Dell is following the mantra of “Don’t mess with what works” with its OptiPlex line of all-in-one (AIO) business desktops. The last three OptiPlex All-in-One PCs took home Editors’ Choice awards, and the latest, the Dell OptiPlex 7770 All-in-One (starts at $1,349; $2,250 as tested), is nearly identical, inside and out, to last year’s OptiPlex 7760. The chassis remains the same, and the only major internal change is its move to Intel’s latest CPU crop. The graphics, though: Dell offers 9th Generation Core processors but ignored the GPU, leaving you with a single upgrade option that’s nearly three years old. The OptiPlex 7770’s functional design, roomy 27-inch display, and competitive application performance make it a good fit for offices looking for a space-saving 27-inch AIO, but creative departments might want to hold out for more modern and powerful graphics.
4K or Touch, But Not Both
The OptiPlex 7770 All-in-One takes the opposite design approach from the rigid, aluminum-clad Apple iMac. The chassis is primarily plastic, but it offers a great degree of flexibility.
The stand allows for 4 inches of height adjustment, tilts 30 degrees back and 5 degrees forward, and swivels 45 degrees in either direction. Most AIO display stands, the one on the iMac included, provide only tilt adjustment. You can also pivot the display 90 degrees into portrait mode, as shown below. One thing you can’t do is recline the display fully to use it like a digital drafting station, in the way you can the incredibly flexible Microsoft Surface Studio 2.
Without any chrome highlights or swaths of brushed aluminum, the OptiPlex 7770’s design is somewhat bland. Still, it looks sleek on the whole, thanks to its thin display bezels. Not only do they give the system a modern look, but they also help keep its footprint compact. The main portion of the chassis measures 15.3 by 24.2 by 2.3 inches (HWD) without the stand, and the rectangular stand itself is 11.3 inches wide by 10 inches deep.
It’s not as sharp as the display on the 27-inch Apple iMac (5,210 by 2,880 pixels) or the 28-inch Microsoft Surface Studio (4,500 by 3,000 pixels), but the OptiPlex 7770’s 27-inch screen still presents quite the pretty picture. The 4K (3,840-by-2,160-pixel) panel produces a razor-sharp image, allows for wide off-axis viewing, and enables a large workspace. Plus, the anti-glare screen finish is effective at combating shine and reflections from office lights and sunlight through windows. Dell’s 4K display option here, however, lacks touch support. If you want a touchscreen display, you’ll need to downgrade to a 1080p-native panel, alas. (Dell also offers the option for a non-touch 1080p screen.)
A speaker bar runs the width of the system below the display. The two stereo speakers produce surprisingly rich sound. I even found myself enjoying music playback with something approaching a punchy bass response. The sound certainly won’t rattle the windows, but it has more than enough impact and clarity for videoconferencing via the better-than-average 2-megapixel infrared (IR) webcam…
This camera sits above the display in a pop-up module, which lets you retract and hide the camera when it is not in use to ensure your privacy.
Plenty of Ports and Storage Options
The OptiPlex 7770 All-in-One has no shortage of ports. Conveniently located on the left edge are an SD-card slot, a headphone jack, and two USB 3.1 ports, of both kinds: an older Type-A (shown below with a wireless dongle inserted), and a newer, smaller Type-C that supports 10Gbps USB 3.1 Gen 2.
On the back panel, you’ll find both DisplayPort and HDMI ports, four USB 3.1 ports (all of them Type-A), an Ethernet jack, an audio-out jack, and the power connection.
The system offers tool-less entry, but you need to remove the stand first. Once you do, you can press a tab on the back panel that lets you easily slide off the back cover.
Dell offers a mixture of storage options for the OptiPlex 7770 All-in-One, including traditional 2.5-inch hard drives (from 500GB to 2TB) and M.2 SSDs (ranging from 128GB to 1TB). Dell also offers dual-drive arrangements with a full boot-drive SSD in the M.2 slot paired with a discrete mass-storage hard drive. Our test system features a 512GB M.2 SSD (of the PCI Express/NVMe variety) and has a free 2.5-inch internal drive bay.
