First impression: Awesome.

I received the review system at my doorstep a week after I ordered it from Dell – a Dimension 3000, the lower end model. System Specifications are as follows:

Intel Celeron-D Processor @ 2.4GHz / 512MB PC3200 DDR SDRAM / 40GB Hard Drive / 17″ Dell CRT Monitor / Dell Speakers / Dell Keyboard and Mouse / Onboard Intel Extreme Graphics

I took it out of the box and set it up. This system was loaded with Windows XP Home Edition as it shaved off $200 Canadian off the price. The first thing that came up was the OOBE (Out Of the Box Experience) program that Windows XP displays after being installed. It asked me a few simple questions such as my location, name, etc. Once that was completed, I was promptly logged onto Windows. It came preloaded with Dell Media Experience, Norton Anti-Virus 2004, Norton Internet Security 2004, Encarta 2004 Standard Library, and more. It loaded pretty darned quickly, and the system itself was screaming fast – response times in general were blazing. The only area where this system lags is when the resolution is higher than 1024×768. I was a bit unhappy with the lag of Windows at high resolutions, so I popped the side off and low and behold: there was no AGP slot. So I wasn’t able to expand the graphics capabilities of the system. A bit of a letdown, but anyone who’s looking for a video card could easily buy a PCI card; I just didn’t have one on hand.

Setup of the system was easy; I installed some applications on it such as Photoshop and Dreamweaver MX 2004. Both applications opened in under ten seconds each, and response times on each application were very fast. I could open up to about twenty 10MB Photoshop files at once and edit them all without the system lagging at all.

Multimedia experience on the system was awesome; I love the Dell Media Experience application. My only beef with it is that the pre-loader that it installs likes to crash randomly after about ten days of uptime. The sound quality is awesome considering the fact that sound is provided via an onboard audio chipset. A lot of bass when using my Logitech Z-3s on the system.

Overall, this system really takes the cake. I wasn’t expecting Encarta or WordPerfect to be bundled with the system so it was a bit of an added plus. For $700 Canadian, this was a great buy. It was originally supposed to come with 256MB of RAM, but at the time of purchase, Dell had an offer that if you bought before a certain date you’d get a free 512MB RAM upgrade.

I’d recommend this system to almost anyone except a hardcore gamer. The Celeron processor and the Intel Onboard Graphics coupled with the missing AGP slot would make this a bad choice for a hardcore gamer. For occasional gamers that play games such as RollerCoaster Tycoon and StarCraft, the onboard video solution will do just fine.

Rating: 8 out of 10

Pros:

  • Low Cost
  • Easy to set up
  • Fun to use
  • Comes bundled with a lot of productivity and information software packages
  • Decent amount of RAM

Cons:

  • No AGP slot, forced to use PCI Graphics Card or Onboard Video
  • Less than 4 PCI slots. Limited Expandability.
  • Graphics lag when using resolutions higher than 1024×768
  • Dell Media Experience is a bit buggy, not up to par with Windows XP Media Center Application or myHTPC.