One can argue that Apple inspired the all-in-one PC with its now iconic late 1980s Macs. Since then, we've all become familiar with its iMac range and no other company has really nailed the all-in-one format quite so well. However, if the price and operating system of Apple's iMacs don't fit in with your corporate strategy, there are some very good PC-based alternatives. Dell, for example, has a whole range of all-in-one Optiplexes, with the 9010 we have here sitting at the top of the range. It also sports a touchscreen, making it a more appropriate platform for Windows 8.
In format, the Optiplex 9010 is a pretty direct competitor to the current 21.5in Apple iMac, even if it doesn't have quite the same wow factor of the latter's aluminium unibody, and sports a larger 23in screen. This is still an attractively styled computer, albeit in a more sober and corporate way. The 9010 is a Dell Optiplex, after all – a range that has always been aimed at the serious business user, with less emphasis put on wooing the more aesthetically oriented consumer buyer. But it still looks like a rather fat TFT (by today's standards), hiding the full set of PC components that lurk within rather effectively, which is probably the main reason why you wanted to buy an all-in-one computer in the first place.
As with most all-in-one systems, the Optiplex 9010 uses a combination of mobile and desktop components. The processor is a desktop variety, with Core i3, i5 and i7 options available. Our sample came with the top Intel Core i7 3770S choice. This is a quad-core 3.1GHz CPU, with the usual Intel enhancements. Hyper-Threading turns each physical core into two virtual ones, whilst Turbo Boost 2.0 allows a single core to hit 3.9GHz. This is partnered by 4GB of 1,600MHz DDR3 memory, although up to 16GB can be specified at the time of purchase. The end user can also upgrade the memory by following the instructions in the manual.
In contrast to the desktop-power CPU, the graphics options are decidedly notebook oriented. There's no option for discrete graphics, so you have to rely on the chipset integrated into the processor. Fortunately, with an Intel Ivy Bridge-generation processor on board, the integrated graphics comes in the shape of HD 4000, which as we have noted in all the notebooks we have seen with Ivy Bridge CPUs, is a major step forward compared to the HD 3000 of the previous generation. It's still not quite as powerful as entry-level discrete graphics, but not far behind. The HD 4000 chipset also supports the latest 3D standards, including DirectX 11, Shader Model 5 and OpenGL 4.0 with sufficiently recent drivers.
A range of storage options are available with the Optiplex 9010. Our review unit came with the basic 3.5in 500GB Seagate Barracuda 7200.14, but you can also specify a 1TB version for £70 more. There is also a 2.5in 320GB Self-Encrypting Drive option, a 500GB Hybrid option, and a 128GB SSD option, although there is only room for a single drive. On the right is the slimline Matshita DVD rewriter, with a Blu-ray alternative available for £110 more.
The aforementioned 23in touchscreen has a resolution of 1,920 x 1,080 pixels, which is standard for a screen this big. It works reasonably well with Windows 8's icon-based main interface, but for regular Windows applications you will soon find yourself resorting to the traditional keyboard and mouse. The touch ability does feel beneficial for activities like pinch-to-zoom on websites and images. The screen has decent viewing angles and good contrast but it's rather glossy, so can be marred by reflections. As with most all-in-one systems, you can angle the screen up and down, but there is no height adjustment available, and you have to rotate the whole unit to angle the display left and right. Strangely, the 9010 does not come with wireless keyboard and mouse. Instead, regular USB-attached units are supplied for both, although a mere £12 extra will get you Dell-branded wireless alternatives.
Apart from a mini PCIe slot, there are no other internal expansion possibilities for the 9010. However, it is at least well endowed with ports. On the left-hand side can be found a pair of USB 3.0 ports, alongside the SD card reader slot and minijacks for headphones and an external microphone. But there's much more available at the rear, just beneath the point where the stand meets the screen. There are a couple more USB 3.0 ports here, plus four USB 2.0 ports, as well as LAN, VGA, HDMI, audio line-in and out, and a pair of PS/2 ports for keyboard and mouse. Aside from the Gigabit Ethernet wired networking, our version has 802.11a/b/g/n Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth, courtesy of an optional Intel Wireless 6235 half mini PCIe WLAN card. There is also an option to choose Dell's Wireless 1530 half mini PCIe WLAN card - a £63 (ex VAT) upgrade for the Ethernet-only Optiplex 9010 base model.
The 9010's performance is a slightly mixed bag, for a desktop. The Maxon Cinebench R11.5 rendering score of 7.03 is pretty decent, showing this system has more raw processing grunt than all but the very highest-end notebooks such as Scan's 3XS-MGW-10. However, although the OpenGL result of 19.34 is decent enough for integrated graphics, it's no match for discrete graphics. So this system will run OpenGL applications, but you won't be able to use it as a 3D workstation very easily. Similarly, the Futuremark 3DMark11 score of 711 is good for a system with integrated graphics, but if you need serious DirectX 11 acceleration this won't be the system for you, although neither will most all-in-one systems with the notable exception of HP's Z1 and of course Apple's iMacs.
The Dell Optiplex 9010 All-in-One Touch makes a commendable stab at a more corporate, PC version of the iMac. It's still quite stylish, and the touchscreen will be attractive for certain applications – perhaps demonstrating graphics or a touchscreen optimised point of sale system. It makes Windows 8 that little bit easier to live with, too. Best of all, at a touch over £1,000, it's not enormously expensive, especially when you consider that the 21.5in iMac starts at £1,099 for the base model, although the latter does have discrete graphics. As a subtly stylish space-saving corporate desktop, the Dell Optiplex 9010 All-in-One Touch has a lot going for it.
Manufacturer and model
Dell Optiplex 9010 All-in-One Touch
3.1GHz Intel Core i7 3770S
4GB 1,600MHz DDR3 SDRAM
Intel HD 4000
500GB Seagate Barracuda 7200.14 SATA 7,200rpm hard disk
Slimline Matshita UJ8D1 DVD rewriter
23in LED HD+ TFT with 1,920 x 1,080 pixels
Gigabit Ethernet, optional 802.11a/b/g/n Wi-Fi with Bluetooth 4.0
4 x USB 3.0, 4 x USB 2.0, HDMI, VGA, LAN, headphone, microphone, line-in, line-out, SD card reader, half-mini PCIe for optional wireless
Width x Depth x Height
386 x 574 x 72mm
Weight with stand (approx.)
10 to 12.5kg (depending on stand type)
3 years Next Business Day