Imagine you're deploying new PCs around your small office. Most are standard midtower desktop systems, but your top executives want something sleeker, and a few front-of-house personnel need space-saving systems to preserve precious desk real estate. Wouldn't it be great if all these computers shared the same configuration? That's precisely the idea behind Dell's OptiPlex GX620 business system. While our $1,723 review unit included a 17-inch flat panel and came housed in a small-form-factor case, the same configuration is available as a desktop, a midtower, or an ultra-small-form-factor PC, the last of which comes in a slim, upright case that reminds us of the tiny Dimension 5100C's. With a few exceptions, you can configure each type of system with identical features.
Our OptiPlex GX620 test system came equipped with a 64-bit-capable 3.6GHz Pentium 4 660 CPU, 512MB of RAM, and an 80GB hard drive--standard fare for a business computer. Power users can choose up to a dual-core 3.2GHz Pentium D 840, 4GB of RAM, and up to a 250GB hard drive. Going the other way, the more budget-conscious can opt for an Intel Celeron processor; thankfully, Dell won't let you configure an OptiPlex GX620 with anything less than 512MB of memory. Due to heat issues, the highest-level processors are not available in the ultra-small-form-factor case. In the desktop and midtower cases, a BTX motherboard design keeps things cool without excessive fan noise. As with most Dell home or business machines, the configuration options cover almost everything you could think of, allowing for systems that go from the entry level to the high end.
As you might expect, our small-form-factor case didn't have much room inside for expansion. The single PCI slot, the single PCI Express graphics-card slot, and the three drive bays were all filled, although two of the four memory slots remained available and easy to access. You can get inside the slim case with a simple push-button release that opens the side panel. Outside, you'll find standard connectivity options, including eight USB 2.0 ports, two of them on the front.
All four OptiPlex GX620 case designs share the same dull black-and-gray design and blunt, squared-off front panel. But at least you can tuck the small-form-factor and ultra-small-form-factor cases out of view if you use Dell's nifty optional telescoping LCD-monitor stand, which we received as part of our review system.
Our test system, running Windows XP Pro, included a USB keyboard and optical mouse plus a 17-inch LCD monitor, the Dell UltraSharp 1704FPT. It also included a CD-RW/DVD-ROM combo drive and a floppy drive. You can opt for a double-layer DVD burner or a basic CD-ROM drive, but Dell does not offer an optional flash-card reader.
Our system also came with ATI's midrange 128MB Radeon X600 SE graphics card, which provides plenty of firepower for business applications; however, we wish Dell had made a few higher-end graphics cards available, at least for those who choose the midtower case. You can upgrade to the full (non-SE) X600 card, which has double the video memory. Still, for any business besides a design shop or some other creative company that does intensive graphics work, the X600 SE provides more than enough graphics muscle. If your budget precludes a graphics card, you'll rely on Intel's integrated GMA950 graphics, which will suffice for standard office apps.