Dell OptiPlex GX520 DT review

17 Feb 2006

Great design and build quality make the Dell stand out. If expansion isn't important, the GX520 should be on your shortlist

Price when reviewed 
359
5

Dell's OptiPlex GX520 DT comes from a family of PCs: there are three GX520 form factors and four higher-spec GX620s to choose from. With disk-image compatibility throughout, there are seven models to suit different areas of your business.

The DT is the mid-sized desktop model (there are both larger and smaller chassis on offer) and it's roughly the same size as the Acer and Fujitsu Siemens. It sits vertically beside a monitor, or you can lay it flat underneath. Dell bundles a decent keyboard, although the ball mouse is disappointing.

The interior is a fine demonstration of Intel's BTX layout. There's a huge heatsink, fan and air duct assembly at the front with a clear exhaust passage across the chipset and out of the rear grille. This makes for a very quiet PC - 31dBA in our tests. Expansion is limited, though, with just two half-height PCI cards. If you want to use full-height cards, an optional is riser available.

The two memory sockets are filled with 512MB of DDR2 RAM. If you want to increase this, you'll have to remove at least one of the sticks. One of the slots is covered by the CD-RW/DVD-ROM drive, but thanks to Dell's simple and tool-less design you can pull a lever and flip the optical drive onto the PSU, cables still attached. This also reveals the 80GB hard disk below. It's a bit tricky to remove, but it's far easier than the Acer's.

It looks like there's space for a second hard disk, but there's only one Serial ATA/300 port on the motherboard, and the Ultra ATA/100 port is used for the CD-RW/DVD-ROM combo. Instead, the spare bay is for an optional floppy drive; the motherboard connector has a cable fitted ready.

Under the air duct and heatsink (which is a combined unit - remove the duct and the heatsink comes with it) there's a 2.8GHz Pentium 4 521. This matched the same overall benchmark score as the AMD-powered Evesham, scoring 0.72.

We like the well laid-out and clearly labelled BIOS. We were also happy to see a three-year on-site warranty, and it's worth remembering that Dell's PC arm was highly commended in our recent Reliability & Service Awards. You can upgrade from next-day to same-day response for £49 per PC.

With the only limiting factor being expansion potential (graphics, memory and PCI Express), the GX520 DT is a decent business PC. Performance isn't the best here, but it's a great alternative to the Fujitsu Siemens.