Don't be fooled by the compact size of the case - the Dell Inspiron 530 is more powerful than it looks.

In fact, it crams in an impressive amount of drives: one 18x DVD writer, a DVD-ROM to make life easier when copying discs and a couple of 320GB drives for good measure.

Lethargic processor

That's even more impressive when you realise that the Inspiron is £100 cheaper than the competition, but then there are corners cut elsewhere.

The system has a relatively lethargic Core 2 Duo E6550 processor, a 19-inch rather than 22-inch monitor and basic 2.1 speaker set.

The wired, Dell-badged keyboard is a little small, too. Still, you do get handy software, ranging from Microsoft Works 8.0 to Google Desktop, which is very useful for anyone who just wants to plug the PC in and get going.

Display resolution

All-round performance isn't a strong point for this system. It's perfectly acceptable for many applications, though, and could be improved considerably if you had the drives set up in a RAID configuration.

Even now, with its 256MB GeForce 8600 GT delivering a creditable 4,524 and fourth place in 3DMark 2006, you'll have no problem with gaming performance.

The display might be an issue, however. While it produces sharp, clear images, the 1,440 x 900 widescreen resolution means that you'll have significantly more vertical scrolling to do than on the more usual 1,280 x 1,024 screens.

However, if you can live with that, and would appreciate the extra storage space, then the Inspiron 530 looks like a real bargain.