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Dell Inspiron 530
Although it may seem odd to say so, Dell has been at the forefront of decent looking, cheap computer design for many years now. When it introduced the black and grey cases that have now become synonymous with the brand, it was an absolute revelation. Bland and beige were still the norm at the time and this new look really set the US builder apart from the competition. Now, after a few too many years relying on that distinctive livery, Dell has redesigned its Inspiron range of home user PCs, swapping matt black for glossy white and, er, well that's about it actually. Still, it does look quite nice.
Aside from the glossy white panels the case is actually a fairly standard midi-tower and as such it has a sizeable footprint - an iMac competitor this is not (sorry, I had to throw an Apple reference in there somewhere). However, the extra space allows for more potential upgrades and expansion. A slim version of the Inspiron chassis is available in the US (and possibly other places as well) but here in Blighty the choice is limited to the full size case we're looking at today.
Aside from the slim/non-slim choice, the Inspiron range is split up into two types, an Intel based platform, which has the model number 530, and an AMD one, which you'll no doubt be flabbergasted to know is called the 531 (the slim versions are 530s and 531s). Both come with the same shiny white case and configuration options, though our particular review sample had a number of components and peripherals that are not currently available on the UK Dell website and the case was even wrongly labelled as a 531. We are assured that these issues will soon be ironed out though.
The front maintains a nice clean look thanks to a trio of doors that stealth the drive bays. Behind these sit a rewriteable CD/DVD drive, a multi format memory card reader and a spare 5.25in external bay for adding in another CD/DVD drive. Four USB 2.0 ports, a FireWire port, and a pair of audio jacks, for headphones and microphone, are also crammed in there, so all the usual features are present. The only thing that's missing is an eSATA port, for a super fast one cable connection to external hard drives, but at this price that would be more a gift than a given.
The back is very sparse with most of the section where you find the connections to the motherboard being covered by a black plastic panel. What you do get, though, are four more USB ports, a 10/100 Ethernet port, analogue audio inputs/outputs (enough for 7.1-channel surround sound) and a separate expansion card houses two more FireWire ports. The graphics card has two DVI outputs as well as an S-Video socket and, in the box, you get a DVI to VGA (D-SUB) converter so you should be able to connect up pretty much any monitor, old or new.
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