Dell 6-Core Studio XPS 7100 Review

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Performance Summary & Conclusion



Performance Summary: Dell's Studio XPS 7100 line is intended to appeal to a wide audience, and the top-end configuration takes particular aim at gamers. That doesn't mean the system we reviewed today is an all-out hardcore gaming machine -- nor is it intended to be -- but the addition of ATI's Radeon HD 5870 gives it a performance punch not found on any of the three other baseline configs.

Dell's attempt at captivating a variety of users starts with the styling, Unlike Dell's own Alienware line and other specialty gaming rigs, the Studio's chassis isn't the least bit menacing. The look is far more conservative, though the chrome accents, stealth drive bays, and subtle curvature gives the Studio a bit of character.


While we're fairly indifferent on the aesthetics, we're much more opinionated on the hardware inside. As already pointed out, the Radon HD 5870 injects the Studio with enough gaming adrenaline to play the latest games without sacrificing too much in the way of visuals. Up until Fermi launched, this was the third fastest vidoecard on the planet (behind only the HD 5970 and GTX 295), and the best performing single-GPU solution around. While the 5870's ranking might have changed in recent months, it's still the same card we really liked just a short time ago.

To maintain competitive pricing, Dell paired the HD 5870 with AMD's Phenom II X6 1055T processor. A powerful chip in its own right, we have to caution against being swayed by the enamor of six processing cores. Developers are still grappling with how to take full advantage of multiple cores, and the more cores there are, the more difficult this gets. On top of this, AMD's architecture isn't as strong as Intel's, and in many cases, AMD's six-core chips run on par with or trail behind Intel's quad-core Core i7 chips.

What you end up with is a processor -- and in this case, a system -- that's relatively powerful, but also a good value. If you jumped straight to the conclusion (shame on you!), then you missed where we pointed out that Intel's sole six-core chip alone costs almost as much as the Studio XPS 7100. For $1,450 (or less), you get a capable processor, high-end graphics card, spacious hard drive, Wi-Fi, and even a Blu-ray drive. On the downside, there isn't a whole lot of room for upgrades -- you can't stick a second videocard in the Studio, and you're only going to get so much mileage out of a 460W power supply -- but hey, that's part of buying OEM over rolling your own rig.

At the end of the day, the Studio XPS 7100 is a solid machine that, not without compromises, offers a fair amount of bang for your buck, and looks classy to boot.

 

  • Powerful graphics card
  • Classy styling
  • Spacious hard drive
  • Includes a Blu-ray drive
  • Relatively affordable
  • Runs quiet
  • Limited upgrade path
  • No USB 3.0 support
  • Not a lot of configuration options
  • Begs for an SSD


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