We evaluated the original Dell XPS 730 in early May, shortly after its initial release. At the time, it was Dell's latest high-end gaming machine and the word on the street was that it would be the last to carry the XPS badge. Moving forward, Dell was to concentrate on their Alienware gaming brand and the XPS brand would lose its gaming focus to embrace multimedia and content creation. Naturally, we checked with Dell directly and while they did confirm the rumor, they also assured us that the XPS 730's life wouldn't be cut short and it would go on to live through a full product cycle. It seems they weren't bluffing, not that we doubted them in the first place.
Shortly after Intel released their new Core i7 processors about a month ago, Dell announced a new update to the XPS 730 with Core i7 tech under the hood. The new XPS 730x is first and foremost a technology update. The Intel Core 2 processors and NVIDIA 790i Ultra SLI chipset powering the original XPS 730 have been swapped with new Core i7 processors and Intel's X58 Express chipset. The XPS 730x retains the original 730's ability to support both Crossfire and SLI and the latest graphics options from both the green and the red camp are available. Like all XPS 700 series machines since the XPS 710, the 730x is available with optional factory overclocking and a H2C edition that features a two-stage liquid cooling system. This brings the XPS 730x to the forefront of bleeding edge tech and should present a nice performance boost over the original 730.
While the new performance features are the highlights of the update, they aren't the only new additions. In our evaluation of the original 730, we noted that the XPS 730 chassis, an update of the original XPS 700 series chassis used in previous models, was one of the best we've seen, rivaling that of the HP Blackbird 002. For the XPS 730x, the chassis has received several subtle updates while retaining all of the qualities we liked from the original XPS 730.
The various pre-installed software and utilities included with the XPS 730 have also been updated for the 730x. The original 730 had software configurable LED lighting controlled via a custom screen in the NVIDIA control panel. While this worked, it wasn't particularly elegant or user friendly. The XPS 730x still offers configurable LED lighting, but it is now controlled by Alienware's slick AlienFX utility. Hardware and performance monitoring has also been improved and the XPS 730x now includes a custom monitoring utility that makes monitoring system temperatures and controlling fan speeds extremely easy.
Overall, there are enough new updates and changes to warrant a fresh look at the flagship of the XPS series so we've obtained a XPS 730x and gave it a full shakedown. Read on for details of the new features and a full suite of performance benchmarks.