capsule review

Dell Dimension 4600

At a Glance
  • Dell Dimension 4600

Dell Dimension 4600
Artwork: Rick Rizner, John Goddard
With its relatively new case design, as featured on all of Dell's midrange Dimension line, the midnight gray 4600 has eight USB 2.0 ports, six on the back and two up front, and more than is typically found on most value (and some power) systems. An audio port for connecting headphones sits next to the front USB ports.

We got satisfying image quality from the 17-inch E171 analog LCD monitor that accompanied our review model. Text looked very sharp at all sizes, while colors and skin tones looked realistic in our test photo. That's consistent with the other times we've seen this monitor.

The system we tested was equipped with a 128MB NVidia GeForce FX 5200 chip; however, the graphics performance wasn't as strong as we expected. Compared with what we saw on the previous 4600 configuration we tested--which had an ATI Radeon 9000 Pro video card with 64MB of memory--graphics performance actually dipped a bit. And while the board is fine for casual gaming and supports upcoming Direct9X-compatible games, it's not the first graphics card choice for high-performance types.

Our other complaints remain unchanged. Once inside the case, you'll need a screwdriver and some patience when working with drive bays and other components. Like its predecessor, our review configuration had only one available internal drive bay, vertically mounted. To access it, you must undo four screws and take out the bay holding the existing 80GB hard drive along with the empty drive cage that's stacked against the front of the case. And we still found a snarl of cables inside that you'll have to push aside to reach the memory sockets.

The Dimension 4600 we tested came with a 2.8-GHz Pentium 4 processor and 512MB of DDR400 memory--an identical configuration to the 4600 we previously tested. It earned a PC WorldBench 4 score of 123, about average for similarly configured systems, and comparable to the 122 score earned by its predecessor.

Our test system relied on integrated sound with a set of Harman Kardon HK395 speakers and a subwoofer--generally a good fit for a midrange computer. But we found the speakers' sound quality to be underwhelming. On vocal tracks and a DVD movie, bass notes thudded too much, though trebles seemed relatively clear. The integrated sound supports 5.1-channel speakers, so if you're looking for top-notch sound with immersive effects, consider an alternate set, such as the Altec Lansing ADA995 speakers that Dell offers for an additional $210.

The software bundle that came with our review system included preinstalled, home-oriented fare such as Jasc Paint Shop Pro and Dell's image editing application. Also included: Corel's basic, and older, office application--WordPerfect Office 2002.

This Dimension 4600 carries a solid set of hardware for the price--but its graphics performance was middling.

Dell Dimension 4600

PC WorldBench 4 score of 123, 2.8-GHz Pentium 4 CPU, 512MB of DDR400 SDRAM, Windows XP Home, 80GB hard drive, NVidia GeForce4 FX 5200 graphics card with 128MB of DDR SDRAM, 17-inch LCD monitor, network adapter, V.92 modem, minitower case. One-year parts and labor warranty; lifetime 24-hour daily weekday toll-free support.

Mick Lockey

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At a Glance
  • Dell Dimension 4600

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