It was definitely interesting to take a look at the performance of the Inspiron 580s since it takes advantage of Intel’s new Clarkdale architecture. The Core i3 CPU and accompanying on-die graphics are a pretty big step forward in terms of technology. The Core i3 in this desktop is a dual-core processor, but offers Intel’s HyperThreading, which adds additional virtual cores in order to maximize the thread coverage being processed by the CPU. In all, it showed a big jump in performance over the Core 2 Quads we saw in these slimline types of machines last year: while the C2Q Q8200, for example, processed through wPrime slightly faster, it also had twice as many physical cores.
wPrime CPU performance comparison results (lower scores mean better performance):
|Dell Studio Slim (Intel Core 2 Quad Q8200 @ 2.33GHz)||16.301s|
|Dell Inspiron 580s (Intel Core i3-530 @ 2.93GHz)||19.622s|
|Dell Studio One 19 (Intel Pentium Dual Core E5200 @ 2.5GHz)||30.999s|
|Lenovo A600 All-in-one (Core 2 Duo P7450 @ 2.13GHz)||37.363s|
|HP TouchSmart 600 (Intel Core 2 Duo P7450 @ 2.13GHz)||38.393s|
PCMark05 overall general performance comparison results (higher scores mean better performance):
|Dell Inspiron 580s (Intel Core i3-530 @ 2.93GHz)||7015 PCMarks|
|Dell Studio Slim (Intel Core 2 Quad Q8200 @ 2.33GHz)||6887 PCMarks|
|Lenovo A600 All-in-one (Core 2 Duo P7450 @ 2.13GHz)||5589 PCMarks|
|Dell Studio One 19 (Intel Pentium Dual Core E5200 @ 2.5GHz)||5433 PCMarks|
|HP TouchSmart IQ506 (Core 2 Duo T5850 @ 2.16 GHz)||5189 PCMarks|
|HP TouchSmart 600 (Intel Core 2 Duo P7450 @ 2.13GHz)||5173 PCMarks|
PCMark Vantage overall general performance comparison results (higher scores mean better performance):
|Desktop||PCMark Vantage Score|
|HP Pavilion Elite m9600t (Intel Core i7 920 @ 2.66GHz)||6479 PCMarks|
|Dell Inspiron 580s (Intel Core i3-530 @ 2.93GHz)||6287 PCMarks|
|Alienware Area-51 790i (Intel Core 2 Quad Q9450 @ 2.66GHz)||5976 PCMarks|
|HP Pavilion Elite e9120f (AMD Phenom II X4 910 @ 2.6GHz)||5801 PCMarks|
|HP Pavilion Slimline s5160f (Intel Core 2 Quad Q8200 @ 2.33GHz)||5280 PCMarks|
|HP Pavilion p6130f (AMD Phenom I X4 9750 @ 2.4GHz)||5157 PCMarks|
3DMark06 overall graphics performance comparison results (higher scores mean better performance):
|Gateway DX4300 (Athlon II X4 810, ATI HD4650)||5183 3DMarks|
|HP Pavilion Slimline s5160f (Core 2 Quad Q8200, NVIDIA G210)||2547 3DMarks|
|Dell Studio One 19 (Pentium Dual Core E5200, NVIDIA 9400)||1966 3DMarks|
|Dell Studio Slim (Core 2 Quad Q8200, ATI HD3450)||1820 3DMarks|
|Dell Inspiron 580s (Core i3-530, Intel GMA HD)||1702 3DMarks|
|Apple Mac Mini (Core 2 Duo P7350, NVIDIA 9400M)||1552 3DMarks|
The graphics technology, however, while slightly faster, isn’t all that impressive in terms of overall performance. There’s noticeable improvement over former integrated graphics found in similar systems, but it’s not going to be something you can use for gaming, or even the increasingly common GPU-accelerated software apps. Users will be able to use it to handle HD decoding but frankly the CPU is more than powerful enough to handle it, anyway.
Just to put the new on-die GPU through its paces, we installed Left4Dead 2 on the Inspiron 580s just to see what could happen. On low and medium settings, with a resolution of 1280×720, the game managed to pull an average of around 24 frames per second. That’s actually pretty respectable for Intel graphics. Knocking it down to 720×480 and setting things to low actually pushed framerates up closer to 40 frames per second, but, well, ew.
Power and Noise
While businesses have been doing it since the dawn of computing, average consumers are finally taking a look at some of the overall costs of ownership (TCO) involved with computers these days; part of that includes concepts like build quality and power efficiency. The latter is especially important as efficiency standards such as the EnergyStar certification become stricter and energy costs rise. At idle, the Inspiron 580s only draws 36 watts, which isn’t bad for a desktop, and certainly not for one that offers decent processor capability.
Pushing the computer to handle more intensive tasks naturally draws greater current from the outlet. Maxing out the processor, graphics and hard drive still took up less electricity than the idle draw of our recent Alienware, pulling down only 99W.
Dell isn’t the first computer manufacturer to offer an attractive-yet-capable slim form factor desktop, but that certainly doesn’t mean their efforts should be discounted. Taking advantage of new processor and graphics technologies from Intel and mixing it with solid build quality and an attractive design, the Inspiron 580s is a solid value-priced entrant to the market.
Of course, it does have its downsides: despite being marketed in the slim / small form factor segment of the industry, the 580s is surprisingly big. Additionally, while it does give admirable performance, some of Dell’s competitors might just offer a more compelling product even though it uses last generation processors. Still, for users looking for a solid, attractive and not-too-expensive PC, the Dell Inspiron 580s is a worthy choice.
- Solid performance
- Highly expandable
- Weirdly tall