Dell Dimension 3100

For users on a budget, the Dimension 3100 has most of its bases covered despite there being alternatives that provide superior value for money.

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When it comes to desktop PCs, black -- with a hint of silver -- is clearly the new beige. It's taken a while for some OEMs to realise that beige is by far the dullest colour for a PC, but one vendor that's had it right pretty much from the beginning is Dell. The Dimension 3100 is mostly black, with silver trimmings, and shouldn't embarrass even the most fashion-conscious user.

It's designed with plug-and-play firmly in mind -- there's a memory card reader up front that supports all of the major formats, as well as two USB 2.0 ports and a headphone jack. Yet peripheral junkies shouldn't be alarmed, as there's a further four USB 2.0 ports around back. It's unfortunate that the machine lacks a Firewire port, albeit the standard is arguably on its way out anyway.

It's important to note that the memory card reader takes up the system's only 3.5-inch drive bay, so those that require a floppy disk drive will have to either forego the card reader or make do with an external drive.

Dell builds its computers to order, so technical specifications can vary wildly depending on how much money you've got to spend. We were specifically looking for a sub-AU$1500 system, so our model came equipped with an Intel Pentium 4 630 (3GHz) processor, 512MB DDRII-533 memory and a 160GB hard drive.

This is fairly substantial for a system of this price, but there are a few facts to keep in mind. Firstly, the machine's processor is a single core model -- as opposed to the dual-core offerings that have risen to ubiquity over the past six months -- so multi-tasking and system intensive applications such as video editing are at times sluggish. Additionally, the system uses both integrated graphics (Intel Graphics Media Accelerator 900) and integrated sound (2-channel), so don't expect tantalising gaming or DVD playback performance.

The lack of decent graphics and sound hardware is odd considering the fact that the machine uses the Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005 operating system, but again this is largely due to the sub-AU$1500 price tag. Also limiting its media centre abilities is the fact that the 3100 isn't Viiv-certified as yet.

Despite the sub-standard graphics and sound hardware, the 3100 does boast some hallmarks of a high-end system, such as a 160GB hard drive (as mentioned above) and a 16x DVD+/-RW drive. Dell is even generous enough to throw in a USB keyboard and optical mouse into the mix, as well as a set of basic stereo speakers.

Software-wise, the 3100 is quite bare, bundling Microsoft Works 7.0, Sonic MyDVD and Sonic Digital Media. Of course, applications such as Microsoft Office can be included with the system at an additional cost.

The 3100 performs as expected for a PC in its price range. In our SYSMark 2004 SE tests its score was virtually identical to the similarly priced Optima WorkPro 7000T. It's great for basic office productivity tasks and some multimedia applications (such as occasional DVD viewing), but don't expect performance that's anywhere near that of a high-end machine.

BAPCo SYSmark 2004 SE performance rating
(Longer bars indicate better performance)

161 158

Its 3DMark06 scores were predictably dismal thanks to the integrated graphics solution. Note that while the Optima machine produced a score that's three times faster than the 3100, neither machine is realistically suitable for even casual gaming, let alone hardcore use.

3DMark2006 performance rating
(Longer bars indicate better performance)

66 181

If your PC lives in your bedroom, you'll be pleased to hear that the 3100 is virtually inaudible. That's not to say that it offers inadequate cooling, but rather the case has been designed in such a way that airflow is efficient enough to keep the system cool using only a few larger, slow spinning fans.

Finally, the machine comes with a one year limited warranty with next business day onsite service and standard phone support. It also includes Dell's PC Restore software should you get hit with a nasty virus.

For users on a budget, the Dimension 3100 has most of its bases covered despite there being alternatives -- such as the Optima WorkPro 7000T -- that provide superior value for money.

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Rain posted a review   

The Good:nothing much but cheap only

The Bad:everything, crappy speed, barely able to upgrade ram

i would just stay away from this


snow posted a reply   

lol well obviously this computer is from 2005 and it isnt that bad cause i own one and a few pci card and psu upgrades its a pretty decent machine


R3claimer posted a review   

The Good:Relatively quiet (despite what most people here say), it's pretty stable and I've only had about 1 crash, which was basically my fault, you can upgrade the RAM to speed things up to an acceptable level.

The Bad:Lack of expansion option (PCI and PCI-E x1 slots only), Integrated graphics hinder this computer's entire value, and I'm not sure about the standard HDD size for this computer, but mine only shipped with an 80GB HDD, 70GB after XP and other misc startup sofware was installed.

I bought this computer thinking it would be a huge step up from the old computer I was running. And it was. (It was running Windows Millennium Edition and only had around 256mb of RAM.) This computer would be wonderful as a business class computer, if all the normal person ran were spreadsheets and Word documents. However, I wanted to use it for all my needs. Running games, playing video, multitasking and so on. This computer is just not equipped for any of that. It's my fault for assuming that I could use this for years to come. I couldn't upgrade that Video Card unless I was willing to buy rare sub-par PCI-E x1 video cards that were overly expensive ($120+) considering that they would only boost my frames per second to around 50FPS for games released before 2002. Another complaint would have to be the ridiculously small HDD. 70GB? Laughable.

