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Dell ships (almost) unleaded desktop

OptiPlex line-up also goes BTX

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Dell this week announced what it believes are greener desktop PCs based on an "environmentally friendly" design that reduces energy consumption and cuts the amount of lead used in their construction.

Dell OptiPlex GX280Not that the PC giant would have so developed the OptiPlex GX280 had the European Union not forced its hand. The EU's Reduction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS) directive, due to come into force in July 2006, imposes restrictions on what materials kit makers can incorporate into products that are likely to end up in landfill after their productive life is over.

The RoHS calls of the elimination or the minimisation of the use of lead in electronics equipment. How far toward that goal Dell has actually gone remains unclear, but it's to be commended for at least making a nod in the right direction ahead of time.

The new machines use Intel's BTX motherboard and casing specification, geared to cut system energy consumption by leveraging passive cooling to reduce the need for fans within the PC. Not that corporates are generally concerned with such issues, which probably explains Dell's desire to equate lower operating temperatures not with energy conservation but more reliable operation.

Other nods to IT department needs include putting system status and power, and hard drive and network activity lights back on the front of the case "for easy reference", like all PCs once had. The GX280 series also incorporate brownout/blackout circuitry and surge protection, and a tool-less case opening system of the kind that Apple pro desktops have had since the late 1980s.

The GX280 series is available in desktop and mini-tower cases, with Pentium 4 and Celeron processors, from 256MB of 400MHz or 533MHZ DDR 2 SDRAM, 20-250GB of 7200rpm Serial-ATA storage, and a choice of integrated (Intel) or PCI Express add-in graphics cards (ATI). Prices start at $737 in the US. UK prices start at £389 exluding VAT. ®

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