When it comes to enterprise computing, companies are looking for much different things in their machines than the average consumer. The enterprise doesn’t want all the flashy components folks might find in an Apple Mac Pro. Instead, they’re looking for a workhorse that can get the job done and reduces the risk of losing productivity because of employees engaging in time-wasting personal entertainment.
It would seem that Dell fully understands that fact in its recently launched Dell Vostro 460. The desktop I tested came with a powerful Intel Core i7 3.4GHz “Sandy Bridge” processor, a 500GB hard drive, of which about 464GB were available, and the 64-bit version of Windows 7 Professional. The computer I tested also came with a 21.5-inch monitor that would be suitable for any organization.
The Dell Vostro was in no way groundbreaking. But it has focus. It understands the needs of today’s corporate customers, and it does so without all the bells and whistles that go along with some of its competition. It’s the prototypical corporate computer that will stick around in offices for years.
One of the first things enterprise users will find when they break the Vostro 460 out of the box is how, well, boring it is. The tower features a simple black finish with a single Dell logo on the front. It lacks the aesthetic appeal of other towers, like the Mac Pro, but as mentioned, the Vostro 460 is meant to impress IT staff, not design enthusiasts.
One of the nicest things about the Vostro 460 is that it’s small. Dell calls it the “Mini Tower.” Marketing speak aside, employees shouldn’t have any trouble sticking the tower under the desk and still have ample room for all their other gadgets, files or even their legs.
The Vostro 460 comes with a wired mouse and keyboard. As one might expect, those accessories are the typical standard fare. Their coloring closely matches the Vostro tower and most employees who are accustomed to using standard mice and keyboards will feel right at home with the accessories. It would have been nice to see wireless versions of these devices, but considering so many companies are using wired accessories anyway, it shouldn’t prove to be a big issue.
The Dell Vostro 460 I tested comes with the 3.4GHz Intel Core i7-2600 Sandy Bridge processor. It boasts 4G of RAM and runs Windows 7 Professional 64-bit. On the graphics side, it comes with the integrated Intel HD Graphics 2000, though Dell offers graphics-card options for those who want the extra power this device doesn’t come with.
Plenty of USB Ports
The front of the computer offers four USB ports and one USB 3.0 port, as well as a DVD drive. On the back, users will find another four USB ports and another USB 3.0 port. The computer comes with Gigabit Ethernet, an eSATA port, and an HDMI (High-Definition Multimedia Interface) connector, among other options.
Although many of those features are run-of-the-mill among business-focused computers, it was an absolute treat to find so many USB ports on the device. As companies know all too well, there are simply too many devices to connect to a computer; the more USB ports available, the better. Dell proves that it understands the plight of today’s corporate customers by including all those ports.
However, it should be kept in mind that two of those ports will be taken by the wired keyboard and mouse that comes with the Vostro 460. It’s another good reason Dell should consider offering wireless options in the future.
When it comes to actual performance, the Vostro 460 is a bit of a mixed bag.
When compared with high-powered alternatives, like some of Dell’s or HP’s higher-end models as well as the Mac Pro, the Vostro 460 comes up short. Trying to play more sophisticated video games on the platform was somewhat difficult due to the integrated graphics chip. In addition, the relatively meager 4GB of RAM wasn’t enough to handle all the tabs running on Firefox 4 in addition to Word, music playback and other tasks I tried to perform at the same time. As those processes were running, there was a noticeable slowdown in performance as time went on.
However, when running a few applications at the same time, the Vostro 460 held its own quite well. Only after video editing or other resource-intensive programs came into play did the performance start to degrade.
But that doesn’t mean that the Vostro 460 is a computer that users should ignore. As mentioned, Dell’s desktop isn’t meant to be compared on the same level as some high-end consumer-focused computers; the Dell Vostro 460 is designed for basic day-to-day business applications, and that’s the market it caters to.
When evaluating the desktop under those conditions, it’s hard to find any complaints with the Vostro 460. The average company’s employee is surfing the Web, using office-productivity solutions, checking email and performing other work-related tasks. In my testing of those tasks, the Vostro 460 performed exceptionally well. I witnessed no noticeable slowdown at any point as I performed some of the duties the average employee would do on the desktop.
Vostro 460 a Solid Desktop PC for the Workplace
One of the other nice things about the Vostro 460 is how quiet it is. I can envision this desktop running in offices, and even the person sitting next to it will not notice that it’s on. Though it emits a quiet hum, the chances of actually hearing it in a typical office are nil. Even in a quiet room, it’s hard to hear it unless one’s ear is right next to the tower.
I should also point out that thanks to Windows 7 Professional, Windows XP mode is available in the Vostro 460. In my testing, Windows XP mode worked beautifully. For companies that are still heavily invested in legacy products, getting a computer that’s capable of running Windows XP mode should be one of the first conditions before buying.
Included in the unit Dell sent was a 21.5-inch wide-screen monitor. The screen boasts a 1,920 by 1,080 resolution. The monitor can be easily rotated into portrait mode for those that prefer to use displays in that manner. In portrait mode, Dell’s monitor gets awfully tall. (It’s about twice as wide as it is tall when in landscape mode.) However, it proves highly useful.
The monitor comes with a few USB ports, as well. The tower and monitor combination means companies will have more USB ports than they’d expect. Most firms will likely be pleasantly surprised by that.
All in all, the monitor’s visual quality was quite good. After adjusting some of the screen’s settings, I was pleased with its performance. Employees who have a finite amount of desk space might take issue with the display because of how wide it is. It will take up a sizable amount of space on a desk. But if they can get past that, the monitor, which comes bundled with some configurations of the Vostro 460, seems like a good value.
The Dell Vostro 460 version I tested is a rather interesting computer. On one hand, it lacks some of the things consumers are looking for today, including discrete graphics and a slick design, making it a non-starter in that market.
But what it lacks in consumer appeal, it makes up for in enterprise appeal. The computer is quiet, it can fit easily in an employee’s workspace, and its component configuration makes the desktop less capable of giving employees all the power that would provide heightened temptation to stray from the day’s business tasks. At a starting price of $529 (the version I tested costs around $1,200 with the monitor after savings), it offers a price tag with which many firms can live.
Is the Vostro 460 perfect? No. But it’s a worthwhile choice for companies looking to put their employees to work.