Our test system also features an ample 16GB of memory, which helped it speed through our benchmarks and various casual multitasking scenarios without freezing or lagging. The cooling fan kicked in only during intensive graphics tasks; outside of media editing and 3D games, the system operated in utter silence.
Windows 10 Pro comes standard, as does a wireless keyboard-and-mouse combo, a basic, compact set pictured above. Dell backs the system with a three-year warranty, with onsite service offered after the Dell support team has tried a remote diagnosis.
Testing the 7770: A Tale of Hyper-Threading
As mentioned earlier, the OptiPlex 7770 All-in-One can be configured with one of a host of 9th Generation Intel Core CPUs. They range from the Core i3-9100 to the mighty, eight-core/16-thread Core i9-9900.
Our test system features the Intel Core i7-9700, an eight-core chip with a base frequency of 3GHz and a turbo frequency of 4.7GHz. (Crucial to note: Unlike the Core i9, the Core i7 in this generation does not support thread-doubling Hyper-Threading, a departure from many earlier generations of Core i7 desktop CPUs.) Intel’s UHD 630 integrated graphics come standard (as part of the CPU), but Dell offers a lone upgrade option in the form of a 4GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 graphics chip. While it offers a clear boost over integrated Intel graphics, the GTX 1050 is an entry-level graphics processor in Nvidia’s lineup that was released way back in 2016. It’s disappointing that Dell didn’t update the GPU offering with the GTX 1050’s replacement, the GeForce GTX 1650 released earlier this year. (At the link is a review of a discrete desktop version of the GTX 1650.)
We compared the Dell OptiPlex 7770 to three other Windows-based all-in-ones: the Lenovo IdeaCentre Yoga A940 and Acer Aspire Z 24, which feature 8th Generation Core i7 desktop CPUs, and the Microsoft Surface Studio 2 mentioned earlier, with its 7th Generation Core i7 mobile-grade chip. Here are the component rudiments of all the PCs involved…
The Aspire Z 24 relies on integrated graphics, but the IdeaCentre Yoga A940 and Surface Studio 2 feature dedicated graphics chips. Rounding out the charts is the 27-inch Apple iMac, which in PC Labs’ test model featured the 9th Generation Core i9-9900K CPU and AMD Radeon Pro graphics. The iMac, it should be noted, is incompatible with many of our Windows benchmarks but a useful comparison for our multimedia tests.
Productivity, Storage & Media Tests
PCMark 10 (Productivity Test) & PCMark 8 (Storage Test)
PCMark 10 and 8 are holistic performance suites developed by the PC benchmark specialists at UL (formerly Futuremark). The PCMark 10 test we run simulates different real-world productivity and content-creation workflows. We use it to assess overall system performance for office-centric tasks such as word processing, spreadsheet work, web browsing, and videoconferencing. The test generates a proprietary numeric score; higher numbers are better.
PCMark 8, meanwhile, has a Storage subtest that we use to assess the speed of the boot drive. This score is also a proprietary numeric score; again, higher numbers are better.
The OptiPlex 7770 failed to take advantage of its new CPU and finished behind the IdeaCentre Yoga A940 and Surface Studio 2 on PCMark 10, a somewhat disappointing result given its generational CPU edge. (This will recur even more clearly in the next test.) The systems with SSDs finished the PCMark 8 Storage test with similar scores all well ahead of the Aspire Z 24’s result, showing the speed edge any SSD enjoys over a traditional hard drive.
Next is Maxon’s CPU-crunching Cinebench R15 test, which is fully threaded to make use of all available processor cores and threads. Cinebench stresses the CPU rather than the GPU to render a complex image. The result is a proprietary score indicating a PC’s suitability for processor-intensive workloads.
