If Dell (NASDAQ:DELL) has been blazing hot in a lukewarm sector, one can only imagine what the company is capable of doing when the personal computing sector really starts cooking. Dell's bells were ringing over the holidays as the company posted fourth-quarter earnings of $0.29 a share on $11.5 billion in revenues. That made short shrift of last year's showing of $0.23 a share in profits on $9.7 billion.

While we'll get a clearer picture of the state of the industry when Hewlett-Packard (NYSE:HPQ) reports quarterly results next week, that snapshot is already starting to develop, and you can already make out Dell smiling. Earlier this week Dell's rival revealed that revenues would grow by 9%. Dell's heady top-line growth was twice that.

Powered by gains of 40% or better in its server and storage businesses, Dell also sold 2 million printers since teaming up with Lexmark (NYSE:LXK) to make the Dell-branded peripherals. The nifty thing here is that even the printers are trained in Dell's lean direct model, as they alert the user when the cartridges are running low on ink and can dial into Dell's site for same-day processing for replacement cartridges.

These are interesting times for the computer makers. Gateway (NYSE:GTW) has had a rude awakening selling high-end plasma television sets and is getting back into the box wars with its recently announced acquisition of eMachines. While Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) appears happy with its thin slice of devoted users, one has to wonder if its recent surge in iPod and iTunes sales in the Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) realm may win it over some converts.

Granted, Dell doesn't have to worry about adjusting the rear-view mirror right now. It is comfortably ahead of the pack. It is looking to grow earnings by 22% in the current quarter on improving margins, and its cash hoard has grown to nearly $12 billion. Dell remains the classy head of the class.

Will the competition catch up to Dell's torrid pace of growth any time soon? What makes Dell such a smart performer? Where else can Dell turn for growth? All this and more -- in the Dell discussion board. Only on Fool.com.

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz did the unthinkable. He traded in his Dell for an HP. Still, he does not own shares in any companies mentioned in this story.