Lenovo ThinkCentre M90N vs. Dell Optiplex 3080 Micro: Which Desktop Should You Buy?

Shrink your desktops footprint

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Small form factor desktops not only look cool but are ideal for any situation where desk space is at a premium. You could fit roughly 4 of these workstations into the chassis of more conventional desktops. We're pitting a pair of our favorite mini desktops against each other to help you find which one is best for you. Both Lenovo and Dell are no strangers to high-end desktops and have adopted similar strategies in regards to their small form-factor designs.

Lenovo ThinkCentre M90N Dell Optiplex 3080 Micro
$430 $485
No out-of-box deployment Can be seeded with company applications
Can be built to spec with Lenovo Configurator Single customization option
M.2 SSD options No SSD options
1x USB-A, 1x USB-C front panel 2x USB-A front panel

Design

While both of these desktops pride themselves on having small footprints, at first glance, you'd be forgiven for mistaking these two models for twins separated at birth. These unassuming black boxes are able to fit just about everything you need in a workstation into a remarkably small about of space. Both models even share near-identical measurements 7.2x7.0x1.4 inches (HWD). The only difference on paper is the weight, with the M920 weighing just slightly more, just shy of 3 Lbs.

Dell Optiplex

Both of these models are also compatible with monitor mounts from their respective manufacturers, allowing you to tuck the tower away behind the monitor display, further reducing the footprint of the overall system. This mounting solution makes either of these models ideal for businesses that need rows upon rows of identical workstations.

Features


Neither of these systems feature much in the way of bells and whistles to get excited about unless you're an IT professional looking to roll out deployments of functional workstations. Both models come equipped with lock slots to keep any workstations from growing legs, and optional cable cages that can be affixed to the back to provide a cleaner look and prevent tampering.

Dell Optiplex

While either of these options can operate as stand-alone desktops, perhaps the most exciting feature of these diminutive desktops is the variety of mounting options available, allowing you to free up precious real-estate on your desk. They are both compatible with 75x75 VESA mounting options, as well as integrated monitor or under-desk mounts.

Both models have similar connectivity options, with a pair of front-mounted 3.5mm audio ports and USB-A ports. However, the Lenovo M920 does offer a single USB-C front panel connection for easy file-transfers and charging making it a slightly more modern option. Both systems also come equipped with 4 USB-A ports, Ethernet, HDMI, and Display Port connectivity.

Performance


The Dell Optiplex is the clear winner in terms of performance, with its 10th generation intel CPU capable of speeds up to 3.8GHz. The Lenovo however uses an older 8th Gen chip out of the box with a maximum speed of 3.1GHz. This gives the Dell a slight edge in terms of multitasking, but anything over 3.0Ghz is likely to be more than enough unless you need your workstations to do some particularly heavy lifting. 

Lenovo ThinkCentre

Both of these workstations use an integrated GPU, so gaming isn't going to be much of a possibility, and they each come equipped with a 500GB conventional hard drive.

Something important to note is that while the Optiplex does come equipped with higher specs on its base model, the ThinkCentre allows you to customize a build to fit your budget. Some of the options that are noticeably absent from Dell's workstation is the ability to add an M.2 SSD as well as additional RAM for better multitasking performance.

Price

The price difference between these 2 models is relatively negligible. With the Optiplex coming in at around $485 and the ThinkCentre coming in at about $430. The Optiplex offers better performance out of the box, hence the higher price point. For comparison, for the Lenovo ThinkCentre M920 to match that same performance, you'd be spending roughly $175 more.

However, the Optiplex has no flexibility in terms of its hardware configuration and is really not upgrade friendly due to the crowded form factor. This makes the IdeaCentre a slightly better option for anyone that's keen on having something built exactly to spec. 

Final Verdict

If you need a carbon copy workstation that you need to deploy en-masse, pre-loaded with company software, the Dell Optiplex is the way to go. However, if you need a more bespoke option while retaining the small form factor, The Lenovo ThinkCentre M920 has a variety of customization options to greatly expand the functionality of this compact workstation.

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