Dell's lastest addition to its Vostro line of small-business-oriented computers leads trend toward "powerhouse" desktop machines for smaller companies.Alison Gardner, a director at Dell, says the Vostro 430 will be one of the first small business desktop machines powered by the new Intel Core i5 and Core i7 chips. "A lot of the other gueys are selling fixed configurations," Gardner says, but the Vostro 430 is designed for businesses that "require better performance, expandibility and future proofing" with up to 2TB of storage (in 2 bays), 4 DIMM slots for up to 16GB of RAM, 4 expansion slots, and 10 USB ports -- all in a standard desktop tower configuration. Graphics options inlcude 512MB ATI cards or 1GB Nvidea graphics -- with the ability to drive dual monitors.
With Windows 7, the Vostro 430 also features built-in support for touch-screen functions. Primed by the success of the iPhone, "We think there's an expanding market for touch," Gardner explained, which makes photo manipulation easier. At the same time, Dell will make XP downgrades available as long as Microsoft allows the practice (currently through mid 2010), but with Windows 7's XP mode, Gardner saw diminishing requests for that. Still, "customers don't like to change operating systems, she acknowledged. They don't like to change from what they know." Perhaps that's why Dell will also have "certain Vista options," for the Vostro 430.
Rather than "get stuck in benchmarks," Gardner emphasized the Vostro 430's speed on common applications. She claimed that compared to a 2-3 year old desktop machine, the vostro 430 is three to five times faster at working with large spreadsheets or performing video conversions.
Like other Vostro computers, the 430 includes Dell Backup and Recovery Manager, pre-installed video conferencing software, and access to dedicated tech support with shorter wait times than consumer support lines. Prices for the Vostro 430 start at $749.
With the increased availability of more powerful Intel chips and the launch of Windows 7 later this month, you can expect to see high-powered new desktop machines aimed at small and midsize companies from all the major PC vendors -- most likely for well under $,1000. The vendors are counting on pent-up demaand from companies still relying on aging XP machines. Still, in the current economy, small and midsize companies will be asking themselves if they really need to upgrade right away. If the answer to that question is "yes," the next question is whether they really need top-of-the-line computing horsepower, or can get buy with less-expensive alternatives.
Some smaller companies, of course, need all the power they can get to churn through demanding applications (you know who you are). In that case, new machines like the Vosto 430 deliver unprecedented power at increasingly affordable prices.
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