Insane Dell Deal

By Deane Barker on July 6, 2005

Last week, I wrote about how hard drive space was getting ridiculously cheap. Today, I get a Dell catalog in the mail. Their deal on a Dimension 2400:

  • 2.4 Ghz Celeron
  • WinXP Home
  • 256MB RAM
  • 80GB hard drive
  • CD-RW
  • 17” monitor
  • Color inkjet printer

All this for $299. There’s no way they can be making money off that deal. No way. It has to be a loss leader that they just try to tack stuff onto. (And yes, I know — Dells aren’t Macs. But for $299, I’ll take five Dimensions over the one Mac Mini we bought.)

Question: how low can computer systems go? How low can Windows-equipped computer systems go? When does price of the system go so low that it settles on top of the price of the OS?

I remember when I worked at Best Buy in early 1998. That was the year computer systems crossed the $1,000 barrier. That seems so quaint these days.

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  1. I bought one of their $299 systems the first time they reached that price point. It only had the CPU and monitor and didn’t have the CD-RW or printer. Seemed like a good deal at the time. My wife and kids use it for surfing and the occassional game. However it is incredibly sluggish most times, if not completely hung. In addition, it generates an incredible amount of noise from the fan and other electronic high-pitched noises. I’ve since built two small form factor Shuttle systems. They are so quiet and small! I wish I had done that for their box originally, but it is on the list to be replaced sooner than later.

  2. Here’s the thing with Dells — you have to “de-crap” them. They come loaded with so much stuff, you need to format as soon as you boot for the first time, and reload with no frills, then add what you need from there.

    The default Windows install from Dell is like a waiter from Friday’s trying to win an award for the most flair.

  3. The entry-level machine from Dell needs to be de-crapped before it’s useable? Wonderful. Just what an entry-level user needs on a $300 computer, a $300 bill from Geek Squad to de-crapify their brand new but unusable computer. Tell me again why you think that a machine like this is a better option for a home user than a Mac.

    Thanks, but rather than de-crapping one, I’ll wait until Dell starts shipping them with an OS that can be used right out of the box . Or better yet, buy one from Apple.

  4. Or better yet, buy one from Apple.

    Or buy five from Dell for the same price, and give one to your neighbor’s geeky kid in exchange for de-crapping the other four.

    Pointing out the price of a Mac is the royal flush of the “Apple vs. Windows” debate. Nothing beats it. It’s the stain on the blue cocktail dress.

  5. Or buy five from Dell for the same price…

    Are you still stinging from your over-priced mini? That’ll teach you to order it by checking “all the boxes, baby. BT, Wifi, DVDR, 1GB RAM. It’s fully buzzword-compatible.” You buy what you must from Apple and get the rest elsewhere. It’s the Apple version of de-crapping your purchase, only you do it before it gets shipped.

    I don’t have pockets as deep as yours, and I can find lots of Apple hardware without spending $1200.

    Oh, and in your imaginary scenario, what does the poor soul do when he finds out that the neighbor’s geeky kid loaded his four machines up with all kinds of crap to host his warez and mp3’s and is selling off mail server time to Chinese spammers?

  6. what does the poor soul do when he finds out that the neighbor’s geeky kid loaded his four machines up with all kinds of crap to host his warez and mp3’s and is selling off mail server time to Chinese spammers?

    Punish him by forcing him to use a Mac?

  7. 1200 bucks for a Mac mini? You can get a G5 iMac for that kind of money. I must have missed the gold plating options last time I bought one.

  8. celeron – ah…no thanks – you couldn’t give me one.

    of course, i like games. alot.

  9. Home is just a dumbed down version of pro. It’s just a way for Micro$oft to squeeze an extra $100 from their hapless victims.

    Bill’s minions have prepared a comparison chart that shows the differences between them.

  10. I too have purchased a $299 PC from Dell and their latest $499 with 17 inch LCD deals. Yes, they are cheap. I guess you get what you pay for.

    I confirm their slugishness and sometimes they are soooo slow it is not useable. I have tried to reload the OS but it does not really help too much.

    My employees use those computers, but I personaly build my own computer using good parts like Asus, Corsair, AMD cpu, etc… I feel my computer eventhough more expensive is better and faster. To get the best prices I use price comparison shopping sites like

    Just my 2 cents.. Cheers.

    Adam @AT@

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