Dell Studio Hybrid: Small, Stylish... but Quiet?

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CONCLUSIONS

The Dell Studio Hybrid is a disappointment. On the one hand, it's one of the most visually attractive consumer propositions Dell has ever created. The look and style of the SH is undeniably cool. But that isn't quite enough to compensate for its relatively lackluster performance or its annoying acoustics, not at the asking price of our sample.

Our cobbled-together DIY mini-ITX system clearly outperforms the SH in almost every way, and it could easily be assembled into a case with much better acoustics, although not one nearly as small or stylish as the SH. The less capable but much more affordable Asus Eee Box provides equally attractive cosmetics in an even smaller box; for most of the functions that the SH is intended to do, the Eee Box is probably its equal. The much bigger but still small Anitec SilenT3 provides at least as good performance, and its acoustics are so far superior that the two machines aren't even in the same ball park.

The base $449 Studo Hybrid package is probably a better value than the higher-end model we examined. Its slower processor might make it less capable with HD video, but extra RAM might help that. The cheaper package may make it worthwhile for some SPCR readers to void the warranty and break into the box to modify the fan or replace it with a smooter, quieter one. Some intrepid modder will surely do this.

Despite our mostly negative assessment, we think the Studio Hybrid has some promise. Surely Dell can go back to the drawing board and devise a quieter cooling system, especially for a box that draws no more power than many a quieter notebook PC.

Our thanks to Dell for the review sample.

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Articles of Related Interest
Asus Eee Box B202: An Atom-based mini PC
Hiper Media Center PC HMC-2K53A-A3
Anitec's SPCR-certified SilenT3 PC

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Discuss this article in the SPCR forums.

BONUS: INSIDE THE STUDIO HYBRID

As an exercise in geek curiosity, we delved into the Studio Hybrid with trusty screwdrivers and pliers. It's a cleverly condensed package.


A single screw loosed the sleeve from the PC.


Opening the metal cover was more difficult. It's a bayonet / friction fit affair that we thought we might break. Note the wire handle, which allows the hard drive and DVD drive assembly to be removed easily after a locking screw is undone.


Hard drive and DVD drive assembly removed. Not much room to soft-mount the HDD.


The cooling system has obvious notebook roots.


The offending fan.



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