Dell OptiPlex GX620 USFF review
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.
Review Date: 20 Jul 2005
Reviewed By: Roger Kirkwood
Price when reviewed: (no Monitor) (£680 inc VAT)
All units share Intel's GMA 950 integrated graphics core, offering solid performance for most business users. Those who want more 3D punch can opt for a 128MB ATi Radeon X600 SE in a GX620, with the exception of the USFF. Like the three GX520 models, it lacks a PCI Express 16x slot.
But the GX620 USFF has an intriguing zero footprint option, whereby it can be bolted onto the back of Dell's 17in 1706FP AIO TFT. This is also available with the next size up - the SF - which can utilise the 19in 1906FP AIO display as well. The USFF's discreet design makes it a particularly appealing option.
All the OptiPlex GX PCs come with a three-year on-site, next-business-day warranty, with lifetime telephone support for troubleshooting during business hours. If you perform in-house maintenance, you'll be delighted by how easy the new chassis are to open - although you can, of course, lock them, and there are chassis-intrusion detectors too - with Dell having wisely abandoned its previous clamshell design.
The new chassis also have a simple but practical set of diagnostic lights called DirectDetect. Labelled 1, 2, 3 and 4, these LEDs show one of 16 patterns that identify which component is at fault, including BIOS, CPU, memory, PCI device, storage device, video subsystem, USB subsystem and motherboard. The USFF is the only one that doesn't have them on the front panel; instead, you'll have to look round the back.
All systems have microphone and headphone jacks at the front - handily placed for VoIP - along with two USB 2 ports. These are much easier to access than in previous Dell designs, and generous spacing between the ports means you can easily fit two flash drives, for instance, at the same time.
The three smallest cases are designed to stand upright like the MT if you choose, allowing more freedom in desk layout. However, in a bizarre omission, Dell hasn't added rubber feet for vertical orientation. You can feel some vibration through a desk, and our SF case hummed faintly because of this.
To accompany these PCs, Dell supplied us with two of its TFTs: a 17in UltraSharp 1704FPT and a 19in UltraSharp 1905FP, costing £219 and £299 respectively (exc VAT). As well as benefiting from VGA and DVI inputs, the flexible stands have tilt, swivel and height adjustment, and portrait rotation. Other attractions include a USB hub, with two ports at the back and two on the left behind the bezel, plus clips for optional Dell Soundbar speakers.
The pick of the two is undoubtedly the 1905FP: it's an above-average TFT, with good viewing angles and vivid colours. The 1704FPT screen was less impressive: it's brighter at default settings, but that washes out highlights, and turning down the brightness starts turning white into blue-grey. It also lacks crispness over the analog input.
Dell's new OptiPlex GX620 range represents a stride forward in business PC design. Our pick is the USFF, but the DT also offers a very good compromise between size and value.
Across the whole range, it's hard to fault the designs. They're quiet, attractive and - aside from the MT - compact, with up-to-the-minute technology, including the 945G Express chipset and dual-core CPU options. When you combine the support savings due to the common disk image, none of the previous business PCs we've seen - including the NEC PowerMate ML7, which has been on our A List for the last five months - can match them.
The OptiPlex GX620 range also flouts the rule that business PCs must look plain. If it's time to refresh your PCs, and you want a range of powerful options, the GX620 is the new leader.
Author: Roger Kirkwood
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