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I have bought this desktop after my laptop mysteriously broke down one day. I found out there were several interesting offers on the Dell website and this Dell Dimension E521 was well within my budget of £650. On the day I ordered my PC I got a free memory upgrade of 2GB (instead of 1GB), a reduction in the price of the 19" monitor, and £50 off. However, after I modified the computer to fit my needs, It came down to a total of £661.
For this money I got: -AMD Athlon 64x2 processor 5000 (2.6Ghz, 512k) -2GB PC2-4200 DDR2 Memory -ATI Radeon X1300 pro 256MB DVI/VGA output -230 7200rpm SATA Hard Drive -16x DVD+/-RW Burner -19" Dell E197FP LCD Monitor -10/100 Ethernet -Six USB 2.0 Ports -Windows Vista deluxe edition.
Let me begin with the advantages:
It has a very fast processor and in combination with the 2GB ram it is a very fast system. In the beginning I was amazed I could upload my pictures to the computer, install a game, listen to music and look at youtube video's all at the same time. The best part was, the music didn't hesitate once, and the fan was extremely quiet! Ofcource, the computer become slower over time, but it is still a very fast system for office use. I also added speakers and a subwoover to the system. The sound quality is very good and the subwoover adds that little bit extra when watching a film :-).
The graphics card does what it is supposed to do, and since I'm not a fanatic gamer, it works fine. I have recently played Oblivion and Call of Duty 2 and it all worked fine on high quality.
The 2GB Ram enure Vista's graphical interface is displayed without difficulties. There are another 2 slots available should you ever feel the need to upgrade.
Windows Visa! If you get the chance I think you shuiold stick to XP for at least another year and switch when all the buggs have been taken out. My computer has randomly chrashed several times and has frozen at times. This is a software issue and is not to be blamed upon the Dell Dimension E521. Another disadvantage is that there is very little software included, but I guess you can expect that from Dell. The software they do provide are useless trials for software you never use anyway. The 30 day trial of McAfee is the only software I found useful, although it didn't work very well with the ridiculous security software integrated in Windows Vista.
My Sound has also gone after a week of so. For some reason the computer doesn't recognise the integrated sound, and I think I'll have to buy a new sound card to fix this problem. I have heard other people complain about the sound too. I haven't yet found out if is a compatibility problem with Vista or just a malfunction of the computer, but I'll update the review once I've found the problem.
A part from these problems, the PC is very fast and reliable. Installing microsoft office is a must, and you should probably add this as an additional cost to the computer.
Overall I believe it is very good value for money and especially the 19" screen is very good. I know it is quite hard to compare Dell computers since every customer modifies the PC in his own way, but in my experience the AMD dualcore processor in combination with the 2Gb ram, 19" screen and the massive 320gb Hdd make an excellent pc for the occasional gamer and for people who use the pc at a daily basis.