The NEW DimensionTM E510 features a new stylish BTX chassis enabling quiet operation and cooling efficiency. It also provides an Intel® Pentium® 4 processor with HT Technology that can handle many productivity and multimedia applications … see full wiki
Pros: Mid-tower BTX case; very quiet; great performance, easy to maintain.
Cons: Limited upgrade options; only two front USB ports; no PS/2 Ports.
The Bottom Line: The Dimension E510 Media Center Mini-tower is powerful home workstation that is more then adequate for Media Center duties, but also serves well as a small business server platform.
And so it happened; my ever slowing Pentium III based server finally died on me, and it was not a graceful death. When she died she took two hard drives with her. And so I needed to replace the server, my applications server, with a new box, but this time I decided not to go the built-it-myself route, but go in a different direction. Lucky for me my company receives a Dell Employee discount of up to 33 percent.
I spent a week on-line configuring different systems that both fit my specifications (hyper-treading Pentium 4, SATA hard drive backbone, dual channel memory, and DVD/RW drive) and budget parameters. I needed a box that was robust enough to run several Microsoft server applications including AD and SQL server. I looked at Dell, Gateway, and Hewlett Packard, but in the end I settled on the DellDimension E510 mini-tower computer.
--Processor Family: Intel 6 Series (Pentium 4 EM64T) --Operating System: Windows XP Media Center Edition --Installed RAM: 512 MB --Hard Drive Capacity: 250 GB --RAID: Not configured --Graphics Card: ATI Radeon XPRESS x300e --Primary Optical Drive: Dual-Layer DVD /-RW --Secondary Optical Drive: None --Audio: Sound Blaster Audigy 2 ZS (D) Sound Card with Dolby Digital 5.1 and IEEE 1394; --Monitor Type: Analog LCD --Screen Size: 17 inches
Dell designed the Dimension E510 as an entry-level media-center computer and indeed mine shipped with Windows XP Media Center Edition pre-installed. The E510 incorporates the new BTX design into its mid-tower case. The case itself is a sleek white and silver BTX cassis with huge vents cut into the front sides of the case, allowing the fan to draw in a large volume of air. The BTX design calls for more venting slots in the case and a single large fan to keep the innards of the computer cool. The result is a very quite system and I have to strain to hear.
Dell decided to offer only (fast) Intel processors in the E510, including the new Intel Pentium D with dual-core technology. The Pentium D incorporates two execution cores in a single processor chip greatly enhancing the computers performance, or so Intel would have us believe. The E510 can also be ordered with a Pentium 4 630 w/ Hyper-treading technology; I chose this chip. Both chips run on an 800MHz FSB (Front Side Bus), feature 3.0GHz cord speed, 2MB of cache, and accept 533MHz DDR2 SDRAM in either single or dual channel operation. The Pentium 4 630 chip, however it incorporates EM64T-compatibility into its design making the E510 ready for future 64-bit operating systems and software.
The system can be ordered with as little as 256MB of RAM; I choose 1.0GB and later bought 2GB more from Kingston and saved a bundle over the RAM Dell wanted to sell me. The maximum amount of RAM the E510 will accept is 4GB in (4) DIMM slots. Note: the memory is shared with the video card in some instances.
I ordered my E510 with a 250GB SATA drive, and later bought another 250GB-drive to slide into the other open slot. With two drives, RAID can be implemented via the BIOS, but I didnt bother. Since I got the upgraded video (ATI Radeon X300 graphics card) and sound card (Audigy 2 ZS sound card w/FireWire), just about all the expansion slots are filled; there is a single PCIe x1 slot available for future expansion, though at this point I dont see the need.
The E510 has eight USB 2.0 ports (two in front and six in back) and a FireWire port, as well as front audio and microphone jacks. And along with this Dell has included a rather impressive array of features including a 17-inch LCD, dual TV tuners, dual-layer DVD burner and speakers. They round out the system's Media Center capabilities for dealing with music, photos, video and storage, though I do not utilize them; I install Windows 2003 Standard Ed. on the computer.
In addition to Windows XP Media Center Ed., Dell for includes a 15-month subscription to McAfee's Internet Security Suite, which includes antivirus, firewall, anti-spam, and privacy protection. Other software titles include:
--Cyberlink Power DVD version 5.5 --Sonic CinePlayer --Roxio Creator Plus --WordPerfect Productivity Pack
Despite the limited (expandable) capabilities of the DellDimension E510 I do like the unit, a lot, though it is a little larger then I bargained for; I guess I was used to the small footprint of the Dell GX series desktops in our inventory at work. No matter, the mid-tower fits nicely on top of my computer desk, on its side with the light 17 monitor on top. One thing I did not take into consideration when I ordered the machine is the fact that the E510 does not ship with standard PS/2 ports for the keyboard and mouse. The computer does ship with a USB mouse and keyboard so ordinarily this would not be a problem, but I have two other computers on the cart to connect to and do so with a KCM switch that has standard PS/2 connection ports so I improvised. The front panel that houses the front USB ports also has LEDs for the hard drive and back USB ports.
