Dell Inspiron i580-8139NBC
Sometimes you don’t need the most cutting-edge technology in your desktop. Sometimes what you need is class-leading functionality for a great price. That’s what the Dell Inspiron i580-8139NBC ($499.98 list at Staples) offers in a nutshell. It has an Intel Core i3 processor with Intel GMA HD graphics, 500GB hard drive, and 4GB of RAM in a minitower chassis. The desktop is basic, fast, expandable, and has great bang for the buck. For those reasons, it earns our Editors’ Choice nod.
Design and Features
The Inspiron i580-8139NBC essentially has the same design as the previous Inspiron i580-6736NBC ($599.99 list, 4 stars) and i570-6939PBK ($598.99 list, 4 stars). It’s a black minitower with chrome-colored plastic accents ringing around the tower’s front bezel. There are the usual drop-down covers for the optical drives and front USB 2.0 ports, and there’s a digital media card reader hidden in there, too. The back panel is utilitarian, with the majority of the desktop’s ports: 4 USB 2.0 ports (out of six total), VGA, Ethernet, audio, and HDMI port. HDMI is great if you have a monitor that supports this interface as it can handle audio and graphics. You can even hook the system up to an HDTV.
The interior of the i580-8139NBC has ample room for future upgrades. If you fill up the included 7,200rpm 500GB drive, the system can handle another hard drive, plus you can install a Blu-ray optical drive in the future once they get cheaper. The desktop doesn’t have any free memory slots, but most buyers of a $500 PC should be okay with the included 4GB. The i580-8139NBC has two PCIe x1 slots, one PCIe x16, and one PCI slot free. You should easily be able to install a Wi-Fi card, for example, with a screwdriver in about five minutes. The 300W power supply will limit you to mid-range graphics cards, but it will certainly support an additional drive, Wi-Fi card, and an additional optical drive without a problem.
The desktop comes virtually free of bloatware: There’s Skype, McAfee Security Center, and a few Dell apps. The Dell apps notably include the Dell Stage app seen on touch-equipped systems like the Dell Inspiron One 2305 ($1,099 direct, 4 stars): It’s a launcher program that works with the mouse rather than touch. Skype is the usual program: very useful if you have an account, much less so if you don’t. I’m kind of disappointed that the McAfee SecurityCenter only comes with 30 days worth of upgrades: I’d rather see at least year, so you’re protected from constantly evolving threats.
Customers who buy this system from Staples can avail themselves of several services the retailer offers. This includes setting the new system up, data transfer from your old PC to your new one, software installation, and tech support and protection plans that range in price from $14.99 to $169.99.
Dell Inspiron i580-8139NBC
The i580-8139NBC’s Intel Core i3-550 processor with built-in Intel GMA HD graphics helped it gain class-leading scores on our multimedia benchmark tests. It completed the Handbrake video encoding test in 2 minutes 23 seconds and Photoshop CS5 test in 4:15. These are some of the quickest times from recent entry-level and mainstream desktops. For example, the current mainstream desktop Editors’ Choice, the HP Pavilion p6727c-b ($749.99 list, 4 stars) is slower (2:32 Handbrake, 5:51 CS5). Most of the other desktops in this category, like the HP Slimline s5710f ($419.99 list, 2.5 stars) (2:55 Handbrake, 5:58 CS5), Asus Essentio CM1630-05 ($479.99 list, 4 stars) (3:12 Handbrake, 6:45 CS5), and Acer Aspire AX3400-U2012 ($449.49 list, 3.5 stars) (2:39 Handbrake, 6:11CS5) are also slower. The i580-8139NBC’s 3D graphics are average for the class (that is they’re not suited for recent 3D games): only Crysis ran at a slideshow-like 6 frames per second (fps) at medium quality setting. The i580-8139NBC did put in a decent 3,975 point score at 3DMark Vantage, better than the rivals listed above.
The Dell Inspiron i580-8139NBC is pretty basic compared with the current $1,000 systems, but if you need to replace a (formerly $1,000) 5- to 7-year-old desktop with a Pentium 4 in it, this is going to blow your mind. The i580-8139NBC is a traditional desktop, and for many people, that’s what you want if you’re in the market for a new PC. It’s much faster than our former entry-level Editors’ Choice, the Asus Essentio CM1630-05, for about the same list price. Sure, the Asus CM1630-05 has a larger hard drive, but hard drives are easy to upgrade, while CPUs and interior room aren’t. The extra speed and expandability plus no bloatware are what keep the i580-8139NBC ahead of other desktops. That’s why it’s our new entry-level desktop Editors’ Choice.
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