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I recently upgraded some of our computers at work to Dell Optiplex 760 systems. I chose the small form factor design so as to limit the amount of space the units take up on desks. A few months down the line I am impressed by the performance of these machines, as there have been relatively few issues, although, notably, some rather serious and immediate issues with machines that had only just been received.
Dell Optiplex 760
The Dell Optiplex 760 looks smart, gives a good impression, and can be used upright or on its side. When I purchased these machines from Dell, I opted to not receive new monitors as it seemed a false economy to be buying additional monitors when people have their own monitors that still work fine from their previous machines.
One of the main reasons I chose the Optiplex 760 system is its scope for customising the build. Dell do offer a really great service and you can choose the basic Optiplex 760 as a base and change requirements such as additional RAM, alternative hard drive capacity, alternate CD/DVD/RW drives, or get a separate graphics card fitted in order that users can use their computer with two screens. Sometimes we go down this route, I myself have a computer with two screens, as does several other people in the company, but in most cases this is not necessary and I try to restrict those who have two screens (although admittedly it can be extremely useful), otherwise I end up with a flood of jealous people at my door, enquiring as to why they cant have dual screens too!
The Optiplex 760 has a high performance build and has been specifically designed to allow businesses to get the most out of their staff, by speeding up computer performance and allowing faster access to database applications and the like. These machines are so much faster than the ones that they replaced, and hopefully the longevity will be acceptable (we would like these machines to serve us for around 4 years before they are replaced).
The Optiplex 760 comes in a range of form factors to suit every businesses needs, in general, the smaller the form factor you choose the less scope there is for expansion, and the less options for customising your order at the time of ordering, due to compatability issues between the amount of physical space in the casing and the amount of available slots on the motherboard.
Dell’s Optiplex 760 has been designed to try and be as green as possible, it features smart power saving features that enables the computer to use as little energy as possible, especially if it is not in use but remains turned on for lengthy periods of time. These range from having an energy efficient power supply to advanced standby functions, which also allow the computer to recover very quickly from standby or hibernation.
One thing in particular that I like about the Optiplex 760 is its very quiet running. Apart from a short blast of fans when you first put the machine on (lasts for approximately 3 seconds), in general the machine is so quiet you wont even know its on. This is great in an office environment where there may be 20 or 30 machines in one office. If you can imagine the noise of the fans was audible, then imagine 20 or 30 of those audible fans on all at the same time in the same place and it can be quite distracting. You see my point.
Dell have steadily over the years been developing their systems to allow maintenance and telephone diagnosis to be as easy as possible. On the front of the Optiplex 760 are a series of lights that light up at various stages depending on what the machine is doing. During startup these all light up at some point, and these lights can pinpoint specific problems with the machine. If you call their technical support about a problem, one of the first things they will ask you is what the problem is. After that they usually ask you if any of the numbered lights (1-4) are on or flashing. Alternatively if there is a problem during startup they have asked me in the past what order the lights come on (and go off) whilst the machine is booting up. So far, they have always been able to diagnose any problems by the presence of these lights! Genious!
I have ordered 40 of these machines over the last few months, and 90% of them have worked fine right from the start with little or no problems and no problems that have developed over the last few months. However, I have had a problem with two of these machines in that there is some problem with the network card, whereby the machine seemingly “drops” the network and fails to recognise it again. The only solution I have found for this is to physically unplug the machine, leave it off for a few minutes and then plug it back in. This seems to reset the network adapter and it picks the network up straight away. I was tearing my hair out over this issue 6 weeks ago as there was one machine in particular that kept doing this and no amount of releasing its IP address and trying to register another one would work, it would release the IP address with no problem but would completely hang when trying to obtain a new one, which led me to believe it was a problem with the network card itself.
The second issue I have had is that we had these machines built with an additional ATI graphics card installed. On one of these machines the graphics card just completely stopped working shortly after I bought it. Luckily this issue was easily sorted, and Dell were very helpful. I suspected it was a problem with the graphics card, and rang Dell’s support team, who were very helpful, they took me through a series of steps (asking what lights were on on the front of the machine), before confirming (from the lights) that it was likely a problem with the graphics card. I took the existing card out, replaced it with another one from a different 760 machine and it worked fine. Dell sent a replacement card out the very next day!
Specification of OUR machines (these machines are customisable and individual specifications may vary
'''OptiPlex 760 SF : up to 88% efficient Power Supply PSU Core 2 Quad Base Small Form Factor Chassis''' Processor : Intel Core 2 Duo E7400 (2.80GHz,1066MHz,3MB) E-Star : Energy E-Smart enable Ship Accessory : UK/Irish Docs with UK Power Cord Resource DVD : OptiPlex 760 Diagnostics and Drivers Memory : 2048MB (2x1024) 800MHz DDR2 Dual Channel Floppy Disk Drive : Not Included Hard Drive : 160GB (7200Rpm) 3.5in Serial ATAII 3Gb/s No Windows Live Required 8x DVD+/- RW SATA Drive Optical Media : Roxio Creator 9.0 with Recovery CD Optical Media : Power DVD 8.1 Software Security : Chassis Intrusion Switch Display : 17in 1708FP UK/Irish Black UltraSharp (1280 x 1024) TCO99 DVI-D Height Adjustable Graphics : 256MB ATI Radeon HD 2400 XT (Low Profile ,DVI w/VGA output, Dual Display) Speakers : Not Included Mice: Dell Laser, USB (6 buttons) Black Mouse Keyboard : UK/Irish (QWERTY) Dell QuietKey USB Keyboard Black Operating System : English Windows Vista Business SP1 to XP Pro SP3 Downgrade with XP Media Windows Vista Business 32 SP1 OS Media Advanced management iAMT AntiVirus : Not Included OptiPlex Order - United Kingdom Base Warranty 3Yr Basic Warranty - Next Business Day - Minimum Warranty 3Yr ProSupport for IT and Next Business Day On-Site Service
The above is our spec including a 17 inch monitor, which we have now stopped including. The price I pay for these machines is £679.50 net of VAT.
Overall I am very happy with the performance of these machines, together with the level and quality of support from Dell. There are so many different builds of machine and so many different internal specifications that I am impressed that Dell seem to be able to diagnose and fix any issues more or less straight away with very little hassle. Its disappointing that I have had a few serious issues with these machines, but overall I guess it is to be expected that occasionally you are going to get a machine that has something wrong with it at the time it was shipped, especially if you buy them in any sort of quantity.
This machine is highly recommended and will certainly improve your business productivity.