Dell XPS 630 - Interior Design
In stark contrast to the exterior's clutter-free environment, a peek inside the chassis of the XPS 630 revealed a more blasé attitude towards cabling. The cables running from the power supply unit to the various components are sleeved, which helps matters greatly, but the only cable that we saw tied down was the 12V line for the CPU, held by two twist ties attached to the rear. To their credit, Dell does run a few cables behind the board in order to reach connections on the far side.
The mainboard and components were, thankfully, clear from the majority of overhanging cables, allowing for proper airflow and heat dissipation. A massive heatsink combining copper heatpipes with aluminum radiator fins sits right on top of the CPU, almost as large as the width of the case. A helpful warning sticker points towards the correct orientation of the fan nestled within, as the exhaust points directly out the mesh grating and out of the system. When first powered up, this fan emits a loud, whining noise likened to a hair-dryer at full blast, yet quickly settles down to more desirable levels by the time Windows Vista starts to boot. Other, smaller heatsinks are used to cool down the Northbridge and Southbridge and a row of MOSFETS nearest the CPU. All of these are passive, requiring the flow of air from the front of the unit to cool them off.
Dell sent along their base system consisting of two Samsung PC2-5300 sticks as well as an NVIDIA GeForce 8800GT. Since the XPS 630, as well as most of Dell's other systems, are completely configurable by the buyer, we also received a pair of Hynix PC2-6400U DIMMs and another 8800GT to demonstrate the unit's capabilities. We're not too keen on the inclusion of the slower Samsung DDR2-667, as there's really no benefit at all with prices being as cheap as they have been for memory. At a minimum, DDR2-800 is the way to go. However, the Hynix RAM we received was really high latency, with SPD ratings of 6-6-6-18, which could really hold system performance back. Dell does offer an upsell to Corsair Dominator DDR2-800, and we pulled a pair from one of our rigs to test their performance against these other sets. It should also be noted that while the XPS 630 is considered a mainstream system, the graphics options can be upgraded to not only the 8800GT SLI, but also the more powerful 8800 GTX in single or dual configurations as well.
Amply supplied with power from the 750 Watt PSU and a full assortment of expansion slots, the XPS 630 affords a number of other upgrade options including Creative's Sound Blaster X-Fi XtremeMusic audio (Vista users only), Dell Wireless broadband mini-cards for Sprint or Verizon service, and even an option to install a PhysX card by AGEIA. Four SATA ports with right-angled cables come pre-installed even if there aren't a full accompanying number of drives. Oriented this way, the SATA cables won't interfere with longer graphics cards. While we appreciated the effort of having all four cables present, we would rather have any unused cables remain in the package rather than dangling around the interior. One of the cables placed underneath the mainboard is a power cable that has four SATA power connectors; one for each drive that can be installed here, with the connectors separated exactly by the height of the bay. That's the kind of convenience we do appreciate.
In terms of drive installation, three 5 1/4" bays are placed at the top, with two of them already populated by the LG 16x DVD Burner and multi-card reader leaving only the middle bay open. At the bottom is a plastic cage able to hold four hard drives (although Dell states they will only factory-install up to three of them). The cages use a rail-based system and point outwards making for very easy installation, wiring, and access of the drives. In between the two areas is a no-man's land, where one of the two 80mm fans resides - the other sits in front of the hard drive cage. Dell has to watch the organization a bit here, so that the cables don't interfere with the incoming airflow.