Dell 6-Core Studio XPS 7100 Review
Introduction & Specification
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.
|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
|Windows 7 Home Premium x64
|Dell 1525 Wireless-N PCI-E Card w/ Dual Antennas
|8 USB 2.0, eSATA, HDMI, DVI, Headphone and Mic, 19-in-1 Media Reader
|Integrated 7.1 w/ THX TruStudio PC
|Delta Electronics 460W
|Keyboard / Mouse
|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.