If you need a bit more convincing before you put your wheezing office computers out to pasture (hint: if they’re beige, they’re long past their expiration dates), Dell has a pitch to help you rationalize the purchase: You can give your employees the latest in computing power, and cut your utility bills in the process.
With the new OptiPlex 755 line, Dell touts energy efficiency as a way to save business owners money and to help the environment, as well — but we suspect the saving money part is the key draw for most would-be buyers. Most OptiPlex 755 configurations are ENERGY STAR 4.0-qualified. The new, more-stringent EPA certification for PCs (which went into effect this past summer) requires that desktop PCs have power-management schemes (much like those on a laptop) and stay below set power-consumption limits.
For example, when the machine is on but not actively doing work, it needs to consume less than 65 watts of power. In “sleep” mode, that threshold drops to six watts. In “off” mode, it must consume less than two watts of power, and the machine’s power supply must be at least 80 percent efficient.
Save Money, Save the Planet
Dell’s energy Website includes efficiency information on its offerings, as well as a handy energy calculator that lets you set up OptiPlex and Latitude systems for optimal efficiency and compare the energy usage of different configurations. Granted, Dell wants to sell new systems to customers who have older models, but the information is eye-opening.
For example, an older Pentium D-based desktop with a 17-inch CRT and no power management uses 966 KWhr (kilowatt hours) of electricity per year, according to Dell’s lab tests. That works out to be about $100 of electricity per year, based on average power rates. But an OptiPlex 755 with a Celeron CPU, 17-inch LCD monitor and Dell’s Energy Smart power-management scheme consumes just 213 KWhr, which will save you $75.30 per year, per machine.
In terms of environmental impact, cutting your PC’s energy consumption lessens the “greenhouse” gas emissions needed to produce that electricity. Each machine that saves 500 KWhr a year has the same positive impact as taking the average car off the road for three weeks or planting a 5,000-square-foot grove of trees. How’s that for shrinking your carbon footprint?
Build to Suit
Of course, the actual energy savings will vary, especially if you opt for a more-powerful machine. Dell’s configure-to-order model lets you configure the OptiPlex 755 (starting at around $800, with monitor) to suit the job requirements of every person in your office.
Options include four chassis models (ultra-small form factor, small form factor, desktop and mini-tower) and CPUs ranging from an 800MHz Intel Celeron to the workstation-caliber Intel Core 2 Quad. Hard-drive choices include 80GB, 160GB and 250GB models, and the OptiPlex 755 line supports up to 4GB of RAM (except for the ultra-small form factor model, which tops out at 2GB).
The Intel Graphics Media Accelerator 3100 chipset handles video processing, which is fine for business use and has enough chops to handles Vista’s Aero effects. If you need more power, opt for one of the ATI add-in cards Dell offers.
|The Dell OptiPlex 755 comes in Energy Star configurations that reduces the electric bill, saves you money and helps the planet at the same time.|
Beyond the hardware, the OptiPlex 755 (like all OptiPlex lines) offers flexible remote-management options accessible to your IT personnel via Dell’s excellent Client Manager console. It also provides enterprise-class security in the form of Intel vPro technology, which helps isolate virus-infected PCs from clean machines on the network and aids with the deployment of security patches.
The OptiPlex 755’s built-in TPM (Trusted Platform Module) 1.2 circuitry and software help protect your network from unauthorized access, and the available SmartCard or fingerprint readers add another layer of user authentication beyond passwords (which most people put on a Post-it note under the keyboard anyway).
The manageability and security aspects are among the key differentiators between the OptiPlex family and Dell’s small business-oriented Vostro line. For businesses with just a few employees, Vostro is the better choice, thanks to its full ecosystem of products, tools, support and resources exclusively designed for small businesses of one to 25 employees with little to no IT support. Beyond that level, where a business is likely to have central-management needs, OptiPlex is the better choice in the Dell line.
Not Flashy, but Plenty of Creature Comforts
The OptiPlex 755 minitower we received for testing won’t be mistaken for something out of Dell’s Alienware gaming line, but the black-and-silver chassis still has a somewhat interesting industrial-chic look about it. Credit the large grille that takes up more than half of the front panel. But while it’s great for airflow (to keep things cool inside), we worry that the large squares will invite in a lot of dust, too.
This case is also rather large—16.1- x 7.4- x 17.5-inches to be precise. If you don’t need a chassis this big for expansion, opt for one of the smaller form factors. But your IT folks will appreciate the lockable, tool-less chassis when service time comes: Just pull a latch and remove the side panel for easy access to the machine’s open bays and slots.
Employees will appreciate the front-mounted headphone, microphone and USB ports (two); our unit also came equipped a 19-in-1 card reader (no, we can’t name 19 memory card formats, either). There’s even a built-in speaker good enough for business audio, so you may not need to add external speakers. On the back panelyou’ll find six more USB ports, audio jacks, an Ethernet jack and parallel, serial, and VGA ports.
The OptiPlex 755 is exceedingly quiet, and Dell has omitted the preloaded software and trial-ware that plague consumer-oriented desktops. Our $1,402 test unit came equipped with a 2.2-GHz Intel Core 2 Duo E4500 processor and 2GB of RAM, which is more than powerful enough for a business desktop.
Dell also included a 160GB hard drive, CD-RW/DVD-ROM combo drive (though we would have preferred to see a DVD burner), integrated Intel graphics, Microsoft Office Professional 2007 (which accounts for $349 of the total price) and Windows Vista Business (other flavors of Vista as well as Windows XP are available instead, if you prefer).
Our bundle also included the superb 17-inch Dell UltraSharp 1707FPV LCD monitor. The 1280 x 1024 panel is particularly bright, and it delivered crisp, rich images and excellent off-axis viewing performance. The high quality stand delivers tilt, swivel, height and even pivot adjustments (the latter for rotating the screen into portrait mode). There are two USB ports built into the bezel’s left side, and it accepts both analog and digital inputs.
The OptiPlex 755 is a no-compromise choice for business buyers who need to outfit a growing office with scalable, manageable, secure PCs. And if you can help save the planet — and save yourself some money — by replacing older, energy-inefficient computers at the same time, all the better.
Jamie Bsales is an award-winning technology writer and editor with nearly 14 years of experience covering the latest hardware, software and Internet products and services.
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