When you think of business PCs, you generally think of the boring beige tower PCs that get hidden under desks or behind desktop monitors. But it seems that some PC manufacturers are daring to do away with boring designs and come up with business PCs that aren’t half bad to look at. One such example is with Dell’s recent Optiplex 9010, which brings the All In One form factor to the business segment.
Build quality & design
The Optiplex brand has always been targeted towards the enterprise segment, so Dell have kept that in mind when designing the Optiplex 9010. You won’t find glossy finishes or a fully collapsible display like in other consumer AIOs, but instead a minimalist and frills-free look.
In keeping with the AIO form factor, the Optiplex 9010 hides all of its components behind the 23” screen. There’s a healthy selection of ports available, spread around the sides and back of the unit. You’ll find plenty of USB ports, a card reader, optical drive, HDMI, and even PS/2 connectors for a keyboard and mouse. Most of the ports are easy to access, even the ones at the rear of the device.
Although previous tower-Optiplex models have been easy to take apart for upgrades, the Optiplex 9010 does do a bit poorly in this regard. In order to get under the hood you have to dismantle the device from its stand, and then remove four screws before you can start tinkering inside. It’s a slightly cumbersome process that shouldn’t be done very often, so it’s important that you choose the right configuration of hardware when ordering one of these units. There’s plenty to choose from and mix around in terms of processor, memory, and storage, with the only downside being that you’re relegated to using the Intel HD Graphics 4000 instead of any dedicated options. The Intel chip is good enough for most office applications and the most minimal of 3D, but anything more demanding is a sure no-no.
Benchmarks & Performance
When it came down to performance, the Optiplex 9010 does quite comfortably for an office-level PC. It’s large screen size is more than adequate for design work or working with large documents and spreadsheets, however with older applications that don’t scale properly, you may find a bit of an issue with the large resolution making the text appear a bit too small.
Having said that, while the Optiplex 9010 was able to run Office and a suite of other regular applications, it surprisingly crashed on a number of very basic windows apps, including Microsoft’s own Minesweeper. The app loaded to the splash screen and then closed immediately, even though this was a fresh install of Windows 8. Similarly, firing up Rayman Run from the app store merely crashed back to the title screen. I wasn’t able to pinpoint what was causing these apps to crash, but I’m hoping it’s down to a momentary software glitch.
Screen, Keyboard, and Mouse
The 23” screen on the Optiplex 9010 is certainly one of the better ones I’ve seen on a business desktop, and offers a seamless 10-point touch interface for use with Windows 8. Every swipe and command was pretty much seamless, but what’s disappointing is that the screen offers incredibly poor viewing angles. If more than two people sat in front of this screen to discuss something, you’d have a pretty awful time trying to view things comfortably. On a plus side it does have a matte finish, so the glare from office lights or windows won’t be an issue here, as well as a fully adjustable stand.
Our Optiplex 9010 came bundled with a wireless keyboard and mouse, which like most AIOs I’ve seen, are basic at best. Both are plastic and fairly lightweight, and seem to be able to take the toil and abuse in an office environment. I did think the keys on the keyboard were a bit fragile when speed typing, which is what made me switch to a standard USB keyboard instead.
Heat and Noise levels
One thing I will say about the Optiplex 9010 is that despite running for a full day’s use, it never once went into fan-overdrive or became excessively hot. While some areas at the back of the screen were slightly lukewarm, it was heat generated from regular use and isn’t much to be concerned about. You will on a few occasion hear a soft hum, but in a regular office environment it will be barely audible.
So who exactly would benefit from adopting the Optiplex 9010? Well given that it reduces the amount of clutter and cables associated with a typical office PC setup, any organization that’s looking to make an upgrade to their infrastructure can customize the Optiplex 9010 to suit their needs. However there are two things to note – since the display isn’t very adjustable, the Optiplex 9010 is best suited for say kiosk use, or even for office areas such as receptions or even in libraries. Secondly, while the touch interface is great and responsive, very few enterprise apps actually use touch. Sure, it’s great for zooming into images or scrolling through web pages, but in an office environment most of your work can be accomplished using a keyboard and mouse. Lastly, it bundles with Windows 8 which I’m sure isn’t the OS of choice for the enterprise just yet. But at its heart, the Optiplex 9010 is a nifty and sleek addition to the office environment for anyone who’s looking to move on up in the Optiplex range.