Dell XPS 410
When I booted my test unit of Dell's XPX 410, I was pleased to find that this Vista desktop came only with PC-Cillin, Google Desktop, a trial version of Roxio Creator, Microsoft Works, and a genuine Windows Vista installation disc, rather than having tiny icons line up along the system tray like Christmas shoppers at Macy's.
There's nothing innovative about this PC. The model we looked at finished sixth out of eight power desktops tested with our new Vista-oriented WorldBench 6 Beta 2 performance test suite, with a score of 101. Then again, at $2033 (as of March 16, 2007), it's the least expensive of the lot, by almost $250.
The XPS 410 is a snap to set up. Documentation ranges from a very helpful set-up guide for novices to a thick and extensive owner's manual. Should you need to get inside the PC, you'll be glad that the case slides open easily without a screwdriver. A floppy cable and a blue plastic cable holder annoyingly block access to the insides, but you can easily move them aside.
Not that you'll find much to do inside: There's only one free bay (for installing a 3.5-inch externally accessible drive) and one free PCI Express slot.
The XPS 410 comes with eight USB ports (six in back, two in front). You'll probably need to fill a number of them with USB adapters because this system has no parallel, serial, or PS/2 connections for your aging peripherals. It does, however, have two FireWire ports (one on the front) as well as supporting 7.1-speaker high-definition audio.
Though Dell's SK-8135 keyboard, which came with our test unit, looks weird (because there are almost no edges around the keys), the odd design grew on me: It keeps the keyboard small without sacrificing key size or spacing. Plus, it has a good set of extras, including a volume-control knob. The keys felt a bit heavy, but not horribly so. Our test unit's Dell- branded optical mouse was functional but generic.
Dell's XPX 410 is the power Vista machine for people who just want to read e-mail, surf the Web, and organize their photos.
Dell XPS 410
The XPS 410 is somewhat slow for a power system, but it still offers a lot of features for a low price.
- Low price
- Great documentation
- Modest expandability
- Lacks legacy ports