Dell Optiplex 790 review

26 Aug 2011

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

Price when reviewed 
743
5

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.

Details

Price ex VAT £619
Price inc VAT £743
Overall rating 5
Performance 4
Features & Design 6
Value for Money 5

Warranty

Warranty 3yr collect and return 3yr NBD warranty

Basic specifications

Total hard disk capacity 500GB
RAM capacity 4.00GB

Processor

CPU family Intel Core i5
CPU nominal frequency 2.50GHz
Processor socket LGA 1155
HSF (heatsink-fan) Dell proprietary

Motherboard

Motherboard Dell proprietary
Conventional PCI slots free 0
Conventional PCI slots total 0
PCI-E x16 slots free 0
PCI-E x16 slots total 0
PCI-E x8 slots free 0
PCI-E x8 slots total 0
PCI-E x4 slots free 0
PCI-E x4 slots total 0
PCI-E x1 slots free 0
PCI-E x1 slots total 0
Internal SATA connectors 2
Wired adapter speed 1,000Mbits/sec

Memory

Memory type DDR3
Memory sockets free 0
Memory sockets total 2

Graphics card

Graphics card Intel HD 2000
Multiple SLI/CrossFire cards? no
3D performance setting Low
Graphics chipset Intel HD 2000
DVI-I outputs 0
HDMI outputs 0
VGA (D-SUB) outputs 1
DisplayPort outputs 1
Number of graphics cards 1

Hard disk

Hard disk Seagate Momentus XT
Capacity 500GB
Hard disk usable capacity 465GB
Internal disk interface SATA/300
Spindle speed 7,200RPM
Cache size 32MB

Drives

Optical disc technology DVD writer

Case

Chassis Dell proprietary
Case format small form-factor
Dimensions 65 x 233 x 236mm (WDH)

Free drive bays

Free front panel 5.25in bays 0

Rear ports

USB ports (downstream) 7
PS/2 mouse port no
Electrical S/PDIF audio ports 0
Optical S/PDIF audio output ports 0
Modem no
3.5mm audio jacks 2

Front ports

Front panel USB ports 2
Front panel memory card reader no

Operating system and software

OS family Windows 7
Recovery method Recovery disc, recovery partition

Noise and power

Idle power consumption 15W
Peak power consumption 51W

Performance tests

3D performance (crysis) low settings 24fps
3D performance setting Low
Overall Real World Benchmark score 0.70
Responsiveness score 0.66
Media score 0.78
Multitasking score 0.65