Dell 6-Core Studio XPS 7100 Review

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PC gamers are a lucky bunch, particularly those who have only recently begun their journey into the awesome world of computers. Never before has this hobby been so affordable, and there was a time not that long ago when building a cheap gaming rig resulted in a second-rate gaming experience, one devoid of copious amounts of eye candy and buttery smooth frame rates, unless you were willing to crank down the screen resolution until the picture had more blocks than the NES version of Super Mario Bros.

Well folks, that isn't the case anymore. Sure, you can still shell out several grand on a decadent machine loaded with only top-end parts, but outside of bragging rights, and the ability to run a handful of sloppily coded titles at ultra high resolutions, it's no longer necessary to rob your neighborhood convenience store only to still fall short on funds for a superior gaming experience. To prove it, Dell sent us one of their new Studio XPS 7100 desktops built around AMD's recently launched Phenom II X6 1055T processor. AMD's hexa-core chips don't pack the same punch as Intel's six-core architecture, but the upshot is you'll save a king's bounty by riding into the sunset with AMD, and in this case, with Dell as well. The configuration we're looking at runs $1,450 (currently on sale for $1,150), with lesser spec'd six-core rigs starting out at $699. To put that into perspective, Intel's sole six-core offering -- the Core i7 980X -- commands about a grand just for the processor alone.

So we've already determined you won't put yourself in the poor house by plunking down for an XPS 7100, but is that all Dell brings to the table? Good question, and we intend to answer it, starting with the spec sheet.

Dell Studio XPS 7100
Specifications and Features (as tested)


Studio XPS 7100

AMD Phenom II X6 1055T (2.8GHz - 3.3GHz)

6GB DDR3 1333MHz (4 DIMMs)

ATI Radeon HD 5870 w/ 1GB GDDR5

Seagate 1.5TB 7200RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s

Blu-ray Reader/DVD Burner Combo
Operating System

Windows 7 Home Premium x64

Dell 1525 Wireless-N PCI-E Card w/ Dual Antennas
Wired Internet

10/100/1000 Ethernet

8 USB 2.0, eSATA, HDMI, DVI, Headphone and Mic, 19-in-1 Media Reader
Integrated 7.1 w/ THX TruStudio PC
Power Supply
Delta Electronics 460W

22.4 pounds
Keyboard / Mouse
Dell Studio

7.31" x 17.9" x 16.02" (WxDxH)

1 Year Basic Service Plan

$1,428.99 (as configured)

Right away we see some things we like, and others we don't. The Phenom II X6 processor and ATI Radeon HD 5870 provides a potent one-two combo, not only for gaming, but a range of tasks that rely on the CPU, GPU, or both. And with 6GB of RAM, the XPS 7100 is off to a good start. We're also impressed with the inclusion of a Blu-ray drive, which is sometimes used as a means to jack up the overall price of a system. And the fast spinning 1.5TB hard drive offers a solid, if not conservative approach to system building, striking a balance between both storage and performance.

For the most part, however, what you see is what you get. Dell does offer a few spotty upgrade choices, but nothing that compares with the level of customization you'll get from a gaming specific system builder, including Dell's own Alienware division. You can increase the amount of RAM to 12GB and add a second hard drive in a RAID 0 array, and there are some add-ons available -- like a TV Tuner card -- but that's really it. There aren't any SSD options, and you can't change the processor or videocard, nor can you can add a discrete soundcard because the included Wi-Fi solution takes up the only available PCI-E x1 slot.

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realneil 4 years ago

It's respectable, but not custom.

With the RAM maxed out and a dual GPU card in it, one would see far better benchmark scores from it as well.

Building your own is still the best way to go if you know how to do it.

acarzt 4 years ago

@ Neil

I only do Custom. You get exactly what you want, and if you planned accordingly you will also have the ability to upgrade the system with the market.

Building a system is so easy too. Even if you're new to it, just do some research and dive in! If you get stuck, ask for some help. There are tons of people on the internet willing to help!

We didn't all always know how to build a system with our eyes closed lol We all had a first!

slugbug 4 years ago

I would like to see Dell use name brand components and proper power supplies. I haven't owned a Dell in years, do they still use proprietary power supplies like they used to?

realneil 4 years ago

[quote user="slugbug"] I would like to see Dell use name brand components and proper power supplies. I haven't owned a Dell in years, do they still use proprietary power supplies like they used to? [/quote]

I had a customer give me her pretty, but malfunctioning almost new, white and silver Dell desktop PC with an Intel dual core CPU in it.
I had built a gaming platform for her kid a few months before and she realized that his computer never gave him any trouble, but her Dell broke down (blue screened) all of the time.
She brought it to me and had me build one EXACTLY like her son's computer and recover her data from the dell. When she left, she didn't want the Dell and gave it to me.

