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Dell OptiPlex GX 280

Ever find yourself in need of a Desktop PC and don't have a lot of money to spend? If you are like me then you have two choices: the first one is start rummaging through that old pile of computer parts that all of us enthusiasts seem to have and put together a Frankenstein PC (Machine with parts from many different sources), or you buy a refurbished PC already ready to go. Most times I choose the first option because anything that allows me to whittle down my pile of computer junk is a joyous occasion. This time, though, I chose the second option because lately I have been somewhat short on time and the Dell OptiPlex GX280 provided us by Geeks our main site sponsor, is a turnkey system—minus monitor—ready to go right out of the box.

The Dell OptiPlex GX280 shipped in typical brown cardboard OEM packaging; the contents of the box were protected by a combination of robust styrofoam and air pillow inserts. Everything arrived undamaged after its 2,000+ mile journey here. In fact cosmetically the OptiPlex GX280 I received looks new even though it is not. The Dell OptiPlex GX280 package contains the GX280 itself (duh), keyboard, mouse, and a copy of Windows XP SP3. What is missing, and what I would have liked to see (even though this is a refurb), is a driver disc and some sort of electronic owners/users manual. (I guess I am going to give up on printed manuals as they seem to gone the way of the dinosaur). To be fair both items are readily available on Dell's site for download, but I would like to have seen them included, nonetheless. If there is a problem they may be needed before you are able to access the internet with your new machine.

GX280 Box Open 1     GX280 Box Open 2

Features/Specifications:

Dell OptiPlex GX280 Pentium 4 2.8 GHz Small Form Factor Desktop PC

General Features:

Microsoft Windows XP Professional pre-installed w/COA
Intel Pentium 4 2.8 GHz processor
512 MB DDR2 RAM (expandable up to 2 GB)
40 GB SATA hard drive
CD-ROM drive
Floppy drive
Integrated Intel Extreme Graphics
Integrated AC'97 audio
Integrated Gigabit Ethernet LAN

Expansion Slots:

One (1) PCI Express x16 slot (not occupied)
One (1) PCI slot (not occupied)
Two (2) 240-pin DIMM sockets (one occupied)

Front I/O Ports:

Two (2) USB 2.0 ports
One (1) Microphone jack

Rear I/O Ports:

One (1) 9-pin serial port
One (1) 15-pin VGA port
One (1) 25-pin parallel port
Six (6) USB 2.0 ports
Line-in, line-out and microphone jacks

Case Features:

One (1) 5.25-inch external slimline drive bay (occupied)
One (1) 3.5-inch external slimline drive bay (occupied)
One (1) 3.5-inch internal drive bay (occupied)
160-watt power supply (100 - 120V, 5A / 200- 240V, 3A, 50/60 Hz)

Unit Dimensions:

3.57 x 12.54 x 13.93-inches (H x W x D, approximate)

Package Includes:

Dell OptiPlex GX280 Pentium 4 2.8 GHz Small Form Factor Desktop PC
Microsoft Windows XP Professional pre-installed w/COA
Windows XP Professional Software CD (includes Service Pack 3)
USB keyboard
USB mouse
Power cord

I talked to an IT friend of mine who says that the OptiPlex GX280 is a pretty popular office computer and that they have about fifty or so of them where he works. I asked him what he thought of them and he said that they were fine, but he hated that they don't have keyboard or mouse PS2 connectors and this causes a lot of headaches around the office. He asked me if I had this problem with mine and I said nope, because the refurbished Dell OptiPlex GX280 Geeks sent me included both a USB keyboard and mouse. Still, even though this isn't an issue for me as I am satisfied with the keyboard and mouse that came with the OptiPlex GX280, if you happen to have a PS2-only keyboard or mouse you can't live without, consider yourself warned.

The OptiPlex GX280 comes with a CD drive and not a DVD drive. Whether this fact is important to you depends on how you plan to use the OptiPlex GX280. For instance, if you plan to use the OptiPlex GX280 for basic computing tasks such as internet, running some Open Office apps, etc., you are fine. If you plan on using the OptiPlex GX280 as some sort of a home server, the lack of a DVD is probably not that important, either. If, however, you are buying the OptiPlex GX280 to use as a HTPC, though, the lack of a DVD might be a deal breaker unless you have an external unit or plan on upgrading the CD drive to a DVD drive, which according to Dell's website the OptiPlex GX280 does in fact support. If you chose to upgrade the CD to a DVD, though, I imagine that it is a proprietary model, so to be safe you should probably get a Dell original.

