Speedy AMD Ryzen CPU. Gorgeous 27-inch InfinityEdge display. Loud stereo speakers.
No touch screen option. Enormous power brick.
- Bottom Line
Thanks to an incredible 4K display and a speedy AMD Ryzen processor, the Dell Inspiron 27 7000 All-in-One is a worthy—perhaps even a superior—alternative to Apple's iMac.
Few all-in-one PCs rival the impeccable styling of the Apple iMac, but the Dell Inspiron 27 7000 All-in-One (starts at $999; $1,799 as tested) comes close. Its star attraction is a 27-inch InfinityEdge 4K display, with bezels that are so thin that the pixels seem to drip off the edge of the computer and extend forever, as the name suggests. Beneath the hood, this is one of Dell's first high-end consumer PCs available exclusively with AMD's new Ryzen processors and Radeon graphics cards. Their performance is comparable to their Intel counterparts in the 27-inch iMac. That performance, along with a gorgeous display, make the Dell an excellent—even superior—alternative to the iMac, although it's not quite as impressive as the XPS 27, our Editors' Choice for high-end all-in-ones.
A Very Attractive All-In-One
Dell has been making good looking all-in-ones for several years, and has recently upped its game with the XPS 27 and its workstation equivalent, the Precision 5720. These machines each have an array of 10 speakers and glossy 4K touch-enabled displays that make them stand out among their handful of high-end all-in-one competitors, from the Microsoft Surface Studio to the 27-inch Apple iMac. The Inspiron 27 7000's appearance is comparatively more staid, though. In fact, it's most notable for what it lacks: a large bezel.
The 4K (3,840-by-2,160) display on our review unit has enough pixels to comfortably accommodate two app windows with room to spare, but it's not a touch panel, nor does it have a glossy finish that makes blacks deeper and colors more vivid. The silver lining is that the matte finish significantly reduces glare from ambient light in the room, and thanks to the wide viewing angles afforded by in-plane switching (IPS) technology, the Inspiron 27 7000 makes a great kitchen computer. Its 350 nits of brightness are plenty for a matte screen; turned up to 100 percent, it appears similar in a casual comparison via naked eye with the glossy screen of the 15-inch MacBook Pro, which sports 500 nits of brightness.
There are two very large caveats to the Inspiron 27 7000's suitability as a kitchen computer, however. At $1,800, it is extraordinarily expensive for a machine that will mostly display the family calendar and occasionally serve as a Skype platform, and the immense power needs of the Radeon RX 580 graphics card necessitate a giant, awkward 330-watt AC adapter. The adapter is truly enormous—it's what you might expect from a gaming laptop with a top-of-the-line Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 GPU, for instance. You'll need to find a place to hide the square black plastic monstrosity, since you certainly won't want it taking up counter space in a public area of your house.
The power-thirstiness of the RX 580 is one of its main drawbacks compared with the equivalent card from Nvidia, a GTX 1060. Fulfilling those requirements is necessary if you plan to use the Inspiron 27 7000 for gaming, but if you don't and space is scarce where you plan to install it, you can configure the PC with a less-powerful and less-power-hungry RX 560, which comes with a more manageable 180-watt AC adapter. (The RX 580 alone requires up to 185 watts of power).
The reason that AC adapters are needed at all is because the Inspiron 27 7000 itself has no internal power supply, making it extraordinarily thin and light for a 27-inch all-in-one PC. It measures just 15.5 by 24.2 by 2.1 inches (HWD) and weighs 22 pounds. The 27-inch iMac, in comparison, is a full 5 inches taller and more than an inch wider, although it weighs about the same (21 pounds). Both are mere feathers compared with the 37-pound XPS 27, which is weighed down by both an internal power supply and its generous speaker complement. Speaking of which, the stereo speakers and 5W subwoofer on the Inspiron 27 7000 deliver remarkable power at full volume, certainly enough to fill the entire first floor of an average-sized house, although they cannot compare with the exquisite highs and earth-shattering bass of the XPS 27's 10 speakers.
Since the Inspiron 27 7000 has no touch screen, it comes with a fixed-height base that allows only tilt adjustments—you can't raise or lower the PC, nor can you orient it completely horizontally. The unsophisticated stand is less of a drawback in itself than it is a reflection of the fact that the Inspiron 27 7000 is not touch-enabled, another downside compared with the XPS 27. That means you'll be interacting with Windows 10 using a plain old keyboard and mouse. The wireless models on my review unit are stylish and comfortable—I particularly admire the mouse's boomerang design.
Like most high-end PCs released in 2017, the Inspiron 27 7000's webcam has built-in IR sensors that let you use it to log in to Windows via face recognition. It's an especially useful feature for a family PC that's likely to have multiple user accounts, and the process works well on my review unit despite the awkward placement of the camera below—instead of above—the screen. The thin bezels of the InfinityEdge display leave no room for a traditionally placed camera, so be prepared to crouch down slightly when you're Skyping with your relatives. At least the camera's centered; Dell laptops with InfinityEdge displays, like the XPS 13, have webcams in the lower left-hand corner, which means they mainly get a view of your left knuckles typing on the keyboard.
