I never particularly liked all-in-ones (AIO). So, when Dell politely asked me to review the Dell Inspiron 27 7000 I gritted my teeth; swore silently under my breath; “Not another bloody Windows 10 computer”; and said sweetly “Sure, send it over.”
It sat on my test bench, every ready for the review and whatever I grudgingly said about it. Finally, I could procrastinate no longer. Guess what – I liked it, really liked it. My, how far all-in-ones have come since my last experience.
To be fair Dell sent me its $2798.99 flagship model. Intel 8th Core i7-8700T CPU, 16GB DDR4 RAM, 27” FHD Touch display, 1TB HDD and 256GB SSD, and Nvidia GeForce GTX1050 graphics. This should be a screamer after all the low power Intel CPUs I have tested in laptops.
But then its Core i5-8400T version at $1999 is no slouch either.
Pedestal stand (optional articulating stand to lay flat)
Power brick 19.5V/9.23A (180W)
Dell KM636 Wireless keyboard and mouse (uses USB receiver)
The first impression
It comes in a big box weighing a tad over 13kg. The box is like those TV cartons with four removable plugs at the base, and the outer cover slips off. Now you think a seasoned reviewer like me would spot that! Must avoid at all costs the temptation to slice open the top!
The stand slips in and voila. Here is a lovely, 27” flat, matte, touch screen, not any thicker than a typical backlit LED/LCD monitor. Dell has done a great job packaging it all up into a unit barely 58m thin and overall 200mm deep with the stand.
It is perfect for narrow 600mm desks. For two reasons. First it does not take up a lot of space, and second, you can sit close enough to make use of the 10-point touch screen.
The screen has a 40mm wide honeycomb speaker bar along the bottom – it looks good.
It is a typical Windows 10 setup.
Mute the annoyingly helpful Cortana
Disable all Microsoft’s anti-privacy features
Log in with a Microsoft account (or create one or skip this step)
Suffer interminable amounts of time during Windows Update (took around two hours)
Experience Dells’ nagging to register
Run Dell Digital Update for the latest firmware (not part of Windows Update)
Then grin and ignore Dell’s bundled software. McAfee will protests that you need to subscribe because there are millions of nasties out there. Dropbox wants to give you 20GB free storage for a year …
To be fair, there is not too much bloatware, and you can easily remove it from Programs and Features.
But the entire process took around 2.5 hours and more than 4GB downloads over an NBN 50 line.
You can also install Ubuntu Linux if you wish.
The screen – 27” touch with a nice matte finish
It is a 1920 x 1080, AG Narrow Border, AIT Infinity Touch Display with Wide Viewing Angle IPS. Don’t ask me what AG or AIT is – they are probably marketing terms. OK, now you have me interested.
As best I can tell Ag is the periodic table element for silver and indeed there is a narrow, black (not silver) 4mm bezel around the screen. AIT stands for advanced in-cell touch meaning the touch digitiser is part of the screen enabling thinner screens and a narrower bezel.
The screen runs off the embedded Intel UHD Graphics 630 with shared system/graphics memory. It is no slouch, but the Nvidia GeForce GTX1050 4GB GDDR5 card seems wasted – why is it there?
The answer is that it has dedicated external HDMI ports – one out and one in – for external monitors. And it kicks in when a compatible application demands more graphics power. That could well be games or graphics rendering.
I like the non-reflective coating as it minimises fingerprints. Viewing angle is +/-89°. There is a hint of IPS glow from the bottom edge-lit otherwise colours are even.
Our measurements were 270nits peak brightness; 540:1 contrast; 86% sRGB, 75% Adobe RGB and 71% DCI-P3. This fine for general office and home use.
Designers and photo editors would need to use a colour calibrated external screen running off the GTX1050. You can run up to a 4K screen off HDMI out.
We tried to run the 4K over USB-C to an HDMI adaptor, but it did not work. Strangely a USB-A to 4K DisplayPort adaptor did work but at a reduced resolution.
As for HDMI in we set up a Windows Surface Book with miniDP out but while it found a second screen (the Dell), it did not display. We are investigating further.
Meanwhile, you can Miracast to the screen from any Windows 10 PC or Android phone if it is on the same network.
It has an Intel 8th generation i7-8700T specifically for all-in-ones where thermal management is an issue. Core speed is from 2.4GHHz to 4GHz within a 25-35W TDP envelope. It also supports Intel Optane memory and SSD as well as PCIe NVME 3.0 x 4 lane SSD.
User Benchmarks call it an Aircraft Carrier as a consumer desktop and a gunboat as a workstation. It is not complimentary about the embedded graphics calling it a Surfboard (just above a tree trunk). OK, the embedded graphics are not a gamers dream – the Nvidia GeForce may be better there.
