Review: Dell OptiPlex 360
February 27, 2009
Dell's latest low-cost enterprise-class desktop offering is the OptiPlex 360. This review compares the OptiPlex 360 to Dell's higher-end offerings in the OptiPlex product line and offers advice on the OptiPlex 360's appropriateness for various University environments.
Design and Changes
The OptiPlex 360 has the same general enclosures as the previous generation OptiPlex 330, which Information Systems & Computing (ISC) believes was the first competitive low-cost OptiPlex. These sizes range between 1.16 cubic feet for the tower and 0.56 cubic feet for the desktop (unlike other OptiPlex lines there is no small desktop or ultra-small desktop).
For the first time in a low-cost OptiPlex, highly efficient 88% power supplies are available. The OptiPlex 360 has received a Gold rating from EPEAT and is Energy Star 4.0-certified.
Like its OptiPlex 760 and OptiPlex 960 brethren, the OptiPlex 360 is a long life cycle product that ships with consistent component loadouts and is friendly to imaging. What it gives up compared to the 760 and 960 is configuration flexibility (small form factor cases and pre-loaded 64-bit versions of Windows Vista) and manageability. However, this does not make it an inappropriate choice for some University users.
Configuration and Ordering Notes
Several notes when ordering an OptiPlex 360:
See ISC's Performance Desktop Purchasing Guide and Value Desktop Purchasing Guide for more configuration hints. As of February 2009, configuring an OptiPlex 360 to the performance specification can be done for approximately $850 in quantity one, while a value desktop can be configured for about $700 in quantity one (both of these prices are an UltraSharp monitor included - a 19-inch for the performance desktop and a 17-inch for the value desktop). The cost delta between an OptiPlex 360 and an OptiPlex 760 with the same general configuration (the configuration can not be precisely duplicated because of basic system differences) is currently about $200.
Windows Vista Performance
ISC tested an OptiPlex 360 with a 2.6 GHz processor, 800 MHz 2.0 GB RAM, an ATI Radeon HD 2400 discrete graphic card, an 80 GB hard disk drive, and Windows Vista Business Service Pack 1. It received a Windows Experience Index base score of 4.0, with individual scores of:
These scores suggest that Windows Vista Service Pack 1 performance will be good for most users of an OptiPlex 360 configured in this manner.
The OptiPlex 360 is a significant update to Dell's low-end enterprise desktops, with an improved chipset and more configuration flexibility. However, it remains firmly mainstream - users needing significant manageability (including Intel's iAMT or vPro), a small form factor configuration, 64-bit Vista pre-loads and support, or quad-core processors should consider an OptiPlex 760 or 960.
OptiPlex 360 graphic courtesy of Dell
--John Mulhern III and Jeff Ballentine, ISC Technology Support Services (February 27, 2009)
Information Systems and Computing
University of Pennsylvania
Comments & Questions