“ Brand: Dell / Processor Clock Speed: 2.66 GHz / Type: Core 2 Quad „
Dell's new Studio Desktop looks and behaves like exactly what it is: a hybrid. No, not a desktop-laptop combo à la Dell’s Studio 540, but an uneasy blend of midrange and home-theater components that results in a less-than-cohesive machine.
Glossy black on the top and front panels and gunmetal gray on the side, the $1,129 Studio Desktop’s looks lean toward sedate. But its size definitely makes an impression; don't expect to easily fit this 14x6.75x16.4-inch (HWD) system into your entertainment center. (A version using Dell's slimmer case style is also available.)
Still, the machine has its strong points—such as a healthy selection of connections. A 15-in-1 card reader is on the front panel to help simplify moving your media content between your drives and your computer. Two FireWire ports, one on the front panel and one on the rear, allow for some strong connectivity options to complement the six USB ports. An external 802.11n wireless device obviates the need for Ethernet cabling. (One nit: we would have preferred a wireless card to cut down on clutter.) The Studio Desktop also has some power. Its 2.33GHz Intel Core 2 Quad Q8200 processor makes it a potent performer, in large part because Dell has chosen to load it with the 64-bit version of the Windows Vista Home Premium operating system, which can take advantage of every bit of its 4GB of DDR2 RAM. It also has a 256MB ATI Radeon HD 3650 graphics card, for a modest graphics punch. The 640GB hard drive, meanwhile, is a decent size for use with Vista's Media Center software and is certainly roomy enough to store plenty of music and photos, as well as TV shows you watch with the included Hauppauge HVR1250 TV tuner. (Seven-channel audio is also available, so you can hear your content in full surround sound.)
In other ways, our Studio Desktop configuration was a bit behind the times. Though the motherboard had an HDMI-out port, the system was equipped with just a standard DVD burner and not a Blu-ray drive for handling HD optical discs. You can add Blu-ray capabilities, but you'll need to shell out at least $200 more. Expansion potential is also limited. There’s just one free PCI slot, and the cramped case layout makes installing a second hard drive in the sole available internal bay difficult. What’s more, since there's no external SATA port, you'll have to consider your options carefully should you need more storage. (In all, there are two free external drive bays: one 5.25-inch and one 3.5-inch.)
On our benchmark tests, the Studio Desktop proved mostly adept at everyday media chores. It needed a respectable 4 minutes and 8 seconds to complete our Windows Media Encoder test, and just 3 minutes and 54 seconds to complete our iTunes conversion trial. The system also turned out the strongest Cinebench 10 score we've seen from a machine at this price: 9,364, due to the test's use of the 64-bit operating system. The Studio Desktop’s 4,972 result in Futuremark's PCMark Vantage full-system test is also among the highest we've seen for a system around $1,100, putting the system consistently in line—and in most cases just ahead of—the Velocity Micro Vector Campus Edition we looked at a few months back.
The major difference is gaming: while the Studio Desktop's score of 54.3 frames per second (fps) in our DirectX 9 Company of Heroes gaming test is solidly playable, it's lacking compared with the Velocity Micro's 118.2fps. The Dell's results of 5,390 and 791 using the Entry and Performance presets of 3DMark Vantage, respectively, are also less than impressive, suggesting that the system is best at media chores that aren’t 3D-based.
Better 3D performance would add a bit of pep to the Studio Desktop and help make it a slightly better value for its money. Still, its overall feature set—if not its readiness for the future—makes it a solid choice for a starter home-theater PC.
Dell Studio 540 Personal Computer Tower
In order to accurately review the Dell products, I visited the Dell website, something I have not had to do for a while. Their homepage is user friendly and as you would expect from a global computer business is slick and self promoting. For example did you know that Dell sponsors the 2014 Commonwealth Games? I didn't - but we all do now! I am sorry if you are reading all my computer reviews and find these opening paragraphs a little repetitive, however, there maybe consumers who only read one of these reviews (they're not that bad are they?!) So, in the spirit of fairness, I have included similar information at the start of each review.
