Both the midtower and the slim chassis offer two hard drive bays (which you can populate with two 500GB drives for a 1TB of storage) and the option for a PCI Express graphics card (the half-height variety for the 530s and 531s units). Also available in all models but particularly useful in the slim models, which are likely candidates to be shoehorned into home theater racks, is an optional 802.11b/g (but sadly, not 802.11n) Wi-Fi card, which will save you from having to run an Ethernet cable through your living room. Another living-room friendly technology, Bluetooth, is an option, and a Blu-ray drive is offered on a higher-end model. One note about the optical drive: the Intel G33 motherboard features only serial ATA connections, meaning you’re out of luck if you want to add in an old parallel ATA optical drive you may have lying around.
Aside from the slim/non-slim choice, the Inspiron range is split up into two types, an Intel based platform, which has the model number 530, and an AMD one, which you’ll no doubt be flabbergasted to know is called the 531 (the slim versions are 530s and 531s). Both come with the same shiny white case and configuration options, though our particular review sample had a number of components and peripherals that are not currently available on the UK Dell website and the case was even wrongly labelled as a 531. We are assured that these issues will soon be ironed out though.
Dell’s Inspiron 530 desktop is a very flexible system that can be configured as a low cost budget system or as a mainstream system. In terms of those looking for a moderately priced performance system, it has potentional for those willing to go through the process of customization and parts selection to get it configured just right.
While the key difference between the two models is the pick between AMD and Intel microprocessors, there are a few other differences that are noteworthy as well. For instance, since Dell employs Intel’s motherboard in its 530 series, the onboard graphics adapter is Intel’s Integrated Graphics Media Accelerator 3100 as opposed to NVIDIA’s Integrated GeForce 6150 in the 531. Then there’s the inclusion of Intel’s Pentium Dual Core E2140 microprocessor with 1.60GHz clock speed, 1MB of L2 cache and 800MHz system bus. 531, on the opposite end, packs an AMD Dual Core chip, albeit a faster one. Since this particular machine is also a bit cheaper, system memory is dropped from 1GB to 512MB, Microsoft’s Windows Vista is downgraded from Home Premium to Home Basic and of course, the obvious difference in clock speeds, and therefore, performance difference between the two systems is present as wel
“Dell’s latest range of home user PCs are better looking than ever and for the basic models, they’re still as cheap as chips. However, as soon as you start adding extras to your configuration the price quickly rises and alternatives from other manufacturers may be worth a look. Also, the down turn in the quality of Dell’s monitors means I’d recommend looking elsewhere for your display.