Dell's OptiPlex 3000 series of desktop PCs is aimed at businesses with modest computing needs. An information kiosk might be one use case for the OptiPlex 3090 Small Form Factor (SFF) desktop reviewed here, especially if an Android tablet won't cut it. PCs like the OptiPlex 3090 (starts at $869, as tested) serve well when storage or processing demands exceed tablet or light business-laptop capabilities, or when Windows applications or vPro security are required. It's a capable tool that can fit almost anywhere and run business applications with ease. The wide span of configuration options give it broad appeal for many sizes of business, and the deep warranty makes it a fine choice for businesses that just need a no-fuss set of compact churners. We give it an Editors' Choice award for basic business PCs, a more practical pick for most users than the tower configurations of this and the OptiPlex 5090, given office space constraints and the kind of upgrades an IT team would do to a basic business PC.Our Experts Have Tested 39 Products in the Desktop PCs Category in the Past YearSince 1982, PCMag has tested and rated thousands of products to help you make better buying decisions. (See how we test.)
OptiPlex Configurations, Explained
Like both the midrange OptiPlex 5090 we tested alongside it and the high-end OptiPlex 7090, the entry-level OptiPlex 3090 is available in many varieties, including Micro, SFF, and Tower chassis designs. You'll find configurations with 10th or 11th Generation Intel Core i3 and Core i5 processors, plus extras such as Wi-Fi, secondary platter hard drives, add-in cards, and, of course, monitors, mice, and keyboards. Our review configuration does not come bundled with any peripherals.
The 200-watt power supply in our 3090 tester is sufficient for limited add-ins like extra drives or a Wi-Fi card, but if you require a separate, light-hitting graphics card, the tower version of the OptiPlex 5090, with its 260-watt supply, might be a surer bet. (Even that, though, won't power a GeForce RTX or Radeon RX bruiser of a card; we're talking about cards like the GeForce MX, which might enhance the multi-display functionality over the integrated graphics.)(Photo: Molly Flores)
The OptiPlex 3090 we received is the base configuration, with 16GB RAM and a six-core Intel Core i5-10505 (from the "Comet Lake" CPU family) running at 3.2GHz, delivering adequate performance for most business tasks. The Intel UHD 630 integrated graphics is not as sprightly as the Intel UHD Graphics 750 in the OptiPlex 5090, but fine for basic display functions. The OptiPlex 3090 also comes with an optical drive, in case your business relies on DVD burns for backups or accessing archives on discs.
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If the configuration we tested seems a tad thin for the asking price, bear in mind that many businesses prefer to receive minimal extras, allowing them to set up each computer (or group of them) for the specific tasks at hand, often having an inventory of hard drives, memory, and add-in cards readily available.
OptiPlex Warranty and Support Options
The 3090's base warranty (like the 5090's) includes basic onsite service for 36 months; phone support is available during business hours. Dell also offers ProSupport, adding 24/7 onsite service, access to in-region engineers, and automated issue detection and notification. ProSupport Plus offers all of that, plus accidental damage repair, predictive issue detection, virus removal, and PC optimization.(Photos: Molly Flores)
One of our comparison systems, the Asus ExpertCenter D500, offers a one-year warranty. The Apple iMac 24-inch includes one year of hardware repair coverage through its limited warranty and up to 90 days of technical support. Just to be clear, this is basically what you'd get with a consumer PC; neither is really a business-level warranty. Of course, you can purchase extended coverage, but consider that three-year plan a big feather in the OptiPlex's cap for businesses that need the long window of support.
The OptiPlex 3090 (like the 5090) includes Intel vPro support built into the CPU, for hardware-enhanced security, remote management, and platform stability. For employees who work remotely, vPro provides off-site security and helps the IT team remotely discover, repair, and protect PCs across an entire organization.