No surprise: There was no catching the Apple iMac and its powerful Core i9 chip that boasts eight cores and 16 threads. The OptiPlex also finished behind the IdeaCentre Yoga A940, which features an older six-core chip but one that supports Hyper-Threading to allow for concurrent processing of 12 threads. As noted above, the OptiPlex 7770’s Core i7-9700 has eight cores but supports only eight concurrent threads, which has an effect in highly threaded applications like this.
Cinebench is often a good predictor of our Handbrake video-editing trial, another tough, threaded workout that’s highly CPU-dependent and scales well with cores and threads. In it, we put a stopwatch on test systems as they transcode a standard 12-minute clip of 4K video (the open source Blender demo movie Tears of Steel) to a 1080p MP4 file. It’s a timed test, and lower results are better.
The OptiPlex 7770 did well on Handbrake, finishing behind only the Apple iMac, which has both CPU and GPU advantages.
We also run a custom Adobe Photoshop image-editing benchmark. Using an early 2018 release of the Creative Cloud version of Photoshop, we apply a series of 10 complex filters and effects to a standard JPEG test image. We time each operation and, at the end, add up the total execution time. As with Handbrake, lower times are better here. The Photoshop test stresses CPU, storage subsystem, and RAM, but it can also take advantage of most GPUs to speed up the process of applying filters, so PCs with powerful graphics chips or cards may see a boost.
The OptiPlex 7770 flexed its muscles on Photoshop, bumping the Apple iMac from its top perch, an unexpected result given the iMac’s more powerful components. Still, we can’t help but think what it could do with GeForce GTX 1650 graphics on board.
3DMark Sky Diver & Fire Strike
3DMark measures relative graphics muscle by rendering sequences of highly detailed, gaming-style 3D graphics that emphasize particles and lighting. We run two different 3DMark subtests, Sky Diver and Fire Strike, which are suited to different types of systems. Both are DirectX 11 benchmarks, but Sky Diver is more suited to laptops and midrange PCs, while Fire Strike is more demanding and made for high-end PCs to strut their stuff. The results are proprietary scores.
The OptiPlex 7770 performed admirably on our 3DMark benchmarks, trailing only the Surface Studio 2, which also features a last-generation, but much more powerful, GPU, the GeForce GTX 1070. It’s from the same era as the GTX 1050, but it offers double the video RAM at 8GB and is three ticks up the GeForce stack of its time.
Next up is another synthetic graphics test, this time from Unigine Corp. Like 3DMark, the Superposition test renders and pans through a detailed 3D scene and measures how the system copes. In this case, it’s rendered in the company’s eponymous Unigine engine, offering a different 3D workload scenario than 3DMark and a second opinion on the machine’s graphical prowess.
As with the 3DMark tests, the OptiPlex 7770 finished second to the Surface Studio 2. It posted frame rates that indicate the system is capable of playing some games if you keep the resolution and quality settings in check. That said, this is a decidedly business-minded PC, and the main reason for a dedicated GPU in an AIO is for GPU-accelerated creative and professional applications that are not games.
Muscle and Flex, But Graphics That Perplex
Dell’s OptiPlex 7770 All-in-One is not the sleekest or prettiest AIO desktop on the market. But business users will enjoy the screen real estate afforded by the roomy display (and the virtual desktop space afforded by a 4K native resolution), as well as the compact design, flexible stand, and speedy performance. And budget managers will enjoy the ROI provided by 9th Generation Intel silicon, as well as the standard three-year onsite warranty included in the pricing of our tester.
Given that this configuration’s price is north of $2,000, however, the aging GeForce graphics looks like a bit of an anomaly. We have no reservations recommending the OptiPlex 7770 in its cheaper integrated graphics configurations to offices looking for a space-saving productivity machine. But it’s a weaker recommendation to creative departments that can get better graphics elsewhere—not to mention an even higher-resolution display, if that’s a key aspect to their AIO buy.