Dell OptiPlex 7040 review – mini business configuration with great capabilities

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Pros
  • Sturdy and stable construction
  • Easy maintenance
  • Compact dimensions
  • Software and hardware safety
Cons
  • Lack of a Wi-Fi module
  • Lack of an SD card reader (in our configuration)

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Throughout the last couple of months we had the chance to test some of the best desktop components currently out there – GeForce GTX 1070 and GTX 1080. Of course, we should also mention the In Win 904 Black computer case and Crucial’s RAM modules, all of which we like to refer to as “heavy hardware”. Today, however, we would like to address the users who are after security and quality that can be found in Dell OptiPlex 7040 MT (Mini Tower).

The American company is mostly famous for its business products – both mobile and desktop ones. Of course, we should not forget Alienware, a daughter company which offers an separate product line of gaming machines. OptiPlex, on the other hand, is a series characterized mainly by compact dimensions and wide variety of processors, offering really high computing performance. Depending on the configuration, you can find models with Pentium or Core i7 chips.

Before continuing with the review itself we would like to mention the components part of this configuration. We are dealing with an Intel Core i5-6500, Intel Graphics 530, 4GB DDR4 RAM, and 500GB HDD – all a business machine needs. Naturally, we shall discuss the potential upgrade options, in case you are planning to increase the system’s performance.

What’s in the box?

We would like to make this clear from the start – OptiPlex 7040 is a really compact case. Despite this, its package is of the standard size and we can’t say that it’s among the lightest, considering the configuration itself. Opening the upper part, you will find another box containing all the necessary accessories – a user’s manual, mouse and keyboard – there is no disc with drivers.

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Once you get it out of the way, you will see OptiPlex 7040 fixed between two styrofoam pieces, holding the case at one place and protecting it from potential damage.

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Design and construction

Dell OptiPlex 7040 is offered in two models – one smaller and one bigger. The former is 29 cm х 29.2 cm х 9.26 cm, and the later – 35 cm х 15.4 cm х 27.4 cm. As you can tell, the two versions of this series are compact and occupy a small fraction of your desk or office. Despite this, we can’t say that the system is lightweight for this size – only the side cover weighs 721 grams but it does not give in when pressure is applied to it (be it light or heavy pressure) which means that the build quality is very high.

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Additionally, the front adopts a grill design language – a net of rhombi which really makes up for intriguing looks but also makes it impossible for you to look at your configuration unless you tilt your head to one side. Also, the lower right corner carries a sticker confirming that Dell OptiPlex 7040 features an Intel Core i5 processor.

We can’t overlook the American company’s logo and the “Dell OptiPlex 7040” inscription which is placed next to the Power button in the upper part. It is namely thanks to the inscription placement that you can differentiate between the two model modifications – in the smaller version it is exactly next to whereas in our version there is some space between them. On the front you will also find two USB 2.0 and two USB 3.0 ports, an optical drive as well as a headphones jack. The model features an SD card reader although our configuration does not have one.

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You would not be surprised if we told you that the side covers don’t offer any additional elements, aggressive looks, vents for additional cooling, etc. After all this is a business and not a gaming model. Extravagant looks is not a priority here.

One thing, however, attracts one’s eye and we are sure that many users will like it – on the right hand side there are rubber feet. This means that Dell OptiPlex 7040 can be placed both vertically and horizontally. The latter will allow you to place your monitor on top – a way of ordering your devices that was popular in the not so distant past. Also, the bottom holds another four rubber feet that keep the model in one place. It is there that you also find the service sticker with information about the configuration’s place of origin, service number, PSU info, etc.

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The only fan that is installed in our system was in the back. Its screws were covered with small rubber pieces which means that if you want to remove it this will more or less ruin the appearance of Dell OptiPlex 7040. Right next to it you can find the I/O panel. It has another audio jack, placed at the top. Under it there are two Display Ports, an HDMI and Serial port which means that you can easily connect three monitors to the motherboard if your configuration does not happen to have a discrete graphics card.

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In addition to the four front ports the engineers have added four USB 3.0 and two USB 2.0 ports. Of course, there are PS/2 outputs to which you can connect a keyboard and a mouse. Taking a look at the upper and lower sides, we find strange “openings” marked with a padlock symbol – you can literally lock your cover and thus protect your HDD from it being stolen and losing your personal data. Considering the fact that OptiPlex 7040 is targeted at business users, we are not surprised to see these extreme safety measures – it’s more than normal.

Disassembly and upgrade options

What really impressed us about Dell OptiPlex 7040 was its interior and the way in which the engineers have managed every single detail in the chassis or the configuration itself. As usual, we begin with the side cover which allows us to have a peek at the system’s internals. At first we were a bit at a loss as to how to open the case because there are no screws, and the ones on the other side were of the hex socket type. After that we realized that the blue switch next to the fan releases the cover from the chassis. After you push it down and slide the cover, you will have access to the components of Dell OptiPlex 7040.

