Power, Heat, Noise
The machine is about average when it comes to power efficiency. At start-up it pulls anywhere from 31-65 watts. At idle, it sits at 32-34W. When running at its peak, it pulls about 42-65W of power. While we ran a processor benchmark and graphics benchmark at the same time, it regularly used about 55W.
There are two fans inside the Vostro 260 to help regulate the heat generation, as well as several openings in the back for heat to escape. This brings us to the biggest flaw with this system: the noise. The high-pitched noise that is almost constantly being emitted from inside the system is so bothersome that it actually hurts my ears. It’s a buzzing noise; it’s most likely coming from the hard drive or fan. It could be a flaw with our particular review unit, it could not; but it is a major flaw. Other than that, the system only emits two other noises, a consistant “loading” sound and the other low sounds you hear due to the fans turning.
Software and Security Features
The Dell Vostro 260 has little to no bloatware pre-installed onto the computer when users purchase it. (Meaning, little to no pointless software that’s there just to con you into trying it out). The system comes with a few of the standard Dell-specific applications, such as Dell Backup and Recovery (a program to used to back your data up and to recover your data in emergencies when there’s no other choice), Dell Digital Recovery (a program that can be used to purchase select software already pre-installed), and the Dell support and troubleshooting center. The Windows Live Essentials and Roxio Creator Starter suites both come pre-installed.
Also included is Microsoft Office Starter (Excel and Word with advertisements and reduced functionality) and 15 months of free Trend Micro Security (client/server security agent). Optionally, users can choose 15 months of free Trend Micro Titanium instead of the client/server security agent. The Vostro 260 also has a lock slot in the back to keep everything secured. It’s also notable that Dell has what they call a “virtual IT staff on call” with Dell ProSupport for any questions you might have about hooking something up to your network and making sure it works properly.
At the end of the day, the Dell Vostro 260 Mini is a good business desktop to have. It can multi-task fairly quickly and efficiently, and users will be able to run the majority of the office productivity suites out there. This is the kind of desktop you want because you don’t have the need to spend a lot on hardware that leads to exceptional performance; the Vostro 260 is what Dell calls an “essential” desktop. Let’s face it, all of those high-end specs and bells and whistles can add up quickly. But because of the combination of the only-slightly-older Intel dual-core processor, 4GB of memory, and entry-level discrete graphics in our review unit, the system provides good performance at a lower cost. The system also has a great port selection, including four slots for memory (it’s compatible with 19 memory cards in total), a DVD-Multi drive and tons of USB ports for use with flash memory galore and other peripherals.
The only thing we found to be a deal-breaker was this annoying noise that near-constantly came from the desktop. It emitted a high-pitched buzzing noise whenever it was being worked at all. The noise would stop when the desktop wasn’t in use; but that doesn’t account for much when you need to be around this machine the majority of your work day. Another thing to note is that it’s just as large as desktops that came out 10 years ago; Dell might call this a “Mini” machine but there’s really nothing mini about it.
The Dell Vostro 260 Mini desktop is available now for as low as $299.