Introducing the Dell OptiPlex 9010 All-in-One

The all-in-one market is a tough nut to crack, both for the vendors and in many ways for the press as well. Apple sidestepped the landmine entirely by simply making the iMac the only desktop they offer in those price brackets; if you want a comparatively inexpensive Mac you simply buy an iMac. Windows users have a lot more choices, though, and those choices are now growing with all-in-one entries into the enterprise market from HP, Dell, and Lenovo.

On the bench today is Dell's just-launched OptiPlex 9010 All-in-One, targeted very specifically to business and enterprise applications rather than consumer. Much like the very tiny Lenovo ThinkCentre we recently reviewed, the OptiPlex 9010 AiO is designed to serve unique purposes beyond use as a garden variety computer terminal. The questions after that become: is it up to snuff with Dell's other commercial offerings, and are they trying to create solutions to non-existent problems?

Before getting into the OptiPlex 9010 AiO itself, it bears answering the question: what purpose does an all-in-one serve for business and enterprise applications that can't be served just as well by pre-existing solutions? Dell targets the OptiPlex 9010 specifically at kiosk use, at smart displays, but also at mass deployment in businesses and schools. While an all-in-one may not be ideal for home users who may have a little more space, real estate could very well be at a premium in a library or office. These use cases have to be kept in mind when evaluating the 9010's design, which I would argue is paramount even over its performance.

Dell OptiPlex 9010 All-in-One Specifications
Processor Intel Core i7-3770S
(4x3.1GHz, Hyper-Threading, 3.9GHz Turbo, 22nm, 8MB L3, 65W)
Chipset Intel Q77
Memory 2x4GB Samsung DDR3-1600 SODIMM (Max 2x8GB)
Graphics Intel HD 4000 (16 EUs, up to 1150MHz)
Display 23" LED Matte 16:9 1920x1080 TN panel
Hard Drive(s) Samsung PM830 128GB SATA 6Gbps SSD
Optical Drive DVD+/-RW writer (TSSTCorp SN-208BB)
Networking Intel 82579LM Gigabit Ethernet
Intel Centrino Advanced-N 6235 802.11a/b/g/n
Bluetooth 4.0
Audio Realtek ALC269 HD Audio
Stereo speakers
Headphone and mic jacks
Front Side Webcam
Right Side Optical drive
Power button
Left Side Headphone and mic jacks
2x USB 3.0
SD/MMC/XD/MS Pro card reader
Back Side Power
6x USB 2.0
2x PS/2
Operating System Windows 7 Professional SP1 64-bit
Dimensions 15.2" x 22.6" x 2.7"
38.6mm x 57.4mm x 6.8mm
Weight 22.08 lbs (incl. stand/16.8 lbs without)
10 kg (incl. stand/7.6 kg without)
Extras Webcam
Flash reader (MMC, SD/Mini SD, MS/Duo/Pro/Pro Duo)
USB 3.0
Intel vPro
Warranty 3-year parts and labor, on-site service
Pricing ???

What you're looking at in the table is pretty basic. The OptiPlex 9010 AiO isn't itching for connectivity or performance; in fact the Ivy Bridge-based Intel Core i7-3770S and its accompanying HD 4000 graphics hardware might actually be on the side of overkill for a machine like this one. There's a nugget of truth to the notion that we're at the point where CPU performance is far, far beyond what most users actually need, and I have to admit I have a hard time imagining a situation where a user would need a CPU as powerful as the i7-3770S in an all-in-one. In terms of more flexible, more general use I wonder if an AMD Trinity-based processor wouldn't be a compelling option, although you lose out on Intel's vPro among other things. It's food for thought and I certainly won't ding Dell for including such a powerful, efficient processor in the 9010 AiO, I just wonder if it's not at least a little excessive.

The 8GB of DDR3 is copious, but memory is so inexpensive that I'd be peeved if they cheaped out here (Apple...). I'm actually happy to see they outfitted our review unit with a 128GB SSD courtesy of Samsung. SSD prices have fallen like rocks over the past year while the flooding in Thailand coupled with arguably anti-competitive mergers have made the value proposition of mechanical storage less compelling. For the purposes of a system like this, an SSD is pretty much ideal; serious video and photo editors shouldn't be caught dead using TN panels in desktops, taking much of the need for capacity out of the equation.

Unfortunately, that TN panel is a bit of a sore spot. It's not terrible (as you'll see later on), but viewing angles are pretty mediocre and it's definitely not as good as some of the TN-based discrete monitors that can be purchased in the marketplace. Dell also has a habit of obfuscating the sources/models of their displays, too, so I can't provide any information as to where it came from.

