Dell OptiPlex GX620 USFF review

20 Jul 2005

Who says business PCs must be dull? Not Dell: it's taken advantage of the Intel 945 chipset to create a line of stylish PCs that are both quiet and perfectly tuned for business. The smallest chassis - the USFF - is a particular gem.

Price when reviewed 
579
5

The smallest of the four GX620s is the diminutive USFF, with an external power adaptor. In addition to making the computer case smaller, it reduces the amount of heat generated inside, leading to a cooler, quieter PC.

The tidiness of the internals has immediate impact. Only the hard disk's skinny Serial ATA cable is near the two DIMM sockets, and to have such easy memory access in a system of this size shows off Dell's design work admirably.

Down the right-hand side of the interior there's a smooth airflow channel for the CPU, with an intake fan at the front, then the CPU's large copper heatsink, with an exhaust fan at the rear. A plastic duct sits over the top to control the flow.

By using a notebook optical drive, which can be pulled out with a lever, there's no need for access within the case. It's fitted under the motherboard. Together with the hard disk and memory, this is all you can change: there are no PCI slots to take expansion cards. It already has a DVI-I video port, though, and a Y-cable to split it into separate DVI-D and VGA plugs.

GX620 SERIES OVERVIEW

One size fits all isn't a mantra an IT department can live by. Different sections within your organisation, even different individuals, have their own requirements when it comes to PCs, yet choosing several different models rapidly increases support costs.

Until now, it hasn't been possible to satisfy an entire organisation's needs with one hard-disk image, but thanks to Intel's 945 chipset that's all about to change. Dell is the first manufacturer to rise to the challenge, with its OptiPlex GX620 range designed to satisfy diversity by offering different chassis and specifications, but with a common architecture and hard-disk image that will work across all models.

Here we review the entire GX620 series, so you can see how they stack up against each other. We also mention the OptiPlex GX520 range. No samples were available for review, but it forms part of the same family and the two ranges have many similarities.

In fact, the three cases that make up the GX520 range - Small Form Factor (SF), Desktop (DT) and Mini-tower (MT) - are also used in the GX620 range, but the GX620 gets a pint-sized fourth member too called the Ultra Small Form Factor (USFF).

Combining both series gives you four chassis and seven basic models to choose from, with image and BIOS compatibility throughout. The GX620 devices, with their bigger designation number, are the high achievers of the family. The difference, says Dell, is that the GX520s are for deployment as mainstream PCs, with perhaps a three-year lifespan before disposal, whereas the GX620s, with more complex motherboards higher specifications and better upgrade possibilities, are destined for more demanding environments and longer deployment.

Security-conscious businesses should also note that only the GX620 includes a TPM (Trusted Platform Module). This device helps to block hackers by providing hardware network authentication.

The key element that ties all the models together is the Intel 945 Express chipset. Besides performance advantages and new features, its newness makes it a good choice for longevity across a progressive rollout. Dell says it will offer the platforms for about 15 months.

SPECIFICATIONS

Processor choice is varied, with Celeron D and Pentium 4 options being supplemented by dual-core Pentium D chips in the GX620 range. The GX520 range and the smallest GX620 are limited to 2GB of 533MHz (PC4300) DDR2 SDRAM across two DIMM sockets, but the three larger GX620s have four sockets for up to 4GB.