Dell OptiPlex 320

The Dell OptiPlex 320, a circa-2006 computer using the ATI Xpress 1100 Professional chipset, comes in two variations: mini tower, and desktop. The mini tower is no different from most computers in terms of size, while the desktop is slimmer and can be placed horizontally, as well as vertically. As far as I can tell, it is a successor of the OptiPlex GX520/GX620. It’s a little newer, and contrary to the aforementioned unfortunate GX520/GX620 models, was actually updated to support early Core 2 Duo models, still offering a large improvement over the NetBust– erm, NetBurst architecture of yore.

Common Problems

  • Just like a lot of the older OptiPlexes, the OptiPlex 320s fall flat early-on, thanks to their lackluster-quality capacitors (particularly in the CPU VRM area), in combination with the less-than-the-best cooling system engineering. It’s a shame because they’re otherwise excellent-quality computers for what they are meant to do.


  • The only way to really fix the capacitor issue for good, is to “polymod” the board’s offending capacitors. “Polymodding” is the process of substituting electrolytic capacitors for polymer (aka “solid-state”) capacitors. This is because finding similarly-specced electrolytic capacitors is a real chore. This is done by taking the board completely out of the machine, desoldering the offending capacitors, putting in polymers as a substitute, and reassembling the computer.


  • The old ATI chipset is fairly limited, so all you can really do, aside putting in a Core 2 Duo E4700 at max, is putting in 2x2GB of PC2-5300U RAM. Anything faster, and you’re gonna get the good old 1-3-2 beep code, and no video signal. Forget any other Core 2 Duos, let alone the 45nm ones, or the quads, for that matter. I’ve tried with the newest BIOS, and it didn’t work. Trust me, and don’t waste your money, nor your thermal paste.