"The Inspiron 27 7790 is a good choice for small apartments or dorms."

  • Smooth, modern design

  • Small bezels and thin chassis

  • Includes an HDMI input connector

  • The integrated sound bar gets loud

  • The volume cannot be adjusted in HDMI input mode

  • So-so performance

If you live in a dorm, studio apartment, or other small space, you may not have space for a full-size TV.

A solution? Buy a big computer monitor and pretend it's a TV. This may help you, but the Dell Inspiron 27 7790 offers a more elegant solution.

It is an all-in-one PC with an HDMI input socket, so your Nintendo Switch or Roku streaming stick can be connected directly. This is console game and streaming right on your Windows 10 desktop. But the Inspiron 27 (from $ 849.99) also looks good with its built-in soundbar and TV-like stand. Can it be both PC and TV appropriate without sacrificing?

Small screen becomes big

The Inspiron has a slim silhouette, that's for sure. The 27-inch Infinity Edge display is framed by narrow, 8 mm white bezels on three sides and a slightly larger chin on the underside, which is anchored by a silver speaker bar. Priced at $ 849 ($ 999 in the configuration we tested), you essentially get the equivalent of a $ 200 1080p monitor that neatly works with a space-saving PC in an all-in One design is packed, in which the screen is lifted onto a predecessor installed tent stand made of bent metal tubes.

The result is that the Inspiron looks similar to the sculptural wire base of the HP All-in-One 24 for $ 499. In contrast to the aluminum stand of the iMac, the metal wire design does not feel premium, but makes the Inspiron 27 less impressive on a desk.

The airy aesthetics of the Inspiron 27 stand are at the expense of ergonomics. The base allows the screen to lean back, but you can't tilt the control panel forward, rotate, or raise or lower the display. Without a VESA mount on the back, you cannot mount the Inspiron to free up more space on the desk.

The two-tone design of the desktop extends to the silver, curved back. Although there are four generous USB-A 3.1 Gen 1 ports on the back, only two of them are available if you choose to use Dell's bundled, color-matched wired keyboard and mouse.

The star of the show is the HDMI input connector, which turns the screen into a console gaming television.

Then there's the star of the show: the HDMI input connector. This simple connection allows players to connect the console of their choice and use the desktop screen as a television screen. I quickly grabbed my switch and plugged it in easily. Although I haven't had the opportunity to test the Inspiron 27's performance on an Xbox One or PlayStation 4, titles like Super Mario Odyssey and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild looked great. The built-in soundbar offers a rich sound profile that is one step ahead of the monitor speakers.

Switching between video input sources is also easy. A recessed video source switch is located on the bottom right of the soundbar next to the power switch. A visual confirmation of whether you are in PC or HDMI mode is displayed on the screen.

There's also a USB-C port, which is useful for connecting modern phones, or a USB hub for added connectivity, an Ethernet jack, a headphone jack, a locking slot, and an SD card reader. Unfortunately, the USB-C port is limited to data and power and cannot pass on video signals.

If you need a larger screen experience, you can connect the Inspiron 27 to a projector or HDTV via the HDMI output connector on the back. Given its light weight of 22 pounds, it wouldn't be difficult to transport it between an office and a conference room to connect the Inspiron to a projector for spontaneous PowerPoint presentations. The desktop itself is powered by an external charging stone with a barrel connection.

Not quite a television

Although switching between video input sources is easy, adjusting the volume in HDMI input mode is the biggest problem with the Inspiron 27 setup. Unlike standalone displays, the Inspiron does not have dedicated monitor control buttons.

No remote control is supplied either. To adjust the volume, brightness or contrast, you must first switch to PC mode. From there, you'll need to use Windows 10's software controls or dedicated keyboard keys to make your adjustments.

A small remote control would have made this task much less lengthy and would have mimicked the experience with traditional television sets.

Once these settings have been made, playing with the Nintendo Switch is fun overall, provided you don't have to adjust the volume frequently. As expected with the occasional PC games, I didn't notice any screen tears or ghosting on the display.

In addition to console games, more serious PC gamers can even connect a more powerful laptop or desktop to the Inspiron 27's HDMI input jack. This could be useful for upcycling this desktop into a monitor after aging of the internal silicon, even though it has a Thunderbolt 3 connector. EGPU would have served the same purpose.

For students who want to replace a stand-alone television with this 27-inch screen, the Inspiron is a mixed bag. Connecting a set-top box like Apple TV or Amazon Fire TV Stick worked well – I tested this on both the Apple TV before 4K and the Fire TV Stick 4K – and you can watch content conveniently from a streaming TV -Service like YouTube TV, Netflix or Hulu.

I would like the Inspiron to come with its own remote control for some basic TV-style controls.

