comparison of dell vostro versus optiplex

This article focuses on the build construction of the Dell Vostro 400 versus a Dell Optiplex 745 mini tower.  The Vostro is Dell's new line of PC's, its intended audience is small business.  PCNS has setup several Vostro desktops (and laptops).  Vostros can be had at astonishingly low prices; I wanted to know what Dell has done to accomplish this, and compare it with the business mainstream Optiplex 745.  

Cracking open the mini-tower Optiplex, we find Dell has gone to great measures to insure a whisper quiet PC, and a very clean layout.  The Optiplex has a large 120mm cooling fan, which draws cool air from the front of the case, blowing cool air over a massive Heat Pipe style CPU cooling assembly.  Heat pipes in general are much more efficient and quiet than direct contact air cooling fans mounted directly on CPU's.  The hard drives are located at the bottom of the tower case, so the weight of the drives places the center of gravity low, towards the base.  Also the drives are modular, meaning they can be slid in and out without screws (the case also features a screwless quick release lever, for quick replacement of parts and ease of servicing.  

Here is a closeup view of the Optiplex Heat Pipe Cooling assembly, for keeping the Intel Processor cool.

Dell Vostro 400:  Definitely an economy class PC.  No quick release levers, accessing the case required a phillips screwdriver, I found the sheet metal on the Vostro case ultra thin!  This keeps the case lightweight and keeps costs down.  The owner should be cautious when resealing the lid, excessive force may bend the lid! A cheaper active heatsink is used instead of heat pipes.  We see a bit of a more wiring mess, typical of some entry level consumer PCs.  Note the unusual location of the hard drive; it's mounted midpoint on the leftmost side of the case.  Do not allow the dog to tip over the tower case, as that will send quite a bit of physical shock to the hard drive.  If that hard drive's spinning, that could cause a head crash.  Inconspicuously absent from both this system board and the Inspiron 530 (below) are PATA IDE connections.

Dell Inspiron 530 (twin of the Vostro 200)

Inspiron 530 Inside The Inspiron 530 is a twin of the Vostro 200, as you can see, the layout is identical.

This Inspiron 530 comes with a Bestec OEM 300 Watt Power Supply.  PCNS has seen numerous failures with Bestec power supplies with E-Machines and HP desktop PC's.

Inspiron 530 Bestec Power Supply Inspiron 530 Power Jack left The power supply connector is a standard 24 pin jack.  Users on and on Dellcommunity have reported generic beefier power supplies will work in this Inspiron.  

Inspiron 530 Sata dvd drive As previously noted, this Inspiron 530 system board has no PATA (EIDE) ports, however there's a floppy disk port.  This photo shows the SATA DVD Writer.  Below, you see the rear panel connectors.  Note the absence of the old style Parallel and Serial port, also notice the old style round PS2 Mouse/Keyboard connectors are missing.  This Dell takes ONLY USB Keyboards and Mice.  The Network adapter is a 10/100 megabit.  Compare this to the Optiplex, which has a 10/100/1000 (gigabit) wired Ethernet interface.

Inspiron 530 Rear Panel We're talking economy class !  See below, for the front panel USB and memory card readers.
Inspiron 530 Power Front Panel Inspiron 530 Power Case and CPU Fan Here's a closeup shot of the CPU and Chassis fan.  Again, economy class, but it does get the job done.

If there was any general conclusion, the overwhelming thought I have is "you get what you pay for."