Dell XPS 625 Phenom II Gaming System
The XPS 625 is loaded with 64-bit Windows Vista Home Premium Edition as the only option. While seeing Dell go 64-bit is impressive in itself, the other impressive fact about this system is that it's not bogged down by trialware and pre-installed junk. The default install is clean, quick, and surprisingly lean. Here's how the system looks upon first bootup.
Beyond the basic Windows Vista bits, the only items which are pre-installed and loaded upon boot are the Dell Dock (OSX-like bar for quick application loading - see top of screen), the AlienFX lighting system utility (case chassis lighting control, seen in prior pages), and McAfee Antivirus. No free 90-days of AOL or any of that nonsense. Upon first boot, the system was using 1.34 GB of the 4 GB of memory available to it with 65 processes running, which is actually quite tolerable given the nature of the system.
Dell has a custom control center for monitoring the thermals and fan speeds of your XPS system, although this is not loaded by default. The nifty thing about this utility is that you can turn off automatic fan control if you want, go into manual mode, and force fan speeds up and down to your liking. Granted, given the system's thermal issues we've noted earlier, we wouldn't recommend forcing fan speeds down too low.
XPS Thermal Monitor
On the flip side, you can overclock this beast with very little effort. As this is a Phenom II X4 "Black Edition" CPU, you have full control over the system's multiplier for easy overclocking. AMD makes pushing your CPU up further a relative breeze through their "Overdrive" software suite, which allows for itnegrated overclocking, stress testing, and benchmarking all through a single application.
While it's remarkably easy to overclock the processor in this machine, this isn't to say we were able to achieve huge overclocks. Given the passively cooled processor, we ran into thermal issues quite early. We were able to overclock the system successfully from its default 3.0 GHz up to 3.6 GHz and run most of our benchmark suite, although it was not 100% stable. The highest truly stable overclock we were able to achieve was 3.4 GHz, just above 10% higher than stock speed. Not bad for free, but considering that many of these chips are hitting 4.0 GHz on relatively simple air cooling. If you plan to overclock this system, we would recommend swapping out the stock CPU cooler for something a little more heavy duty. We do, however, have benchmarks of our XPS 625 system overclocked to 3.4 GHz throughout the following pages.
We can't go without mentioning the AlienFX lighting suite, just because it's ridiculously simple and cool. The interface is self-explanatory, and gives you the ability to customize your chassis with an array of different color scenarios to fit your liking. This is accomplished by arrays of LEDs which run at varying power levels in order to achieve the color you program in. Green worked best for me.