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Review: Dell Optiplex 390 (Small Form Factor)

Dell Optiplex 390 (Small Form Factor)In the long history of the business machine, one of the enduring form factors has to be the “small” form factor. This small sized computer is usually small enough to fit into a cabinet or just under a user’s monitor. That kind of versatility in space gives way to the computer’s use a small single-purpose server when taken from the user. This time around I look at the Dell Optiplex 390 Small Form Factor (while remembering the venerable Compaq Evo SFF).  The computer has to to run reasonably well and hold up to the demands of the average user.

Summary: A review and quick look at the Dell Optiplex 390 Small Form Factor computer system.

Specifications Tested:
CPU: Core i3-2120
RAM: 2GB,NON-ECC,1333MHZ DDR3
Cd-ROm: 8XDVD+/-RW
Video: Integrated Video
Hard Disk: 250GB 3.5″ SATA 3.0GB/S
Operating System: Windows 7 Professional x32
Other: Office 2010 Home and Business
Details on Dell’s Website

As you can probably tell, this is not the most souped up system (in terms of specifications). That’s on purpose. The computer’s main purpose is to run Office applications reliably and really not much else. With 2GB of RAM, this should perform well enough with some possibility for a future RAM upgrade if needed. In this configuration, space is saved by using laptop parts (the CD-ROM) and limiting expansion options (two half-height PCI Express ports).The computer can sit vertically or horizontally.

Dell Optiplex 390 (Small Form Factor)
The Optiplex’s simple front bezel

The front includes spots to plug in headphones and two USB ports for devices. I’ve always thought that at least three front ports make the most sense (one port for keyboard and mouse and an extra for other devices) if you were going to efficiently set this machine up or use it in a quick manner. Such as it is, the total of 8 USB ports is quite impressive. I also saw a mention of another two ports “Internal” to the system, but pulling open the case, I didn’t see where these ports may be available.

Dell Optiplex 390 (Small Form Factor)The back of this machine is pretty simple and  features the typical ports you might expect. The general exception is the lack of serial and parallel ports most new computers are missing. Also, on the left side is a HDMI-Out port if you were looking to output to a screen that way.

Dell Optiplex 390 (Small Form Factor)
A peek inside the Optiplex’s guts

Dell’s configuration of the computer is standard for this these types of hardware specifications. Given the 2 GB of RAM, Dell also chose to install the 32 bit version of Windows 7. Also included with this computer are the typical recovery CDs and Microsoft Office System key card (when Office is purchased with the computer).

Dell Optiplex 390 (Small Form Factor)
What the Optiplex might look like with a monitor on top

Pros:
– Dell provides for a full 3 Year warranty
– Large number of USB ports (8 in total)
– Easy to remove CD-ROM and Hard Disk

Cons:
– Very limited expansion ability because of the small size
– USB 2.0 only, to get 3.0 an expansion card is required