Live sports content such as football will be streamed smoothly when viewed with the Fire TV Stick 4K via the ESPN channel in the AT&T TV Now service. The game I watched was chopped up only occasionally, probably due to the service's buffering and streaming limitations, and not due to the Inspiron's hardware.

Without a coaxial input jack, however, you cannot connect a cable box or signal from your college campus video source. If you're a cable cutter, you can switch channels and switch between different streaming services using the Fire TV or Apple TV remote. But just like with game console restrictions, you can't just adjust the volume without getting up and going back to the PC.

Given that commercials on the AT&T TV service are sometimes louder than the actual program, it can be annoying not to be able to simply change the volume. By connecting wired or Bluetooth speakers, you can overcome some of the Inspiron 27's limitations with volume controls.

A laptop disguised as a desktop

But here too, the Inspiron 27 is more than just a monitor. It is also a full desktop PC. At least … there is.

With its 10th generation U-series processors and more anemic GeForce MX110 graphics, the Inspiron 27's datasheet doesn't read like a standard desktop PC. All laptop components are used, similar to some other all-in-one components like the HP Envy line. While this means that performance can be limited, these laptop components help keep the case a little over a inch thick.

Don't expect to run demanding applications or games like on a more powerful desktop chip.

I found that the quad-core i5-10210u processor in our test device is fast enough for general productivity tasks such as surfing the Internet and working in office documents. The performance is comparable to that of a Dell XPS 13 or another premium laptop. Just don't expect to run demanding applications or games like on a more powerful desktop chip.

The situation is similar with the graphics. Don't expect Jedi: Fallen Order to start with maximum settings, but older titles will work fine if the settings are set to low. Call of Duty: WWII and Honor 4 looked good in my tests with very little stuttering, and Fortnite was definitely playable when scaled to 720p resolution with the game's lowest settings. If you don't need discrete graphics, Dell offers a cheaper model with integrated graphics.

The system also has 8 GB of RAM, a 256 GB SSD and a 1 TB hard drive for additional storage, all of which can be updated and serviced.

It's unfortunate that Dell didn't add a Thunderbolt 3 port on this device to power external GPUs. Even if you use the screen alone with a more powerful gaming PC, you're still limited to the panel's 1080p resolution and 60Hz refresh rate. In this regard, this is not a real gaming monitor.

Our review sample wasn't equipped with a touchscreen, but one can be selected with updated configurations, but touch functions are unlikely to work with HDMI input sources.

For data protection-conscious residents, the blind webcam can be shown at the top or stowed away out of sight. This trend is more likely to occur on laptops and desktops. In addition to the FHD camera for Windows Hello logins without a password, improved configurations of the Inspiron 27 can also be equipped with an IR module.

Our opinion

The Inspiron 27 7790 goes beyond its purpose as an all-in-one PC. The ability to connect a console or media box to this all-in-one brings a lot of value to this solid, mediocre desktop and gives the Inspiron 27 a unique gaming advantage. Despite the lack of volume controls or brightness controls, students and cable cutters will appreciate how versatile the Inspiron 27's HDMI input connector can be.

Is there a better alternative?

If you have the money to make money, Apple's iMac series, which starts at $ 1,799 for the 27-inch basic configuration, is a good alternative to the Inspiron 27. The iMac performs better for computing tasks that can be useful for students working with large files or who needs the graphics power for creative tasks. However, the HDMI input is missing.

HP's Premium Envy All-in-One series has the same video input, so you can use the desktop display for non-PC purposes. However, the 34-inch curved edition previously tested may be too bulky for small spaces. The more conventional Envy AIO Edition corresponds to the Inspiron's 27-inch footprint, has a similar privacy-oriented pop-up webcam, and improved GeForce GTX 1050 graphics, making it more suitable for 1080p PC gaming, but more expensive.

How long it will take?

With a 10th generation Intel Core i5 processor in the laptop class, the Inspiron 27 7790 is expected to last at least as long as most laptops. This desktop should easily be able to guide you through your college years, and graduates can get even more life out of the Inspiron after the silicon inside has worn out. By connecting a game console or a streaming stick, an aging Inspiron 27 can be upcycled as a streaming screen for the kitchen or children's room.

The Inspiron 27 is also a highly maintainable all-in-one desktop that simplifies repairs and upgrades.

Dell offers a standard one-year warranty with mail-in service for repairs. If you need additional protection, you can extend coverage for up to four years, add accidental coverage, or both for up to $ 339. Compared to our $ 999 test device, the highest warranty coverage costs more than a third of the Inspiron price. So unless you are at risk of an accident, the value of extended protection may not be worth it.

Should you buy it

Yes. The desktop's HDMI input connector offers great versatility to gamers and cable cutters, allowing this all-in-one to behave differently than a PC or laptop.

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