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Dell Optiplex 790 review


A well-designed and capable business PC that’s efficient with energy as well as desk space

Review Date: 26 Aug 2011

Reviewed By: Mike Jennings

Price when reviewed: £619 (£743 inc VAT)

Overall Rating
5 stars out of 6

Features & Design
6 stars out of 6

Value for Money
5 stars out of 6

4 stars out of 6

PCPRO Recommended

We’ve been regularly impressed by the practical designs of Dell’s OptiPlex range, but the new OptiPlex 790 is a novelty – it’s one of the smallest business PCs we’ve seen.

Though it may look like a toy, it’s far from flimsy. Businesslike plastic façade aside, the chassis is built from sturdy sheet metal. Its solid construction and matte finish give reassurance that the OptiPlex will withstand the knocks and scuffs of office life as well as its larger cousins.

It has a decent amount of power too. Our review sample featured a 2.5GHz Intel Core i5-2400S – the suffix signifying the low-power version of Intel’s 32nm chip. It still has Turbo Boost though, with one core able to reach a maximum of 3.3GHz. In our Real World Benchmarks the system achieved an overall score of 0.7, indicating plenty of power for desktop applications – though it’s some distance behind the 0.9 and above we’d expect from a full-power Core i5-2500 system.

Dell Optiplex 790

The integrated HD Graphics 2000 chip is also more than ample for office tasks, but it won’t allow for after-hours gaming. It proved a little shaky when running 1080p clips, too, although 720p footage played flawlessly.

Still, the big advantage of this lightweight CPU is very low power consumption. Using an inline power meter we recorded our review system idling at only 15W, rising to a still frugal 51W during stress tests.

Another interesting component is the Seagate Momentus XT hard disk – a hybrid drive offering 500GB of platter-based storage, supplemented with 4GB of solid-state memory as a hard disk cache. It’s a similar idea to Intel’s Smart Response Technology (ISRT), featured in the recently released Z68 chipset. The real-world effectiveness of such caching systems isn’t always fully captured by benchmarks, but in our tests the Momentus XT achieved average large-file write and read speeds of 152.3MB/sec and 136.8MB/sec. That’s perfectly fast enough for business use, but some way behind our A-List favourite, Samsung’s all-mechanical Spinpoint F3 1TB, which managed 208MB/sec and 138MB/sec.

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User comments


The Optiplex range are generally really reliable well built powerhouses.

With the choice of sizes available you really cant go wrong.

I like the understated design.

By Gindylow on 26 Aug 2011

Serial port

Is that really a serial port I see above the VGA socket?

By JohnGray7581 on 27 Aug 2011

Certainly looks like one and actually a good move. There are still plenty of specialist equipment that uses them and usb converters quite often do not work.
Optiplex in general also seem to go nm forever. Most of the ones at my office are gx280s so are, what, 6/7 years old now? Full of dust but still gamely carry on each day!

By bit_byte on 27 Aug 2011

How is this better than the previous A lister

The previous A-Lister, the lenovo, has a faster processor and is cheaper than this. Thus, how did this win, even considering it uses slightly less power.

By PC746 on 30 Aug 2011

Does it have esata

Does this have esata?

By PC746 on 30 Aug 2011

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