Dell's Inspiron 560 is one of the company's cheapest desktop PCs. The configuration we tested comes with very basic specifications, but includes a 18.5in Dell monitor — so it's a simple computing package that doesn't require you to buy any extras. We think it's a reasonable system for basic use, but it's made less attractive by the existence of slightly more expensive models that are significantly more powerful.
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Dell Inspiron 560 desktop PC: Design, software and features
The Dell Inspiron 560 isn't an all-in-one PC like the Dell Inspiron One 2310 — it uses a separate monitor and tower. You can select from four different colours for the tower's fascia, with purple, blue and red available in addition to standard piano black.
The rear plate of the Inspiron 560 houses all the ports you'd expect to find on an entry-level desktop PC. There's an HDMI output as well as VGA, four USB 2.0 ports, Ethernet networking and audio jacks. Hidden behind a flip-down panel on the Inspiron 560's front are two additional USB 2.0 ports and microphone/headphone jacks.
The Inspiron 560 ships with a 64-bit version of Windows 7 Home Premium, as well as a small suite of Dell security and maintenance software applications. We didn't find these applications intrusive or troublesome in our testing, which is a rare thing in the world of bundled PC software. When it comes to extra features, the Dell Inspiron 560 is pretty bare-bones. It's about as basic a desktop computer as you can buy #&8212; you don't even get a wireless keyboard or mouse.
Dell Inspiron 560 desktop PC: Specifications and performance
Since it's one of Dell's cheapest and most basic PCs, the Inspiron 560 has low-end specifications. A dual-core Intel Pentium E5700, clocked at 3GHz, is old tech compared to the Intel Core i3 and i5 processors in most other manufacturer's desktop PCs. Thankfully the Inspiron 560 has plenty of RAM, with 4GB of DDR3 preinstalled — there's no option to add more when customising the system. The integrated Intel GMA X4500HD graphics chipset is similar to one you'd find in an entry-level notebook like the Toshiba Satellite C650 — it'll handle all the Windows 7 graphical bells and whistles as well as 1080p HD video playback, but any taxing 3D tasks make it struggle. A 750GB hard drive is plenty for media storage; this is a positive point in the configuration of the Dell Inspiron 560.
|Dell Inspiron 5860||$849||N/A||1min 24s|
|Dell Inspiron 580s||$999||2154||39s|
|Apple Mac Mini||$999||N/A||46|
|Dell Inspiron 545s||$1199||1780||N/A|
|Apple iMac 27in||$1599||N/A||33s|
Our iTunes media encoding test exposed the Dell Inspiron 560's mediocre CPU performance. The Inspiron 560 took 1min 24sec to convert 53min of WAV files to 192kbps MP3 files — this is over twice the time taken by the $999 Dell Inspiron 580s.
The Dell Inspiron 560 is perfectly fine if all you want to do is browse the Web and look at Flash videos, read your e-mails or type up Word documents. It handles video playback at up to Full HD resolution with no issues, but the system took a short while to load high resolution photos.
Dell Inspiron 560 desktop PC: Environmental policy and conclusion
Dell maintains an environmental policy on its Web site. It covers a range of programs to reduce its environmental impact including its Plant a Tree for Me option that allows customers to elect whether an additional fee is deducted to cover the cost of planting a tree when purchasing.
The Dell Inspiron 560 is a capable desktop PC for anyone wanting a simple machine — as long as a significant amount of computing power isn't necessary. It has the specifications to handle Web browsing, word processing and other basic tasks, but anything more taxing than basic multitasking leaves it struggling. It's not appropriate if you intend to be doing any gaming or serious photo or video editing.
If it were up to us, we'd spend the extra $150 and get the Dell Inspiron 580s. It's more attractive, more powerful, comes with a larger monitor and will suit a family's diverse computing needs better.
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