- ✓Powerful six-core processor
- ✓Rotatable 21.5-inch display
- ✓Good wired and wireless connectivity
- ✓Good value for money
- ✕Moderate 1920-by-1080 resolution
- ✕Limited build-to-order options
- ✕Modest hard drive performance
Like Apple, Dell has increasingly been moving its range of all-in-one (AIO) desktop PCs upmarket in recent years, with models such as the Precision 5720 now providing workstation-level performance for graphics, video and design software. But, unlike Apple, Dell continues to provide more affordable alternatives as well, and has recently updated its business-oriented OptiPlex range with a number of AIO models based around Intel's latest 8th-generation Coffee Lake processors.
There are several models in the OptiPlex range, including AIOs as well as more conventional tower and small form-factor designs. The AIO models start with the OptiPlex 3050, which provides a compact 19.5-inch display for offices where space is particularly tight. The next step up is the mid-range OptiPlex 5260 with 21.5-inch display, reviewed here, and there's also the 27-inch OptiPlex 7760 for users who require a larger display.
Design & features
The OptiPlex 5260 is available in four standard configurations on Dell's website, all based around the same 21.5-inch display. This PC's black and grey plastic chassis isn't going to win any awards for elegant design, but the OptiPlex 5260 is compact and functional -- and surprisingly fast on its feet for a system in this price range.
The display's Full HD (1920x1080) resolution (102.5dpi) might seem modest when compared to the 4K display of the high-end Precision range, but the image is crisp and clear, and perfectly adequate for working with documents in Microsoft Office, as well as routine web browsing and video streaming. Dell also shows good attention to detail, as the thin border means that the screen is just 19.5 inches wide and will fit quite comfortably even on a narrow desk in a small office, cubicle or reception area.
Our review unit also included an articulating stand that allows you to tilt and swivel the screen, and to adjust the height. You can even rotate the screen if required, switching into upright (portrait) mode if you need to scroll through long documents, edit photos or review long swathes of code. Even the webcam above the screen is efficiently designed, popping up from the top of the screen when needed, but otherwise hidden away for extra privacy and security.
It's well connected too, with no less than six USB ports -- two USB 2.0, three USB 3.0, and one USB-C -- along with RJ-45 Ethernet and 802.11ac wi-fi, one DisplayPort connector for a second monitor, and an SD card reader. Dell also includes Bluetooth 5.0, with its improved range -- which might prove useful if you need to walk around the office while wearing a Bluetooth headset for VOIP phone calls or video conferencing.
Pricing & options
Prices for the OptiPlex 5260 start at just £578.99 (ex. VAT, or £694.79 inc. VAT) for a model with a quad-core Core i3-8100 running at 3.6GHz (this i3 configuration isn't currently available in the US). We tested the top-of-the-range configuration, which includes a six-core Core i5-8500 running at 3.0GHz (or up to 4.1GHz with TurboBoost), 8GB of RAM and a 500GB 7,200rpm SATA hard drive. This comes in at a very competitive £697.85 (ex. VAT, £837.42 inc. VAT, or $999).
Build-to-order options available at the time of purchase are fairly limited, focusing primarily on accessories such as a secondary display and a number of software bundles. But again, Dell pays good attention to detail, equipping the OptiPlex 5260 with a tool-less back panel that can easily be removed in order to replace or upgrade the memory, storage and other components.
The OptiPlex 5260 delivers impressive performance for such an affordable system. It rivals more expensive AIO systems even with its single-core performance, with a score of 4,515 in the Geekbench 4 processor tests. And, not surprisingly, its six-core processor races ahead on multi-core performance, achieving a score of 16,500 that actually outstrips its bigger brother, the Precision 5720. In fact, that sort of performance might well be overkill if you simply need a compact desktop PC for running Microsoft Office. If that's the case you can always opt for the less expensive quad-core configuration, but there's no doubt that the performance of the OptiPlex 5260 represents excellent value for money.
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The OptiPlex 5260 does rely on integrated graphics, rather than the high-end Radeon Pro Vega of the Precision 5760, but the 8th-generation Coffee Lake processor still provides decent graphics performance, achieving a respectable 48fps in the Cinebench R15 OpenGL graphics test suite.
The only weakness lies with the OptiPlex 5260's use of a conventional hard disk, rather than faster solid-state storage. To be fair, the 7200rpm hard drive is by no means a poor performer, with write and read speeds measured at 120MB/s and 123MB/s using the ATTO Disk Benchmark. But that's nowhere near the speed of a solid-state drive, and the rather leisurely boot times of the OptiPlex can feel quite frustrating if you're in a hurry. It takes a good 30 seconds simply to reach the log-in screen, following by a further 15 seconds of cursor-spinning as the OptiPlex reaches cruising speed. To add to the frustration, Dell's US website offers additional SSD options that aren't available here in the UK.
The OptiPlex 5260's modest exterior appearance belies the excellent performance of the six-core processor that lurks inside. It's versatile too, with good connectivity and an adjustable landscape/portrait display that can handle a wide range of applications. At just over £800, Dell's OptiPlex 5260 is hard to fault if you need a compact and reliable workhorse PC for your office.
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