PassMark rates the processor at 12,485. The same processor with a 65W TDP (K version) rates 15,189. The i5-8400T version rates at 9,630.
These are way above similar U laptop versions – nice grunt.
PassMark rates the GTX1050 at 4,596. By comparison a GTX 1060/1070/1080 rate 8987/11186/12310.
Disk speeds are predictably slower due to the SATA/600 interface. PCIe NVMe 3.0×4-lane SSD can be fitted to order, and these would be a minimum of 3000/1500 sequential read/write. Intel Optane memory PCIe NVMe 3.0 x2 lane can be fitted to the SSD slot. The Hard disk interface remains STA 600.
During performance tests (full load) there was a slight fan noise, but overall running it for a day, it was imperceptible at most times.
The memory card reader supports SDXC cards.
Having said that with this much CPU grunt why pay for storage speed you don’t need?
A great thing about Dell is the online service manual that shows how to replace memory, hard disk, SSD and more. This is ultimately repairable and a keeper.
Wi-Fi uses the Qualcomm QCA64x4a which is a great Wi-Fi and Bluetooth module.
It is dual band, 2 x 2 multi-user, MU-MIMO, Wave 2 and maintains signal strength. At two metres from our D-Link AC5300 router, it achieved 867Mbps. We did not try distance tests (just a little heavy to move).
The pop-up camera helps maintains the svelte lines. It has a 2MP, RGB, 88° FOV camera capable of [email protected] and a .3MP Infrared for Windows Hello login. It will do video at [email protected]
Let’s just say that that they are fit for purpose as Skype and log-in devices. Windows Hello was quick even in lower light.
The four array mics are in the bottom strip and have settings for quite room, loud office, private call, outdoor, living room and recording studio. These adjust the noise cancelling characteristics to give a clearer voice.
The two 5W stereo speakers are impressive. The Realtek ALC3289-CG codec and Waves MaxxAudio Pro produced a maximum volume of 82dB and sound quality (low distortion) was good. It filled a typical bedroom and then some.
There are hints of bass from 80Hz then is a relatively flat (good) response right through to about 10kHz with a gentle fall off at 15kHz. That is impressive – perhaps I have been reviewing notebooks with miniscule speakers for too long.
Keyboard and mouse
Included is a Dell KM636 Wireless keyboard and mouse (uses USB receiver) that sells for $54. As far as keyboard and mice go, it is adequate. Batteries last about 12 months. Keys are angled up about 10° (not adjustable).
The keyboard has a 2mm throw and 50g actuation force. Keycaps are 15mm square and 4mm apart. In typing tests, it was surprisingly good at 80wpm and 85% accuracy. Part of the reason was that the arrow keys are placed under the home key block instead of cramped under the Enter/shift keys.
The mouse has average accuracy, but it will work on painted or laminate surfaces. I would buy a mechanical keyboard and a higher res mouse once this one wears out.
GadgetGuy’s take. The Dell Inspiron 27 7000 is very good – for an all-in-one
OK, my dislike for all-in-ones is wavering. The only real trade-off is expandability and buying what you want, e.g. screen size, keyboard, mouse, hard disk etc. But then Dell also sell desktops towers, and you can customise as you wish.
I was a little disappointed that it did not have Thunderbolt 3. But hey that is my petrol head speaking again. USB-C is fine for external hard disks and more.
Overall it is something I could own, use for a few years and palm off on the wife.
All-in-one compact design is good for smaller desks and spaces
Speakers are remarkably good for both sound quality and volume
The screen is fine for office and entertainment use. Default colours are accurate
The GeForce 1050 improves gaming scores but its not the right GPU for serious gamers
Very well made
1-year in-home warranty with lots of warranty options
I am not sure the average user would benefit from the i7 and GeForce 1050. I think the sweet spot is i5, 8GB/1TB for $1999.
Unable to get the HDMI input working to use it as a second screen
Unable to run the second screen from USB-C port (that could have been the screen expecting Thunderbolt 3 input)
Would have loved a Thunderbolt 3 port but it is no deal breaker
It is the first All-in-one I have done for a long time. The rating is on the total package suitable for Joe and Jane Average, e.g. home and student use. In that case, the i5 is a better buy only because you will probably never use the extra CPU or GPU power.
Overall: 4.5 out of 5
Features: 4.5 out of 5 – Thunderbolt 3 port would have nailed it
Value for money: 4 out of 5 – We don’t comment on price, but it is fair value
Performance: 4.5 out of 5 – It will do all you need for office productivity and way more
Ease of Use: 5 out of 5 – It is Windows 10 – enough said
Design: 4.5 out of 5 – I like the style – quietly elegant