Dell Introduces New Look
Dell has unified its branding across its notebook and desktop lines, with Inspiron now the moniker of choice. The new Inspiron series has a fresh chassis design, as seen on this Dell Inspiron 531. The 530/531 mini-tower looks more contoured than its predecessor; the slim-tower 530s/531s models (not shown) are 40 percent smaller than the previous slimline chassis. Pricing starts at $349.
Ports Up Front
The Inspiron 531 configuration we looked at packs ports aplenty inside this drive bay: Slide down the front cover to reveal a Bluetooth multiformat media card reader, four USB 2.0 ports, a FireWire 400 port, and headphone and microphone jacks. (The media card reader with Bluetooth is optional, and should be available shortly, according to Dell.)
Inside the Case
The Inspiron 530 and 530s feature Intel Celeron and Core 2 Duo processors; the Inspiron 531 and 531s pack AMD Sempron and Athlon 64 X2 dual core processors. Inside, you can add options like integrated Wi-Fi ($30) or a TV tuner card. The $899 Inspiron 531 configuration shown here includes an AMD X2 4400+ processor, 2GB of memory, an nVidia-based GeForce 8300GS graphics card, a 250GB hard disk drive, a Bluetooth multiformat card reader, and a DVD burner. Dell also includes 3GB of online backup storage.
Inspiron: From the Back
The case design allows for more expandability than the slimline Inspiron 531s, but it is still limited by comparison with beefier desktops (such as Dell's monster-sized XPS 710 series of gaming desktops). One PCI and one PCI Express slot remain open.
Flat at Back
One of my frequent PC chassis design gripes lies with how the ports are inset from the rear of the chassis. When I'm reaching behind my PC, following my fingers inside a recessed cavity to find my ports is the last thing I want to do. This chassis doesn't fall into that trap: the ports are flush with the rear of the unit, making them easier to access sight-unseen.