Review: Dell OptiPlex SX260
February 3rd, 2003
Dell introduced the OptiPlex SX260 systems on October 28, 2002. The SX260 represents the addition of a new, extremely small form factor to Dell's professional desktop product line - it uses 50% of the space of Dell's previous smallest desktop configuration (the OptiPlex GX260 small form factor) and only 15% of the space of an OptiPlex GX260 minitower. Despite the miniaturization involved, the cost differential between a SX260 and a similarly configured GX260 is only about $50.
Specifications as tested
What it doesn't have (that an OptiPlex GX260 minitower does have)
The SX260's smaller size does not detract much from its raw performance - fast Pentium 4s and the 533 MHz bus are available, just as they are on the GX260. Its desktop footprint is considerably smaller than any GX260 configuration, and the CPU is mountable on the back of some flat panel displays or beneath a desk or shelf. Port availability is close to that of most modern desktop PCs: VGA, serial, parallel, PS/2 (keyboard and mouse), and six USB 2.0 (two front, four back). An Intel Pro1000 Gigabit NIC is integrated into the motherboard, along with audio and video.
The only drawbacks of this configuration are the integrated video card (which shares system resources and lacks performance), the loss of expansion (no PCI slots or drive bays), no internal modem availability, and the single modular drive bay. While the modular bay will accommodate any Dell Latitude C-series modular drive (CD, floppy, Zip, etc.), it will only accommodate one at a time. To use two at a time, an external connector must be purchased from Dell.
Information Systems & Computing (ISC) has tested the OptiPlex SX260 for compatibility with University-supported hardware and software. The SX260 is compatible with the 2002 PennConnect CD-ROM and with Penn's supported network applications. ISC does not expect there to be significant hardware-related compatibility problems with the OptiPlex SX260. However, the SX260 will have the same software-related conflicts that any Windows 2000 Professional or Windows XP Professional workstation would have.
Properly configured, these workstations meet ISCs Recommended Configurations for Performance PC Desktop Workstations, with the need to make some peripherals such as the modem external and an awareness of the 40 GB hard drive size limitation. As always, support providers should be aware of the potential technical issues associated with any new workstation design.
--Robert Short & John Mulhern III, ISC Technology Support Services (February 3rd, 2003)
Information Systems and Computing
University of Pennsylvania
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