the same flexibility for upgrades, but the Dell's case interior makes it much easier. The WinBook's hard drive bays are hard to get to, and the single drive in place now partially blocks one of the spare memory slots. In contrast, the Dell's outward-facing hard drive bays make it easy to add or swap drives.
WinBook's support is about as comprehensive as we've come to expect from a middle-tier vendor of mainstream PCs, which is to say, it's fine, if not outstanding. The standard warranty package covers you for one year, and phone service is available Monday through Saturday from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. PT; it's not 24/7 like Dell's. WinBook's bigger support hang-up, as we've noted before, is its Web site. On it, you'll find drivers for various system components, but that's about it. The Web site offers no other written resources. WinBook can't compete with Dell's DellConnect remote access help, either.
Dell Dimension E521
Windows Vista Home Premium; 2.6GHz AMD Athlon 64 X2 5000+; 2,048MB 533MHz DDR2 SDRAM; 256MB ATI Radeon X1300 Pro HyperMemory graphics card; 320GB Western Digital 7,200rpm hard drive
iBuyPower Value 640
Windows Vista Home Premium; 2.13GHz Intel Core 2 Duo E6400; 1,024MB DDR2 533MHz SDRAM; 256MB Nvidia GeForce 7600GS graphics card; 320GB 7,200rpm Seagate hard drive
HP TouchSmart PC IQ770
Windows Vista Home Premium; 1.6GHz AMD Turion 64 X2 TL-51; 2GB 667MHz DDR2 SDRAM; 256MB Nvidia GeForce 7600 Go; 320GB 7,200rpm hard drive
Shuttle XPC X200M
Windows Vista Home Premium; 1.66GHz Intel T2300 Core 2 Duo; 1,024MB 667MHz DDR2 SDRAM; 256MB (shared) Intel 950 GMA graphics chip; 250GB 7,200rpm Seagate Barracuda hard drive
WinBook PowerSpec T470
Windows Vista Home Premium; 1.86GHz Intel Core 2 Duo E6300; 2,048MB 533MHz DDR2 SDRAM; 256MB Nvidia GeForce 7300 GT graphics card; 300GB 7,200rpm Samsung hard drive