Teeny Dell Studio Hybrid desktop costs $499

Just as Taiwanese hardware makers prepare to flood the market with small, Atom-powered desktops, Dell has struck a preemptive blow with its Studio Hybrid PC. The tastefully-designed small form factor system starts at just $499, but it comes with a good-old 1.86GHz dual-core Pentium by default and lets users pick faster Core 2 Duos as options—no single-core Atom chips here.

In addition to its healthy processing power, the base Studio Hybrid config includes 1GB of DDR2-667 memory, Intel GMA X3100 graphics (with HDMI output), a 160GB 5,400-RPM hard drive, an 8X slot-loading DVD burner, and a copy of Windows Vista Home Premium. That’s not bad for a machine that’s around 8″ tall, 8″ deep, and less than 3″ thick.

Customers can purchase the system with a 19″ Dell SE198WFP wide-screen monitor for $699, and upgrade options include larger displays, up to 4GB of RAM, up to 320GB of storage capacity, and goodies like Blu-ray and 802.11n Wi-Fi. Dell even lets folks choose between blue-grey, red, green, pink, orange, blue, and bamboo enclosures. (The latter adds $130 to the price, so we assume it’s actual bamboo and not just a pretty paint job.)

Dell lists four different configurations of the Studio Hybrid on its website, and it says all of them will start shipping on August 12. PC Magazine has a full review that praises the Studio Hybrid’s small footprint and low power use, but it points out that the machine isn’t very expandable and won’t let you play Crysis.

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