Dell OptiPlex 990 Review: Low Power, Low Noise and Conclusion

June 14, 2011 by J.R. Nelson Reads (91,806)
Editor's Rating

Ratings Breakdown (1-10)

    • Software & Support
    • 8
    • Upgrade Capabilities
    • 7
    • Usability
    • 10
    • Design
    • 10
    • Performance
    • 8
    • Features
    • 9
    • Total Score:
    • 8.67
    • Rating 1 to 10, top score 10

Dell OptiPlex 990

Power, Heat and Noise
Despite not having much room to keep its components cool, the 990 doesn’t make an excessive amount of noise. Even when running strenuous benchmark tests to look for heat generation and power draw, the desktop didn’t make much noise. It’s not silent, of course, but unless you work in a very, very quiet environment, it should never be an issue. That means that the internals probably don’t get very hot in the first place, and some brief checking bore this out – the exhaust coming out of the rear vents barely rose above 103 degrees Fahrenheit.

Of course, none of this is possible without keeping power draw down, and Dell was mostly successful in this respect.  The OptiPlex 990 drew 56W of electricity at peak during boot, coming to rest at an idle Windows desktop by drawing just 21 watts. Maxing the system out pulled up to 75 watts of power.  Weirdly enough, the OptiPlex still drew 3 watts of electricity when completely turned off. That’s probably not quite enough to bother a company with even hundreds of these desktops, but it’s still a point of contention.

While most consumers probably know Dell for being an affordable but desirable brand thanks in large part to their value-priced Inspiron model lineups, Dell actually services a wide range of business needs. We’ve mentioned before that the giant PC manufacturer, situated in Round Rock, Texas, seems to be undergoing something of a design resurgence in recent years.

We’ve seen the company produce such stellar works as the Latitude Z and XPS systems, and it seems like that risky design and attractive IP has come to their business desktop lineup at last. Compared to the OptiPlex small form factor models of just a few years ago (a few of which we have floating around our office), the 990 feels like a completely different company built it – it’s small, solid and no longer requires a hugely bulky external power supply.

Business upgrades have slowed this year as companies finally upgrade their systems to Windows 7, but if you’re looking for a new system to roll out, the OptiPlex 990 deserves some attention. It’s fast, attractive and efficient, and comes with Dell’s top-of-the-line business support.


  • Very small, very solid
  • Internal power supply
  • Quiet and cool
  • Bizarre, huge Wi-Fi antenna dongle
  • Wi-Fi costs $90 to add



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