Dell's misleading graphics card buying advice

Mike Jennings
23 Nov 2011

Dell should be commended for going out of its way to help novice PC buyers, but its entry for choosing a graphics card -- accessible by clicking the “Help me choose” link when customising various Optiplex models -- contains a glaring and potentially expensive error, as spotted by Reddit users.

While the text is basic, it’s accurate enough for beginners. Instead, it’s the image that contains a dangerous chunk of misinformation.


The monitor on the left, labelled as a PC that uses a “standard graphics card”, is displaying a Windows desktop that’s washed out and blurry. The seemingly identical Dell TFT on the right, powered by a “high-end graphics card”, is showing the same desktop – but this time it’s much sharper and more vivid. They're both outputting at the same resolution.

It’s true that using different screens can alter how a desktop looks, but that’s not the case here: Dell’s page uses two identical monitors that display two identical desktops, with the dramatic change in its appearance apparently caused by the different classes of discrete graphics card being used.

It is, quite simply, rubbish. Any modern discrete graphics card, whether a mid-range model or a more powerful part, is more than capable of displaying a Windows desktop. There’s no chance that by choosing two of the different graphics options available with the Optiplex 790 – let’s say the £86 inc VAT AMD Radeon HD 6350 and the £256 inc VAT dual Radeon HD 6450 option – a desktop will look any different on the cheaper card.

Dell’s page says that its picture is for “demonstrative purposes only”, but it’s not demonstrating anything that’s remotely accurate. Instead, this misleading page appears to suggest that a more expensive graphics card will mean even the Windows desktop will be made brighter and sharper.

That’s especially unfair on a page that’s clearly aimed at novice users – the exact people who will trust this information from a well-known brand, and who’ll fork out extra cash for a graphics card that’s simply unnecessary.

Dell has issued a statement regarding this issue, which we've posted in full below. The full story can be read here.

“Thank you for bringing this to our attention. Dell endeavours to help customers to make the best decisions regarding their purchases. It was never our intention to mislead customers, and we apologise for any confusion caused. We have now removed the image from our Global sites. Dell remains committed to delivering the best possible experience to all our customers.”

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