Pros: Fairly fast CPU and graphics card, convenient port locations, many USB ports, 1TB.
Cons: Small power button, some ports missing/disabled.
My three year old HP p6130y desktop is getting somewhat old and I felt it was time for a new desktop before it dies on me. I needed a somewhat powerful desktop with a large capacity hard disk with decent read and write speed. To replace it I bought thisDell XPS 8500 i5 3450 from Best-Buy for a little less than $800.00 a couple of weeks ago. Well I still use both desktops as I phase out myHP p6130y desktop.
I do not use my home desktop for work but I use it for tasks that sometimes are demanding on process and hard disk speed, and I use it for movies, multimedia and graphics. I do not intend to use it as a gaming computer so I did not need a top of the line graphics card. However, my kids might use it for gaming so a decent graphics card is still a bonus. At the same time power, hard disk speed, etc, are not so important that I was willing to pay a lot. Basically I was looking for a good medium priced desktop that was somewhat powerful, and had a decent graphics card, but would not hurt my bank account too much.
TheDell XPS 8500 i5 3450 is essentially the economy version of the somewhat more powerful Dell XPS 8500 i7 line of desktops. It is more a productivity and multimedia desktop than a gaming desktop but it could be used for gaming.
I should say that I own several laptops but I also need a couple of desktops. In general you get more power for the money if you buy a desktop, but naturally it is not portable. However, if you don’t need your computer to be portable (or you don’t want it to be portable) and you need some extra power/speed than a desktop is a good buy.
Overview of the Dell XPS 8500 i5 3450
The Dell XPS 8500 i5 3450 is a quiet powerful but not extremely powerful desktop sporting an Intel Core quad core i5-3450 3.1GHz processor (3.5GHz turbo mode) and 8GB of RAM. As I understand it is among the faster i5 processors and it is faster than some i7 processors. The Dell XPS 8500 i5 3450 also includes a decent graphics card AMD Radeon HD 7570 (1GB), that goes well with my 27 inchSamsung SyncMaster S27B550 monitor (refresh rate 2ms). It comes with a 1TB (1000 GB) Seagate Barracuda ST31000524AS 7200 RPM SATA hard drive (32MB Cache), and it has lots of ports, especially USB ports. It came with Windows 7 Home Premium SP1 (64-bit).
TheDell XPS 8500 i5 3450 also comes with 802.11n Wi-Fi, integrated 7.1 HD audio with Wave MAXXAudio 4, and Bluetooth (v4.0) as well as a Dell multimedia keyboard, and a Dell Laser Mouse.
I should add that Dell offers free customer support and the computer came with a one year warranty. I also got the two year service plan from Best-Buy.
In summary these are the spec highlights in a nutshell
- i5-3450 3.1GHz processor (up to 3.5GHz)
- 8GB RAM
- 1TB Seagate hard drive
- AMD Radeon HD 7570 (1GB)
- 802.11n Wi-Fi
- Lots of USB ports
- Windows 7 Home Premium SP1 (64-bit)
Placement of Ports and Look and Feel of the Dell XPS 8500 i5 3450
The tower case is pretty sleek and nice looking. It is medium sized and shiny black (7.3 X 15.9 X 17.8 inch). In the front there is a DVD/CD player/burner, an expansion slot, a fan vent near the floor and two USB 3.0 ports as well as various memory card inputs including smart media reader, SD, XD, etc, (min-MMC SD/RC, SM/XD, CF/MD, and MS Pro Duo).
On top of the tower case near the front there are two USB 2.0 ports and micro-phone and speaker input/outputs. The power on button also sits on top of the tower. In the back there are (VGA), HDMI, DVI, (SP DIF), and Ethernet ports, two more USB 3.0 ports and four more USB 2.0 ports and various speaker/microphone inputs. So it comes with 10 USB ports, 4 of them USB 3.0 ports. It does not have an eSATA port or FireWire ports.
I should mention that the DVI port is connected to the graphics card and the VGA port is disabled (I put it in parenthesis above). So for the monitor you don’t have a lot of options. Luckily the box included aDVI-VGA adaptor.
I was impressed by the fact that the ports were arranged very conveniently. The DVD player/burner and the ports in the front of the case were close to the top and there were lots of ports and inputs on top of the case. I have owned a lot of desktops which had USB ports and other frequently used ports located down at bottom, or in the back. It is quite difficult to insert a flash drive into a USB port close to the floor, or in the back. The angle is wrong and the bending might hurt your back. The design of this tower case is smart and healthy for your back.
