Product Notes: Dell OptiPlex 990
March 21, 2011
On March 15, 2011 Dell released new enterprise-class tower, desktop, small desktop, and ultra small desktop systems branded as the OptiPlex 990, which are based on Intel's Sandy Bridge desktop platform. The OptiPlex 990 will supplant the OptiPlex 980 line introduced in March 2010 and moves to the Q67 Express chipset.
Dell also has announced the OptiPlex 790, which supplants the aging OptiPlex 780 and brings Core i processors to that portion of the OptiPlex product line. When details become available about the 790, Information Systems & Computing (ISC) will publish a product note and provide context on which use cases are appropriate for each OptiPlex model.
Design and Changes
When compared to the OptiPlex 980, the OptiPlex 990 significantly changes the tower enclosure while adding an ultra-small desktop enclosure. The tower is about 30% smaller and lighter than the previous version. Discrete video cards are not available for the ultra small desktop and thus this form factor does not meet the performance desktop specification (it is only suitable as a value desktop).
There is significant variance in OptiPlex 990 sizes, from 0.93 cubic feet for the tower, 0.53 cubic feet for the medium desktop, 0.30 cubic feet for the small desktop, and 0.13 cubic feet for the ultra small desktop. ISC believes that the most users will be well served by the small desktop.
The OptiPlex 990 adds the option of the latest version of Intel's Active Management Technology (iAMT) and vPro.
In a significant change from the OptiPlex 980 and OptiPlex 780, the OptiPlex 990 no longer offers NVIDIA discrete video cards as an option: only AMD (previously ATI) discrete video cards are available. Also removed from these systems are a parallel port (it can be added as an optional PCIe card on the tower configuration only) and an eSATA port - both included in previous OptiPlex 9xx series models.
Ninety percent efficient power supplies are available with all OptiPlex 990 form factors. When correctly configured, the OptiPlex 990 is EPEAT Gold-compliant and Energy Star 5.0-certified.
Several considerations when ordering an OptiPlex 990 through Dell's Premier Page for the University:
See ISC's Performance Desktop Purchasing Guide for more configuration hints. As of March 2011, configuring an OptiPlex 990 to the performance desktop specification can be done for approximately $1,250 to $1,400.
The University's Computer Connection will have at least one OptiPlex 990 configuration available to order as soon as possible.
The OptiPlex 990 is a significant update to Dell's high-end enterprise desktops, with an improved chipset, the option of more management capability, and greater configuration flexibility. Users previously considering an OptiPlex 980 almost certainly should select the OptiPlex 990 instead. The cost delta to move to the 990 from the 980 is very small: various Performance Desktop configurations yielded a difference of $5 to $10.
ISC will follow up with a full review of the OptiPlex 990 as soon as testing has been completed. The 990 likely will be a significant component of the 2011-2012 Desktop Recommendations.
OptiPlex 990 graphic courtesy of Dell
--John Mulhern III, Lead for Client Technologies, ISC Technology Support Services (March 21, 2011)
Information Systems and Computing
University of Pennsylvania
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