CNET

 

 

CNET EDITORS' RATING 
3.5 Stars | Very Good

Reviewed by: Rich Brown
Reviewed on: 08/19/2011
Released on: 06/01/2011

Dell Inspiron 620 MT

The good: The Dell Inspiron 620 offers a welcome departure from the glossy black sea of desktop conformity, along with some helpful case features and a strong traditional configuration.

The bad: Upgrade options are limited for this system due to some corner-cutting on the motherboard.

The bottom line:

Look no further than the Dell Inspiron 620 if you're interested in a mainstream PC with strong computing features housed in a case that dares to stand out in a sea of desktop conformity.

We like the Dell Inspiron 620 for a few reasons. We appreciate that Dell has the guts to sell this midtower PC in a color other than glossy black. We also like that the case has a few touches that make life easier for upgraders. Our $803 review configuration is also refreshingly focused on traditional computing performance and entry-level gaming. For its performance, and with so many Windows desktops out there of uninspiring appearance, we recommend this PC to those looking for a desktop with some flair.

Dell offers the Inspiron 620 in five different bezel colors, and also in a slim tower case. Any color other than black will add $29 to the price, but we expect some design-minded buyers won't mind paying the added amount. We also credit Dell for letting the color stand on its own, as the rest of the exterior is free of lighting, chrome accents, and other design flourishes.

 

Dell Inspiron 620

HP Pavilion P7 1070T

Gateway DX4850-45u

Price

USD $803

USD $729

USD $599

CPU

2.9GHz Intel Core i5 2310

3.1GHz Intel Core i3 2100

2.8GHz Intel Core i5 2300

Memory

6GB 1,333MHz DDR3 SDRAM

8GB 1,333MHz DDR3 SDRAM

6GB 1,333MHz DDR3 SDRAM

Graphics

1GB AMD Radeon HD 6450 graphics card

64MB Intel HD Graphics 2000 embedded graphics

64MB Intel HD Graphics 2000 embedded graphics

Hard drives

1TB 7,200rpm

1TB 7,200rpm

1TB 5,400rpm

Optical drive

DVD-burner

DVD-burner

Blu-ray/DVD burner combo

Networking

Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11b/g/n

Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11b/g/n

Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11b/g/n

Operating system

Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit)

Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit)

Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit)


In a static pricing environment, the Inspiron 620 is a fair deal, but aggressive price cuts to the Gateway DX4850-45u have thrown off the mainstream desktop value curve. The DX4850-45u started above USD $750 when it launched this spring, but you can reliably find it for less than USD $600 on Newegg. It has a slower hard drive than the Dell Inspiron 620 and no dedicated graphics card, but the Gateway boasts a Blu-ray drive where the Dell has only a standard DVD burner. We expect most people shopping for a midtower PC would rather have a 3D card than a Blu-ray drive, but the fact that the Dell costs USD $200 more than this Gateway makes the Dell's price harder to justify. Still, our performance tests show that the Gateway has some real performance struggles compared with the Dell, making the Inspiron 620 a better pick for the traditional PC users for whom this configuration is designed.

Dell Inspiron 620 MT - CNET Review Bar Graph

Dell Inspiron 620 MT - CNET Review Bar Graph

Dell Inspiron 620 MT - CNET Review Bar Graph

Dell Inspiron 620 MT - CNET Review Bar Graph
Dell Inspiron 620 MT - CNET Review Bar Graph

The Inspiron 620 performs exactly as expected given its Intel Core i5 2130 CPU. It keeps pace with the USD $829 HP Pavilion Slimline S5 1060, which has the same CPU, memory, and graphics card configuration. You won't find many day-to-day programs that give the Dell a significant challenge, and even basic video editing and lower-resolution 3D gaming are within its reach.

We wouldn't expect too much more from this Dell by way of upgrades. Its 300-watt power supply will limit you to budget graphics cards, and with only two RAM slots, you can't add extra memory without junking the sticks that came with it. If you don't get room to improve its performance, the Inspiron at least offers some space for added features. The system comes with a spare, conveniently outward-facing hard drive via  conveniently outward-facing drive slot, as well as two free 1X PCI Express slots for expansion cards. The card and hard-drive expansion options are reasonable, but we'd prefer to see two spare memory stick slots as well.