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After you get the lid out of the way, you’ll notice the Detection switch which notifies you that the side cover has been removed and the components are exposed to potential threat – safety is always first. Another thing that made a really good impression on us was a plate that holds all smaller plates that are removed when you install a graphics card. They are not held by screws as it is the case with typical high-end computer cases but are more like the regular ones – once removed, the plates can’t be installed back. And it is namely for this reason that Dell has added the plate in question – it can be “opened” after you remove the side cover because its switch is on the inside of the case – in this way the original design can be preserved after an installation/uninstallation.

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The American company has managed to achieve a pretty tidy management – the SATA cables are held to a point on the chassis and their ends are quite near to the upper and lower parts of the case. In the upper section you will come across a 5.25-inch slot occupied by a 3.5-inch hard disc, which has been fixed to a tray made of plastic. Additionally, you can add an SSD or another 2.5-inch device in the lower section. According to the manufacturer, OptiPlex 7040 comes with an M.2 slot – unfortunately it was not to be found in our configuration.

Furthermore, the motherboard offers 4 RAM slots and four PCI slots, two of which are PCIe x16 (when you add a second GPU the second slot turns into a x4 mode). The other two can be used for the installation of a sound card or a PCI SSD. Additionally, the processor is being cooled by a box cooler and it is in the following lines that we shall find if its good enough to handle a 100% stress test.

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What surprised us here was the engraved metal which guides us in the detachment of the front lid, 3.5-inch HDD, installed beforehand, and how to add a 2.5-inch one if we so desire – not only is this useful (since we came across some “problems” in detaching the side cover) but it is also quite good-looking from a design perspective. In order to draw out the hard disc from the 5.25-inch slot, you need to remove the front part of OptiPlex 7040.

This is a relatively easy task – you simply need to pull toward yourselves the plastic ends holding the cover to the chassis. Thus you can gain access to the entire front part of the configuration. You will immediately notice the 5.25-inch slot because it’s marked with a thin metal plate which hides the hard disc. Once you remove it, you have to push the “5.25” Bay” switch and pull out the hard drive – make sure you have removed the SATA cables prior to this step.

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And so the last component to be found in the front part is the loudspeaker. Yes, Dell has included a small audio component which, we deem, is loud and clear enough – you do not have to buy speakers or other audio devices to enjoy your favorite songs during your coffee breaks. It is relatively small and is placed in the lower section – you can pull it out by pressing the side switches and sliding it towards yourselves – again, be careful with the cables.

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Specs sheet

OptiPlex_7040

CPU Intel Core i5-6500 (4-core, 3.20 – 3.60 GHz, 6MB cache)
Motherboard Dell
RAM
  • 4GB (1x 4096MB) – DDR4, 2133Mhz
  • Kingston 8GB 2Rx8 2133MHz
GPU Intel HD Graphics 530 (shared memory)
HDD/SSD 500GB HDD (7200 rpm)
Connectivity LAN 10/100/1000 Mbps
Features
  • 6x USB 3.0
  • 4x USB 2.0
  • audio jack – Line-out
  • 1x HDMI
  • 1x DisplayPort
  • RJ-45
  • free keyboard and mouse
Warranty Next Business Day
Weight 8.41 kg

Software

The American company offers a wide number of software applications which can be downloaded absolutely free of charge from Dell’s official website:
http://www.dell.com/support/home/us/en/4/product-support/product/optiplex-7040-desktop/drivers

Despite this we shall only take a look at two of them. We firmly believe that you should install them on your HDD or SSD because they provide key features for your system.

Dell Data Protection Endpoint Security Suit

As the name suggests, this is a software application which protects your computer. In the home screen you will see three submenus – “Encryption”, “Enrollments”, “Password Manager” and “Thread Protection” – each of them cares for a different kind of security for your system. The first submenu tracks your storage devices and informs you if they are protected.

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Enrollments, in its turn, adds an option for file protection via a password or fingerprint – the latter is available only if you have a device that reads fingerprints. If you do happen to have one, you can select the finger you want scanned, ensuring even a higher security level. Additionally, Password Manager allows you to add or alter your password if you consider that it’s not safe or you just want to be on the safe side. This last option notifies you of your security at the Web browsing, Malware and Fire Wall levels – in addition to the official drivers you can download the McAfee app, which is part of Intel Security and is free of charge.

Dell Audio

As it was mentioned earlier, we remained quite happy with the sound quality coming from the loudspeaker the American company has added. Well, the software side is also really decent and that’s why we include this in our review. The “Main” tab gives you information as regards the volume output as well as the opportunity to use Maxx Audio Pro for even better sound quality.

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Moving on, the second submenu allows you to adjust all settings the above software offers – the variety of options is great. Just as its the case with the headphones/loudspeaker sound, the microphone offers several options for better sound in case you have to make a phone call. The last submenu – Advanced – lets you restore all settings by pressing “Restore”, and this is accompanied by a couple of additional options which can be found in the last screenshot (above).

Processor

core-i5-vproIntel Core i5-6500 is a latest Skylake generation processor manufactured by the American company. The chip was released on the market in the third quarter of 2015 and has been manufactured through a 14nm technological process. Additionally, its operational frequency is 3.2GHz and thanks to the Turbo Boost technology it can go up to 3.6GHz. Core i5-6500 has four physical and four logical cores but it lacks the Intel Hyper-Threading technology. Also, the chip can be installed on motherboards which support 1151 socket.