The built-in 10/100/1000 network card (NIC) works as advertised, but I as I stated in earlier reviews of the Dell GX line, I would have preferred a standalone card which could be swapped out, or a card that could be upgrade in the future via firmware. And I wish Dell would stick with one manufacturer; preferably Intel, or 3Com. The NIC chip can be disabled via the BIOS.
I have to admit that I do not utilize the Audigy 2 ZS sound card w/FireWire; and indeed the only reason I got the card was for the built-in FireWire port. The built-in speaker however, offers enough sound to satisfy me. Space on the front panel containing a lone headphone and microphone jacks are a welcome convenience, an innovation it has taken PC manufactures over a decade to incorporate into their designs.
The E510 also includes a 56K modem, but I will not use it.
Cracking open the E510 is a very simple process thanks to a removable (lift-off) side panel. Once inside you will note that like the chassis itself, all internal components are tool-less, and not as densely packed as the GX series I am used to working on. The path from the hard drive controller connector in the rear of the machine, and the SATA hard drives in the front of the chassis is rather lengthy, so be prepared with a at least a 20 inch 90 degree SATA cable if you want to install a second drive. The density of this design made itself apparent when I switched out the system memory; I had to remove both the hard drive and DVD drive in order to get at two sticks.
The eight USB version 2.0 ports (six in the back, two in the front) are a welcome addition especially the two in the front which are not hidden behind an annoying hinged door, though I would like to have seen the number revised somewhat; i.e. four in the back and four in the front. Increasing, the devices that utilize USB ports are portable in nature and having to continually move the Tower in order to access them can become a pain. Nevertheless, I do appreciate the two USB 2.0 port in the front of the tower, though they are quite close together which might hinder the use of more then one at a time.
After I received the E510 I immediately reformatted the drive and install Windows 2003 Standard Edition, so I could use the computer as a server. Despite it stated purpose, the E510, if outfitted with more memory, makes an excellent server platform for small business use. The processor is certainly up to the task as is the bus and memory, and certainly the hard drive. And if you just have to have RAID, that feature can be enabled via the system BIOS. Backing up the system is not a problem; I utilize external high capacity (300GB 400GB) Seagate hard drives for the purpose; they work rather well and cost far less than a comparable taps backup unit.
Service and Support
The Dimension E510 comes standard with a 90-day Limited Warranty with At-Home Service and 1 year of hardware warranty support, giving you 24/7-access to phone and online help. For added peace of mind, you can choose to upgrade your warranty to a full 1, 2, 3 or 4 years.
The DellDimension E510 Media Center Mini-tower is powerful home workstation that is more then adequate for Media Center duties, but also serves well as a small business server platform. For the price ($759.00 including 17 flat panel monitor) the DellDimension E510 is a relatively inexpensive high performance workhorse that more than meets my current computing needs and fits into my network-centric environment with ease.
Operating systems included: Microsoft Windows XP Professional SP1, Microsoft Windows XP Home SP1, or Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005;
Processor: Intel Pentium D with Dual Core Technology w/800MHz FSB, 2.0MB of cache; Intel Pentium 4 Processor with Hype-Threading Technology w/800MHz FSB, 2.0MB cache;
Memory description: 256MB shared single channel DDR2-533MHz SDRAM standard, upgradeable to 4GB of shared dual channel DDR2-533MHz SDRAM;
Memory slots: 4 DIMMs;
Hard drive, internal: Up to 250B 7200rpm SATA;
Hard disk controller: integrated ATA/100 Dual Channel integrated 2-channel Ultra SATA-160;
Optical drive: CD ROM, CD-RW, DVD-ROM, or DVD-RW;
Drive bays: (2) 3.5" internal; (1) 3.5" external, or 9-in-1 media card reader; (2) 5.25" external;
Internal audio: Integrated 7.1 channel audio with Internal Speaker; Optional: Sound Blaster Live! 24-bit ADVANCED HD Audio; Optional: Sound Blaster Audigy 2 ZS (D) Sound Card with Dolby Digital 5.1 and IEEE 1394;
I/O (input/output) ports: 8 USB 2.0 (2 front, 6 back, 1 internal), (1) RJ-45, 1 VGA, audio in/out, headphone and microphone (Back & Front panels);
Graphics card(s) available: 128MB PCI Express x16 ATI Radeon X300 SE Hypermemory (DVI/VGA/TV-out); or 256MB PCI Express x16 ATI® Radeon X600 SE Hypermemory (DVI/VGA/TV-out);