A Design for When Modest Power Is the Point
The OptiPlex 3090 is a solid entry among business PCs, reasonably priced and available not only in the SFF size we tested, but also in a larger Tower or midsize Micro format. Competitors (as noted) include the inexpensive Asus ExpertCenter D500 business computer ($649.99), the Apple iMac 24-inch ($1,299), and the 3090's fraternal model, the OptiPlex 5090 ($959).
In terms of performance, the Asus is close to the OptiPlex 3090, but more than $100 cheaper. However, the Asus' Intel Core i5-11400 does not support vPro, and it has only a one-year warranty, both decided disadvantages for business-level PCs. Both the OptiPlex 3090's CPU and the 5090's Intel Core i5-11500 do have vPro. The Asus' integrated graphics, like the 3090's, is based on Intel's UHD Graphics 630, rather than the more advanced Intel UHD Graphics 730 on the OptiPlex 5090.
Last up for competition is the Apple iMac 24-inch, running Apple's M1 processor, which incorporates both CPU and graphics functions. You'll have to admit the iMac is a very slick-looking machine. To some degree, it puts the others to shame: their boxy shapes, whether in tower or SFF formats, are just a tad too familiar. Still, performance is the bottom line in business, and the iMac seems to have it there, too.
I say "seems" because the iMac couldn't run either the PCMark productivity tests or the 3DMark graphics tests, both of which lack Mac compatibility. Where it did score, though, it did well, especially on two graphics tests, where the iMac soared past the others, achieving results more like PCs with an add-in graphics card. (More on the testing later.)
Let's first look at the chassis. The OptiPlex 3090 front panel has two legacy USB 2.0 ports, an audio mini-jack, a tiny activity light for the SSD, and the power button.(Photo: Molly Flores)
It lacks the USB-C port of the OptiPlex 5090's front panel. The 3090's rear panel has a full complement of USB, DisplayPort, and Ethernet ports, knock-outs for two add-in cards, and a grate for the exhaust fan.(Photo: Molly Flores)
Just below the two DisplayPorts are four USB 3.2 Gen 1 ports (Type-A), two legacy USB 2.0, and an Ethernet jack.(Photo: Molly Flores)
At the bottom of the rear panel is the three-prong 110-volt receptacle.(Photo: Molly Flores)
Interior Access and Components
Making access to the interior easy is a blue latch on the upper right of the rear panel. You push it down and pull the right-side panel (viewed from the rear) toward you to remove it.
With the panel removed, the most prominent feature is a black cover over the Core i5-10505 and its heat sink. A fan above them directs air through the cover and out the back.(Photo: Molly Flores)
The interior layout has two memory slots (one filled with a 16GB RAM module), two PCI Express add-in slots (one an x16 slot), and space for two 3.5-inch storage drives. The 256GB solid-state boot drive is an M.2 module on the motherboard. The 200-watt power supply sits in a metal case at the bottom, taking up most of the length, front to back. That modest power supply has capacity enough for add-in cards and the additional storage drives, although a discrete graphics card might push its limits.(Photos: Molly Flores)
Despite that, the 3090 runs quietly, even under heavy loads during testing. It is hard to tell whether the fan is coming on, even with your ear against the exhaust grate.
The OptiPlex 3090 SFF measures 11.4 by 2.7 by 11.5 inches (HWD) and weighs 8 pounds.
Testing the OptiPlex 3090 SFF: Performance for Basic Business
As noted, the Dell OptiPlex 3090 in the base model we tested includes a six-core Intel Core i5-10505 processor at 3.2GHz, Intel UHD 630 integrated graphics, 16GB of RAM, a 256GB SSD, and Windows 10 Pro (with a Windows 11 license if you want to upgrade).
Not surprisingly, the 3090's 10th Generation Core i5 isn't quite up to the performance of the 11th Generation i5 on the 5090, in spite of the 3090 having 16GB RAM versus the 5090’s 8GB. Both processors run at 65 watts.
