Dell OptiPlex 9030 review: A secure and businesslike 23-inch AIO desktop

Dell OptiPlex 9030 review: A secure and businesslike 23-inch AIO desktop

Summary: Dell's latest top-end all-in-one desktop offers an excellent range of security options and can be configured to handle a variety of business workloads.

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TOPICS: PCs, Dell, Reviews
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Pros

  • Compact, understated design
  • Good CPU and memory performance
  • Extensive security options
  • Good selection of ports
  • Built-in power supply
  • Tool-free internal access
  • Quiet in operation

Cons

  • Slow 5,400rpm hard drive
  • Discrete GPU option not yet available
  • Touchscreen option not yet available in the UK

Dell's OptiPlex all-in-one (AIO) business desktops recently had a refresh, with security features prominent in the company's messaging around the new 19.5-inch 3030 and 23-inch 9030 systems. The top-end OptiPlex 9030 comes in preconfigured models costing between £649 (ex. VAT) and $1,002 (ex. VAT) on Dell's UK website, with customisation options available at each price point. We looked at a mid-range Core i5-based system with 8GB of RAM and a 500GB hard drive that costs £779 (ex. VAT, or £934.80 inc. VAT).

dell-op-9030-main
Dell's 23-inch OptiPlex 9030 comes in Core i3, i5 and i7-based models. Image: Dell

Design

The charcoal-grey OptiPlex 9030 looks as muted and businesslike as you'd expect a business AIO desktop to look. Dell branding is discreet, and there was only one sticker (the inevitable 'Intel inside') on the front of our review unit.

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The 9030 is compact and slim for a 23-inch system, measuring 56.75cm wide by 38.07cm high by 6cm deep (22.34in.x14.99in.x2.36in.) and weighing 12.5kg (27.56lbs) without the stand. We had the 'basic' (neither height-adjustable nor pivotable) stand, which measures 20.cm (8.07in.) deep and weighs 1.91kg (4.2lbs); an optional height-adjustable stand was mentioned at Dell's briefing in June, but as yet there's no sign of this on the UK website.

The 23-inch LCD offers good viewing angles, brightness adjustment via up/down buttons on the right-hand side and a full-HD resolution of 1,920 by 1,020 pixels (96ppi). The screen has a matte, anti-glare coating, so you shouldn't be troubled by reflections in brightly-lit offices. The screen on our review unit had no touch functionality, and although the product page on Dell's UK website proclaims 'With Optional Touch Screen', this does not currently appear to be available. Dell's US website does, however, feature a touchscreen model costing $1,249.

There are eight USB ports in total — six USB 3.0 (two on the left-hand side, four at the back) plus two USB 2.0 (both at the back). The left-hand side also houses an SD card reader and a headset jack, while the rear is also home to HDMI in/out and DisplayPort 1.2 ports, an Ethernet (RJ-45) port, an audio-out jack and the power socket (the 9030 has a built-in PSU). The video connectors allow you to augment the internal 23-inch screen with additional monitors (via HDMI or DisplayPort), or plug in an external video source (via HDMI).

Apart from the brightness up/down buttons, the right-hand side carries an input-select button (PC or HDMI-in), the power button and a tray-loading optical drive.

The two-megapixel webcam above the screen is certified for Microsoft's Lync UC client, and has a sliding 'privacy cover' to prevent inadvertent online visibility.

IT managers will be pleased to note that you can access the OptiPlex 9030's innards without recourse to tools. Just unclip the stand, undo two sliding latches on the underside of the system and pull the backplate off:

dell-op-9030-open
You can remove the OptiPlex 9030's backplate without using any tools. Image: Charles McLellan/ZDNet

Features

The OptiPlex 9030 range includes models powered by 4th-generation Intel Core i3, i5 and i7 processors. Our review unit had the vPro-enabled 3.0/3.7GHz quad-core Core i5-4590S with 8GB of RAM. Graphics are handled by the integrated HD Graphics 4600 GPU — although Dell documentation talks about an optional discrete GPU (AMD's Radeon R7 A265), this does not currently seem to be available either in the UK or the US. The OptiPlex 9030 is available with Windows 7 Professional or, as on our review unit, Windows 8.1 Pro.

Storage comes courtesy of a relatively sedate 5,400rpm 500GB Seagate hard drive, although other models are available with 128GB of faster SSD storage.

