Dell Vostro 470 MT review

Pros

  • Ivy Bridge processor
  • Strong performance across applications
  • Can handle modest gaming duties too
  • Decent range of ports

Cons

  • Default warranty only covers one year
  • 350W PSU is weak for upgrade potential

Business systems are often defined not just by how quickly they complete their assigned tasks, but how quickly the systems themselves get to market. For that reason, the Dell Vostro 470 deserves some significant plaudits: This is one of the first professional PCs we've seen using Intel's 2012 third-generation Core (aka Ivy Bridge) technology. And, unsurprisingly, its advanced hardware gives it a serious leg up against the competition in terms of performance.

Design and features

Like many business desktops, the Vostro 470 doesn't dazzle with design: It’s little more than a basic black box with a few silver accents. What matters more are its layout and ease of use, and the Vostro 470 does well on those fronts. Both of its 5.25in external bays are hidden from view behind two panels – pressing the button on the side of the top one reveals the dual-layer DVD burner hidden away inside (the other bay is empty).

The CPU at the heart of the system is the Intel Core i7-3770, a quad-core chip running at 3.4GHz that’s capable of marshalling up to eight simultaneous processing threads by way of Intel’s Hyper-Threading technology. Our review machine had 8GB of RAM accompanying this. Primary storage space is respectable at 1TB, provided on a single 7,200rpm hard drive. There’s also a 19-in-1 card reader for accessing yet more removable storage.

Some other nice features grace the Vostro 470, including 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0. If you want to open the system, you can do so just by loosening a couple of thumbscrews and pulling off the side panel. The interior is well organised, with all the cables and wires neatly tied, providing easy access to the one free internal 3.5in drive bay and three available PCI Express (PCIe) x1 expansion slots. The 350 Watt power supply may be a bit on the wimpy side if you want to add much more hardware. The keyboard and mouse that come with the Vostro are graduates of the no-frills school.

Windows 7 Professional, in its 64-bit incarnation, is the operating system of choice, and it comes with a bit of bloatware in place including Microsoft Office Starter 2010 and Adobe Reader. A 15 month trial of Trend Micro Titanium Internet Security is included in your purchase price.

The Vostro 470 is covered with a one year basic limited warranty. Extra support options, including around-the-clock phone support and access to advanced technicians are available with the ProSupport package, but that will add £60 to £120 to the price tag (depending on the duration, up to three years).

Performance

The Vostro 470 also turned out a fine score on CineBench R11.5 (7.49) and solid times on our Handbrake video encoding (1 minute and 4 seconds) and Photoshop CS5 filter application (2 minutes and 46 seconds) tests, putting it not just in the upper echelon of systems in this class, but at the very top of the rankings in each case.

The same is true of gaming (although, of course, we know no user would ever consider using the Vostro 470 for such a thing). At 1,280 x 720 resolution and with medium quality settings, the DirectX 10 (DX10) title Crysis ran comfortably with a frame rate of 73.5 frames per second (or fps).

Lost Planet 2 stumbled a bit more in DX11 mode, though its 36.3 fps result (at the same resolution, and with all details set to middling) is still within the realm of playability. Unfortunately, the AMD video card balked when we adjusted the settings upward: Neither game was playable at 1,920 x 1,080, so we recommend sticking with more moderate video settings if you want to wind down after a long day of work. Even so, the Vostro stands alone as far as speed is concerned.

Verdict

The Dell Vostro 470 sets a fine new standard for Ivy Bridge business PCs on traditional processing and graphics challenges alike. The Vostro won't entirely fit the bill for all heavy-duty drafting and rendering – you'll want a system with a dedicated workstation card for that, which will cost you quite a bit more. But for everyday tasks, whether CPU or GPU-accelerated, the Dell Vostro 470 won't steer you wrong, and it put in some very impressive benchmarks to earn the machine our Best Buy award.

Specifications

Manufacturer and Model

Dell Vostro 470 MT

Type

Business

Processor Name

Intel Core i7-3770

Operating System

Microsoft Windows 7 Professional

Processor Speed

3.4GHz

RAM

8GB

Graphics Card

AMD Radeon HD 7570

Hard Drive

1TB

Primary Optical Drive

DVD+/-RW

Tech Support

1 year