Pros: Small footprint, very quiet; performance, easy to maintain.
Cons: Limited upgrade options; only six USB ports.
The Bottom Line: The DellOptiplex GX260 is an inexpensive high performance workhorse that more than meets our current computing needs and fits into our network-centric environment with ease.
The push is on to lower the Total Cost of Ownership (TOC) on computer equipment in the American workplace. This directly parallels the drive to move more and move data off the workstation and onto servers and other centralized storage medium turning desktop computers into little more than glorified dumb terminals.
Dell has been quick to capitalize on the converging trends and offer a line of Optiplex business-class workstations that are simple, thin-client easy design that offers high performance and low maintenance. One of those models is the Dell Optiplex DX260 Business Desktop.
The DellOptiplex GX260 is very similar in design to the Dell Optiplex designs in the GX series. The primary difference for our particular environment is the size of the computers (the GX260 is larger) and the hard drive technology; the GX260 uses the Parallel ATA (PATA) drives while the GX250 utilizes the newer SATA technology exclusively, and the GX270 can utilize either hard drive technology.
The GX260 can be ordered in one of three configurations, all in flat gray and silver; the Small Form factor, Small Desktop, and Small Mini-Tower. All have the same basic innards with the major difference being the size, and of course weight of the units. All of our units utilize the Small Desktop design.
As a base unit our complement of some 25 DellOptiplex GX260s shipped with 533MHz FSB (Front Side Bus) Pentium (4) 2.0GHz processors. Each workstation also shipped with 512MB of DDR RAM in a Single Channel configuration; a 40GB (PATA) hard drive (HHD); CD-ROM drive; 3.5 floppy drive; 4 rear USB 2.0 ports; Integrated Intel Network Pro 10/100/1000 (Gigabit) Ethernet; Integrated Intel 845/GL Video, and Windows XP Professional SP1.
(Still) Not Much Room for Expansion:
Like the other computers in the GX series the Small Desktop GX260 offers no room for expansion in the front of the unit; e.g. you can not add an additional CD-ROM drive to the unit. There are NO external drive bays and all of the internal drive bays are used by the hard drive, CD-ROM and 3.5 floppy respectively. However, just as there is there is little room for expansion either by external drive bays (3.5 or 5.25) there is little PCI expansion possible either; the unit only has two slots, plus a slot for an add-on AGP board.
The front of the GX260 is rather austere; there is a lone CD-ROM drive with a 3.5 inch floppy situated below it. To the left is a power button and below it a yellow power LED. Further to the left you will find (2) USB ports and a headphone jack behind a plastic door.
In the rear of the GX260 youll find the following; (4) USB ports, (1) Integrated 10/100 Ethernet port; (1) Integrated Intel 845/GL Video port; (1) standard Parallel Port; (2) 9-pin serial port; and one each of 9-pin mouse and keyboard ports.
Open the GX260 up and you will be greeted by the same compact design that graces the entire GX series. Inside the easy-to-open case you will find just (2) 32-bit PCI slots as well as an AGP slot; thats it, there is no more room for expansion. The units diminutive size does limit the amount of DDR RAM that can be deployed; the unit has only two DIMM slots for a maximum of 2.0GB of RAM.
Despite the limited (expandable) capabilities of the DellOptiplex GX260 I do like the unit, fir the same reason I like the other Dell GX series desktops in our inventory; they perfect for our environment, where in many cases space on the desktop is at a premium.
Response to keyboard input and or mouse movements are quick, and programs open with little to no delay. Since this is a business desktop, there is no opportunity to test gaming or other related software on the computer; in fact as part of our build the games were removed from the OS. I can report however, that business apps; i.e. Microsoft Office 2003, Adobe Acrobat Reader 7.0, Outlook 2003, Norton Anti-Virus, as well as specialized applications like Rumba Mainframe Emulator, all load and run extremely fast, while Internet Explorers performance does not seem at all changed from previous desktops that I have used.
The built-in 10/100/1000 network card (NIC) works as advertised, but I as I stated is earlier reviews of others in the GX line, I would have preferred a standalone card which could be swapped out, or a card that could be upgrade in the future via firmware. And I wish Dell would stick with one manufacturer; preferably Intel, or 3Com. The NIC chip can be disabled via the BIOS.
The built-in sound card works remarkable well and produces sound comparable to many high end offerings. The built-in speaker however, offers limited fidelity. Space on the front panel containing a lone headphone jack is a welcome convenience, an innovation it has taken PC manufactures over a decade to incorporate into their designs.
The integrated Intel 845/GL Video chip is fine for business applications, and is the only option available for this machine. Most of our stock of GX260s is mated with 17 19 inch CRTs or 19 flat panel LCD displays. Colors are sharp, crisp, and brightly rendered.
The six USB version 2.0 ports (four in the back, two in the front) are a welcome addition especially the two in the front (behind a hinged door), though I would like to have seen the number reversed; i.e. two in the back and four in the front. Increasing, the devices that utilize USB ports are portable in nature and having to continually move the Tower in order to access them can become a pain. Nevertheless, I do appreciate the two USB 2.0 port in the front of the tower, though they are quite close together which might hinder the use of more then one at a time.
The DellOptiplex GX260 Business Desktop is powerful business class workstation that is more then adequate for our primary business computing needs. For the base price of sub-$500.00 the DellOptiplex GX260 is an inexpensive high performance workhorse that more than meets our current computing needs and fits into our network-centric environment with ease where we always have an eye, or two, trained on TOC.
Operating systems included: Microsoft Windows XP Professional SP1 or Microsoft Windows XP Home SP1
Need to sprinkle a couple hundred PCs around the office? The Dell OptiPlex line-and, notably, the new GX260-might be your best choice. Dell owns the biggest chunk of the managed-PC market: slim, trim (and somewhat underpowered) PCs designed to be reliable and easy to maintain, upgrade, and otherwise centrally control.