Dell Dimension 4550 Review
Dell Dimension 4550
One day I was surfing Dell's website to help a friend purchase a new computer and I stumbled across this baby. I know that I did not need a new computer. I had just built myself an Athlon 1700+ XP based system earlier this year. But when I ran the price I just couldn't say no! No reasonable computer nut could.
System as Tested
- Pentium 4 2.4Ghz CPU with 533MHz system bus and 512K L2 Cache
- 512MB DDR333 SDRAM
- 64MB DDR NVIDIA GeForce4™ MX Graphics Card with TV-Out
- 60GB Ultra ATA/100 7200RPM Hard Drive
- 16x Max DVD-ROM Drive
- 40x/10x/40x Max CD-RW (Free Upgrade!)
- Integrated Audio
- 15 in (15.0 in viewable) E151FP Flat Panel Display (Free Upgrade)
- Integrated Intel® PRO 10/100 Ethernet
- Dell® Quietkey® Keyboard (I have a Logitech Wireless Keyboard)
- Dell® 2-button scroll mouse (I have a Logitech Wireless Mouse)
- 3.5 in Floppy Drive
- New Harman Kardon® HK-206 Speakers (I use my BOSE System)
- Microsoft® Windows® XP Home Edition (Replaced with RedHat)
- Microsoft® Works Suite 2002 w/Money Standard (OpenOffice)
- 3 Year Limited Warranty plus 3 Year At-Home Service
I was pretty impressed at how well RedHat 8.0 installed onto this computer. It even recognized my flat-panel. The only major problem I had was that the integrated audio is not support in the current Linux kernel. I grabbed 2.4.19 (now it is 2.4.20), patched it with an AC (Alan Cox) patch and was able to get the sound working. I have been running a stable system for about a month now and have not run into any problems.
As far as looks go Dell systems are not the prettiest. For a mass produced system I think they look rather good, grey and charcoal. At least it is not a boring beige! I like having USB ports up front.
I am still working on getting the DVD drive to play movies. I personally don't care about it but it would be nice to know it works. The CD burner works great. I use both Arson and Gnome Toaster to burn CD's. Although the GeForce 4 MX isn't the best card on the market it is Linux Friendly and allows me to play the latest games. Unreal Tournament 2003 looks great and runs like a champ!
The LCD flat panel is not top of the line but it gives me sharp images (no ghosts) and is fairly bright. It does its job rather nicely. I wanted a space saver and it was a free upgrade. Looks like I won there! The speakers just plain suck. For business audio they are great. For gaming and music just chuck them. I ordered them so I could have a spare set. I just plug my system into my home entertainment center. That way I can really get the bass thumping.
The onboard Intel LAN card is Linux friendly. It also came with a modem which I doubt is Linux compatible. If it is let me know. I use a BSD gateway anyhow. The 512 MB of DDR is great but I could use 1GB of it. I love the 533MHz front side bus. My laptop has a 400MHz FSB and I can definitely tell the difference. I may get the bug to upgrade to a larger CPU though.
I do not have any benchmarks for this system. I can guarantee you that it is fast, especially if you tweak the kernel. It has given me no trouble yet, running 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. I am happier with this system than my Athlon XP system (now a server). I really believe that I got great bang for the buck! Since I mostly purchase Dell computers at work I know that they are really reliable. I have also helped family and friends purchase Dell computers. All have proved extremely reliable, despite some of them running Windows ME. I was a bit irritated that the sound would not work under a standard kernel. The 2.5 line or an AC patch will cure that problem.
ConclusionThe Good - Pros
- Linux friendly
- Great value
The Bad - Cons
- The onboard sound does not work. Patch it or get a Soundblaster
The Ugly - Issues
- Kernel patch required to get the sound running
The Verdict - Opinion
Great system. I love it.