Dell Dimension C521

Dell Dimension C521
  • Dell Dimension C521
  • Dell Dimension C521
  • Dell Dimension C521
  • Expert Rating

    3.50 / 5

Pros

  • Slim design, media card reader, quiet operation

Cons

  • Single hard drive bay, limited expansion options

Bottom Line

The Dell C521 is a reasonable performer for the price. On top of the 17in LCD, keyboard and mouse, the inclusion of a media card reader accommodates the growing use of digital cameras with home computers. Test results indicate it will work well for most office or home tasks and any performance shortcomings could at least be improved by a RAM upgrade down the track.

Would you buy this?

For under $1000 the Dell C521 comes with a 17in LCD screen, keyboard and a mouse, making it a complete package that's ready to go from the moment it's delivered. As a budget option we were reasonably happy with the performance of this AMD-based machine, and as Dell units are built to order this system can easily be expanded to better fit your needs.

The compact design makes it ideal for cramped working conditions and the case can be positioned upright on its side or laid flat like a DVD player. The clean white chassis has a silver fascia, which houses a few helpful devices for a diversity of uses. In our budget model a DVD-ROM is installed, though this can be upgraded during the purchase for a small additional cost. Two USB ports as well as both audio and microphone ports are easily accessible at the front. One of the nicest additions though is the inclusion of a 13-in-1 media card reader for transferring your photos to the PC.

We ran World Bench 5 to see how the system performed. The PC completed all but the MusicMatch WAV to MP3 conversion test due to an error with the benchmark software. For this reason, an overall World Bench 5 score was not obtained. However, individual results show that that it was above average in performance across most of the essential software tasks, such as using Microsoft Office and Adobe Photoshop. Media encoding tasks and the multi-tasking test showed less impressive results. However, the installed AMD Athlon 64 3500+ CPU is a good piece of hardware and upgrading the base systems 512MB of RAM to at least 1GB would likely bring a welcome performance boost in these areas. We also encoded 53 minutes of WAV files to 192Kbps MP3 files using Cdex, which the Dimension C521 completed in one minute 59 seconds. This time indicates that the C521's encoding capabilities should be fine for most peoples music encoding needs.

The system includes a GeForce 6160LE integrated graphics chip, a simple graphics solution not aimed at gamers or high end rendering, but a score of 4622 in 3DMark 2001 SE shows it can handle some older games at least.

There's only one PCI Express and one standard PCI expansion slot for upgrades, but the clip-in system on the rear panel makes this an easy task for quick changes even if you're doing an upgrade for the first time. Due to the size of the case only one hard drive slot is available. Increasing your storage space will require an external storage option or a replacement hard drive. Dell has used an AMD BTX motherboard. Although only a DVD-ROM is installed in the system, it is a SATA DVD-ROM, the first system we've seen with one of these. A passive heatsink on the CPU is cooled by one single case fan. This fan also pushes air across the chipset and out of the case. This configuration results in a fairly quiet operation.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Show Comments

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Laura Johnston

MSI GS65 Stealth Thin

If you can afford the price tag, it is well worth the money. It out performs any other laptop I have tried for gaming, and the transportable design and incredible display also make it ideal for work.

Andrew Teoh

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?