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December 5, 2020

New PC Coming to Chez Tittel


The old mini-ITX PC I built back in 2012 is finally getting wonky enough that I’ve decided to gift it off to my friends at ReGlue. So today, I had the pleasure of ordering a new SFF/Micro PC from Dell to replace it. It’s an OptiPlex 7080 Micro, with a pretty nice bill of materials that includes an i7-10700T (8 cores/16 hyperthreads), 16 GB RAM, and a 512 GB M.2 NVMe SSD. It will have at least 1 more empty memory slot, so I can easily double up the RAM for a minimal cost. It also has an empty 2.5″ drive slot, which I intend to fill with a 2 TB spinner (conventional HDD) for backup and extended storage after I take delivery.

Always Fun to Familiarize with a New Rig

I’ll figure more out when the new unit actually shows up around November 10 (if the estimated delivery date is honored). So far, I’ve been reading my way through the Service Manual (which Dell kindly makes available online). So far it looks pretty straightforward. And being somewhat less cramped than the mini-ITX device it’s replacing, it also looks a bit easier to open up and poke around inside. Replacing the single 16 GB DDR4 memory module with 2 identical modules looks to set me back around US$100 or so.

Interestingly, the OptiPlex 7080 Micro also includes two different M.2 drive slots:. First, there’s an M.2 2280 (which is where the 512 GB NVMe SSD will come pre-installed). Second, there’s an unoccupied M.2 2230 NVMe slot (for which Dell shows a Toshiba device, now re-branded as Kioxa). As I poke around online, I see there are some 512 GB and 1 TB 2230 M.2 NVMe devices now available (much more than the 256 GB that seemed to be the biggest one could buy the last time I checked a year or two ago).

Such ultra-compact SSDs generally seem to cost around US$150 or so. There are plenty of 1 and 2 TB options to replace the maker’s 512 GB NVMe SSD (Crucial’s 1 TB model for a “mere” US$105 or so is pretty tempting, and may make filling the 2230 slot moot). I’ve already got a low-profile 2TB 2.5″ HDD I can drop into its SATA drive enclosure. I’ve also got a spare 5 TB 2.5″ (14mm) drive and a matching USB 3.1 enclosure that I’ll attach for external storage and backup, too.

Of course, I won’t really know what I’m dealing with until the unit actually shows up at my door. Can you tell I’m looking forward to that, and getting it up and running? Sure you can! Stay tuned. There’ll be lots more when I finally get my new toy into my hot little hands.

Author: Ed Tittel

Ed Tittel is a 30-plus-year computer industry veteran. He’s a Princeton and multiple University of Texas graduate who’s worked in IT since 1981 when he started his first programming job. Over the past three decades he’s also worked as a manager, technical evangelist, consultant, trainer, and an expert witness. See his professional bio for all the details.

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