No, laptops, tablets and smartphones haven’t killed the market (and demand) for traditional desktops.
Sure, tastes have evolved over the past decade with a gradual shift, thanks partly to Apple and its iMac, to all-in-one (AIO) PCs, but from an overall perspective there is still a case for tethered, fixed computers especially in businesses and enterprises.
That stems, according to Dell, from the need for organisations to maximise space and productivity in a commercial environment.
And that’s exactly why Dell embraced the AIO concept with the latest iteration of its product line being the OptiPlex 24 7440 AIO, which the company calls the world’s most secure AIO desktop.
Competitors include HP, with the ProOne and EliteOne range, Lenovo, with the ThinkCentre Edge/M series, the Fujitsu Esprimo X9xx series and obviously, Apple’s celebrated iMac.
“No bulk. No Nonsense.” That’s the 7440’s tagline and it’s easy to see why. This is a compact 24-inch device that keeps to a tried-and-trusted recipe when it comes to enterprise: stick to the essentials when it comes to hardware and get best-of-breed management software.
When it comes to the former, Dell has done a decent job by offering a solid piece of kit, and indeed it is rather heavy at over 8kg.
The extra premium comes from a number of add-ons including a keyboard and a mouse, items many companies might want to keep if they’re upgrading their existing stock. It also comes by default with a three-year next business day onsite warranty, something that many businesses will appreciate.
The Optiplex 24 7440 has a down-to-earth, functional design, with plenty of plastic, and isn’t going to win any design awards.
Assembling it out of the box can be done by one person and takes a couple of minutes at most. The standard model comes with a tilt-and-swivel stand with a large square base. There’s no straightforward upgrade to the angle poise-inspired, articulated stand on the UK website.
Most of the AIO itself is, unsurprisingly, dominated by the touchscreen, a 23.8-inch model with a thick bezel (65mm at its thickest and 22mm at the thinnest part).
Dell offers a full HD model with anti-glare coating as standard, with 4K resolution available as an option, as is a capacitive touchscreen. There’s a 2-megapixel webcam that can be manually hidden behind a flap and a myriad of ports and buttons on either side and at the back, pointing downwards.
The list is long: there are eight USB ports, HDMI in and out, DisplayPort, RJ-45, Line-out and Audio socket. Oh and there’s an SD card reader as well.
The machine we were sent came with a sixth-generation Intel Core i5 CPU, the i5-6500, a model clocked at 3.2GHz with 6MB cache and four-cores/four-threads. Note that it is not a laptop CPU but a full-fledged one with a 65W TDP and integrated Intel HD Graphics 530.
In its simplest form, this model costs £772.80 excluding VAT and shipping. Intriguingly, Dell lists it at £869 excluding VAT and shipping ($1049 over in the US, which is around AU$1460), stating that its recommended price is a hefty £1,337 ($1498 in the US, which is around AU$2090).
A £30 upgrade buys you a Core i7 CPU and a 1TB hard drive, which in our eyes is a no-brainer. Cheaper models are also available with a Core i3 CPU, a non-touch display and 4GB of RAM for £260 less.
In terms of memory you get 8GB DDR4 (one module, one free slot), along with a 2.5-inch 500GB 7200RPM hard disk drive, a DVD drive, 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0 and Gigabit Ethernet.
There’s a second free 2.5-inch bay should you want to upgrade although Dell doesn’t give you that option online (yet), which makes another option from the website configurator, RAID-0, rather useless. In addition, there are two free M.2 slots that can accommodate either a Hardware Crypto Accelerator, a Wi-Fi card or another solid state drive.
The bundled keyboard has an island-style layout which may put some of us off while the mouse is reasonably accurate; functional but without the bells.
When it comes to operating systems, Dell offers three Windows versions: Windows 10 Pro, Windows 8.1 Pro and Windows 7 Pro, the last two coming with or without a free Windows 10 Pro license. Dell oddly has a Windows 7 Pro Polish on its website.
While the hardware is unspectacular, the OptiPlex 24 7440 makes up for it thanks to its management and security features. System administrators will appreciate Dell’s effort to make BIOS management and system configurations as frictionless as possible across entire desktop fleets.
Intel’s vPro which is available out of the box allows the AIO to be remotely managed including out-of-band BIOS management. Also included in the package are Dell’s Client Command Suite, TPM (Trusted Platform Module), Data Protection (Security, Encryption) and Secure Works. A Data Protection Encryption Accelerator is available as a £21.45 upgrade.
We didn’t carry out any standard benchmarking as this is an office computer, one that is more than capable of tackling the type of workload that is usually expected from this category of PC. After all, this is neither a gaming PC nor a workstation in the traditional sense.
The brief encounter we had with the computer left us with no doubt about how it will perform in real life. Bear in mind that there might be processes running in the background, many of which are likely to be Dell’s own software stack and that will have an impact on performance.
Fortunately, Dell made sure that no unnecessary applications were loaded at start-up.
This is a solid all-in-one from Dell but you do pay a premium for it compared to bog-standard AIO machines. Its touchscreen capability and sysadmin-friendly attributes, however, dominate its feature list and justify the extra outlay.
Enterprises will appreciate Dell’s commitment to create a best-of-breed AIO that doesn’t skimp on the essentials and blends a combination of hardware and software solutions that help to reduce the management burden on IT teams.