Dell 6-Core Studio XPS 7100 Review

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How big or small your bundle is going to be depends in part on how you configure your system. Need speakers? Dell offers six different sets to choose from with the XPS 7100. You can also select from four different monitors up to 24 inches in size, as well as change up the keyboard and mouse combo.

We don't ever like to admit that a picture doesn't do a product justice, because what that really means is that we took a lousy picture. So rather than say that, we'll just tell you that the keyboard and mouse look better in person than they do here. We're not in love with the form and function of either one -- the keyboard lies too flat and doesn't feel like it would survive an angry gaming system in which you smash the plank onto your desktop in frustration, and the mouse doesn't come with any side buttons or other accoutrement found on dedicated gaming rodents -- but both are stylish with a sexy two-tone motif.

Also included are various manuals and start-up guides, driver and utility discs, a VGA-to-DVI adapter, power cord, and dual-antennas for the PCI-E Wi-Fi card that comes standard.

Big name OEMs are notorious for shoveling all kinds of crapware onto their builds, and in exchange, software vendors fork over big bucks for the right to peddle their wares on your desktop. So imagine our surprise when we first fired up our test system and found...virtually nothing? Believe it or not, Dell didn't decimate our desktop with oodles of trial software, useless links, and other junk. The XPS 7100 does ship with AV software -- McAfee SecurityCenter -- but it's a 15-month subscription, not a 30-day trial.

On the top of the screen sits Dell's custom dock, which gives quick access to a variety of tasks, like firing up Internet Explorer, adjusting the sound properties, configuring Parental Controls, and an assortment of other functions.

Not completely without annoyances, we had barely begun to sing Dell's praise for a clean desktop when a popup touting an AV renewal offer crashed the party. Do'h!

We don't put a ton of stock into Microsoft's Windows Experience Index, but for those of you who do, the XPS 7100 scored a respectable 6.0 out of 7.9, and would have scored a point or so higher had we been able to configure our system with an SSD. Other than the "Disk data transfer rate" benchmark, every other subset scored a 7.4 or higher.

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