Pros: extremely quick, multitasking made very easy, no delays, very compact
Cons: limited room for expansion
The Dell OptiPlex GX250 Desktop Personal Computer
Welcome to the year 2006. I finally upgraded from a Dell Dimension XPS R450 (Pentium II), after being forced to work with it for over 2 years. It was getting quite slow, and there were several programs that I wanted to be able to upgrade to, which simply wasn't feasible with my now dinosaur. This is where the Dell OptiPlex GX520 entered into my life, and made me quite a happy person. The OptiPlex actually comes in three different formats, designed to cater to many different types of users. It also depends on your preference for size and capabilities to improve on your system as time goes by. They offer the GH520 in a Mini-Tower version, a smaller Desktop version, and an even smaller Small Form Factor version. I ended up with the Desktop version, because it was going to fit all of my needs better than the other ones for the time being.
So What Is It and How Much Did You Pay For It?
When purchasing the new computer, there were a few key things that I was looking for. I wanted something that was going to be quite fast, would allow me to work on many programs simultaneously without crashing or slowing down, and that would allow me to use some rather large programs (DreamWeaver being one of them). Plus with the new system, it would be a nice added benefit if it didn't take up too much desk space, so of course that came into consideration with the whole process. In the end we went with the Dell OptiPlex at a little less than $900.00, and thus far I have been quite happy with the purchase. This was with a discount that they were offering, and it does not count the monitor which was added on a little later. The bare bones system of the GX520 sells for $501.00 as I saw the other day, which isn't too bad if you are looking for a new system. Bumping it up in software as well as tools pushed me closer to the $900.00 plateau (with a $100 discount). If you are interested in the particular monitor I went with, it is the E196FP Dell 19-inch Flat Panel Monitor. It is very sleek, and has really dressed up my workspace.
So What Does It Do and How Does It Work?
Operating on Widows XP Professional and using Service Pack 2, the computer comes with a Graphics Memory of 224 MB. The Physical Memory of this system is 1024 MB, using the Pentium 4 processor, and a processing speed of 800 MHZ. The OptiPlex has an Intel 82945g Express Chipset Family Accelerator, and really springs to life when you are running applications on it. It operates on a 3.40 GHz, has the Pentium 4 650 processor, 1 GB of RAM with which to work with. This excess storage space serves as an asset when it comes to dealing with many internal files, and all of these intangibles add up to being one quick computer. It is astonishing how much faster this one is compared to my last one, and it is so much better not having to deal with the constant delays between using one program, and loading up another one.
As I had mentioned with the smaller size desktop option, the potential for upgrades becomes somewhat limited. On the front is the 48X CD-ROM Drive, and a second storage area where a zip drive or burner could go, but as of yet I haven't taken advantage of that second drive. Instead I will be using an external USB drive to transport files from one computer to the next. This method is much easier for me, and already being in possession of an external zip drive, there was no real reason to splurge and get one on this computer with the purchase. It won't be too hard to add one on at a later date if the idea so hits me though. The additional space saver, is that the drives are turned sideways, so that you are saving even more inches. Inside the computer, we have the 80GB SATA and 8MB DataBurst Cache boot hard drive, which takes up most of the space that is available to the small box.
So What Does It Look Like?
The dimensions of the box measure out to 15.6 inches tall and 4.5 inches wide, with a diameter of 13.7 inches. You can see by this that it is pretty small, and next to my 19 inch monitor, it appears to be even smaller. It has 2 card slots, which allow 2 low-profile PCI cards inside the machine. On the back, there are enough ports to satisfy all of the computer nerds out there. It has 1 VGA port, 1 serial port, 1 parallel port, a RJ-45 network port, and 6 additional USB ports to go wild with. It also has the three sound jacks (microphone, stereo in, and stereo out) so that you can pump up the volume with the systems bells and whistles. If that isn't enough for you, there are also 2 additional USB ports on the front console, along with a stereo out and headphones jack. This gives the computer a lot of functionality, and allows you to hook up many external USB devices simultaneously. I can tell you that this is a blessing, because it means when I am plugging in various "toys" I don't have to worry about unplugging some of the others.
So What Else Do I Get With the OptiPlex CG520?
Despite not ordering the monitor straight up with the system, there was still a lot that I got with the computer. First of all, they include a Dell USB 2-Button Entry Mouse with Scroll Button, and a Dell USB Keyboard to get you up and running. This keyboard is really something else too, and is quite spectacular in appearance. It has a lot of usability that I haven't even quite figured out just yet. It comes with a 90 McAfee Security Center, this one has a 3-year on-site hardware warranty, Windows XP Professional, SP2, with Media, and of course all the internal hardware I touched on in my review already. There are options like DVD Drives, Super Drives, and Zip Drives that you can order with the system, but they do cost extra, and you need to figure out just want you want (or need) in order to get by. I think mine is pretty well decked out for my needs, and having it be so miniscule in size does not hurt either.
So How Do I Really Feel About the Dell OptiPlex GX520?
If you hadn't guessed by now, I am quite happy with the system that I now have. Using programs like Adobe Reader 7.0, the Internet Explorer, and all of my Microsoft Programs has become far less of a chore now that I have a computer that can keep up with my constant alt-tabbing. It's interesting, because I had been used to the delay, and actually calculated it into how I did things. I would have to time one page to load and be ready, while I did the something on a second page, in the hopes of having no down time. With this computer, that down time is a thing of the past, and it has quickly becomes my new best friend when it comes to anything computer related. The mouse movements are just as quick, and when I am using that as well as keystrokes to work through applications and web-sites I am very pleased with how quickly it works. The sound card works great, and keeps my ears happy for the music-playing, and with the 8 total USB ports available, this little system has everything I have ever wanted in a computer. The only potential downside you could find, is that there is no monitor with the system. By finding one to suit your needs though, it will quickly abate that problem, and thus leads me to a high recommendation of the Dell OptiPlex GX520. A rather large bonus, is that you can get one of these systems for less than $1000.00 if you are creative in your approach. If you are looking for a desktop computer that is going to operate with a lot of speed, but not take up too much room, this is the perfect solution.