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There can be little doubt that you are familiar with the name Dell. This company has managed to make itself into one of the largest supplier of computers in the world. We take a look at Dell's latest business desktop, the Optiplex 755.
Having received a PC for review we usually go straight to the manufacture's Web site to check what specifications are claimed there. In the case of the OptiPlex 755, we immediately struck a problem: the designation 755 is applied to a whole range of machines.
When asked what set of qualities distinguished a 755 series machine from other units we were told "energy efficiency" by Dell. It's certainly good to know that efficiency is such an important consideration in the design of these machines, but personally I'd like to see the finer distinctions between these machines laid out a bit more clearly.
The OptiPlex 755 range includes, minitower, desktop, small and ultra-small form factors, with a range of processor options. We were supplied with a Small Form Factor (SFF) machine for review.
How We Tested
PCMark2005, 3DMark06, Cinebench 9.5, and Sandra Pro provide us with our hard performance scores when testing. We also provide the Windows Experience Index scores provided by Vista. Aside from raw performance, we also consider a number of physical design issues. PCMark assesses the machine's overall performance with specific scores given for CPU, memory, graphics and HDD; this gives us a useful indicator of performance dealing with typical office tasks.
3DMark and Cinebench are indicators of the machines graphics capabilities. We also use Sandra Pro to give some specific figures on processor, memory and drive performance. Usability issues include location (and type) of ports and buttons as well as additional software utilities. Construction elements of interest are case material quality and ease of opening for maintenance and upgrades. Sound quality is also considered along with the software included with the machine.
Dell OptiPlex 755
Not only do Dell machines have relatively attractive price tags, the design of the devices themselves tends to be stylish and well engineered. The modern design employs a black and silver colour scheme common among today's computers. The case is readily opened with a lockable latch at the rear corner of the machine. The lid can then be completely removed giving good access to internal components. Optical drives and hard drives can be removed and replaced without resorting to a screwdriver (although one of the latches was found to be quite stiff). Generally the manufacturing quality of the machine was quite high.
The CPU is a 2.66GHz Intel Core 2 Duo and the machine was supplied with 2GB RAM. Core 2 Duo processors are not only significantly faster than Pentium chips, they also require less energy. A raft of efficiency improvements are making PCs less and less expensive to run. Perhaps the most obvious improvement in modern computers is the changeover from CRT to fluorescent lit LCDs.
Intel vPRO enabled, the OptiPlex earns extra points for computer security, efficiency and administrative ease. vPRO provides hardware-based computer security and the ability to configure and diagnose computers remotely, which means less time wasted by roaming IT staff.
The unit we tested was supplied with Windows Vista Business edition; machines also come with restore software in case anything serious happens to your OS. The machine is endowed with a reasonable array of ports including: parallel, serial, VGA and Gigabit Ethernet. There are eight USB ports (two in the front panel) so users can connect to their heart's content. Additionally the machine has two expansion slots -- one each of low profile PCI and PCI express.
Audio facilities are low key with just the standard analog input and output jacks at the front and rear and no speakers capable of supporting high-definition audio drivers. (We achieved acceptable playback through our own headphones.)
The black keyboard has no extra multimedia keys, although it does have a key-hugging outline to distinguish it from other generic devices. The silver and black optical mouse was of standard design. While the price does include a 20-inch LCD monitor this was not provided to us for review.
|Cinebench 9.5||Rendering (1x CPU)||227|
|Rendering (2x CPU)||822|
|Sandra Pro Lite 11.17||Processor, Arithmetic||24223MIPS ; 16932MFLOPS|
|Processor, Multimedia||147648 it/s ; 79547 it/s|
|File System||59MB/s ; 9ms|
Windows Vista scores the OptiPlex at 3.4 overall, but given that this machine is really intended for an office environment, the relatively low games graphics score and even the Windows graphics score is relatively unimportant. (The overall score given by Windows is simply the lowest component score.) The OptiPlex scored 5.5 for CPU performance, 5.9 for RAM, 3.7 for standard graphics, 3.4 for games graphics and 5.5 for HDD performance.
As an office workhorse this is a well performing animal, as further highlighted by the other benchmark scores provided above. Graphics handling relies on the integrated Intel GMA3100 chip. The hard drive is more than adequate at 160GB and 7200rpm (unless you plan to storing loads of high-res images and video).
Power and efficiency in a neat package makes the Optiplex 755 a very worthwhile acquisition for the modern office and having Core 2 Duo and vPRO technologies improves the overall energy efficiency. Without monitor or speakers supplied we naturally cannot assess the audio-visual quality of a complete packaged system, but the machine is capable of supporting two-channel HD audio and happily supported a monitor with a resolution of 1,920 by 1,200 pixels.
Dell's "Gold Technical Support" provides you with 24-hour phone support, on-site repairs and next-day part delivery. There is also online support including remote diagnostic tools. The warranty lasts a full three years. At AU$1,799, this is a great package, and the price includes delivery. This is in part because Dell sells online rather than through retailers, which ensures they can keep prices down.
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