Dell Inspiron 580s desktop PC

Dell Inspiron 580s review: This Dell computer can easily handle word processing and Web browsing

The Dell Inspiron 580s is a mid-range multipurpose desktop PC that's in direct competition with Apple's low-end Apple Mac Mini computer. The Inspiron 580s has the same price tag as the Mac Mini and comparable specifications. It's larger than the Mini, but it is bundled with a 20in LCD monitor for no extra cost. It runs Windows 7 Home Premium and is designed to be used for basic home computing tasks like Web browsing, word processing and viewing photos.

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Dell Inspiron 580s: Design, connectivity and included software

Dell's Inspiron 580s is the top model in the Inspiron desktop PC line, and has better specifications than the Inspiron 560s. If you want a more powerful Dell computer you'll need to take a look at the Dell Studio XPS 8100 desktop PC or a similar model. The Inspiron 580s is a slimline version of the Inspiron 580 desktop tower PC, and can be set up either on its base or on its side. During our testing we opted to use it on its side with a 22in Dell UltraSharp U2211H LCD monitor on top; this didn't have any obvious adverse effects on cooling. The Dell Inspiron 580s ships with a 20in Dell IN2020M LCD monitor.

The slimline case of the Dell Inspiron 580s looks very similar to the HP Pro 3130 business PC we had it set up next to, with a glossy black front. The power button is joined by two USB 2.0 ports and headphone/microphone jacks.

On the back of the Dell Inspiron 580s desktop PC, there's not that much to see. Four USB 2.0 ports, Gigabit Ethernet, 5.1 channel audio, DVI video and HDMI ports make for a standard connectivity setup. We would have liked to see more USB 2.0 ports to allow a wider range of devices like printers and portable storage devices to be connected simultaneously.

The 64-bit version of Windows 7 Home Premium is preinstalled. Also installed is McAfee Security Centre with 15 months' support, Dell's Support Centre support software, Dell Remote Access and the Dell DataSafe Online remote storage and backup suite.

Dell Inspiron 580s: Specifications and performance

Despite having only a low-end Intel Core i3 processor (the Intel Core i3-550 clocked at 3.2GHz), the Dell Inspiron 580s has sufficient power to handle all basic home computing tasks with relative ease. Its 4GB of DDR3 RAM is enough to keep Windows 7 running happily with multiple programs open simultaneously. Our test unit recorded a result of 39sec when converting 53min of WAV files into 192Kbps MP3s — not especially fast, but not long enough to be tiresome.

We weren't as impressed with the 500GB, 5400rpm hard drive used by our test unit. You can opt for a 750GB drive, but this is only available with the premium model, which costs $200 more. The 500GB version, depending on your needs, might not be big enough to store a large multimedia collection. Given the low price of 1TB hard drives we would have liked to see one as an option.

The NVIDIA GeForce G310 512MB graphics card was also underwhelming. While it supports all Windows 7's visual features and was fine for desktop and 2D use, it struggled when we tried running intensive 3D games like Crysis on it. 3DMark06 returned a benchmark of 2154, which beats older competitors but can't compete with more powerful machines.

Performance Benchmarks
Model Price 3DMark06 iTunes Encoding
Dell Inspiron $999 2154 39s
Apple Mac Mini $999 N/A 46
Dell Inspiron 545s $1199 1780 N/A
Apple iMac 27in $1599 N/A 33s

When looking inside the Dell Inspiron 580s's case we found there was little room for upgrades — you won't be able to install a second hard drive, and it's a fiddly process to remove the system's RAM. If you think you'll want to upgrade your PC regularly, we'd steer clear of the Inspiron 580s.

Dell Inspiron 580s: Environmental policy and conclusion

Dell maintains an environmental policy on its Web site. It runs 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 580s is a perfectly capable mid-range desktop computer. It won't be suitable for strenuous computing tasks like 3D work, but for the average home user it is a solid performer.

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