Dell Vostro 3681 SFF Desktop Review – Price & Specs

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8.5

Value for Money Score

8.4/10

Reliability Score

8.5/10

Performance Score

8.6/10

Specifications and Features Score

8.4/10

Design Score

8.5/10

Pros

  • Compact chassis
  • Quite reliable
  • Handy ports at the front
  • Can be configured with a wide variety of hardware
  • Supports more than one monitors

Cons

  • Not very upgradeable
  • Does not have a USB Type-C port
  • Not the latest Bluetooth or WIFI
  • This variant does not have an SSD
  • Does not have a dedicated GPU option

Read Dell Vostro 3681 SFF desktop review and see the price. Looking for a compact and utilitarian desktop? Here is the Dell Vostro 3681 Desktop, one that fits this description and a lot of others too.

This is the SFF version of the Vostro 3880, which too is a compact desktop, not gaming of course.

It follows a simplistic design like Dell’s other Vostro or Inspiron desktops, but there is a little design and a splash of color on the otherwise black chassis.

There is the usual optional optical drive, and a few ports at the front, which we will be talking about very soon.

As far as specs go, the variant we have selected for this review is a Core i5 one, with a hard drive and 16 GB of RAM.

Now although this doesn’t have an SSD in it, you can always add it later, or buy the desktop already configured with one.

And not just that, there are options up to Core i7 processors, while cheaper Core i3 and lower options are available too.

So no matter what your budget, there is a right fit for you, depending on how powerful you want your desktop to be.

The desktop is itself plenty reliable, no doubt about that. There’s also the option to get an additional warranty, but there are some drawbacks as well.

Graphics, or more specifically a dedicated video card, is the major of them. All of these desktops come with Integrated Graphics.

And although there is an option to add a GPU, you would only be able to use an entry-level video card. This can be a bit disappointing for some.

But that shouldn’t have to be the same in your case though, as there are a lot of those who are completely satisfied with onboard graphics.

If you are among them, then this desktop, and our review, should be relevant to you.

Dell Vostro 3681 SFF Desktop & Variants Price

Dell Vostro 3681 SFF Desktop Review

Dell Vostro 3681 SFF Desktop

Buy for: Compact frame │ Varied hardware options | Core i5 processor

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Beware of: Does not support many dedicated GPUs │ Connectivity could have been better

Best uses for: Small businessstudents and other purposes.

Best alternatives: HP Envy TE01 and Lenovo IdeaCentre 3

Verdict

The Dell Vostro 3681 with its compact size fits right in your office or workplace, even your living room, and is great for handling the daily tasks that you may have. But steer clear of it if you also need excellent graphics or at least a mid-range dedicated GPU, since it cannot be equipped with either.

Design and Build

The Vostro 3681 looks mostly like other SFF desktops from Dell, but there are a few small things that make a difference as well.

The colored design on the bottom part of the front panel, above which you’d notice the Dell logo. And should you opt for the SD card reader, then it should be there as well.

There aren’t any RGB though, and whatever color is on the chassis itself. The upper section has the power button, and the ports, and on the top left is the Vostro branding.

The chassis is otherwise simple, and being an SFF, measures just 11.42 x 3.65 x 11.53 inches. Its build quality is of the average kind, nothing too special, but isn’t fragile either.

And while this isn’t the slimmest desktop there is, storing it shouldn’t be an issue. Now there are tiny pegs at the bottom when the desktop is standing upright, but it’s not the only way it can be kept.

Should you feel like it, you can rotate it horizontally and keep it that way too, but make sure you aren’t blocking the vents responsible for airflow.

The chassis isn’t too big on the inside, so that is the only source of airflow your PC is getting.

Getting to the hardware inside is fairly easy too, and all you have to do is remove the two screws at the back, and the side panel comes off.

There is some space inside, but not much. And to reach the motherboard, you’d have to remove the storage drive cages, and maybe the cooling fan too, depending on what you plan to do.

Performance

The Vostro 3681, as we have mentioned already, comes with several processor options. But this is the one with a Core i5-10400 processor suitable for mid-range tasks, and to that end, there is enough RAM on the desktop.

This is a 6 core, 12 threaded CPU with a base frequency of 2.9 GHz, which when turbo-boosted can go up to 4.3 GHz.

This isn’t an overclockable CPU, and the desktop wasn’t meant for things like that anyway.

However, most single and multi-threaded applications would run smoothly on this yet, as long as there isn’t heavy graphics involved.

