Dell Dimension 9200 Desktop

Dell Dimension 9200 Desktop
  • Dell Dimension 9200 Desktop
  • Dell Dimension 9200 Desktop
  • Dell Dimension 9200 Desktop
  • Expert Rating

    4.00 / 5

Pros

  • Hard drive performance, BTX cooling design, tool-free case

Cons

  • Hard drive and graphics card noise

Bottom Line

This Dell Dimension 9200 build offers a broad spectrum of utility with plenty of power to back it up

Would you buy this?

The white, stylised BTX design of the Dell Dimension 9200 is no stranger to us as we've tested a number of configurations in the past. However, this model offers a few tasty additions including the top-end Microsoft Windows Vista Ultimate operating system.

This powerful machine seems to offer the most benefits for power-home-users, with gaming, media functionality and photo-editing among its best capabilities. However, its powerful Intel Core 2 Duo E6700 2.66GHz CPU, 4GB of DDR2 667MHz RAM, NVIDIA GeForce 7900GS graphics card and twin 10,000rpm Western Digital (WD) Raptor hard drives comfortably place it in a position to do any number of heavy duty tasks including everything from rendering high resolution images to heavy encoding jobs.

It scored 104 in our latest benchmarking software WorldBench 6, which tests the PCs ability to run common applications and popular PC tasks which includes video rendering , video encoding, compression, photo-editing and office applications. We found that in all areas the Dell Dimension 9200 performed well. Most notably, it did well in the CPU intensive tasks like rendering, encoding and photo-editing, which set it aside from lower-end PCs.

The GeForce 7900GS is a mid-range graphics card which is ideal for regular gamers but isn't powerful enough to suit the hardcore crowd. The NVIDIA 7 series has since been superseded by NVIDIA's monster 8 series cards, but this card still offers plenty of performance in existing DirectX 9-based games. We put this system's gaming prowess to the test using 3DMark 2006 and the F.E.A.R in-game performance test. In 3DMark we tested it at 1280x1024, the default setting, and also at 1680x1050, the native resolution of the 22in screen that comes with the system. In the default resolution, it scored a respectable 3964, which is not outstanding by today's standards. At the native resolution of 1680x1050 (using 16x anisotropic filtering), it scored 3031 - only a minor performance hit.

At a resolution of 1280x960, using 4x anti-aliasing and 16x anisotropic filtering the Dell Dimension 9200 averaged 44fps (frames per second) running F.E.A.R. This is enough for comfortable game-play, but is not considered ideal.

The Dimension 9200 also comes with a digital TV-tuner and a 13-in-1 media card reader, so recording your favourite TV shows and storing your digital photos can be done simply and easily. Aside from all the added features of Vista Ultimate, such as the dazzling DreamScene desktop background, it also has the standard features of Vista Home Premium such as Windows Media Center, so handling your media can be done within the one application. The two 160GB WD Raptors run at 10,000rpm, and raided together in a raid-0 striping array they produce some nice transfer speeds. We transferred 4.12GB of raw data in various packet sizes from one spot on the hard drive to another. The 4.12GB of data took the Dell 113 seconds to copy. This works out to be 36.46MB/s which is a very nice result.

Both hard drive bays are occupied and there's no room for more, so a replacement or external solution will be the only option for upgrades. The drives face sideways so they are easily accessed from the side of the case. Like most tool-less case designs, the hard drives are mounted using a tool-free plastic cage. Cabling is minimal and well organised so air flow is not impeded.

The design of the case is in line with Dell's usual Dimension layout. The Dimension case is an attractive glossy white with black highlights with a lever at the top rear that releases the side panel. Inside, the cooling systems provide a wind-tunnel effect in accordance with the BTX design. The CPU is directly cooled by a passive heatsink, but a 120mm fan is mounted against it, drawing air from the front of the case and blowing it towards the rear. This helps cool the CPU first and foremost, but also aids in cooling the rest of the core components as the air flows towards the rear grill at the back of the case. The BTX form factor is designed for efficient cooling and does it fairly quietly, though the 10,000rpm Raptor hard drives kick up a bit of noise when they're in full swing, as does the small graphics card fan.

The case is also designed for ease-of-maintenance. The optical drives, the hard drives and the expansion slots are all maintained using tool-free plastic clips. This makes it very quick and easy to get items in and out of the case for replacement or repair. The Dimension 9200 offers two USB 2.0 ports on the front panel, as well as quick-access audio ports. At the rear are six more USB ports and a full array of analogue and an optical port for 7.1 surround sound audio are available. The digital TV tuner can also be connected to an aerial or video-out cable via the rear panel.

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