The Dell Vostro 200 is the first desktop PC in Dell's new small-business line of computers and peripherals.
The machine's "200" designation might lead you to believe that it's a step above entry level but, from what we saw, the Dell Vostro 200 is more like a 100-level product that Dell dresses up with small-business services.
Though the Dell Vostro 200 starts at £149 ex VAT without a monitor, our test configuration cost £599 inc VAT with a 20in E207WFP monitor. The hardware itself is about as basic as PCs get, coming in a small, generic case from which you must remove two thumbscrews before you can slide the side off.
Plastic panels cover the optical drives; if a drive is open, the panel obscures the eject button, so you must either use a fingernail to reach the button or nudge the drive tray to make it go back in. On our Dell Vostro 200, the drive almost always caught on the panel as it was retracting, and we had to pull down the panel to help unstick the drive.
The inside of the Dell Vostro 200's case is just as underwhelming. Nothing (unless you count the RAM) is removable without a screwdriver. A single screw on the outside of the case secures a small metal plate that holds in the expansion cards, but multiple tiny screws hold the hard drives, optical drives, and 300W power supply.
Unlike some of Dell's OptiPlex PCs, which postition drives on rubber-mounted mechanisms to reduce noise and vibration, the Dell Vostro 200 has its drives screwed to bare metal. The system wasn't particularly noisy, but it wasn't nearly as quiet as the OptiPlex 740 we tested previously.
The nVidia GeForce 8300GS graphics card in our system had a DVI (digital visual interface) connector on its backplane, but the backplane also accommodated a separate VGA connector module that connected to an internal port on the card. From the back it looks like one card, but from the inside it looks like two separate pieces are hinged together. It seemed like a kludgy, cost-cutting choice, especially when dual-head graphics cards are so common.
In our tests, the Dell Vostro 200 earned a WorldBench 6 Beta 2 score of 80. That's the best mark among the Windows Vista-based value business PCs we've tested recently, but we expected a little better of a Core 2 Duo system with 2GB of RAM.
The small-business services that Dell offers with the Dell Vostro 200 include an Automated PC Tune-Up utility, which runs 30 different maintenance tasks - such as cleaning out temp files and cookies and defragmenting your hard drive - with one click. Access to this tool and 10GB of online storage is free for only the first year, though. Dell says it hasn't determined how much the services will cost after that time.