Dell OptiPlex 9010 business desktop PC review: small but powerful
At a Glance
The small form factor Dell Optiplex 9010 Desktop takes up little space, packs a nice performance punch, and is very easy to repair or upgrade. If also has all the service and warranty options and legacy connectivity businesses need. Couple that with Dell's promise of a long product lifespan and plenty of warning for upcoming changes, and you have a powerful compact PC that won't stress out your purchasing agent or IT personnel.
Dell refers to the small form factor 9010 as a Desktop, which it is in the older sense of the word--a PC that literally sits on top of your desk. At only 12 inches deep, by 11 inches tall, by 5 inches thick it will fit easily beside a monitor, or flipped on its side, serve as a monitor stand. Styled in black and gray, it also looks like it belongs on your desk. Being small also makes it easy to hide away, if that's your preference.
Input Ergonomics, Connectivity
Our small form factor 9010 Desktop shipped without a display, though there are a number of 20-inch or 24-inch LCDs ($250 to $400) as well as dual-display options available. We did get a mouse and keyboard, which, while obviously not top-tier items, get the job done. The mouse tracks well and the keyboard, despite being very light in weight, has a better than average typing feel.
The 9010 Desktop small form factor offers a large array and logical mix of modern and legacy ports. There are a whopping 10 USB ports; four on the front of the unit, six on the back, and two in each set are USB 3.0. There are also dual DisplayPort connectors, VGA output, a gigabit Ethernet port, and a serial port. That latter is to support the still rather large fleets of serial port devices such as hand scanners still used by businesses.
Also included are microphone and headset jacks on the front, plus audio in and out jacks on the back. There are legacy PS/2 connectors for both keyboard and mouse--something I and my collection of old IBM M-series clackers can get behind. Lastly, there's a lock slot on the back so you can securely cable the 9010 Desktop to prevent it from being easily opened or carried away.
Components and Expandability
Our test small form factor 9010 Desktop sported a highly-capable Intel Core i7 3770, 8GB of DDR3-1600 memory (two 4GB parts filling two of the available 4 DIMM slots), and a 1TB Seagate ST31000524AS hard drive occupying the single hard drive bay. The hard drive is married to a pop-out caddy as is the 8X DVD burner that sits on top of it. One of the two 16x PCIe slot on our unit was filled by an AMD Radeon HD 7470 graphics card.
The SFF 9010 Destktop garnered 107 points on our older WorldBench 7 test suite, which is a good if not spectacular score. Feel-wise, the unit is snappy. Not SSD-snappy, but darn good for a system with a traditional hard drive. The aforementioned HD 7000 graphics card will render modern games acceptably at 800 by 600 and in some cases, 1024 by 768. Good enough for the lunch break if your situation allows.
With one PCIe slot available, you could add IEEE 1394, or another Ethernet port. You could also utilize the back panel opening for the slot to add eSATA, as one of the three SATA 6Gbps ports and a SATA-style power connector are available. You could also use those to add an SSD. There's no mounting point but there is room for one inside the chassis.
The small form factor 9010 Desktop carries a three-year warranty with four- and five-year versions available for another $150 to $300 or so. An onsite option to the three-year plan is available for around $50. The 9010 also features a TPM (Trusted Platform Module) for security and optional out-of-band (remote management via hardware only, powered or not) management in the form of Intel's standard or vPro management. Dell will also sell you software encryption for a cool $40, or you can opt for a self-encrypting hard drive.
Price and Configurations
Because of the security features, warranty options and support, business PCs are more expensive than consumer models. Our test configuration will set you back about $950 with Windows 7 Professional. A Windows 8 option is available, though few businesses need or want it at the moment. You can back off our near high-end configuration to the minimum Core i3-3220, 4GB of memory, a 250GB hard drive and read-only DVD drive for about $650.
The Bottom Line
Dell's been playing the corporate game for a long time and that experience shows in the Optiplex 9010 Desktop. It's powerful, has all the features businesses ask for and just enough expansion to add a random capability you might need. The 9010 Desktop's small form factor makes for convenient placement, but if want more extensive expansion capabilities; the 9010 is also available in a variety of other form factors.