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The Dell system case is truly excellent. Pressing a couple of buttons on the top and bottom of the case allows you to split it in half and open the whole case up. All the drive cages lever forward with the front of the case giving you unrestricted access to the system internals. A quick poke around gives you an idea as to why this machine is so quiet. Instead of a CPU fan, there’s a massive heatsink complete with copper heat pipes. This is subsequently cooled by a large 92mm fan, which, due to its dimensions spins slower than a smaller CPU fan, and thus creates less noise.
Since Dell has obviously put so much thought into cooling, it’s a shame that the graphics card fan is restricted by having the soundcard right next to it. This isn’t a big problem, but since there are two empty PCI slots it would have been better to give the graphics card a bit of space to breath.
Because of the custom nature of the Dell case, there isn’t huge scope for upgrades, but that isn’t really what Dell PCs are about. This is a machine that is built to handle anything you’re likely to throw at it now, and to grow old gracefully over the years. If you’re the sort of person who wants to rip out your motherboard every few months and replace it, you’re not likely to be buying a Dell in the first place.
The package doesn’t end there though. Dell has also bundled a printer/scanner combo device. It’s a strange looking beast, finished in black and silver to match the rest of the system, but it does feel a little insubstantial. However, it does do exactly what you need it to do. It’s an inkjet unit with a single colour and separate black cartridge. Print quality isn’t stunning but it’s perfectly acceptable for the majority of uses. Likewise, the scanner isn’t exactly top of the range, but it will happily grab images with reasonable colour accuracy.
There have to be a couple of compromises and in this case it’s the mouse and keyboard. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen a mouse with a roller in it instead of a little red light, but I have to say that it still behaved impeccably. The keyboard may be a little basic compared to some of the multimedia beasts around but the action is good and it matches the rest of the system well.
Performance wise the Dell is no slouch. With a SYSmark score of 292 it’s faster than the Mesh Matrix64 3200+ Extreme which is based on a 3200+ Athlon 64 chip. 3D performance is also strong, and again leaves the Mesh behind, although much of this can be attributed to the ATi Radeon 9800Pro graphics card.
Talking of 3D performance, I loaded up Halo on the Dell and set the resolution to 1,280 x 1,024 with all the cool effects turned on. It was truly a joy to play and the 8300 handled even the most enemy infested areas with aplomb. Definitely a good PC for the gaming enthusiast.
There’s no hiding from the fact that Dell has put together a PC with stunning performance and a plethora of features, but what’s most amazing is that it costs only £1,313.65 inc VAT. Considering the components inside this machine, it’s got to be one of the best Christmas bargains you’re likely to find this year.
If you’re thinking of asking Santa to bring you a PC for Christmas this year the Dell Dimension 8300 should definitely be on your short list. It’s got everything you could ask for, great build quality, stunning performance and tones of features, all at a price that will fill you with cheer.
Type in the following e-value code on the Dell website if you're interested in this system - 200 D53Rev.