Afterwords, I diagnosed it and found that the 2-1GB sticks of memory were bad. I put in four 2GB DDR-II 800 sticks from my parts shelf, and a PCI-E GT-240 1GB video card that I had. Then I loaded 64 bit Win-7 onto it and gave it to my wife to use. The power supply is of Dell's own design, (proprietary indeed) but has been without problems for all this time. The GT-240 doesn't have any additional power connections on it.

I recently offered to build a bigger, better, faster computer for the wife and
she threatened me if "I touched" her Dell. Angry


acarzt 4 years ago

lol...  You should secretly upgrade it without her knowing and see if she notices a difference lol

realneil 4 years ago

No way, no how. Zip it!

If she's happy than I am too.

acarzt 4 years ago

lol... that's probably the wiser move.... but it's so much less fun lol

realneil 4 years ago

She has a sweet nature and is a wonderful country girl (very easy to get along with) but when she's upset, it's no small matter,............

What's that old country saying?

"I'd Rather Sandpaper A Bobcat's Butthole In A Phone Booth Than Piss Her Off!"

fat78 4 years ago

wtf who says that lol 

realneil 4 years ago

[quote user="fat78"] wtf who says that lol [/quote]

Me, for one.

I never heard it said until I got to Virginia, and I've hear it said several times since I've been here. (the first time someone said it around me, I almost fell out of my wheelchair)


acarzt 4 years ago

lmao that's pretty funny. I've never heard anyone say that before either

acarzt 4 years ago

@ kelvingrage

Dell would certainly not be my first choice if I were going to be a computer that was already assembled for me.

While in the past they used to make a quality product... after the scandel they've been going through... I don't think I could trust them anymore.

If I were to buy a laptop, it would be Asus or HP.

For a desktop... either Cyberpower or iBuypower... but let's be honest, i'll never pay for a preassembled system lol I just enjoy the build too much :-)

realneil 4 years ago

[quote user="acarzt"]I just enjoy the build too much[/quote]

Same here, it's way too satisfying to bring a couple of boxes of parts into existence as a fully functioning and bad-ass computer. (when you're the one who designed it)

You miss allot of interaction when it shows up at your door pre-built.

acarzt 4 years ago

Yea, it's just so much more exciting doing your own build. I even enjoy doing all the research and hand picking parts with exactly the specs I want. Particularly RAM.

And then the build. Putting that time and effort into creating something. Running wires and bolting everything down.

And then the moment of truth when you turn it on for the first time... is it gonna work????

And then of course it doesn't the first attempt and then you see the cable you didn't hook up and then you try again!

And here we go, setup your BIOS, install your OS and play some games :-D

eunoia 4 years ago



realneil 4 years ago

[quote user="eunoia"]Really gets the point across, anyway[/quote]

She really is a sweet and lovely girl,............

acarzt 4 years ago

Til you piss her off lol

realneil 4 years ago

[quote user="acarzt"] Til you piss her off lol [/quote]

Not so easy to do,.......She's fantastic when she's pissed off though. What a girl! Yow!


HSmith 3 years ago

If she has ever threatened to kill you for doing something man style. Consider the threat real only it may take 30 years. Haven't you noticed how it is always the husband that goes first? Slow poison that takes a looong time to accumulate

realneil 3 years ago

It's worth the ride, Mr. Smith.

So worth it.

animatortom 4 years ago

That's a big jump when comparing even the 4core I7's. I have read a little about the new 8core Xenons, having two of those would be sweet!

Things do look rather tight inside there! I doubt you would be able to get a dual GPU setup to fit. Since it looks like the same little crappy Foxcon econ board (got one) that all Dells and HP's use. If that is already a tight fit, I would doubt that a larger SLI or Crossfire board would fit? Then again I am just judging the size by the 5870?

It does seem like a good system for most gamers and Home Theater buffs! Since it has THX that is a very good start! this is something you would probably feel very comfortable having as a HTPC, but I feel that most Die-Hard gamers would be better off building thier own systems. Getting double the performance at the same price?

realneil 4 years ago

[quote user="animatortom"] I would doubt that a larger SLI or Crossfire board would fit? [/quote]

I doubt it too. That's why I said a dual GPU Card rather than a dual card setup. I would wonder about the power supply's limitations too.

No, I still believe it's best to build your own so that you can take everything into consideration and plan for future upgrades more efficiently.

I don't think that this box is anything to summarily dismiss, but I would build it differently.

lonewolf 4 years ago

Nice little set up here Dell has. I too would like to have seen an SSD but for a value RIG this one has it all. This is the best your going to get for your money with an all AMD/ATI set up. True a core i7 is a beast but the price is a beast as well and as you noted games are still optimized for duel core much less hexa core!!!. Over all its a sweet rig. Yes

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