As well as wired Ethernet, the OptiPlex 9030 has up-to-date dual-band 802.11a/b/g/n/ac wi-fi courtesy of Intel's Wireless-AC 7260 module, which also supports Bluetooth 4.0.

At its recent London briefing, Dell made much of the security options available for the OptiPlex 9030, which include: lockable USB port covers and BIOS control for USB ports; physical security locks for the system unit and the base; and Dell Data Protection (DDP) technologies covering file-level encryption, authentication and malware prevention. Our review unit included a TPM chip and a one-year subscription to the personal edition of the DPP encryption software, but we could find no sign of the Dell Protected Workspace (secure virtual container) software, either on the system or on Dell's UK website (it's available as an option on the US site though).

Performance

For a broad-brush characterisation of the Core i5-based OptiPlex 9030's performance, we did the digging that's now required to get Microsoft's Windows Experience Index (WEI) under Windows 8.1. Component scores, out of 9.9, were as follows: 

CPU score 7.9
D3D score 5.5
Disk score 5.9
Graphics score 5.8
Memory score 7.9

As you might expect from the specification, the weakest subsystems are the integrated graphics and the 5,400rpm hard drive, while the CPU and memory scores are very respectable. If you have workloads that require faster disk speed, opt for a model with SSD storage; if you need faster 2D or 3D graphics, look out for the availability of OptiPlex 9030 models with a discrete GPU.

We were pleased to note that the OptiPlex 9030 neither runs warm nor emits noticeable fan noise, even when executing relatively demanding workloads. Audio quality from the integrated stereo speakers beneath the screen is good, too — perfectly adequate for video conferencing or delivering a multimedia presentation to a moderate-sized group.

Conclusion

Security — of both the physical devices and the data they house — is obviously vital for mobile computers, but it's also important for desktop PCs too. Dell's new OptiPlex 9030 takes security very seriously, offering a range of options that, if implemented, should give peace of mind to IT managers. The Core i5 system we reviewed will handle mainstream business workloads comfortably; if you need a faster CPU, more RAM, a discrete GPU or SSD storage, these options are either available now or will be shortly.

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Specifications

General
Dimensions (W x H x D) 56.75 x 6.0 x 38.07 cm
Case form factor all-in-one
Weight 12.5 kg
OS & software
Operating system Windows 8.1 Professional
Chipset & memory
Chipset Intel Q87
RAM installed 8096 MB
Number of memory slots 2
RAM capacity 16 GB
Video
GPU Intel HD Graphics 4600
GPU type integrated
Video connections HDMI-in, HDMI-out, DisplayPort 1.2
Display
Display technology TFT (active matrix)
Display size 23 in
Native resolution 1920x1080 pixels
Connections
USB 6 x USB 3.0 (2 side, 4 rear), 2 x USB 2.0 (rear)
Flash card SD-compatible media
Networking
Ethernet RJ-45
Ethernet controller Intel Ethernet Connection I217-LM
Wireless
Wi-Fi 802.11a, 802.11b, 802.11g, 802.11n, 802.11ac
Bluetooth 4.0
Input
Pointing devices mouse
Keyboard yes
Camera
Main camera front
Main camera resolution 2 megapixels
Audio
Audio connectors headphone (side), line-out (rear)
Speakers stereo
Microphone yes
Service & support
Standard warranty 3 years
Service & support details next business day
Cabinet (chassis)
Tool-free access yes
Internal bays 2 x internal 2.5-inch
Hard drive
Form factor 2.5in.
Rotation speed 5400 rpm
Hard drive interface SATA III
Hard drive type standard
Hard drive capacity 500 GB
Number of hard drives installed 1
Optical storage
CD / DVD type DVD±RW (±R DL)/DVD-RAM
Processor & memory
Clock speed 3.0 GHz
Number of processors installed 1
Number of processors supported 1
Processor manufacturer Intel
Processor model Core i5-4590S
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Prices

Price
Price GBP 779
Price USD 1104

Topics: PCs, Dell, Reviews

About

Charles has been in tech publishing since the late 1980s, starting with Reed's Practical Computing, then moving to Ziff-Davis to help launch the UK version of PC Magazine in 1992. ZDNet came looking for a Reviews Editor in 2000, and he's been here ever since.

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  • Compare to Lenovo?

    Looking at these systems by themselves isn't that informative. I'd be interested in seeing a side by side with the same price Lenovo enterprise all in one. They all get the job done so it really comes down to value.
    Buster Friendly