Dell started out as a cheaper solution to computing needs and some of their earlier laptops took a bit of a bashing in the media. The computers we use in the UK now are mostly made in Czechoslovakia, so if air miles worry you, they have not travelled as far as they might have. I did not realise that Dell was founded in 1984, nor that it now has various community initiatives or that their full history can be found on the website. I will leave you to decide if you want to check it or not, the point here is to review the PC, but the website is: http://www.dell.co.uk/
Today, I think it is safe to say Dell is a leading brand in home and business computer solutions.
THE STUDIO PERSONAL COMPUTER TOWER:
Is a sleek and stylish PC Tower that fits nicely into my home office decor. (well, I am female, so style is important!). Dell Studio PC combines this stylish design with state-of-the-art technologies and the great thing is they can be customised to fit your lifestyle. The Studio is black with a few chrome effect trim pieces and four years on it is still a sleeky black - in fact looking at it now a slinky, sexy black glossy machine!
The 540 is designed for entertainment such as gaming and streaming performance. I decided with my (then) forthcoming Creative Arts OU module that this was important, coupled with a former strong involvement in the music industry, means I love to take advantage of modern technology and watch Youtube and similar sites. So good sound and picture clarity were important factors to me, when making my purchasing decision.
Included in the box are the following items:
The Dell Studio Tower
CD Setup Disks
Leads and wiring
& of course the other items I had ordered to make up the set: Speakers; Printer and Keyboard (the screen came in its own sleek box).
MY PERSONAL EXPERIENCE OF THE STUDIO 540:
Very easy! Or so I thought, I had to make a 2 hour 15 minute phone-call to Dell, in order to be sent the relevant codes to get the computer working. That was on a work day and luckily I did not have anything pressing that day and I was able to utilise a friendly IT technician to take turns in holding the phone at the times I had to do something. So that was not a good start. I remember the little girl Christmas day feeling as I unwrapped the box and the internal packaging, then set everything up - it was oh-so exciting! Only to find it did not work and I had to wait until after 8am the next morning to phone Dell ;(.
Once I input the codes and restarted the computer, I was off, check all the Microsoft Office applications worked OK and then install the internet. My previous PC had been quite old and was struggling so much with the internet, we tended to go to a library instead or use a computer after hours at work. But oh bliss the luxury of having a decent computer at home to surf the net. And..... it was quick and efficient and wonderful!
The 540 Studio came ready loaded with Microsoft Vista Premium. I know that Vista has received some bad press and at first there were some pitfalls, but by timing the purchase right, by the time Vista P was launched these issues were sorted. I find the OS slick, efficient and easy to use. We continually have upgrades to the latest software at work, but I don't feel left behind with Vista at home. I update myself every couple of weeks, rather than having auto update as that way I know (literally) what is going on. The only slight niggle I have is that for some reason Word seems to take a fortnight to load each time - well OK slight exaggeration, but I have actually discovered a useful tip to make that less tedious:
1. Ask Dell 540 to load Word
2. Open an interesting looking Dooyoo review and read it
3. By the time thats read and usually just before I press the button, the word document loads and I can minimise it to score the review and carry on with what I was intending to do.
Since buying the PC I have changed internet provider and I have to say that action has proved that some of the issues I thought were with the PC were actually down to Virgin Media my previous supplier.
In essence, surfing the net using Internet Explorer (IE), is quick, easy and fun. The lovely clear, wide screen makes video's and iPlayer a dream to watch and the adequate amount of RAM ensure that buffering seldom happens or if at all it is due to a LAN problem rather than my PC.
I am not very efficient at clearing down old dumped and deleted files that drag down my speed. I also use a nectar search-bar for the internet and I store far too many photos on my hard drive! However, the speed of the PC is adequate to good. It is a bit slow to start up I tend to do so in two stages 1. Switch on - go away - come back - log onto PC and go away again, usually to have a shower or make a cup of tea. Come back and it is all ready to use.