If we don't love the upgrade potential of this desktop, we at least appreciate the design touches that simplify the upgrades you can make. A hinged plate folds down across the top of the entire row of expansion card brackets, and you can pop it off to free the cards or add new ones via a simple yet secure thumb latch. That's a much better system than for other plates we've seen, and of course it's also more convenient than individual screws. We also like that the spare hard drive bay faces out of the case, and has the requisite power and data cables situated in front of it, standing by to receive more storage.

We wish Dell had been as inspired regarding the Inspiron 620's external connectivity. The system comes with plenty of USB 2.0 jacks, and you get VGA, DVI, and HDMI video outputs on the graphics card, but in keeping with recent trends among sub- USD $1,000 desktops, you only get 5.1 analog audio jack support, and no USB 3.0, eSATA, FireWire, or other external data connectivity. Dell is not the only desktop vendor guilty of skimping on ports. Recent systems from Acer and Hewlett-Packard all also lack most of the features missing from the Dell. Whether this is due to cost-cutting measures, better marketing data, or some other factor, we can't say. All we know is that it's disheartening to see desktops losing functionality we're accustomed to in this price range.

Juice box

Dell Inspiron 620

Average watts per hour

Off (watts)

0.42

Sleep (watts)

2.15

Idle (watts)

41.4

Load (watts)

84.7

Raw (annual kWh)

166.99626

Energy Star-compliant

Yes

Annual power consumption cost (@USD $0.1135/kWh)

USD $18.95


Prices listed in USD $

Dell Inspiron 620 MT - CNET Review Bar Graph

The Inspiron 620's power consumption falls in line with its performance; in other words, it draws more power than other desktops in its price range because it's faster. We suspect the bulk of its added power draw comes from its graphics card, but the overall cost increase should be manageable for most of you.

Dell's service and support compare well with its mainstream competition. You get 24x7 phone support, a yearlong parts-and-labor warranty, a variety of support resources online, and various diagnostic tools on the system itself.

Conclusions
From its blessedly unique color options to its traditional, pure computing-oriented configuration, this Dell Inspiron 620 shines as a mainstream desktop. Its only drawbacks are tough competition from older systems still on the market at lower prices, and a few cut corners that limit its upgradability. Neither of those issues will stop us from recommending this PC to shoppers looking for a well-rounded, general-purpose desktop.

Find out more about how we test desktop systems.

System configurations:

Acer Aspire AM3970-U5022
Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit); 3,1GHz Intel Core i3 2100; 6GB 1,333MHz DDR3 SDRAM; 64MB (shared) Intel HD Graphics 2000 embedded graphics; 1TB 5,400rpm Western Digital hard drive

Dell Inspiron 620
Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit); 3,1GHz Intel Core i5 2310; 6GB 1,333MHz DDR3 SDRAM; 1GB AMD Radeon HD 6450 graphics card; 1TB 7,200rpm Western Digital hard drive

Gateway DX4850-45
Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit); 2.8GHz Intel Core i5 230; 6GB 1,066MHz DDR3 SDRAM; 64MB Intel HD 2000 embedded graphics; 1TB, 5,400rpm hard drive

HP Pavilion P7 1070T
Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit); 3,1GHz Intel Core i3 2100; 8GB 1,333MHz DDR3 SDRAM; 64MB (shared) Intel HD Graphics 2000 embedded graphics; 1TB 7,200rpm Hitachi hard drive

HP Pavilion Slimline S5 1060
Windows 7 Home Premium SP1 (64-bit); 2.9GHz Intel Core i5 2130; 6GB 1,333MHz DDR3 SDRAM; 512MB AMD Radeon HD 6450; 1TB 7,200rpm Hitachi hard drive

Lenovo H320
Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit); 3.2GHz Intel Core i5 650; 6GB 1,066MHZ DDR3 SDRAM; 512MB NVIDIA GeForce 310; 640GB, 7,200rpm hard drive

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