If I Was Looking for a Dell OptiPlex…

CPU

Grab the 3rd Gen Intel Core i5-3470. It bumps the price up by $52 from the i3-3220 but you’ll get a quad core processor instead of dual core. That is twice the number of cores. You’ll also double 3 MB to 6 MB on the CPU.

Operating System

At least upgrade to Windows 7 Professional – at an extra $22.75 this is a no brainer. Going the next bump up to Ultimate for a few extra bucks beyond Professional isn’t a bad idea either. Don’t get Windows 8 unless you really know you want it.

RAM

The default 2 GB is seriously under-equipped. Get at least 4 GB (an extra $26) but I’d really recommend 6 or 8 GB for a little extra. Beyond that, it is unlikely you’ll utilize it or that it will make a noticeable difference in system performance.

Graphics Card

Realistically you can get away with the default card, but for a little extra boost I’d recommend the 1 GB AMD Radeon HD 7470 – it will add $54.60 to your total. Beyond this, unless you are working in a very specialized area, you’ll be wasting money on higher end graphics cards.

Removable Media

For an extra $5+ swap over to a DVD+/-RW. I rarely use these anymore, but it is good to have just in case you need to burn a DVD for some reason.

Microsoft Office

If you plan on purchasing Microsoft Office, getting it with your system isn’t a bad idea…but if you are a business, talk with Dell to coordinate volume licensing – especially if you are a non-profit. You’ll get way better pricing than retail.

Depending on what you are using your computer for you may not even need Microsoft Office. You can use Google Docs or Libre Office instead. Still, they aren’t entirely satisfactory replacements.

Warranty and Support

I always recommend the 3 year NBD warranty and support. Honestly, this is one of the main reasons I buy Dell. You’ll call them, work through the diagnostics with them, and then they send parts and/or a technician and you are back up and running in no time. Depending on the importance of the machine it can’t hurt to upgrade to ProSupport, but realistically, if your machine is down for an hour it is likely down for the day.

Hard Drive

Here is the hard part. I’d recommend moving up to at least the 500 GB 6.0 Gb/s SATA with 16 MB Cache for an extra $13, but it is tempting to purchase the 500 GB hybrid drive for another $71.50 or the 128 GB SSD.

I’m not that familiar with these hybrid drives – 4 GB of solid state seems underwhelming to me, so I’d rather go with a straight SSD. I might recommend getting the 500 GB for the extra $13 mentioned above and then adding a SSD after-market. Dell is overcharging for their SSDs, IMHO.

Manageability

If you have multiple machines (as most businesses do) or may in the future, enable the Intel Standard Manageability for an extra $9.75. It’ll make your life easier down the road.

Conclusion

With all this you’ll be looking at a total price of $791.45. Granted, this doesn’t include monitors, a wireless NIC, or Microsoft Office – but it is a pretty good deal as is….and the best I could come up with from the OptiPlex line at the moment.

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