The processor comes with Integrated Intel UHD 630 Graphics, which is very much average. Dell does provide a discrete NVIDIA GT 730 option, with 2 GB of DDR5 VRAM, but that too isn’t very powerful.

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If you have that though, the desktop can still handle some light graphics-related software, and maybe some simple video editing too.

And should you want to opt for the integrated graphics version, like this one is, and then add a GPU later on, you have that scope. But that is limited, because of two main reasons.

Primarily, there simply isn’t enough space inside to fit a big enough GPU. And even if you could somehow manage that, the 200W proprietary PSU is the only option that is provided with it.

There isn’t almost any video card better than the GT 730, that fulfills both these conditions.

Dell offers both the Windows 10 Home and Windows 10 Pro OS choices, and Ubuntu too.

This one comes with the Windows 10 Pro, ready for any professional or office use.

Storage and RAM

On getting the Vostro 3681, you get some storage options at the time of buying.

You can choose both an SSD and an HDD, and this one has the latter installed by default.

However, the motherboard does have an M.2 slot, which can be used to add a PCIe SSD later, at your convenience.

The 16 GB of RAM, out-of-the-box can be upgraded to 32 GB as well, and doing so is quite simple.

The side panel comes off without any tools, although, once you are inside, a few screws and the hard drive cage have to be removed, before you can reach the RAM modules.

But this isn’t very tricky either, so whatever little upgrades the desktop supports can be done without much trouble.

And this makes it one of the best desktops with a Core i5 processor that allows easy upgrades.

Ports and Connectivity

On the front panel of the Dell Vostro 3681, there are 2 USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A ports, 2 USB 2.0 Type-A ports, a Universal audio jack, and an optional SD card reader.

Also, if you choose to have the Optical reader, then that would be present on the front side as well.

At the back, the USB ports are the same as in the front, so 2 USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A ports and 2 USB 2.0 Type-A ports are what you get here as well.

Alongside these, there is also the Ethernet slot, audio ports, and the Kensington lock as usual.

There are two video ports – an HDMI and a VGA port to add monitors. However, if you plan on running two monitors at all, then the discrete GPU would be preferable for a better experience.

There isn’t a USB Type-C port on the desktop, and Bluetooth and WIFI, although present, are not the latest kinds either.

This shouldn’t be a major disappointment if you’re not concerned with the exact speeds, and the functionality is what matters more.

Additional Features

The Dell Vostro 3681 comes with basic USB peripherals such as the mouse and a keyboard, and a standard 1-year warranty.

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However, you can upgrade to a better plan to get an extended warranty tenure.

Also, for business users, Dell has their ProSupport features, which gives you things like an on-site warranty, quicker services, and so on.

There are certain software pre-installed on this like native Dell software, that you might have to uninstall if you don’t need them.

Specs:

What Do Users Think About Dell Vostro 3681?

The Dell Vostro 3681 is an excellent desktop, in all aspects of performance, pricing, and ease of upgrades.

Being so, it sure did attract a lot of buyers, and from their feedback, it is clear that they didn’t regret getting one of these.

A lot of the buyers replaced their old desktops with this and were satisfied with the improvements it brought.

There are others too that used it as a secondary desktop for tasks that didn’t require much graphics, and it did well in that role too.

From the small footprint to the actual performance that it is capable of, the Dell Vostro 3681 received a lot of praise.

And Dell as a reputed brand didn’t disappoint, as always. The setup process was simple as well, which was useful for the buyers.

The users have used it for a variety of purposes, which ranged from basic usage like checking emails, running MS Office and the related software, to running AutoCad, and neither had any complaints about how the desktop performed.

However, for heavy usage, it is suggested that you have ample memory RAM installed in the system. Check out Vostro 3681 Manual.

And doing that wasn’t any trouble for the buyers either, and as they mention, the whole process took very little effort and time.

There was a free slot to add SSD storage, and so those that had bought the variant with HDD storage used it to their advantage.

Also, the WIFI range of the desktop has been complemented, and since it already came with ready-to-use wireless connectivity, it was all the more convenient for the buyers.

Amidst smooth performance and ease of usage, there have been reports about the flimsy build quality of the optical drive, and a few instances of system crashes.

But other than that, you’d be amazed at the kind of customer satisfaction this little desktop could bring.

About Dominic Cooper

Dominic CooperDominic Cooper, a TTU graduate is a computer hardware expert. His only passion is to find out the nitty gritty of all computers. He loves to cook when he is not busy with writing, computer testing and research. He is not very fond of social media. Follow Him at Linkedin