The stand is an important part of the Studio Hybrid’s overall design, and again a bit more thought than usual has gone into its design and construction. It is made of metal and features a matte finish that complements the PC unit nicely, and has large protective strips on both sides to prevent damage to either the unit or your desk.
The most interesting aspect is its modular nature, which reminds me of those Transformer toys you have to puzzle out. If you want to change the Studio Hybrid’s position, all that’s required is to take the metal stand apart and reassemble it so that the PC can lay horizontally or stand vertically.
Getting back to the machine’s front, there are no flaps hiding the connectors, which consist of two USB ports and a headphone jack. Instead, they’re integrated into the gap running parallel to the shell’s outline, as are the slot-loading DVD-writer and a memory card reader which will take SD, SDHC, MMC, Memory Stick Pro and xD cards. The eject button for the optical drive, by the way, is a touch-sensitive icon which only lights up when a disc is in the drive.
The Studio Hybrid’s back is also very tidy, with a good selection of ports. Mini-FireWire joins three more USB ports and a gigabit Ethernet port. Audio is competently covered by analogue line in/out ports and S/PDIF, while for video there’s a fully digital selection of HDMI and DVI – hurray for the death of analogue! But don’t worry if your monitor only has a VGA connector: Dell kindly provides a DVI cable that splits into VGA and DVI. One disappointing omission is e-SATA, which is an even greater pity when you consider that most recent laptops offer this.
The reason for this omission also affects performance: the Studio Hybrid Desktop actually uses the outdated Centrino platform, rather than Centrino 2. This is reflected by its use of a 2.1GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T8100, which runs on a slower 800MHz front side bus rather than the 1,066MHz you’ll find with newer Intel processors.
Probably the most damning aspect of using this chipset is that graphics come courtesy of Intel’s GMA 3100 integrated GPU. While none of Intel’s integrated efforts can reasonably be called capable when it comes to games, this specimen is particularly feeble. At 1,680 x 1,050, the most common widescreen resolution for desktop monitors, Dell’s Studio Hybrid Desktop only managed 10.7FPS at medium detail in our lightweight TrackMania Nations Forever benchmark.