System Performance
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  • Rick83 - Wednesday, September 19, 2012 - link

    So is AMT actually supported by the BIOS of this machine?
    I agree, that AMT should become ubiquitous, especially for larger scale deployments, it's probably a requirement. But then for home servers, HTPCs and similar application it also becomes interesting for the tinker/enthusiast crowd that has a number of headless units that need to be managed.

    For my server, this made me look at Supermicro boards, as the ASUS C216 based board removed the 82579 in favor of a second 82574 NIC, and probably wouldn't have done the required BIOS/Firmware work to get it supported.
  • BoloMKXXVIII - Wednesday, September 19, 2012 - link

    I am not knocking Dell, I just don't understand the point of AIO PCs. Does a mini case behind the monitor really take up any more room? With heat issues, lack of expansion options and additional cost of repair I can't imagine purchasing or recommending a AIO PC. If space is that much of a premium get a laptop or a tablet with a keyboard.
  • frozentundra123456 - Wednesday, September 19, 2012 - link

    I totally agree with you, but all in ones seem to be taking over from traditional desktops
    At least in the best buy I went to recently. I guess they do look cool initially, but I think a lot of people don't realize the compromises of the design. Personally I would choose either a traditional desktop or a laptop.
  • Dug - Thursday, September 20, 2012 - link

    Depends on time and money.
    If the machine is priced right, you either have next day warranty which is pretty standard with Dell, or you have a replacement ready to go while the other goes out for repair.
    Labor is too much to do repairs in house, when there are far more important things for IT to be doing.

    The benefit of AIO is just that. You don't have multiple configurations, multiple wires everywhere, etc.
    If someone has to move, its much easier to pick up one device and carry it over then dealing with multiple wires, power supplies, video cables, etc.

    We currently deploy iMacs with Windows 7 on boot camp.
    Using Clonezilla for a base image to deploy makes it very quick for setup and deployment.
    The fact that it has camera, mic, speakers, bluetooth, wireless, wireless keyboard and trackpad, a very nice screen that's easy on the eyes, no noise, makes it very nice machine for $1100. That and you only have one cable connection.

    We tried to find something comparable, and there are alternatives, but everyone else fails at the complete package, mostly the screen. If someone has to sit in front of the computer for 8 hrs a day for the next 3 years, it's easy to justify a little more for a good screen and a product that has a great track record for reliability.
  • NARC4457 - Wednesday, September 19, 2012 - link

    There are 2 major items that are wrong with this machine based on how my business operates.

    1) We replace machines at the end of their 3 year warranty. But we have kept monitors throughout many replacement cycles, and tend to be much more resilient than desktops. Replacing both units together is a waste for our situation.

    2) These specs are too high for a general business user. SSD? Core i7? WAAAY too much horsepower. Give me a 5400rpm and a core i3 with HD-2500 and that's all I need.
  • ggathagan - Wednesday, September 19, 2012 - link

    1) Then don't buy them.
    On the other hand, the monitor portion is probably not as high a percentage of the total cost as it might have been in past years. The TN panels get less and less expensive every year.

    2) It's rare that Dell locks you into one processor or one drive option.
    You can get anything from a G860 to the i7-3770S in the review and there are 6 different drive options.
  • mr_tawan - Wednesday, September 19, 2012 - link

    > SSD prices have fallen like rocks over the past year while the flooding in Thailand coupled with arguably anti-competitive mergers have made the value proposition of mechanical storage less compelling.

    Well at least having flooding in my homeland could cause a good things!! (Well I'm kidding).

    And this year flooding might come back to Thailand. I don't know. I believe we have serious problem with water management nowadays (given that we have Ms. Barbie PM lol).
  • nbrownksu - Wednesday, September 19, 2012 - link

    The author seems to be ignoring the fact that you can customize these machines. He states that they're overpowered for use in a computer lab or library setting, and he's right, but I just went to Dell's website and configured one of these with a Core-i3 and 4GB of RAM for exactly that reason.

    We've been begging Dell for a form factor like this for our campus computing labs for years in order to simplify deployments and clean up the look of the labs compared to a traditional desktop system. For us the cheaper monitor is a benefit to the system.
  • MrVan - Thursday, September 20, 2012 - link

    At around $2000.00 each, HP Z1's have transformed our Graphic Design department as serious Mac replacement with its 27-inch, 2560x1440 IPS display.

    No, I am not a reseller or HP employee, I simply enjoy the experience of owning these machines.
  • Dug - Friday, September 21, 2012 - link

    That's a very nice machine.

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