Dell Inspiron Small 3000

Dell updates its low cost slim desktop with extra memory

Dell Inspiron 3000 Small Budget Desktop PC
Dell Inspiron 3000 Small. ©Dell

Dell's Inspiron Small 3000 still is the best all around system for those looking at a desktop PC for under $400. It offers good performance, lots of memory and storage and even wireless networking. About the only drawback is that the small system is its size prevents many after market upgrades.

Pros

  • Twice the Memory of Most Budget Systems
  • Wireless Networking

Cons

  • Compact Case Design Limits Internal Upgrades

Description

  • Intel Pentium G3250 Dual Core Desktop Processor
  • 8GB PC3-12800 DDR3 Memory
  • 1TB 7200rpm SATA Hard Drive
  • Dual Layer DVD+/-RW Burner
  • Intel HD Graphics Integrated Graphics
  • HDA 5.1 Audio Support
  • Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11b/g/n Wireless, Bluetooth
  • Two USB 3.0, Six USB 2.0, HDMI, VGA, 8-in-1 Card Reader
  • Windows 8.1

Review - Dell Inspiron Small 3000 

Dell's Inspiron Small 3000 essentially remains mostly unchanged from the last year's model but with a few minor tweaks. This is a slim case design system that is really meant to be purchased as is without the intention of upgrading it. It is possible to do a few upgrades after market but the compact size makes it more difficult to do.

In terms of performance, it makes a few changes. It does uses a slower Pentium G3250 dual core processor but sometimes there are specials where it comes with the faster Core i3. Most people probably would not be able to distinguish the difference between the two. It should provide more than enough performance for the average user. The big difference is that now Dell is shipping the system with 8GB of DDR3 memory, twice what most systems in this range offer. This provides a smoother overall experience in Windows and allows the system to do some more demanding tasks like desktop video or multitasking.

Storage features remain unchanged which is good but many more companies are now offering one terabyte hard drives in their budget systems. This means it has less of an advantage in terms of providing storage space for applications, data and media files than the competition. If you need to add even more space, the compact design essentially prevents any internal upgrades but the system does feature two USB 3.0 ports for use with high speed external hard drives. There is a dual layer DVD burner for playback and recording of CD or DVD media which many smaller systems are starting to remove for space reasons.

Graphics remain unchanged. It still uses the Intel HD Graphics 4400 that are built into the Core i3 processor. This has limited 3D graphics support such that it is not really suitable for PC gaming beyond running older games at low resolutions and detail levels. If does allow for the system to provide some acceleration of media encoding with Quick Sync compatible applications. If you want to upgrade the graphics, it is possible but quite difficult. The first obstacle is the 220 watt power supply which means that the graphic card cannot require external power. Second, the case limits the size of the card to being a single slot wide and of limited length So be sure to research graphics cards to make sure it would fit before buying.

Finally, Dell does include a 802.11b/g/n wireless network with the Inspiron Small 3000. This is something that most low cost desktop towers do not include and it makes it easier to attach to an existing Wi-Fi network rather than having to run Ethernet cables. On the flip side, most of the mini-PC systems generally feature Wi-Fi networking standard but often overlook the Ethernet connector.

Pricing for the Inspiron Small 3000 remains around $400. The only drawback is that sometimes this price configuration drops the Core i3 processor for a slightly slower Pentium. In terms of competing systems, the Acer Aspire AXC-605-UR11 is the closest both in terms of size and performance. It uses the faster Core i3 processor. Dell still has the advantage because of the memory, hard drive and wireless network. If you want to spend a little less and don't mind a larger system, the ASUS K30AD-US003O comes with the older Windows 7 operating system but has only 4GB of memory and no wireless.