Test drive: Dell's Optiplex GX100 comes in at under $1,000
(IDG) -- Make no mistake about it. Users today demand powerful PCs that come equipped with state-of-the-art features. They also demand all of that functionality and capability at an affordable price. With prices starting at $829 and all of the latest hardware installed, Dell Computer Corp.'s new Optiplex GX100 is just one of those machines.
We put the GX100 through the paces and found it to be a capable workhorse that offers easy accessibility to all of its features. The system we tested came configured with Intel Corp.'s 500 MHz Celeron processor with an Intel 810 chipset, Microsoft Corp.'s Windows 98 Second Edition operating system, 64M of memory, a 6.4G hard drive, a 10/24X Slim-line CD-ROM drive and a 15-inch monitor -- not a shabby lineup for $907.
The system also features integrated Intel 3D Graphics with Direct Accelerated Graphics Port technology, as well as Intel's Dynamic Video Memory Technology supported by 4M SDRAM graphics memory. On the networking side of the house, the system offers a 3Com Fast Etherlink 10/100 PCI TX network interface card with remote wake up support. Although our evaluation system did not come with audio capabilities, integrated audio features are optional. Dell also offers Creative Labs Sound Blaster AudioPCI 64V and Creative Labs Sound Blaster Live! Value 512V sound cards as options.
With the introduction of the Optiplex's small-form factor chassis, Dell caters to the call for a clutter-free desktop environment. The chassis takes up only 15 inches by 12.5 inches by 3.75 inches and is a perfect system for receptionist areas, cubicle spaces and other modest work environments. The chassis, which is based on the standard Dell OptiFrame chassis, features quick-release buttons located on each side panel for easy access to the system. For security, the GX100 also comes standard with an intrusion detection alert mechanism.
Although the small form factor chassis offers system administrators easy access to all of the system's key components, there's one disadvantage to this design: It only supports two half-length PCI expansion slots. The GX100 is strictly a PCI-based system and has no ISA expansion slots.
However, the system also ships in two other form factors, including a minitower and a low-profile case. The low-profile system, which is slightly larger than the OptiFrame chassis, offers a very space-conscious system while also providing users with more room for expansion, including three PCI card slots. The added functionality will cost you however, as these systems are not available for less than $1,000.
The GX100's performance is decidedly middle of the road. The unit turned in a SYSmark/98 score of 166 -- only 4 percent higher than the 433 MHz Celeron IBM PC 300GL. In addition, the GX100's score was 15 percent slower running Windows 98 than a 500 MHz Pentium III. For those who really need the added performance, Dell offers the GX100 with Microsoft Windows NT installation as an option.
The bottom line is that by today's industry standards, the GX100 is a solid system that offers satisfactory performance. Moreover, if you're in the market for a basic, easy-to-access system, the GX100 offers an attractive design at a price that won't break the bank.
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