DNA Review: The Dell OptiPlex 7070 Ultra is the flexible, space-saving desktop that’s great for offices – and for the home
By Tan Jee Yee July 22, 2020
- Pros: Lots of flexibility, easily assembled, saves space, supports third-party displays
- Cons: No GPU
My review of the Dell OptiPlex 7070, Dell’s space-saving, more modular answer to office All-in-One PCs, was practically done and dusted. I had written down my points, mostly pertaining to how solid it is as an office desktop. I was ready to hit send and call it a day.
And then the Covid-19 pandemic hit.
Malaysia went into its movement control order (MCO), and like everyone else, I had to shift my work entirely to my study, where it’s considerably more cluttered and cramped. The partial lockdown meant that the OptiPlex 7070 Ultra had to stay with me for a longer period than expected, so I thought I should set it up for use.
This review more closely reflects my experience of using it as a home computer. I’ve decided to write it as such, because we’re currently at the threshold of the Covid-19 New Normal, where the idea of working from home is a lot more attractive, if not important. Would something that is primarily designed for workplaces make sense in a home environment?
For the OptiPlex 7070 Ultra, I’m surprised to say that it does.
The modular experience
Allow me to start from the beginning. The Dell OptiPlex 7070 Ultra is desktop computer that does away with the traditional computer tower. Rather, the computing unit sits at the neck of the Dell P2419 HC monitor that comes with it, which makes it sort of an All-in-One PC.
The ingenuity here, however, comes in the form of its design. The OptiPlex 7070 Ultra’s components are squeezed into a small, slim computer module about the size of a large chocolate bar. The module is made to fit inside the monitor’s stand, but it can be removed if required.
Fitting the components into such a tiny module is an engineering feat on its own right. What it does is trim out a lot of excess bulk when it comes to desktop PCs. Sure, it’s no replacement for a laptop when it comes to working on limited space, but what the OptiPlex 7070 Ultra offers is being able to have a large, 27-inch monitor as your screen estate without worrying about space for a desktop tower.
This is the kind of space-saving that All-in-One PCs offer, certainly. The modular module, however, adds a lot more flexibility than the typical desktop. In an office environment, this would allow the IT department to more easily check and upgrade the units without having to cart a large tower across the building. They can also just swap in another unit easily.
For home users, the flexibility means that it’s much easier and cheaper to swap out or change individual parts, whether it’s the display, stand or computer itself. This is something not afforded to other All-in-One PCs, where a single broken component requires the entire machine to be carted off to a service centre.
It also helps that the OptiPlex 7070 Ultra is extremely easy to assemble. You don’t even require any tools, as the PC module fits easily into a plastic casing that is then slotted into the monitor stand, clicking in place with a firm push.
Trying to fit the cables into the back of the stand isn’t particularly difficult either, and all in all the entire setup makes cable management much more convenient – a boon for overcrowded home desks like mine.
The PC module itself comes with an array of ports, including two USB-A, USB-C and Ethernet (pic, left), which you will have to hook up to first before shutting it inside the stand. Fret not: the stand is nicely designed so that you can easily access some of the other ports on the module, namely a headphone jack, USB-C and USB-A.
The whole setup also includes a keyboard and mouse combo, which is functional if not unremarkable. I ended up connecting it to my gaming keyboard and mouse instead, purely out of preference, which I easily hooked up to the more easily-accessible ports.
It’s worth noting that users can opt to just get the stand and the PC module, and utilise their own displays so long it supports a VESA mount. I didn’t give this an attempt, as the Dell P2419 HC display that my review unit came is well suited for my day-to-day work of writing, internet surfing and the occasional trip to Netflix. It’s a solid display, but those wanting something with, say, more colour accuracy for design work, they have the option of looking at third-party offerings.
As for the specifications of the PC module, there are different configurations that customers can opt for. The unit I got to use features an Intel Core i5-8365U processor, 8GB of RAM and 250GB of SSD storage.
It’s definitely good enough for office use, and it’s also well capable of handling HD and 4K video playback. Essentially, it’s perfect for office work. However, the small module can’t contain any graphic processing units, so the device can’t work for gaming or other graphics-intensive processes.
This is the only unfortunate thing for a computer that offers unprecedented levels of flexibility. It won’t replace or compete against the iMac, and there are other All-in-Ones featuring superior graphical prowess. This makes the OptiPlex 7070 Ultra a strictly-for-work machine.
But that’s not a bad thing. You still won’t find a desktop computer with quite the level of flexibility, and the benefits it brings to IT departments when it comes to maintenance and upgrades.
It’s also a computer that shines at home. The ease of setting it up and the amount of space it saves makes it a worthwhile consideration for those working in cramped spaces but require something with more screen estate than a laptop.
As working from home becomes increasingly more appealing to both employers and employees, I see growing appeal to the OptiPlex 7070 Ultra, too.