Experience With Dell Dimension C521

Dell Dimension C521

Seeing as you've found this page, you might be interested in my personal experience with my Dell Dimension C521 in case you're thinking of buying one.

Spec:

  • AMD X2 Processor 4000
  • 1Gb RAM Memory Dual Channel 1GB (2X512MB) 533Mhz DDR2
  • 250Gb Segate Barracuda SATA 7200rpm Hard Disk
  • DVDRW

This was my first purchase from Dell, and I was generally pleased with the overall buying experience. The website was good, delivery was quick, and the price was great. On first impressions the Dell Dimension C521 looks great, and feels well put together. The metal casing feels much better than the naff cheapo plastic Dell cases of old.

Faulty Hard Disks

Straight away, after having got the machine up and running, I noticed a strange but very faint tinkling noise from the hard disk. Every now and then the hard disk would make a clunk sound, as if it was parking itself, the machine would lock up for a few seconds, then would continue as normal. Seagate Hard Disk Obviously, this was a faulty hard disk. I called the Dell customer support number on more than one occasion (on an 08.. number, I might add) and spoke to various Indians. After some very frustrating conversations, they refused to do anything about it, and gave me idiotic excuses like Windows Vista was going to sleep, or suggested other things Windows might be doing in the background. The fact that I said that the problem occurred under both Windows AND Linux didn't seem to register, and I got nowhere. Anyway, after a couple of weeks, the hard disk died completely, and another 45 minute phone call to an Indian saw Dell send me out a new Seagate Barracuda 250Gb hard disk as an exchange. I said I would be putting a hammer through the old one, to safeguard my "sensitive data". I was told not to do that, as the old ones are recycled. I don't think so. I put a hammer through it anyway.

Eighteen months on, and the second hard disk is starting to make funny noises and lock the machine up again. Obviously the machine is out of warranty, so I've bought a new had disk. The NEW new hard disk (not from Dell) is also a Seagate Barracuda 7200rpm drive, but this one is silent, whereas the Seagate drives from Dell were very noisy, and vibrated a lot. The vibrating was so much that the C521 case would make various annoying buzzing and humming noises.

Why are the same "Seagate" drives from Dell so bad? Are they sub-standard rejects?

Other annoyances with the Dell Dimension C521 include the fact that the case only takes those low-profile expansion cards, which are harder to come by. I've had to "modify" an nVidia PCI-Express graphics card and a wireless PCI card to get them to fit in the C521 case. Not really a fault with the C521, but rather an inconvenience.

But inside, the design is really good. Various levers allow really easy removal of the side of the case and all the drives and other bits.

Screen

I also ordered a 19 inch LCD screen with the C521, which was cheap but it certainly is nasty. The colours are just really pale and washed out despite adjustment, and ghosting is clearly visible. I wouldn't wish one of these screens on my worst enemy.

Conclusion

Overall, the Dimension C521 is an Ok piece of kit for the money, but really, you get what you pay for. I've been pleased with the performance, the spec is good for the money, and it seems quite well nailed together. But if you're looking at getting one, new or second hand, watch out for the dodgy hard disks!

Dell Dimension C521
Page Updated 15/07/09