Dell Optiplex 755 review – Part 2
I’ve been using the first of the Optiplex 755 systems (in my digital darkroom) for a few days now, and it has been working quite well. One of the tasks I perform there is to prepare non-copyright out-of-print books and articles for both my web site and for traditional hardcopy reprinting. I was able to completely process a 380 page book in only a few hours – from scanning to Photoshop touchup to OCR to producing the final output. This task would have taken considerably longer with my old dual-Xeon Dell Precision 530. And that doesn’t take into account the delays in scanning each page (which lead to getting bored and wandering away from the project).
I also replaced the Dimension 8400 in my bedroom / home theater system with one of the other Optiplex 755 systems yesterday, and that one is doing fine as well. The old Dimension 8400 box will get the cat fur vacuumed out of it and re-purposed somewhere else.
One of the biggest improvements with the new systems is that my actual work isn’t interrupted by the background tasks of spyware scanning, anti-virus protection, and so forth. Those tasks still run, but I still have at least 2 CPU cores available for “real” work.
Here’s a list of some pros and cons I’ve found with the new systems:
- Inexpensive – compared to an identical HP configuration, Dell was several hundred dollars less expensive per system.
- Has Windows XP Professional – I really don’t want to deal with Vista, and it is nice to be able to get XP Pro pre-installed, with manufacturer support for XP drivers.
- Comes with “name brand” components – Seagate hard drive, ATI-manufactured (as opposed to ATI-licensed) video card, and so on.
- Has “legacy” PS/2 ports and a second serial port (which, believe it or not, I use).
- Case can be easily opened. If you’ve ever tried to open a Dell XPS system, the instructions go like this: “With your first hand, grasp the front top of the case. With your second hand, grasp the front bottom of the case and press both hands together. While pressing with two hands, use your third hand to slide the side of the case to the rear while using your fourth hand to hold the case steady“.
- Mounting hardware for the second CD / DVD drive is provided, attached to the back of the filler plate. Likewise for the second hard drive and floppy / media reader bay (if you didn’t order a floppy drive or media reader).
- On-board Gigabit Ethernet should support Jumbo Frames.
- PS/2 ports take up one I/O card slot, and slots are limited on this system. I’d prefer to see these ports elsewhere on the case.
- Case is somewhat flimsy compared to previous generations of Dell systems (Dimension 8400, XPS, etc.). It still seems to be of good quality, though.
- Dell should pre-install the SATA I/O cables for the second hard drive and second CD/DVD drive.
I should mention that Dell just released the A07 BIOS update for the Optiplex 755. The web site lists the change only as “Intel microcode changes”. However, the previous BIOS version posted to the Dell support site was A04 (A05 was available on request from support). So I don’t know what other changes were made in A05 or the unreleased A06.
Also, SpeedFan 4.34 Beta 38 now correctly reports the CPU core temperatures (in 4.33 they were off by 15 degrees). SpeedFan still doesn’t see the case fan speed sensor or control, but perhaps in a future version. It definitely is under software control as the BIOS changes the fan speed when the system starts up.