Pros: 305W power supply, nice case, relatively inexpensive, easy to upgrade.
Cons: Loud, some marginal components for a supposed "top end" desktop model.
The Dell 8300, at least as of 5/15/04, comes with a 305-watt power supply. That's pretty much the whole point of this review - to refute the claim that it's only 250W, as stated in other reviews. That's why you'll find this information here, in the title, and in the pros.
How do I know? The moment after I opened the box I opened the case, expecting major disappointment resulting from viewing a measly 250W PS. My anticipated dismay turned to cheer as soon as I saw the 305W rating stamped on the aluminum. Fifty-five more watts really brighten up your day. Still, that's still not a whole bunch of power in comparison to other higher-end systems, but somebody else on here said that Dell rates their PS conservatively. Sounds good to me Im convinced. In any case, don't fear the barely-firing-up-the-LEDs 250W claim. That's just a rumor.
In addition to the PS dispute, there are two other issues at hand. First: Why should an 8300, the KING of Dell desktops (except for the gaming-niche oriented XPS) even make the power supply an issue? Perched mightily above its lowly 2400 and 4600 inferiors, the 8300 should come with 350-400 Watts, and let no one dispute its ability to power any drive or card that comes along its path. That's why you avoid the plebeian 2400 and the mediocre 4600 in the first place - to get the next-best desktop from a good company. Sure, 305W isn't keeping me up at night, and it shouldnt be too much of a concern to you either, but it's also going to be less than many customers will expect.
Second: How come Dell keeps their technical specs under wraps when you customize a system? When I configured mine, I knew I was buying the top-end model. I just assumed that the power supply would be more than adequate. (For years, Rolls-Royce horsepower figures were quoted simply as adequate and this failed to turn away many buyers.) Had I not been so trusting, however, I'm not sure how easily I would have found this information. Dell's website needs to be more transparent for the discriminating purchaser. (Dells specs on monitors are also a little shady. The resolution listed in their help me choose comparison online doesnt always match the resolution listed on the monitor when it arrives at your house.)
Because of these two larger issues, you should be somewhat wary of the 8300. You don't automatically get the best components, and your skepticism won't be readily resolved by Dell's nebulous technical specifications.
A few more stumbling blocks, along these same lines:
1. As mentioned in other reviews, the DVD-ROM that comes with the system is sub par. I know Dell wants us all to buy the top-of-the-line DVD+/-R, but some of us aren't there yet. A quality component that didn't sound like it was going to rattle out of the drive bay at any moment would make me feel more secure in my purchase.
2. Noise - it takes a few days to get used to all the fan noise. If you have a quiet home / home office environment, the noise of the system will disrupt it. It's not going to compete much with ambient noise, however, so it won't be an issue for users with children or located next to jackhammer factories. Nevertheless, the noise problem is aggravated by the fact that the 2400 models don't make a sound. (Ive been around many of them and you dont hear peep no fan, no HDD, nothing.) With the 8300 model, you get all the cool green plastic ductwork inside the case - but I don't think that this should come with the tradeoff of sounding like a jet airliner is about to take off in there. This is upsetting, and especially so when the low system on the totem pole, the deadly silent 2400, performs so well in this area. We're lucky that Russian subs didn't have 2400-model Dells on board during the Cold War. We might be flying a different flag right now. Now that I think about it, we should probably be marketing some 8300s to North Korea.
Enjoy the 875P chipset and the 800 MHz FSB. This is a good system, but not a top-flight one. There are going to be a few snags. But relative to the cost of the XPS, I'll take an 8300.
One last thought - the system does come pre-loaded with tons of junk. Fortunately, I was able to make quick work of most of it.