capsule review

Dell Dimension E510

At a Glance
  • Dell Dimension E510

Dell Dimension E510
Photograph: Chris Manners

With a low price tag of $1064 (as of 6/2/06), the Dell Dimension E510 stood out from the collection of six dual-core value desktops we recently tested. Using a 2.8-GHz Pentium D 820 with 1GB of RAM, the E510 earned a WorldBench 5 score of 88, a result that ranked the lowest among the six but just about matched the speed of other systems we've tested carrying a 3-GHz Pentium D 830 CPU. If you're simply running typical office applications and browsing the Web--and you aren't interested in more demanding activities, such as video editing--its performance should be quite acceptable.

The E510 employs an ATI Radeon X600 graphics card with 256MB of RAM, and in our Return to Castle Wolfenstein gaming test it notched 67 frames per second at 1280 by 1024 resolution and 32-bit color. Although that score makes it 49 percent slower than our dual-core roundup's gaming leader, the CyberPower Gamer Ultra 8500SE, it should suffice for basic gaming.

The system's elegant case has a stylish air vent in front to help keep its components cool. A double-layer DVD burner and a multicard reader that can accept 11 media formats reside at the top of the front panel. The case's ports are well positioned and cover most of what you need. The front offers two USB 2.0 ports and headphone and microphone jacks. In back are five more USB 2.0 ports, along with a FireWire port and an optical digital-out connection; also here are a few color-coded ports--one microphone, one audio-in, and three audio-out. The graphics card has VGA analog, DVI, and S-Video connectors.

The E510 runs Windows XP Media Center and includes features for media-minded users; the TV tuner has connectors for cable, and two sets of video- and audio-in ports. The system also contains a Creative Sound Blaster Audigy 2 ZS card.

After moving one lever on top, opening the case is easy. Inside I found quick access to the drive bays, slots, and RAM. A PCI Express x1 slot is the only one open, and it's a bit hard to reach, sandwiched between the graphics and sound cards. Installing a component in the one available externally accessible drive bay requires no tools.

Dell's 17-inch E176FP LCD monitor delivers nice text and graphics, but most of the other systems in our roundup came with 19-inch models (and higher prices). Dell supplies a good setup guide for the monitor, but no printed system manual. The included 146-page PDF manual looks thorough, however, with sections on installation of all parts and on troubleshooting.

The E510 makes a fine value-priced machine. It isn't a powerhouse, but as an inexpensive general-use computer that has some media-oriented extras, it presents a very nice package.

Dan Sommer

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At a Glance
  • A low price and elegant design distinguish this bargain media-oriented system.


    • Elegant design and low price


    • Middling performance for a dual-core PC
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