SPECIFICATIONS (OR THE TECHNICAL BIT):
Intel Celeron 512 KB
Intel Pentium Dual Core 1MB
Intel 2 Core duo 6 MB
Intel Core2Quad 12 MB
2 x 5.25" drives SATA DVD x/- Blue Ray Combo & RW drive
1 x 3.5" bay for flexi-bay
2 internally available SATA hard drives
Minimum 1 GB
Capacities - 512 MB 1 GB & 2 GB
STANDARD ITEMS FOR THIS PRODUCT:
Front and Rear 1394a Ports - convenience of two integrated1394a port.
16:1 Media Card Reader
CD & DVD Drives
Wireless LAN Card
D 435 mm
Weight: 12.5 Kg
After the initial set up fiasco the PC has been fairly trouble free to use. I have had two minor issues of a virus and a trojan, but that was not the PC's fault. I took it to the good PC doctor Scott and he fixed the problem quickly and advised on the best protection to use. I have since upped my security, no problems so far, so fingers crossed.
The sound card in the CD/DVD drives is a bit temperamental and I plan to get it replaced some time soon. That has been giving problems for about 8 months, but the sound is OK from the internet, so I know where the problem originates and it is a fairly cheap, easy fix.
One of the CD/DVD drives does not always work and it is necessary to reopen and reclose the door, sometimes 2-3 times. This started when the machine was about 14 months old.
The front USB, headphone and aux points are reached via a sleek pull down slide cover. I wonder if that would work better if it slid up and partially protected the points? I don't know, I tend to plug the camera in there and when left open the shelf at the bottom gets very dusty.
WHAT ABOUT WIRELESS USE:
I prefer the added security of Broadband and therefore have not used the PC wireless.
So why did I choose the Studio 540?
I need a computer with some oomph. I wanted good picture and sound quality and easy surfing, with lots of open tabs and programmes to flit between. I needed a good Office package and was confident that Microsoft had sorted out the early Vista issues. I also had to consider cost. I contacted Dell with my shopping list of needs and wants and they came up with the package I bought and one other more expensive gaming pack and a cheaper non-gaming style pack. I am very pleased with the choice I made with the help of the Dell Customer Services Team and the IT team where I work who would have otherwise built me my specified PC. However, they could not do so for the cost of the Studio 540.
I bought the package direct from Dell and found their customer service pretty good. The computer arrived when expected, in perfect condition and apart from being given the wrong security code to start with it all started up and worked really well.
On the whole I have been very pleased with the quality and reliability of the system and especially love my keyboard and screen.
I would like to give this computer 4/5 but the DVD and sound card problems together with the expensive phone call issue, which I have to include in summing up the score. Therefore I have to drop the Dell Studio 540 to 3/5. I am sure there are better PC's out there? Although, I suspect for a much higher outlay. I would buy another one. In hindsight, it is not fair to blame the company's staff error on the PC Tower, so 4/5 it is!
PRICE AND AVAILABILITY:
My Dell Studio cost me just £486.96 less my student discount. They have been superseded by another range, but may still be available from the Dell Outlet Shop. They are currently available used for around £300 plus carriage on line from places such as eBay.
Thank you for reading my review and I hope you found it useful.
This is my 100th review for Dooyoo! I wanted to do something special for my 100th review. So, I thought, and then I thought some more! Favourite Album? About 100 of them! Favourite Book? At least 30 to pick from. OK, favourite artiste - varies depending on my mood - Favourite author - Not so tricky about 12. Then Like Winnie the Pooh, I thought some more.... There was one item left in my "suggestions" section. The Dell PC - the PC that I have written 99.9% of my Dooyoo reviews on. It seemed only fitting that I should make the 100th review about the tool that made it possible! I hope I have done myself proud for such a landmark? I hope it is a worthy and well written review?!
27th October 2013