Dell Optiplex 390 Core i7 – 2nd Generation can be used in a tower or desktop configuration, but whichever way you use it, it doesn’t take up a great deal of desk space, so there’s a fair bit of flexibility when it comes to deploying it in the classroom.
The Optiplex 390 comes with a full-size keyboard and mouse and both feel reassuringly solid. Depending on your tastes, the PC’s front panel is clean and uncluttered, or rather austere: there are just two USB 2 ports, headphone and microphone jacks and a DVD rewriter. We like the lack of clutter, but it’s a pity that a multi-reader card slot wasn’t included – there’s certainly space for one, but it’s only available for the desktop and tower versions of the Optiplex 390.
Around the back are eight more USB ports – six of which are USB 2 and two USB 3 – plus VGA, HDMI and Ethernet ports. The inclusion of USB 3 ports provides some form of future-proofing, which is increasingly important for schools, as budget considerations mean that many institutions are replacing their IT equipment over a longer cycle. It’s also good to see Dell offering a next-business-day, on-site warranty with this PC.
The Optiplex 390 has a 2.1GHz Intel Core i3 2100 processor, 4GB of DDR3 memory and Intel HD graphics, so there’s no shortage of processing power on offer. The PC Pro benchmark score of 0.67 is perfectly credible. The lack of a dedicated graphics chipset might be disappointing for any students looking to play games, but the Dell won’t have any issues running basic 3D programs or HD video. Sound quality was impressive too, and while we’re on the subject of audio, the Optiplex 390 runs very quietly indeed.
The Optiplex 390 may lack the stylish pizzazz of Apple’s Mini mac, but then again, it’s much cheaper and gives you more flexibility when it comes to configuration. If you want a robust, no-nonsense mini desktop PC that can handle classroom IT tasks with ease, then the Dell is well worth considering.