Dell Dimension E520: The Desktop Dinosaur That Turned Me Into a Dell Fiend

Dell Dimension E520: The Desktop Dinosaur That Turned Me Into a Dell Fiend

Dell Dimension E520 Desktop




Stock OS









  • Solid machine for basic needs
  • Decent hard drive capacity


  • Energy hog
  • Outdated, much more powerful machines available now
  • Windows Vista. 'Nough said.
3 out of 5 stars (3 / 5)

The Dell Dimension E520 desktop is a bit outdated now, but it’s still a good computer for a light internet user or student who just needs it to keep up with basic functions and doesn’t mind the energy-hungry aspect of a desktop. In today’s “online age” where most of the world has taken up residence within the endless corridors of the World Wide Web, it’s virtually impossible to get by without some form of computer. If you’re one of those people who wants to check email and have a reasonable amount of basic computing power, then you’ve come to the right place.

A word about my past computer experience

I am not a technical person: All I knew about a computer when I bought the Dimension E520 in 2006 was whether or not it was doing what it was supposed to do. If it did, great. If it didn’t, I knew how to scream at it, curse its very existence, and ultimately how to smash it with a sledgehammer. Not very productive. In fact, it’s usually better just to give me a computer that works right the first time.

The first computer I did much of anything with was my mother’s Gateway – remember those? There is no way of knowing if it was a bad computer, or if our lack of knowledge led to its downfall. It fought valiantly (albeit slowly) for two years before succumbing to its electronic tomb.

Next, I bought a rebuilt IBM laptop because it was cheap and I needed a machine that would let me type. It worked alright, but a mishap claimed the power cord, and I was unable to find a replacement that would fit the aging piece of equipment. An older rebuilt Dell laptop followed with much better success, but it still lacked exactly what I wanted. Enter the Dell E520 circa late 2006.

Deciding to purchase the E520

Once upon a time, the Dell Dimension E520 went for about $1,300 brand new off of Dell’s website. At the time, that was a pretty decent deal for what was a middle-of-the-line computer. The only real issue was – check the dates – the brand new rollout of Windows Vista. The very name of that loathed operating system sends shivers of revulsion down my spine. But I digress.

We chose the Dell Dimension E520 desktop and outfitted it with a dual-core processor, sufficient memory for my then-husband’s newer games and my photo editing stuff and web design templates. It came with Windows Vista, and all on a whopping 19″ flat screen monitor (back when flat screen was still somewhat of a novelty).

Experiences with the Dell Dimension E520 desktop

In case I haven’t already made it clear, I was extremely unimpressed with Windows Vista. I got spoiled on Windows XP and would probably still use it in 2014 if I was given half a chance, so a lot of Vista confused me. Not to mention, not all software worked with it since it was still in rollout stage, and my brand new printer didn’t have drivers that would work on Vista. There went four hours down the drain – on the phone with Dell customer service getting all the bugs worked out. Service wasn’t especially knowledgeable, and we did have a bit of issue understanding the very strong accent on the other end of the line.

After the initial bugs and the grand Vista tussle, we finally rolled this computer back to Windows XP – from that moment on, it was totally trouble-free. After all was said and done, I ended up spending $1,171 after shipping on this lovely little piece of equipment, which stayed in use until sometime after 2010. By that time, I had already transitioned to full-time freelancing, and the computer still kept up. Today, you can undoubtedly pick it up on eBay or Craigslist for about a hundred bucks. It does come with a nice 250GB hard drive (some models as little as 80GB), as well as an empty slot to add some extra space. If nothing else, it can be a great extra storage computer or backup work or school machine.

Unlike my previous computers, it has actually been worth the price. It performed reliably through a lot of business dealings, and it’s still well-equipped enough to be functional in the fast-changing world of the internet.

In fact, I was so thrilled with the Dimension E520 that I have continued along the Dell lines with three laptops since that desktop was left with my ex-husband in 2010. Of those three, two are still working great – one is the Inspiron 14Z that I’m using to write this review – and the other had an impromptu baptism that no computer could be expected to survive. Overall, other than a bit of underwhelm with customer service (which may have improved since ’06), I couldn’t be happier with the value I’ve gotten from Dell.

Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with Dell in any way, I just spend a lot of money with them and like their computers. Dell did not request this review or compensate for it in any way; the views expressed here are entirely my own.

There are no comments yet, add one below.

Leave a Reply

Name (required)

Email (required)