|Name||Desktop computer: Dell Inspiron 620|
|At a glance:||Choice of Intel Core i3 or i5 processor,Dedicated graphics card available,Basic but solid construction,Not a great starting point for future upgrades|
|Summary:||A good desktop offering, but not substantially more powerful than an average laptop or all-in-one.|
|RRP:||$1,099-$1,648 (depending on model)|
Convinced an all-in-one or laptop isn’t for you? We checked out Dell’s latest home desktop model, the Inspiron 620.
The configuration we received runs on the Intel Core i3-2100, a quad-core CPU from the company’s Sandy Bridge lineup. The i3-2100 has a respectable clock speed of 3.1GHz: however, unlike its i5 and i7 siblings, the i3 doesn’t support Intel’s Turbo Boost technology. This means that in times of high activity, CPU cores can’t push beyond their 3.1GHz base speed.
An AMD Radeon HD 6450 graphics card with 1GB of dedicated memory provides VGA, DVI and HDMI outputs. This lets you connect virtually any monitor or TV, apart from those exclusively requiring DisplayPort. However, that’s exceptionally rare among monitors used in a home desktop setup.
The combo of CPU and graphics card is grunty enough for most contemporary 3D gaming, at medium-low graphics settings. You won’t get photorealism in the latest whizz-bang first-person shooter, but games like The Sims 3 or World of Warcraft will be happily playable. Web browsing, document editing, photo manipulation and other common home tasks all fall within the Inspiron 620’s abilities.
Externally the 620 isn’t unattractive, but neither does it push any design barriers. It’s a mid-sized desktop tower, with a shiny finish. Its only comfortable orientation is vertical: laying it sideways isn’t going to work all that well.
There are two slots for drives in the front, so you can add a second DVD or Blu-ray drive after the fact. An SD card reader and two USB ports sit behind a flip-down cover beneath the drive bays: I found the cover a little difficult to open and close, but otherwise it serves its purpose. Besides its shiny face, the case is nothing special: it certainly doesn’t feature screw-less drive bays, or even thumb screws on the side panels, as you’d expect of an upgrade-friendly home build.
Inside the case, build quality is good. Cables are routed neatly around the motherboard and to the drives, and though it’s hardly the sort of tight cable management you’d find in a gaming system, you’re unlikely to experience any issues with loose connections, dust accumulation or impaired airflow.
The motherboard features just two RAM slots, each of which is occupied by a 2GB DDR3 module to make up the total of 4GB. That means if you want to increase your RAM in future, you’ll need to replace one or both of the existing cards with a larger one.
Our review model, with a basic wired keyboard and mouse, but without a monitor, sells for $1,248 on the Dell website. If you’re not going to be playing games or doing any 3D-intensive work, you can get the same setup without the dedicated graphics card, and with a 500GB hard drive, for just $1,099. If it’s too little grunt you’re worried about, a more powerful version including an Intel Core i5-2310 processor, 6GB of RAM and a 1.5TB hard drive is available for $1,648.
Altogether, the Inspiron 620 is a capable desktop for web browsing and basic productivity. It’s not going to replace a game console or high-powered gaming PC, but it does boast some entry-level gaming ability thanks to its dedicated AMD graphics card and latest-generation Intel processor. Likewise, that graphics card and processor combo give you reasonable multimedia functionality – HD video playback, photo editing, and even basic video editing shouldn’t prove a problem. For a quick drop-in replacement for an ageing or broken desktop, it’s a good option. If, on the other hand, you’re looking for a base model to experiment with and upgrade over time, this really isn’t your PC.