Pros / Given its massive computing power, the Dell OptiPlex 960 is a very compact unit

Cons / The base unit ships with only an 80GB drive but there are options clear up to 500GB.

 Verdict / The Dell OptiPlex 960 series of business computers offers powerful computing solutions to the most demanding users.

Editor’s Note: This product has been removed from our side-by-side comparison because it has been discontinued. You can still read our original review below, but Top Ten Reviews is no longer updating this product’s information.

When looking for massive computing power, high speed, flexibility and data security, demanding business users find the Dell OptiPlex 960 to be unbeatable. IT professionals, too, appreciate the substantial built-in security features and tools that simplify network management and problem isolation. It’s hard to beat the OptiPlex 960’s combination of performance, options, diminutive size and Dell factory support. To view other highly rated computers in this category, check out our business computer review site.

Standout Features

  • Intel Core i5-650 processors
  • Massive memory options
  • Intel vPro system management technology
  • Extensive customization capability

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The heart of any computer system is the processor and the Dell OptiPlex 960 features one of the best Intel CPUs. The base unit includes the Intel Core i5-650 CPU with two cores and four threads each running at 3.2GHz. That’s fast by most user's standards.

Each of the CPU options also features advanced Intel vPro technology which allows for enhanced data protection from loss and disruption. The technology is designed to optimize the inherent features of business software and to enhanced security and remote manageability even if the PC is off or the OS is inoperable. IT managers will be particularly pleased with those capabilities.

Memory & Storage

Memory is the other key feature when defining a computer’s power. The base price includes 2.0GB of DDR2 SDRAM but that, too, is upgradeable to an impressive 4GB.

The OptiPlex 960 has an extensive set of options for hard drives which includes standard 3.5-inch standard desktop drives, the new 2.5-inch models and solid state drives. The base unit ships with an 160GB drive but there are options clear up to 500GB. For users who are particularly concerned about data security, a 160GB drive with full data encryption is offered. Secondary hard drives are also available providing additional data storage from 80GB to 500GB.


Given its massive computing power, the Dell OptiPlex 960 is a very compact unit. Still, customers have three form factor choices based on individual space requirements and preferences. Many users will prefer the mini tower chassis because it provides the most customization options. It has five bays including two internal 3.5”, an external 3.5” and two external 5.25”. It also offers four full size expansion slots. If a smaller box is preferred there is available desktop model and an even smaller “Small Form Factor” unit which measures just 11.38” H x 3.35” W x 12.72” D and weighs just 13 pounds. Needless to say, this necessitates some compromise of bays and expansion options but still is more than adequate for most users.

Dell is making major efforts to creating green products. The units are constructed of post-consumer recycled content and all OptiPlex 960 computers are Energy Star 5.0 compliant.

Experts across the board have been impressed with the Dell OptiPlex 960’s high performance characteristics and its comparatively small size. Even in the mini tower configuration, the largest of the three available sizes, the unit is small. They’ve been impressed by the security and remote management options for IT departments that is afforded by the inclusion of Intel vPro technology. If there’s one complaint that’s been noted, it’s that the standard hard drive at 80GB is rather puny compared to the impressive processing power of the standard CPU. The numerous available options address this issue but at some cost. 

Expansion Potential

The base model ships with an integrated Intel Graphics Media Accelerator and a DVI adapter card. This graphical interface is more than enough for the average business user. Upgrade options include: 512MB NVIDIA NVS 420 Quad Monitor (4 DVI and/or 4 Display Port), 256MB ATI Radeon HD 3470 Dual Monitor (2 Display Port and/or 2 DVI), 256MB ATI Radeon HD 3450 Dual Monitor (2 DVI and/or 2 VGA, TV-out).


The Dell OptiPlex 960 series of business computers offers powerful computing solutions to the most demanding users. Options are available to meet just about any computing need. The line is rather economical given its extraordinary capabilities and, even though upgrades come at a cost, they provide substantial bang for the buck. It will be hard to find a high end business computing solution that outshines the Dell OptiPlex 960.

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