The maximum RAM capacity you could use here is 64GB, be it DDR3 or DDR4. If you have DDR3, the supported frequency will be up to 1600MHz or 1333MHz. On the other hand, if you are using DDR4 RAM, it has to be clocked at 1866MHz or 2133MHz. Additionally, the third level cache is 6MB, and Intel Core i5-6500’s power consumption is 65 Watts, while the maximum operational temperature is 100 degrees Celsius.

Also, the processor features the Intel vPro technology, which should not come as a surprise, considering the safety measures offered by the computer case. Well, your system should be protected not only from the outside but on a hardware and software level as well.

CPU tests

In order for us to check the processor’s performance, we decided to include our favorite benchmark tests which are always part of our reviews – Cinebench 11, Cinebench R15, Fritz Chess Benchmark and Nova Benchmark. The table below displays the results we managed to get and we compare them to those of Core i7-6700K at base frequency because Dell OptiPlex 7040 has configurations with Intel Core i7-6700.

Model Intel Core i5-6500 Intel Core i7-6700K (base frequency) Difference
 Cinebench 11 6.3 9.62  +53%
 Cinebench R15 543 861  +59%
 NovaBench 535 970  +81%
 Fritz 10251 15766  +54%

Graphics card

2013-06-01_00002Our configuration did not come with a discrete graphics card and that is why we had to use the integrated GPU – Intel HD Graphics 530. It can be found in both desktop and mobile Skylake processors – in our case the graphics card is incorporated in Intel Core i5-6500.

Announced on May 5th 2015, HD Graphics 530 comes with 24 EUs (Execution Unites) and a basic frequency of 350MHz. Thanks tot he Boost technology it can go up to 1050MHz, and if your configuration features 64GB of RAM then the GPU memory will also be able to cope. Even though it is an integrated one, HD Graphics supports up to three individual displays with a maximum resolution of 4096×2304 p.

GPU benchmark tests

Many will be surprised to see this section in our review. After all it is an integrated graphics card which means that its performance is similar to or lower than that of GeForce 920. Indeed, we have not included all gaming tests because OptiPlex 7040 has not been designed for this type of tasks but we still did a couple benchmarks which provide enough information as to the GPU’s performance. Even though we only have 4GB of RAM we managed to cover all tests without getting an error message resulting from the lack of VRAM (because integrated graphics cards use the memory provided from the RAM chips).

Unigine 3.0 and 4.0
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Firestrike

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Time Spy

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Sky Diver

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Cloud Gate

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Temperature tests

As it was already mentioned in the lines above, we did a 100% stress test to check if the box cooler will be enough to manage the Intel Core i5-6500. Of course, we doubt that you will be able to load the processor that much with regular work. Well, this is namely why we are here to push it to the extremes and share the results with you.

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We begin with a 100% CPU stress test. In “idle” the CPU temperature we registered is 30 degrees Celsius. Immediately after we pressed the start button it rose to 40 degrees Celsius and we guessed that it would rose up to at least 70-80 degrees after the 30 minutes of testing. Our results were much more positive which came as a surprise. The maximum temperature we got was 61 degrees. For this reason we decided to begin a parallel 100% test of the GPU. Because it is integrated in the processor the temperatures remained the same and we did not get an increase which comes to say that the box cooler does it job just fine. Also, the processor continued working at 3.3 GHz – above its basic frequency. A very good achievement, indeed.

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Verdict

optiplex-7040Safety, quality and reliability – this is how we would like to conclude our review of Dell OptiPlex 7040. Although the configuration is small, it is not lightweight by any means, and its side cover can withstand the pressure of a monitor, in case you want to place the model in a horizontal position. Additionally, the design is simplistic on the outside but once you remove the side cover, you will be presented with a well-organized and pleasant interior which provides instructions as to the detachment of certain parts of the construction. We can’t also miss mentioning the plate which holds several smaller plates at the back which you remove when installing a graphics card – fortunately for all of us, these can be brought back to their place in case you part with your GPU and have to fill the openings with something.

As far as hardware is concerned, Dell have done more than what we can be normally expected. The case can be locked, literally, and if someone is lucky enough to remove the side cover, than the switch will immediately signal that the panel is missing and that your hardware is exposed to danger. What’s more, there are software apps which further complement the security you need, while the subwoofer offers good sound quality despite its small size. Unfortunately, it is impossible to install a second 3.5-inch hard disc namely because of the case’s dimensions. This, however, is corrected by the option for you to install more than one 2.5-inch device, be it an SSD or HDD.

Upgrade options here are not scarce. The motherboard in our machine has 4 PCI slots, two of which support the CrossFire mode – bear in mind the power supply peculiarities if you are planning to install two graphics cards to the system. Also, the RAM slots are four which means that you can add up to 64GB of DDR3 or DDR4 RAM since the processor is part of Intel’s latest generation – Core i5-6500.

(laptopmedia.com, https://goo.gl/jALMCp)

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