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Editors' Choice
By Joel Santo Domingo Green Tech

If you think of green PCs as feeble machines scrunched into a microscopic form factor, you haven't seen the Dell OptiPlex 755 (,183 direct). Despite its sizable mid-tower frame, which offers plenty of room for expansion, the OptiPlex 755 has abundant green cred in its EPEAT Gold and Energy Star 4.0 ratings, the most stringent currently available. The 755 is useful for businesses that needs a little bit more than the standard desktop PC for their workers. Its dual hard drives give data redundancy to safeguard files. The OptiPlex 755 is a highly recommended business PC that also happens to be energy-efficient and environmentally attractive.

The OptiPlex 755's case takes up a lot of room on the desk. It's much larger than other energy-efficient PCs, but the extra room lets this particular configuration be upgraded with a PCIe graphics card and other PCI cards. (Of course, adding cards may affect the system's energy usage—more on this below). The system is over 16 inches tall and 17 inches deep, but the same motherboard and processor are available in desktop, small-form-factor, and ultra-small-form-factor versions of the OptiPlex 755. You may have to give up the dual hard drives in the smaller sizes.

The OptiPlex I reviewed came with a dual-core Intel Core 2 Duo E4500 processor, 2GB of DDR2-667 memory, integrated graphics, and dual 160GB hard drives. The dual hard drives no doubt contributed to the system's higher power consumption while the system was on and idle (50W versus 20W to 37W for the other green desktop systems), but these hard drives can save your company a whole lot of extra work. The dual drives come with Dell's DataSafe, which can be set to back up the user's Documents folder automatically. DataSafe also means that the extra hard drive is there as a mirror of the primary hard drive, so the user is protected from the failure of one of the drives. Ideally your workers will be storing important documents on your server, but most people like to work locally whenever possible. Strategies like DataSafe will save your workers' hide. It's only a matter of time before a hard drive failure, virus, or mistake results in lost files, which DataSafe can recover.

The OptiPlex 755 we tested was relatively energy efficient: It used a frugal 2 watts when off and 3W under S3 sleep, so as long as you let the 755 enter sleep mode when idle, you'll save a lot of power. S3 sleep takes only a few seconds to wake up from, so unless your workers are financial trader types, they won't be too put off by having to wake the system up. While running in idle, with the desktop on the screen and no other apps open, the OptiPlex 755 used about 50W of power. That's pretty good compared with mainstream desktops that expend about 70W to 80W in idle, but it's a little more than some other energy-efficient desktops that idle at 30W to 37W. This number is important, because PCs are essentially in the idle state when they are being used for Office tasks like word processing and e-mail. In the "worst-case" power-use scenario, when the OptiPlex is performing 3D rendering, the system consumes an average of only about 70W. That's about as much as an incandescent light bulb, so even under load the OptiPlex 755 is an energy-efficient desktop.

Environment-friendly features include easy disassembly and the elimination of hazardous materials like PVC, hexavalent chromium, and cadmium. Dell also pre-marks the system for recycling via its own recycling program: The company not only will take the 755 back for recycling after you're done with it, but it audits its recycling partners to make sure they're aboveboard). Dell makes it easy (with a little effort on the buyer's side) to do two of the three R's: Reduce and Recycle. Reuse is totally up to the customer, but it's easy to do in a business with more than one department.

The Dell OptiPlex 755's 2GB of memory and dual-core E4500 processor helped it on the SYSmark 2007 Preview benchmark tests. The 755 gained a class-leading score on the Office Productivity workload (108 points)—performance that should keep even impatient office workers happy. Other scores like those for Electronic Learning, Video Creation, 3D Modeling, and the SYSmark Overall score were within a few points of the HP rp5700's, our recent business PC performance leader. The HP rp5700 is built to be a "five-year" PC, meaning it's designed to serve your business for at least five years, so the OptiPlex 755 should also serve your business for a similar period of time before the evolution of technology makes it seem too slow.

The OptiPlex is almost double the price of the Lenovo ThinkCentre a61e, but that's because of the OptiPlex 755's larger tower case, faster Core 2 Duo processor, and extra hard drive. In my opinion the Dell system's extras are worth the money, particularly the additional hard drive. The OptiPlex 755 costs about the same as the HP dc7800, which has a faster processor but only 1GB of RAM and a smaller, single 80GB hard drive. I'd prefer the 2GB found in the Dell and Lenovo for running under Windows Vista. The Dell's expansion space and aforementioned hard drive give it the nod in this horse race.

The Dell OptiPlex 755 is the hybrid SUV of green PCs. It has more utility than the tiny, small-form-factor PCs (think of them as Toyota Prius or Honda Civic hybrids), but it also consumes bit more power when on. It will serve your users well while saving you money on the energy bills that never seem to end. For companies ranging from small proprietorships to large conglomerates, the OptiPlex 755 with EPEAT Gold can be a green alternative to the usual business PC for about the same amount of green (dollars).

Check out the

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