Overall, if your only need is to use this as your business computer, the computer isn't bad. For anything else, you're just tossing money into a machine that was severely outdated at its launch.


kikwear12 posted a review   

The Good:Great bang for the buck

The Bad:Idiots not knowing how to use it

This computer is a great base to a gaming computer. It does lack a good graphics card but can be upgraded to a better one. Run 4gb of mem 1Tb hard drive and geforece 9800gt and its good to go.


jclynn67 posted a review   

The Good:NONE! You know the saying you get what you paid for (referring to deals) well that is not even the case ... you don't even get a cheap computer ... you get the shaft big time.

The Bad:Everything! Cheap is not the word for it! Not worth what it will cost to dispose of this junk!

Piece of crap ... it's cheaply priced ... it's cheaply made ... it's junk! I wouldn't buy another Dell computer EVER! I wouldn't even take it if it was free!


Lenderian posted a review   

The Good:Fast,Cheap,stable,lots of harddrive space, 600 watt powersupply works nicely, Can run F.E.A.R

The Bad:Integrated graphics have major compatability issues, No vertex support no TnL support Sometimes struggles to run
Can't really be upgraded Pci and pci-e x1 slots only...

I find this computer has its pros and cons mainly cons It is at least fast

Un Happy Dell Customer

Un Happy Dell Customer posted a review   

The Good:The only pro is it hasn't crashed in a year. I cant find anything good about it. other then it was cheaply priced and came with and even cheaper made monitor. I wouldn't have paid 50.00 for.

The Bad:Its noisy, and rattles reminds me of a old truck. I added a video card and SB card because the hardware supplied was worse then anything I would have bought in 1999. Dell should be ashamed at even releasing crap like this. Its cheap and its shows. You could have. I am seriously thinking I should have went HP. I know HP's are great, but wen a bench mark wont even beat a HP 2.0 hmm I am thinking thats my next purchase or just build one.

Slows and buggy, bench mark test, place a 3.2 Gig system below a cheaper 2.0 what gives Dell. Dell is closing support shops all over the united states and shipping the tech over sees. The quality and service is lacking so bad that I am unsure if Dell will even exist in 5 years. May go the way of AOL.
Machine rattles and grinds like an old truck ( this was outta the box)


t posted a review   

The Good:sales team know the job well!!!!

The Bad:see above!

my "smell 3100" is slow & unstable at best! dell support is crap!
i wanted a decent pc but i got a 3 legged donkey instead!
special thanks to "smell!"

Dorothy Harper

Dorothy Harper posted a review   

The Good:Two prior Dells were wonderful, no problems, wonderful service, this branch new E310 is lacking in everything. I am happy that Dell stock has plunged, I am happy that lay offs are rampant, I am happy that Mr. Dell is back in the fold trying to save a company that has fallen from number One to Zero. My only consolation is reading remarks from other dissatisfied customers and advising friends never to purchase a Dell.

The Bad:I had to hire a tech to come to my house, I refuse to spend another 3 hours on the phone to India trying to diagnose my problem and then having to PC Restore anyway.. My four year warranty only applies to parts. I surely wish I had been informed of this when I purchased this from Dell last July.

I would like to know if there is a class action law suit against Dell for the E310 desk top. Had to replace my F drive 2 months after purchase, I refuse to sit on the phone for another 3 hours until the tech in India diagnoses my machine when a tech could have done it in a few minutes. Trouble shooting is redundant, emailing them is laughable, my only consolation is advising others never to purchase a Dell. The 4 year warranty means nothing unless you need a part and determining that is torture. I hate this machine.


stychy posted a review   

The Good:Great all rounder I Play c&c3 And it works pretty decent with Graphics on Medium

The Bad:No agp slot 4 better graphics card Basically thats about it only can have pci graphics cards

I have 1 of these And i dont really get probs at all i have 2 external 250gb hard drives i have a geforce 6200 pci card 2x dvd rw 2gb of ram 5.1 sound card gr8 surround sound and a 17 inch monitor

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User Reviews / Comments  Dell Dimension 3100

  • Rain



    "i would just stay away from this"

  • R3claimer



    "I bought this computer thinking it would be a huge step up from the old computer I was running. And it was. (It was running Windows Millennium Edition and only had around 256mb of RAM.) This comput..."

  • kikwear12



    "This computer is a great base to a gaming computer. It does lack a good graphics card but can be upgraded to a better one. Run 4gb of mem 1Tb hard drive and geforece 9800gt and its good to go."

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