capsule review

Dell Dimension 2400

At a Glance
  • Dell Dimension 2400

Dell Dimension 2400
Artwork: Rick Rizner, John Goddard

The Dimension 2400 is not big on performance, features, or looks. But at $699, who cares? Dell put together a nice little package for anyone with fairly basic computing needs and a limited budget. It includes a 19-inch CRT monitor and an ample software bundle that's focused on home-computing--features you would not expect to find in a PC in this price range.

Equipped with a 2.67-GHz Pentium 4 processor and 256MB of DDR333 memory, this system earned a PC WorldBench 4 score of 115--relatively low compared with other value PCs we've tested recently, but more than sufficient for applications that do not demand a lot of CPU horsepower and memory. If you can afford to spend a bit more, we recommend that you double the memory to 512MB.

Dell's M992 monitor exceeded our expectations (usually kept well in check with components that come with inexpensive PCs), displaying our sample photo in bright hues and lifelike skin tones. Text looked crisp and dark in most tested fonts and sizes--only the smallest font, at 6 pixels, looked a tad fuzzy.

It was no surprise that this Dimension did not pass muster in our high-end graphics tests. It's wishful thinking to expect a powerful graphics card in a $700 PC, and the integrated Intel Extreme (845GV) chip set borrows from the system's main memory, inhibiting graphics performance. In our 3D gaming tests, frame rates reached around 30 frames per second only at the lowest tested resolution of 1024 by 768 pixels and 16-bit color, and dipped to less than 5 fps at a resolution of 1600 by 1200 and 32-bit color. The result was bland-looking colors and jerky action during game play. And without an AGP slot, there's no practical graphics upgrade.

The 2400 comes with a basic, wired Dell multimedia keyboard that includes a handy volume-control dial. The keys have a soft touch, but may feel a bit too squishy for some typists. The system offers a common set of connections, with a trio of audio ports and four USB 2.0 ports on the back panel. A deeply recessed pocket at the bottom of the front panel has two more USB 2.0 ports and a headphone plug. If you keep your Dimension on the floor, the pocket design will help prevent damage to the USB plugs from a stray foot, but it also means you'll have to get on your hands and knees to find them.

The bundled Dell A425 two-speaker-and-subwoofer set produced moderately good sound--suitable for background music, casual gaming, or watching a DVD. Bass notes sounded weak, and trebles sounded thin at a high volume setting.

The software bundled with our test system consisted of Microsoft Works Suite 2003, Britannica 2003, and Quicken 2002 New User Edition; and preinstalled on the PC were Jasc PaintShop Pro 8, for working with digital photos, and Sonic MyDVD, for burning CDs.

The Dimension 2400 has a clean, simple interior for easy servicing. Dell provides a first-rate user manual with plenty of illustrations and a nice section for troubleshooting common problems.

Like many minitower systems, the 2400 isn't designed for extensive upgrades. The 16X DVD-ROM and 48X CD-RW drives take up the Dimension's two 5.25-inch front-panel drive bays. One slot is dedicated for a floppy drive, although the PC does not come with one. And of the system's three PCI slots, one is taken up by the card-based modem.

You get more than you'd expect with this $700 system. It's not fancy or quick, but it should nicely provide basic computing needs in any home or office.

Mick Lockey

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At a Glance
  • Dell Dimension 2400

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