Here is a review of my POS Dell PC that i did for a reviewing competition. Didnt win, like to think i came close. Enjoy:
The Dell Dimension 1100 is a computer that is either your worst enemy or your best friend, depending on how you treat it.
Three and a half years ago, i purchased my Dell Dimension 1100 for around $900 including a 19" Flat Panel LCD. It featured a blazingly fast Pentium 4 2.8ghz, a whopping 512mb of Ram and the most powerful video card you have ever seen... or at least, thats what i thought at the time. This is a warning to those who are not the most technologically able, just because they use fancy words like EXTREME, and FAST, does not mean thats what your getting. In fact, even at that time, this was considered a sad excuse for a near $1000 pc...
- 2800mhz Pentium 4
- Generic 512mb DDR 330mhz Ram
- Intel Extreme 2 Graphics 90mb
- 80gig IDE 7200RPM HDD
- DVD-R/CDRW Drive
- Dell Generic 220w PSU.
Now, for over three years, this has been my only PC. I do not have a laptop, nor a spare PC to use if this one stops working even for a day. What does this mean for you readers of this review? It means that for the past 3+ years, 7 days a week, 10 hours a day, i have been running this PC.
I have to hand it to Dell, even though this PC is slow and was aimed at those who where just looking for a quick deal, its held up amazingly. Out of the total time ive had it i have never ONCE seen a BSOD, never once got an unexpected reboot and in all this time, only about 5 major freezes where it just ran out of memory and resources. At the start of this post, i explained that this PC can be your best friend or your absolute nightmare, why? Because this PC i currently have is smooth... no viruses, no spyware, no major flaws at all, so my Desktop, browser (FireFox), email client, music, movies etc all run like i was on a quad core. Then... you decided to buy a game... here is where the trouble starts, and you realize what a mistake you made... The video card.
The Intel Extreme 2 Graphics integrated card, is a sorry excuse of a video card with its one single pixel pipeline. Infact, even as this card's main use (as a notebook video card solution) it should still have never existed. Below are benchmarks created by myself and notebookcheck.net to show performance against a common GMA900 found in very low budget PC's.
3DMark05 Benchmark Scores:
Intel Extreme 2 Graphics ----- : 0
IntelGMA 900 --------------- : 234
In 3DMark05, the card failed to even start the benchmark due to a total lack of PixelShader support which in today's cards (even integrated), is an absolute must. Even on a simple game like Quake 3 Arena, you could notice a frame flicker for a tenth of a second every once in awhile.
To be fair, I also included benchmark results using the card in an in-game scenario (Quake 3 Arena, Medium, 1024x768) , VS a GMA900.
Quake 3 Arena Scores:
Intel Extreme 2 Graphics ----- : 73fps
IntelGMA 900 --------------- : 147fps
As you can see, the Intel Extreme 2 Graphics solution gets dominated by the 900.
The CPU isnt something you would tell your friends about but it is respectable. It handles Photoshop CS3 extended with ease and manages to render in Bryce 6 with HDR relatively fast.
In 3DMark06 the normal CPU score for a Pentium 4 2.8ghz (133mhz FSB) is 670. This can be compared to a Pentium D 2.8ghz at 1405 and at the higher end of the scale in the Pentium range, a Pentium Dual Core 2.8ghz OC at 2450.
Amazingly, even with a score of less than 700 in 3DMark06 i still have never been frustrated once with the CPU as it breezes by even the most demanding tasks (for this old cpu) like Photoshop CS3, FireWorks CS3 and Blender 3D.
In another benchmark, SuperPi (To 1M), the Pentium 4 was let down by the rest of the PC's slow hardware such as the 2x 256mb sticks of 330mhz Ram and a IDE HDD. The Dell was able to achieve a dismal 53.688 seconds compared to a much slower clocked AMD Opteron (2.35ghz) which managed to get an honorable 38.000 seconds with the combination of other faster hardware.
Design and Ports:
The design of the Dell is non existent. Pretty much just a generic 'grey' box with a big Dell logo. I find myself in constant need of USB ports as it only sports two at the front and four at the back which are near unreachable.
Also, in regards to the front USB ports, there seems to be some sort of odd anomaly where the front ports sometimes refuse to work or show USB drives and memory. Especially annoying when you have a shortage of ports to use and your two main ones go out constantly.
Not much could be found on the HardDrive other than what the device manager states:
WD WD800BB-75JHC0 (Western Digital).
Running the HDTach bench, i was rather surprised at this aging PC. Its score wasn't anything to be proud of but after being slapped with a revolting video card at least one of the parts held its own reaching a burst speed of just under 100MB/s. Compared to a Seagate Barracuda SATA drive, the Dimension's drive was only about 10MB/s off its burst speed and actually had a much better average speed. Finally something not to moan about on the Dell.
Dell Customer Service:
Most people say: "Oh yes! You absolutely MUST purchase the extra warranty on a Dell."
I say to these people, why? Unless you expect your PC to have a major technical fault with the hardware then your pretty much set with the one year free warranty they give you. My experience with Dell's customer service is very good on the Hardware side and bad on the software side. For example, if you printer goes out (no power etc) and its under Dell warranty, your set. My printer was taken the next day and a new one came 3 days later. But, if you have something such as a driver issue, be warned; you will be 'destroyed emotionally' (exaggeration) as a hard to understand foreign person on the end of the line asks you to make sure your PC is turned on and goes through a bunch of routine tasks that you have already done 4 or 5 times prior to phoning.
I quite like my Dell. Its a hardworking, non stop battler.
The Dell Dimension has a surprisingly decent HDD, quiet DVD drive, solid CPU (for the time) and the ability to just keep chuggin...
I think the one thing that i was honestly disappointed at was the lack of even a standard AGP slot for expanding the video card potential of this PC. Dell left the Dimension 1100 with only a sad little PCI slot that was never meant to be used for even something as weak (by todays standards) as an Nvidia 6200 256mb due to its shockingly low wattage PSU (220w).
I guess one of the things that has been a plus is that since this PC is incapable of playing any decent games, i have gotten a massive amount of work done (programming and such).
So, in a way im glad i purchased it three years ago, but if your looking for a PC you wont be disappointed in as soon as you purchase any current PC game, i would advise for you to go out and just buy the parts yourself. This way you know what goes in, not some generic sticks of RAM, or a HardDrive that is hard to find spec's on, or a video card that struggles with even MSPaint and be hundreds of dollars worse off...
Ease of use: 9/10
Overall rating: 6/10 - Reliable but is it dependable?