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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  • NickB. - Wednesday, September 19, 2012 - link

    I always heard those poor viewing angles were a "security feature" - how else to explain the consistent use of such panels on business grade laptops?

  • Souka - Wednesday, September 19, 2012 - link

    we have a number of kiosks at my work for public use.

    we recently replaced the old 17-19" LCD crap-panels with 22" panels.

    Quickly we had requests for privacy screens because the new 22" panels have good viewing angles.

    so viewing angle can make a difference.

    funny.... but reality....
  • frozentundra123456 - Wednesday, September 19, 2012 - link

    This type of machine is one of the few places in the desktop that I see a good fit for trinity. It would have better gpu performance and "good enough" cpu performance. I am not really a fan of AIO systems in general though. Just seems like too much compromise in performance, upgradability, and repairability for the benefit of saving a bit of space on the desktop.
  • JarredWalton - Thursday, September 20, 2012 - link

    And exactly what are you going to do on a kiosk that would benefit from having twice the GPU performance and half the CPU performance? Honestly, I find HD 4000 to be a perfectly adequate solution for everything outside of gaming. A better CPU choice for this system would be the i3-3225 I think -- only two CPU cores, but you don't really need more than that, and at 3.3GHz they're still plenty fast. I've got a system with just such a CPU and with a Samsung 128GB SSD it boots to Windows in about 10 seconds (plus the eight second POST -- I wish motherboard vendors would do more to decrease/eliminate POST times!)
  • Conficio - Wednesday, September 19, 2012 - link

    Really what is Dell thinking? Just reading the spec sheet and I see (at least a 1920 x 1080) display, but a TN panel with its bad viewing angles? And the target market of this is kiosk apps, where multiple people might look at a screen and the person's head is likely not aligned with the height of the screen (standing but device on a desk, standing height but people have different height).

    Try again Dell!
  • piroroadkill - Wednesday, September 19, 2012 - link

    I'm OK with that, but to be honest they need to offer the perfect device for education, which would be a 19" 1440x900 AIO with a Core i3, 64GB SSD, 4GB RAM, perfectly fine if its TN, better, infact, to cut costs.

    There's a mass market for these kinds of devices, but it's always cheaper to do it from a small manufacturer..
  • StormyParis - Wednesday, September 19, 2012 - link

    Why can't they just make a Thin-ITX monitor stand with a VESA mount and the PC in the base, and let us choose our screen ?
  • piroroadkill - Wednesday, September 19, 2012 - link

    You've always been able to buy mini-ITX and mount them to a VESA screen. It's just a matter of options.
  • piroroadkill - Wednesday, September 19, 2012 - link

    Also, Dell has offered AIO stands that allow you to bolt an SFF desktop to the back of a screen for a long time, and they're damn convenient, one carry handle, the whole thing.
  • TheSlamma - Wednesday, September 19, 2012 - link

    Up till now most of the all-in-one business offerings have been limited. 3gb RAM max, 5400 rpm HD's, Pentium D processors, etc.

    Now we get Intel vPro (which is much needed for places trying to eliminate desktop visits.) and it addresses the previous limitations I mentioned. It also has high quality NIC and a good wifi card and runs very cool compared to an iMac.

    While the display isn't top notch, I don't see a problem with it, the 1080 screen is as good as the standard panels that most companies order with optiplex machines.

    While many people don't get the all-in-one, as mentioned int he article one target is public sector, schools, libraries and other local gov do want a smaller footprint. They are trying to do more with the same amount of space when they had Apple ]['s and XT's but with more kids and mobile furniture.

    Did I mention how awesome it is to have Intel AMT on these? vPro + RealVNC viewer plus = WIN!!

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