The XPS 710 H2C's motherboard comes with the same slick BIOS seen in all XPS 710 systems. The collapsible menu, complete with scroll bar, is instantly recognizable and visually sets it apart from the Award and Phoenix derived BIOS commonly seen on OEM products.
We really liked how the XPS 710's BIOS looked. Not only is its layout clean and easy to navigate, but it's well documented too. Each page comes with detailed descriptions of the available options on that page and the on-screen documentation usually does a good job of describing what everything does. No more flipping through the manual to find out what some string of jargon means.
The BIOS screen is divided into three separated areas. The bottom of the screen contains a listing of the currently available controls while the left side is dominated by a collapsible menu. The main content appears in the center. We found the menu to be easy to use and well organized. It never took more than a few seconds to figure out where a particular option was. Overall, most of the standard options are there, such as hard drive adjustment, system information, power management options, onboard device management and boot order selection.
Of particular interest is the performance menu. Inside you will find pages for toggling multiple processor support, processor overclock, and HHD acoustics among other things. The CPU clock speed page allows you to choose between Intel's stock frequency for the QX6700 processor (2.66GHz), Dell's factory overclock (3.2GHz) and an intermediate frequency (2.93GHz). No other frequency adjustment were offered but there is a separate overclocking page that we initially thought would hold the additional adjustment options. However, we were wrong. The overclocking page's single option is for toggling the ability to overclock the system. Since the BIOS was designed for use in all XPS 710 systems, the description on the overclocking page says the factory default setting is for overclocking to be turned off. We can confirm that this is false and the factory default is in fact "on".
In the Onboard Devices menu is the chassis LED color adjustment page where the color of the LEDs on the front, interior and rear of the chassis can be chosen from 8 options. The colors follow a gem stone theme, where each color takes on the name of a similarly colored gem stone, such as emerald for green, diamond for white (default) and amethyst for purple. Another interesting option, called Auto Power On, can be found in the Power Management menu. This option allows you to configure the system to automatically turn on at a specific time every day, or only on week days. The actual time when the system is supposed to automatically power on is adjusted on a separate page in the same section of the menu.
While we liked the BIOS and found it easy to use, it wasn't completely without fault. Holding down an arrow key for more than 3-4 seconds while navigating the menu will cause the system to stall and make a beeping noise until the key has been released. Then, once the system has had a second or two to recover, it will automatically scroll an appropriate distance in the direction that you had been pressing. We didn't find this quark too annoying since it didn't happen very often and the collapsible nature of the menu means there isn't usually a need to really lean on the arrow keys.