A friend just spent £800 on a Dell Vostro 3700 for use with professional Firewire audio hardware and programs. The capabilities of these computer systems handling real-time data streams properly is extremely poor.
When connecting the Focusrite Saffire Firewire audio hardware the computer did not seem to be able to stream sound from the device.
I was advised to run the DPC atency checker programme on the Dell Vostro to see what the performance was like.http://www.thesycon.de/deu/latency_check.shtml
The realtime graph showed huge red spikes when the machine was in idle mode. NOT GOOD!
I then came across a thread on a message board with someone who had the same problem with another audio device - he was also getting no sound or terrible drop outs.
It turned out to be related to the battery and the software that manages this. When removing the battery and running on mains power only then the problem was solved and sound was working through the Focusrite Saffire audio Firewire device. Pro audio software was working again.
But this is still a problem, which means you cannot have the battery attached to the Dell Vostro's if you are thinking of using them for audio work or using as a DAW (digital audio workstation) - as they are draining the system performance greatly.
I suggest you DO NOT buy these machines until Dell fix the problem. This problem could even effect watching movies/DVD/games etc. The 4 pin Firewire port is also badly placed and the connection comes loose if moved slightly. So not recommended for people wishing to connect their DV cams or other Firewire hardware. A 6 pin Firewire slot with screw fixings should have been implemented in these machines.