Pros: Small footprint; powerful processor; (7) USB ports
Cons: None Come to Mind
Ah, the technology refresh. Every three or four years or so, my household PC’s go through one of these. In my wife’s case we replaced and older Dell laptop with something smaller and more powerful, the Dell OptiPlex 790 Ultra Small Form Factor (USFF) Computer. My spouses computing need are simple: browsing the Internet, word processing, simple gaming, and some (non-processor or memory intense) applications, so her new computer could be small, yet powerful enough to run Windows 7 and eventually Windows 8 64-Bit. The Dell OptiPlex 790 USFF fit the bill nicely.
The Dell OptiPlex 790 ships in many different configurations; for my wife I bought a unit that shipped with a Intel Core i3 2120 Dual Core processor @ 3.30Ghz and 4GB of DDR3, 1333Mhz RAM in (2) DIMM slots. The unit also shipped with a 2.5” SATA 3.0 500GB hard drive, which is more than enough space for my wife’s needs now and well into the future. A slim-line DVD+/-RW SATA drive @1.5Gbits/s rounds out the performance complement of this compact machine.
A total of (7) USB ports are included on the Dell OptiPlex 790; 2 on the front of the unit and (5) on the back side. And speaking of the back side, there are no expansion slots, but there are standard VGA and Serial port(s) as well as (1) Display Port Connector, Intel 82579LM Gigabit Ethernet LAN 10/100/1000 RJ-45 port, audio out, microphone out, and in some cases an optional Wi-Fi Antenna.
Internally the Dell OptiPlex 790 USFF does have a miniPCIe (Express) connector that might be used to house the aforementioned Dell Wireless 1520 half miniPCIe WLAN card.
It is hard not to be impressed with the performance of the lithe machine. Dell designed a lot of power into small form-factor machine that can be place virtually anywhere. In my wife’s case I was able to tuck the Dell OptiPlex 790 USFF away in a corner of her desk freeing up considerable space. Thanks in large part to the 2.5” hard drive, the PC generates very little heat, and no noise what so ever. If not for the front panel LED and power LED, you would be hard pressed to tell whether it was on or off.
Windows 7 installed on the unit without incident and all of the hardware pieces were recognized. This is not something I can say about past Dell OptiPlex’s I have worked with; in most cases the drives for the onboard NIC (more often than not a Broadcom) would need to be downloaded after the install process completed, but not so with the 790, not doubt thanks to the Intel NIC.
After using the PC for a week or so my wife did run into an issue: the PC would reboot itself for no discernible reason. I traced the problem to a software program called Adware, which was affecting the BIOS and causing the PC to restart. Once I updated the BIOS the problem disappeared.
Overall, I (and my wife) am very pleased with the Dell OptiPlex 790 USFF desktop computer. The unit is small, powerful, and because of the (7) USB ports flexible enough to be used well into the future. I like it so much I laid hands on a used unit to install Microsoft Windows Server 2008 Standard on and use as a domain controller in my home network. If you are in the market for a new desktop PC and your computing needs do not stray to the exotic, the Dell OptiPlex 790 USFF should be given serious consideration.