capsule review

Dell XPS 700

At a Glance
  • Dell XPS 700

    PCWorld Rating

    Well-heeled gamers who want the option to expand their system will find room to grow in this stylish, powerful PC.

Dell XPS 700
Photograph: Chris Manners

The Dell XPS 700 is a big, powerful system that has plenty of processing muscle to spare. Flexing Intel's 2.66-GHz Core 2 Duo E6700 processor and 2GB of DDR2-667 RAM, the system earned an impressive score of 153 on our WorldBench 5 benchmark. That puts it behind the ABS Ultimate X9, which scored an incredible 181 (and which uses a Core 2 Extreme X6800 processor), but it's still 9 percent higher than the average score of our four previous top-performing systems, all of which used 2.6-GHz Athlon 64 X2 FX-60 CPUs. One area of big improvement was multitasking: in our test running both Windows Media Encoder and a Web browser at the same time, the Dell ran 14 percent faster than the quickest Athlon-based systems.

The XPS 700 targets gamers, but it should satisfy demanding graphics users, too. Our test system came equipped with an nVidia 7950 GX2 graphics card, which combines two GPUs. (Dell says that this conmfiguration will be available for purchase later this summer.) The PC managed an impressive 241 frames per second in Return to Castle Wolfenstein at 1600-by-1200-pixel resolution--an improvement of almost 49 percent over the frame rates posted by the two top performers on this test in our most recent Top 10 Power Desktop PCs chart. The futuristic styling of the XPS 700's large, aluminum case is both attractive and practical: The large grilles on the front and the rear and the large fans inside the spacious case allow air to pass through and cool the system almost silently. Even when the system was working hard, its noise level didn't rise above a whisper.

The forward-sloping case design also makes it easier for you to reach the cables at the back when the system is under a desk. The front and rear LED lights aren't just a visual treat (the user can set their color); they illuminate the USB 2.0 ports at the rear and the drive bays on the front of the system. That's a nice touch if you like to play games in the dark and need to swap CDs or peripherals.

The case is spacious, with enough room to hold four hard drives (our review system came with two 320GB drives in a striped RAID array for a generous total of 640GB of hard-drive storage) and four externally accessible drive bays. To make adding hard drives easier, Dell ships the system with the necessary SATA and power cables to add two hard drives to the two already in place. The unit also has plenty of room for additional expansion cards, with one PCI Express x16 slot, one PCI Express x1 slot, and two PCI slots unoccupied.

Installing drives or expansion cards is easy--no screwdriver is required, since all of the cards and drives are held firmly in place with latches that you can open by hand. Our only real complaint about the XPS's case was that the side was hard to remove: We had to use a significant amount of force to get the 2.5mm-thick aluminum side panel loose.

Dell bundled a 24-inch wide-screen 2407WFP LCD monitor with our review system. This display--which updates the 2405FPW that's currently ranked second on our chart of 23-inch and larger wide-screen LCD monitors--produced very attractive, bright, and sharp images, and smooth motion when playing back a movie DVD. It matches up well with the rest of this powerful system.

At $3985, the system is not cheap. But the speedy Dell XPS 700 has an edge in its smart, quiet design and easy expandability.

Richard Baguley

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At a Glance
  • PCWorld Rating

    Well-heeled gamers who want the option to expand their system will find room to grow in this stylish, powerful PC.

    Pros

    • Chassis has robust design
    • Plenty of expansion room

    Cons

    • Side panel is hard to remove
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