Productivity and Content Creation Tests
Our first test is UL's PCMark 10, which simulates a variety of real-world productivity and office workflows to measure overall system performance; it also includes a storage subtest for the primary drive. We consider 4,000 points in the main test a sign of strong performance for everyday productivity, and the OptiPlex 3090 achieved that with 4,658, second only to the 5090; the Asus ExpertCenter got 4,296 (still acceptable), while the Apple iMac 24-inch didn't score on either PCMark 10 test. The 3090 was again in the middle on the storage test, at 1,295.
Three other benchmarks focus on the CPU, using all available cores and threads, to rate a PC's suitability for processor-intensive workloads. Maxon's Cinebench R23 uses that company's Cinema 4D engine to render a complex scene, while Primate Labs' Geekbench 5.4 Pro simulates popular apps ranging from PDF rendering and speech recognition to machine learning. Finally, the open-source video transcoder HandBrake 1.4 converts a 12-minute video clip from 4K to 1080p resolution (lower times are better).
The OptiPlex 3090 came in last by a whisker on the HandBrake transcoder, at 10 minutes and 29 seconds, 7 seconds slower than the Asus ExpertCenter. The iMac was first.
On Cinebench R23, the OptiPlex 3090 came in third, with 7,868, behind the 5090's 7,991 and Asus' top score of 8,178. Though the iMac 24-inch was last, with 7,808, only 370 points separated the four, so it's a very close field here. And on Geekbench 5.4 Pro, Apple's iMac 24-inch, with its M1 processor, was best with 7,443; the OptiPlex 3090 came in third, with 5,168, behind the 5090's 6,754.
Our final productivity test, Puget Systems' PugetBench for Photoshop, uses the Creative Cloud version 22 of Adobe's image editor to rate a PC's performance for content creation and multimedia applications. It executes a variety of general and GPU-accelerated Photoshop tasks ranging from opening, rotating, resizing, and saving an image to applying masks, gradient fills, and filters. The OptiPlex 5090 came in first, with 546 for PugetBench, above the OptiPlex 3090 by 41 points and far above the Asus's 314 points.
Graphics and Gaming Tests
For Windows PCs, we run two synthetic tests (we skip the real-world gaming benchmarks with non-gaming PCs like the four tested). UL's 3DMark contributes two DirectX 12 gaming simulations, Night Raid (more modest, suitable for systems with integrated graphics) and Time Spy (more demanding, suitable for gaming rigs with discrete GPUs). Another test is the cross-platform GPU benchmark GFXBench 5, which we use to gauge OpenGL performance.
On GFXBench, the iMac 24-inch topped them all. The OptiPlex 3090 came in last on the 3DMark simulations, at 8 frames per second (fps) on Time Spy and 25fps on Night Raid. The 5090 was second, with 17fps and 48fps, respectively. Keep in mind that, while these are computer games, they reveal a lot about each PC's ability to handle graphics-heavy tasks.
Verdict: An All-In Pick for Business Basics
When we talk about business basics, we generally mean an office environment where word processing, spreadsheets, email, contact management, image processing, and general internet browsing are the norm. For all this, the Dell OptiPlex Desktop 3090 is fully adequate. You'd actually be hard pressed to stress the computer using these applications, though heavy multitasking with many active windows open could do it. Fortunately, the 3090's 16GB RAM will do a lot to handle even that challenge.(Photo: Molly Flores)
In short, with its multiple available form factors and many purchase options, the OptiPlex 3090 is a very capable and flexible computer for your average office. The three-year warranty and services provided by Intel vPro put it well into the mainstream for a true business computer, and makes it our first-line choice for outfitting an office big or small with compact, basic PCs that can still be configured to suit each user.
Dell OptiPlex 3090 Small Form Factor4.0Editors' ChoiceSee It$719.00 at DellBase Configuration Price $869.00
The Bottom Line
The Dell OptiPlex 3090 Small Form Factor is a capable little PC with modest expansion capabilities, intended for offices where space is tight. It's long on both warranty and configuration options.
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