After a week of slugging it out in the office on the ageing PC, my boss finally approved the purchase of new Dell Vostro 200 computer system as the old PC was affecting my ability to do anything with its sluggish speed. Quickly checking through the Dell online website, I narrowed down my choice to the Dell Vostro range.
As usual, purchasing Dell computers requires some customization to make it suit your needs. And often not, you have to choose a higher range rather than choosing a lower range and make your changes. You will find that there was a price disparity of up to RM200 so make your choices wisely! In addition, nowadays Intel uses code instead of speed to differentiate the CPU grade. So you will need to check out the specs before deciding on the Dell model sporting the more powerful CPU, lest you end up paying more for a less powerful CPU.
I decided to go for Dell Vostro 200 slim tower version thinking that slim casing would save me some space plus it looks really great. There were pros and cons using a slim casing. Yes, slim looks cute and uses up less footprint space and seems to go with the current clothing fashion trend of slim pants and fit bodies. The big drawback was the amount of space available within the casing for additional components and the cooling ability because of tighter airflow spaces. As I was not aware that this casing didn’t come with a daughter board unlike the previous slim casing of Dell Dimension series, I tried to save cost by not purchasing a modem thinking of swapping the older PC’s modem over to the Dell Vostro. To my dismay, the PCI modem wouldn’t fit into the new computer. Ouch, too bad. Now I have to think how to propose to my boss how to purchase a USB version of a dial-up modem. The modem was just for emergency for those periods when Streamyx broadband service becomes unavailable every now and then. Talk about poor ISP performance, it gets worse the month before major school holidays and more people tend to log in online looking for holiday destination!
Delivery was quick once you log in your order, took about five days from the day I placed my order despite Dell personal calling up and saying that there might be shortage of 19″ monitors and thus a possible delay in my shipment.
Opening the box, the smell of a new computer always makes you feel good. Setting up the PC and firing it up, the speed was really fast with its Core2Duo E4500 CPU. Although I fitted it with 2GB DDR2-667MHz RAM, this Vostro has the additional slot for putting more 2 more rows of RAM memory, which mean possible future upgrade to improve its performance in comparison with the previous Dimension series which only gave 2 slots making memory upgrades difficult with its lack of memory slots.
The build in Intel G33/G31 chipset for graphics was pretty adequate and got a windows experience performance index of 3.4. Much better than my Gigabyte GA-MA69G-S3H build in ATI Radeon X1250 graphic chipset which got a score of 3.0. In most PC, the lowest score is usually in the graphic section because using a good graphic card is quite expensive and could rival the price of the CPU itself.
As like most computers, its usefulness was the software loaded onto it, otherwise it just an expensive empty shell. However, software are actually quite expensive especially if you want to keep it legal. So I ordered the OEM Microsoft Office 2007 Basic edition which only has the three most often used application, namely Excel, Word and Outlook. Cost about RM480 to add on. It was still cheaper than buying retail which goes for RM530 at the ALL IT mall. Since I seldom do any PowerPoint presentation in the office, I figured I could make do with the free Open Office version if the need arises because buying the full suite Office Professional OEM version which included the PowerPoint and Access software would have cost a whopping RM1000!
Getting a new PC may be wonderful, but transferring the data over and setting up and installing back all the software application that I was using was really time consuming. I have a dozen software applications from Web building to Photo editors, plus miscellaneous little useful programs. Not to mention tweaking the Vostro 200 to my satisfaction took up quite a lot of time. The biggest headache was setting up the MSN Windows Live Messenger. It wouldn’t log in no matter what I did. Cracking that problem took me another day of combing the websites for a solution.
Other than that, I should say the Dell Vostro 200 slim tower was really good with its slim casing and processing power and some ability for memory upgrade when the need arises. The cons with its sexy slim casing is not being able to put in any additional PCI / PCI-Ex component because it did not use the standard width plus the reduced ability for cooling due to tighter air flow space.
Looks like I have to modify the PCI modem card to fit into the slim tower structure of Dell Vostro 200. It didn’t look that difficult. All I needed to do was to get a modem that was narrow and removed the metal guard by unscrewing the two screws.
I could fit the PCI modem into the PCI slot and was able to close the casing cover. Without the metal piece to keep the card steady, made the PCI modem sit a little loose into the slot. There might be danger if it moved too much it might pry and break the slot. Just have to be careful if I’m moving the PC about with the telephone cables attached. Other than that the PCI modem worked just fine. The driver installation was a breeze and I could connect online. Though it was funny how it crashed the broadband line when I tried the dial up. It must be because of the shared line causing interference. No matter, just hang up the dial up modem and reinitialized the router to reconnect the broadband service.