Dell's OptiPlex 7070 Ultra fully modular all-in-one can declutter your desk

The problem with all-in-one PCs like iMacs is that monitors have a longer shelf life than computers. Dell's new offering bridges the gap in a creative way.

A look inside Dell's new extreme testing lab The single goal at Dell's rugged testing lab in Austin, Texas is to figure out how to break PCs, laptops and tablets.

The all-in-one PC has always been a source of compromise—while monitors are naturally more long-lived products, processor technology has typically advanced far faster, prompting the need to continue using a computer that struggles more and more each year to keep up with increasingly demanding software, or unnecessarily creating e-waste as perfectly good monitors are discarded due to a full PC worth of internals being bolted on.

On Tuesday, Dell announced a business-focused solution to the all-in-one PC dilemma: The OptiPlex 7070 Ultra, which separates the computer from the monitor. The compute core is packaged as a swappable block that sits inside the monitor stand, and connects to the monitor using a USB-C cable. 

SEE: How to choose between Windows, macOS, and Linux (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

Certainly, SFF PCs that mount to the back of a monitor are not new, though Dell's new offering is completely different—as an integrated solution, it does not come with the tangle of cables or VESA mount plate necessary to make that approach work. Dell touts this design as "zero-footprint."

While it is not quite possible to cram a dedicated GPU in the relatively svelte compute component footprint of the OptiPlex 7070 Ultra, the internals are decently powerful. For a quick comparison, they are competitive with Intel's 8th generation Next Unit of Computing (NUC) SFF PCs. 

The OptiPlex 7070 Ultra is configurable with up to an Intel Core i7-8665U (quad-core, 1.9 GHz base / 4.8 GHz turbo), up to 64 GB DDR4 2400 RAM, and either two 2.5" hard drives, or one 2.5" hard drive, and one M.2 22030 SSD. It comes with one Gigabit Ethernet port, and a total of five USB ports, including two USB-C, one of which is used for power. It can be ordered with Windows 10 or Ubuntu Linux.

Dell indicates that the OptiPlex 7070 Ultra "will be available on September 24 with an average
price of $749."

For more, check out TechRepublic's review of the Dell Latitude 7400 2-in-1, and "How to follow a rolling IT budget: 5 tips." 

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Dell Optiplex 7070 Ultra desktop shown with P2419HC monitor.

Image: Dell