GX280 Box Open 1     GX280 Box Open

Before powering up the Dell OptiPlex GX280 I opened the case and replaced the 512 MB stick of DDR2 with two 1 GB sticks of DDR2, maxing out the OptiPlex GX280 SFF at 2 GB. Despite my misgivings that the OptiPlex GX280 might have some issues with the DDR2 I added not being properly recognized by the BIOS, the system seeing only one stick of the memory, or even completely failing to boot, the Super Talent memory that I added ran flawlessly. If you don't have any extra DDR2 laying around the house, you can pick up a 1 GB stick from Geeks for 15 bucks. Combined with the original 512 MB DDR2 that comes with the OptiPlex GX280, this won't quite max the memory out, but it gives you a fairly decent 1.5 GB of DDR2. If you have the patience of a saint, don't plan on running more than one app at a time, and don't mind a fair amount of hard drive thrashing, I suppose you could use the pre-installed XP Professional with the 512 MB memory the OptiPlex GX280 comes with. Not me, though. I am too old and might die of old age before Windows finishes booting with that amount of memory.

The Dell OptiPlex GX280 SFF desktop case uses a tool-less clamshell design and while there isn't a lot of space inside for expansion everything is laid out pretty cleanly and is for the most part easily accessible. While the OptiPlex GX280 on its own is a pretty compact desktop PC, if you live in a sardine can like me and are really tight on desk space, the OptiPlex GX280 can be flipped on its side and used as a very small tower, as well. In addition to the CD mentioned earlier the front of the OptiPlex GX280 features two USB ports (which I used all the time) as well as a floppy drive (something I never used). One thing I wasn't expecting to find here is that the OptiPlex GX280 has its own built in speakers. While they aren't anything earth-shattering, they do produce sound equal to a low-end laptop.

GX280 Rear     GX280 Open

This is the first article/review that I have penned in quite some time that I have purposely chosen to not include any benchmarks. There are several reasons for this decision, the largest being the Integrated Intel Extreme Graphics (onboard video) that the OptiPlex GX280 uses. While fine for most general computing tasks, is just not suited for any gaming more taxing than playing the MS-included Solitaire, Mine Sweeper, Pinball, etc. The next reason is that I have substantially altered the OptiPlex GX280 by removing the 512 MB DDR2 it came with and added the two 1 GB sticks of Super Talent DDR2. The final reason I am choosing not to include benchmarks in this write-up is that the OptiPlex GX280 does include a LP (low profile) PCI Express x16 slot that I plan to put to good use in the future, at which time I will update this article and post some game benchmarks.

Conclusion:

The refurbished Dell OptiPlex GX280 fit my needs for a low cost basic PC pretty well, though realistically it does have a few issues that stop it from being a slam dunk. The two most notable IMO are the lack of a DVD drive, and the fact that both the slots for add on cards are of the uncommon LP variety. The small amount of included memory (512 MB) is not IMO a big deal because it is so cheap to replace, and it is likely that many readers will have some DDR2 already laying around the house to use here. Still, even with its issues, it is hard to doubt the value to be had here. When I was considering building a used PC from my old parts, I started looking at the price of a new copy of Windows XP Professional SP 3 that I wanted to go on my build, and it wasn't priced a whole lot cheaper than this entire setup. While this won't be a consideration for those of you using Linux, for the rest of us it is something to think about. For its target market, the Dell OptiPlex GX280 comes recommended.

Pros:

  • Inexpensive
  • Ready to go right out of the box
  • Includes copy of XP Pro SP3 & COA
  • Includes keyboard & mouse

Cons:

  • No DVD drive
  • Uses LP add in cards

I would like to thank Geeks for providing us with the Dell OptiPlex GX280 Desktop PC for review. This item can be purchased at Geeks for 150 usd. They also offer a wide selection of other refurbished PCs for sale.

Geeks

Added: August 18th 2009
Reviewer: JimAdkins
Score: 7  
Related Link: Dell
Hits: 8456
Language: english

  

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