I am currently writing this review on the Optiplex GX1 system at work, and it is very reliable as ever for a Dell. You really cannot fail with a Dell, if you don't build your own (as I do) and have limited knowledge of computing then a Dell should be your choice. The Optiplex range is usually marketed as a corporate range, as it usually has a more powerful set of specs when compared to the more home personal based systems in the Dimension range.
This particular system is now dated with only a P3 CPU, but if running XP or nowadays Ubuntu (a much less resource hungry OS) then it will run like a dream and meet the needs of an SME office easily once you have stuck in a larger hard disk.
All in all with some tweaking (larger HDD) and a fresh install of Ubuntu this system meets the needs of an average office user so long as they are not sound engineers/graphic designers...
We have this type of computer in my University computer cluster and i really think they are a great little machine. The processing speed is relitively quick and it has the added bonus of having both windows vista and an intel core duo processor.
I also like the dfact that the USB ports are in the fron of the CPU and not the back. It really makes it so much easier to just pop your usb stick in the front and off you go. I also really like the fact that the monitor has a a non shimmer effect this really ehlps with the glare that we get of the University lights.
It also has the added bonus of having a disk drive, which is really important. In my opinion i think that this would make and excellent home PC as it is easy to use, pretty cost effective and you can do just about everything that you need to.
I bought my Dell Optiplex GX1 PC in July 1999. It was secondhand and around a year old at that stage. As I recall, it set me back around £450. For this I got a 350Mhz genuine (none of this Celeron rubbish!) Intel Pentium II processor, 64Mb of RAM, a 4.3Gb hard disk, 36 speed CD-ROM drive, built-in sound and graphics, and a 17" Dell SVGA colour monitor. I am still using the machine to this day, and it's never let me down. In the meantime I've upgraded to a 400Mhz PII processor, and disabled the onboard graphics and sound to run a 16Mb 3DFX Voodoo Banshee graphics card and SoundBlaster 16 soundcard (I like games, you see). Also at some point I extended the RAM to 192Mb. I've had very few problems with it, and it runs everything I want (Windows ME, the Office utilities, the Web, Outlook, and a number of racing games) perfectly well. Although considered quite old-tech in these days of Pentium 4 processors, it does everything I want it to and still runs the latest games at a fair old lick (probably a result of having a decent graphics card). Dell run an excellent support section to their website - on the back of the machine there is a five-digit "unique" code which you can enter and will give details of all the downloads and support particular to your machine. I've only ever used the site for downloading new drivers, and when I was trying to configure the built-in Ethernet network card. Dell have a good reputation for quality systems at a low price, and if I was in the mood to upgrade (no real need at the moment as I have a Playstation 2 to handle all my gaming needs) I would certainly consider one of their new machines. When I bought this one I didn't have a Dell in mind, but it was one of the few machines available in a desktop (i.e. the computer itself lies flat so the monitor can sit on top) case, rather than a tower. Also, the case design is very clever in that it needs no screws undoing - simply
press two buttons on the side and the cover is released so it can be lifted away. Inside everything is easy to get at, although on the desktop model there's not a lot of room for expansion. Overall, an excellent machine, and I would recommend it to anyone as a sound secondhand buy. Update 1.6.03 - I've recently acquired another Optiplex (for free!) which used to be the server at work. This one is identical to my current one, but is in a mini-tower case. This has loads of expansion slots and drive bays, and features the same kind of clever design as the desktop - press a button on the front and the side panel hinges up and away for access. One thing I didn't mention about both machines is upgrading the processor. If you use a non-Dell fan on your heatsink then on bootup you get an error message that reads "Alert! Previous fan failure". This despite there being a fan! This is the only annoyance I guess, and a relatively minor one at that.
Model Reviewed: '98 Dell Optiplex GX1 Used Product For: 2 Years Strengths: - 3 year on-site warranty! - Jack of all trades, master of none. - Dell monitor is pretty cool. - Case is ugly, but well put together. Weaknesses: - Jack of all trades, master of none - Price! - Software package is very minimal. - Very easy to hit the Reset button by accident. - Graphics card SimilarProducts: Acer (over 5 years) / Compaqs (2 years). Summary: The computer doesnt come with any of the 'frill-software' that you find on Compaqs and Acers. However, it could do with a few more useful applications (not just a different interface like the other two!). The computer has quite a few goodies but does not excel in any one of them. For example, the ATI Rage graphics card that comes built into the motherboard has only 4 MBs of memory - also preventing simple expansion. This is the case with the sound card too. However, keep in mind that these cards satisfy most needs in audio/video applications. After two years of use, the monitor has begun to flicker quite a bit, so I am assuming you could get one which is a lot better. However, I must add that I keep my computer on for weeks at a stretch (sometimes even months). Finally, I paid almost 2000 dollars for this machine and found out later that there were Compaqs and HP's out there that were selling for around $1200. So that left me pretty upset. Yep... its expensive!! (Though I think the '99 and '00s are relatively low-priced)