Since this is a Dell, there's a wide range of component options. Memory starts at 8GB and tops out at 32GB. Hard drive options include 1TB spinning drives (at either 5,400RPM or 7,200RPM) or dual configurations with either 128GB or 256GB of solid-state storage along with the 1TB spinning drive. My review unit is handsomely equipped with 16GB of memory and the 256GB dual-drive configuration. It's definitely worth springing for this storage configuration if you want to future-proof your PC, since it is the only one that includes the faster NVMe SSD interface, resulting in noticeably faster app loading and system startup times. You don't have to worry about future-proofing this system as much as you would with a comparable iMac, however, since Dell has thoughtfully included a back cover that is user-removable, allowing you to access the drives and memory. The iMac can't be opened—you've got to stick with the components it came with.
The input/output ports are located in three spots on the Inspiron 27 7000. At the easily accessible lower left edge, you'll find an SD card reader, a USB 3.1 port, and a headphone jack. Around back, but equally accessible, are HDMI input and output connectors in case you want to connect a laptop to the gorgeous display, as well as three more USB 3.1 ports, a USB 3.1 Type C port, and two USB 2.0 ports, one of which will be occupied by the dongle for the wireless keyboard and mouse. Tucked away in a hard-to-reach spot behind the stand are an audio out port, a gigabit Ethernet connector, and the power port. These cables are designed to pass through a hole cut into the stand, since you won't be plugging them in or unplugging them frequently.
You probably won't be plugging in an Ethernet cord at all, actually, thanks to dual-band 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.1. The system also comes with a basic one-year warranty, and Dell offers several tiers of optional premium support plans.
Because the Inspiron 27 7000 is powered by an AMD Ryzen 7 1700 processor, its performance is told in two very different parts. We'll start with the first, which is how the system measures up on our theoretical benchmark tests. The Ryzen series of processors are new this year, intended to get AMD back into the mainstream processor market, perhaps on an equal footing with Intel, which has been the provider of choice for consumer PCs for the better part of the last decade. The particular Ryzen CPU in the Inspiron 27 7000 has eight cores and runs at 3GHz—impressive, especially when you compare it with its chief competition, the four-core Intel Core i7-7700K. All those cores result in markedly faster performance when it comes to specialized tasks like video transcoding and 3D rendering.
The Inspiron 27 7000 finished our Handbrake video-transcoding test in just 40 seconds, lightning-quick compared with similar machines like the iMac and the HP Envy 34 Curved All-in-One, each of which took more than a minute to complete the same task. The same is true of the Cinebench 3D rendering simulation, on which the Inspiron 27 7000 scored 1,396, nearly twice the score of the next-highest HP Envy (714). But the general-purpose PCMark 8 test, which measures web browsing, word processing, and other common tasks, tells a different tale. The Inspiron 27 7000 scored lower on this test (2,948) than both the Dell Optiplex 7450 All-in-One (3,059, with a Core i5) and the HP Envy (3,415, with a Core i7). In other words, the Ryzen is great for multimedia content creators, but merely average when it comes to everyday performance. For an in-depth look at this CPU's strength's and weaknesses, check out the AMD Ryzen 7 1700 review at our sister site, Computer Shopper.
The second part of the Inspiron 27 7000's performance story is how it performs under real-world conditions. Over the course of a full workday, with a dozen or more browser tabs open, frequently streaming videos or music while typing in Google Docs or Microsoft Office at the same time, I never once noticed the system freeze or hesitate. Of course, you should expect this kind of flawless performance on common tasks from a $1,800 computer. The upshot is that the Ryzen processor gives the Inspiron 27 7000 a clear advantage when it comes to multimedia content creation, but most consumers who buy this system won't notice a difference in performance compared with the iMac, the HP Envy, or the XPS 27.
Since this is not a gaming PC, I'll simply add a footnote to the performance story to say that its Radeon RX 580 graphics card makes it a great choice for casual gamers who aren't interested in an ostentatious gaming rig. It aced all of our gaming benchmarks, posting frame rates around 60 frames per second on our Heaven and Valley game simulations at maximum quality and full HD (1080p resolution), markedly better than the results posted by its competition, which sport lesser Radeon cards. One caveat: frame rates around 15fps at 4K resolution indicate that it's not great for 4K gaming—you'll need an Nvidia GTX 1080 or Radeon RX Vega 64 for that.
An Excellent AIO
The Dell Inspiron 27 7000 is not as flashy or as feature-rich as its big brother, the XPS 27, but it nevertheless offers a compelling set of features at a much lower price. Through no coincidence, that price happens to be the same one at which Apple is offering the 27-inch iMac. As a general-purpose PC, the Inspiron meets or exceeds the iMac's computing performance, and it is much better at gaming, as long as you stay away from 4K. If you're willing to spend $1,800 on a kitchen computer, or you can make use of the Ryzen processor's multimedia editing chops, the Inspiron 27 7000 is a clear winner over the iMac.
As a hardware analyst, Tom tests and reviews laptops, peripherals, and much more at PC Labs in New York City. He previously covered the consumer tech beat as a news reporter for PCMag in San Francisco and Silicon Valley, where he rode in several self-driving cars and witnessed the rise and fall of many startups. Before that, he worked for PCMag's sister site, Computer Shopper, where he occasionally dunked waterproof hard drives in glasses of water. In his spare time, he's written on topics as… More »
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