One thing that annoys me slightly is that the power button is quite small and not easy to find in darkness despite the fact that it sits on top of the case. The included mouse and the keyboard were pretty basic and I might exchange the keyboard. However, I don’t expect anything particular with regards to included mice and keyboards.
Setup & Software
It was very easy to set up this computer and I connected it to my encrypted wireless network and set up my new wireless printer (entirely wirelessly) from this machine easily and quickly. It came with some pre installed software including McAfee and a trial version Microsoft Office Home & Student 2010. I uninstalled McAfee and installed Kaspersky (well ESET is the best) and I installed Microsoft Office Home & Business 2010 and setup Microsoft Outlook. I was actually glad it came with so little software. I’d like to take care of that myself.
It is difficult to tell how good the Wi-Fi is since I have pretty good Wi-Fi everywhere in my house (Netgear WGR614 router) and the bottle neck is the DSL connection. Well I could carry my desktop out in the street and check. However, there is another issue. The Netgear WGR614 router does not supportIEEE 802.11n but this computer does. So I can never really fully utilize it. However, I setup my Microsoft Outlook 2010 (using MAPI) on both my desktops and when I synchronize roughly the same data the new computer is fast. On the other hand that could be for some other reason than the Wi-Fi connection. However, I suspect the Wi-Fi in the Dell XPS 8500 is darn good. If I can find out really how good it is in the future I will update this review.
My impression of this computer is that it is pretty fast. It boots in 20 seconds which is much faster than any of my computers. Software seems to be running relatively fast and the internet connection (wireless) seems to be pretty fast. This desktop is pretty powerful but it is not top of the line. The Windows Performance Index for this computer is;
Memory (RAM): 7.8
Graphics for Windows Aero: 6.9
Graphics for gaming (3D): 6.9
Disk data transfer rate: 5.9
I should say that the maximum Windows Performance rating for Windows 7 is 7.9 and 5.9 for Windows Vista.
Hard disk performance
It looks like the disk transfer rate is problematic (5.9). It is true that the disk data transfer rate often is the bottle neck depending of what you do. However, the 5.9 score is not bad. The read speed is 116 Mbytes per second and the write speed 100 Mbytes per second. My three year old HP, which was a fairly powerful machine for its time, is around 60MB, and the laptops I use at work hover around 30-40 Mbytes per second. So this is a decent read/write rate for modern times even though there are modern disk drives that are faster. I have one external hard drive that is around 200 Mbytes per second.
For one thing it makes it possible to take advantage of the USB 3.0 ports. USB 2.0 ports have a maximum transfer rate of 60 Mbytes per second but in practice you don’t get more than 3 0Mbytes per second. If the disk was slower than 30Mbytes per second this would not matter when writing/reading to external USB devices but with a read/write speed of 100 Mbytes per second and a USB 3.0 port you can transfer data much faster.
I should also say something about the hard disk capacity. 1TB (One Tera Byte or 1000 GB) is more than most people need. For comparison 1TB correspond to one million 1MB high resolution photos. Just a few years ago I used to own laptops with less than a tenth of that capacity. However, I have a tendency to be a disk hog so I take 1TB. I should say that the non-economy version of the Dell XPS 8500 come with a 2TB hard disk.
To get more detailed information about the performance of the CPU, the graphics card, 3D graphics, 2D graphics, RAM, etc, I ran a Passmark bench marking test and I have included the results below. Instead of listing dozens of comparisons I just added my interpretations of the scores
The overall Passmark score is pretty good for a medium prized desktop.
CPU –Mark---: 7306.4
The overall CPU score is pretty high but the floating point math score was particularly impressive.
This score is good but not spectacular. My three year old desktop is not far behind.
This score is like a good gaming laptop but not like a gaming desktop. Again this desktop could be used for gaming but it is not its chief purpose.
This is quite impressive.
This is pretty fast, but there are faster drives now a day.
This is the highest score I’ve ever seen. That was a surprise.
I should also add that computer is pretty quiet. The hard disk is quiet, and the fan is not loud and I don’t really notice the sound (or any hot air on my feet). I like the layout of the tower case and it looks nice under my desk. It is not top heavy or to tall and it would not easily tip
I think this computer is nice for a lot of reasons. It is fairly powerful without being too expensive. It is not a gaming desktop but could be used for gaming. This is a perfect desktop for people running CPU and hard disk demanding applications and people who use multimedia a lot. For this price range I think it is a great value and I can recommend it. I give it a five star rating.
Since computers are heavily dependent on the system clock and other items related to time I am entering this review in my “Time & Space write-off”.