Dell XPS 730 H2C Performance Gaming System

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BIOS & Utilities


The XPS 730's BIOS is quite a departure from what we've come to expect from Dell. All of the Dell systems we have reviewed in the last couple of years featured a distinctly proprietary layout that included a collapsible menu system, rather than the much more common tab-based layout seen in most BIOSes. Instead the XPS 730 uses a standard Phoenix BIOS with a traditional layout. This isn't necessarily a bad thing since just about anyone who has rummaged through a BIOS is probably familiar with the standard Award/Phoenix layout so the XPS 730's BIOS should be instantly familiar.

   
   

The XPS 730's BIOS is fairly well equipped with options. Most of the BIOS options and controls you would expect from a high-end NVIDIA nForce motherboard are present and unlocked. The BIOS is divided into six tabs which are navigated with the arrow keys. The 'Main' tab contains system information as well as the date and time settings. The 'Advanced' menu contains six sub-menus that control a variety of functions such as the CPU configuration, integrated peripheral functions and the hard drive configuration, as well as the overclocking options. The 'Security' menu has options for setting passwords, the 'Power' menu controls the various suspend and recovery functions and the 'Boot' menu contains the boot priority list.

The first sub-menu in the 'Advanced' tab is 'CPU Configuration'. It contains a couple interesting settings like the CPU multiplier, virtualization, and SpeedStep. Each core in the processor can also be individually toggled on/off except for the 1st core, which may be a useful feature for troubleshooting issues. The most interesting settings are contained in the last two sub-menus within the 'Advanced' tab. These two menus control the overclocking and voltage settings.

     

The overclocking sub-menu contains all the standard overclocking settings like FSB, CPU multiplier, memory frequency, and memory ratio settings. These settings can be enabled by setting EPP 2.0 Memory to 'Expert' mode. The EPP 2.0 Memory setting can also be used for automated FSB overclocking by a small percent. This menu also contains the memory timing sub-menu.

The second overclocking related sub-menu in the 'Advanced' tab contains all of the system's voltage settings. These are all set to "auto" by default but are unlocked and can to adjusted as the user pleases.

One menu that is noticeably absent from the BIOS is any sort of fan control, voltage, fan speed or temperature monitoring menu. However, rest assured that these functions are available. These functions are all handled by in-OS monitoring utilities and are made available to any ESA compliant software.


Dell XPS 730 H2C Monitoring Utilities
NVIDIA System Monitor

One of the utilities pre-installed on the XPS 730 is the NVIDIA ESA System Monitor utility. Besides a neat 3D graphical interface, this utility displays all of the system's voltage, temperature and fan speed information. The NVIDIA System Monitor also has logging functions.

     

The XPS 730 monitors a variety of sensors located on the chassis, CPU, motherboard, memory, networking device and hard drives (with NVIDIA-powered graphics cards, GPU health data will also be available). This basically encompasses all of the voltage, temperature and fan speed information available to the system. The slider at the bottom of the screen adjusts the transparency of the background. The utility is easy to use and informative. The 3D interface is unnecessary but never gets in the way.


Dell XPS 730 H2C Configuration Utilities
NVIDIA Control Panel

While the NVIDA System Monitor can monitor, log and display all kinds of system status data, it can't actually adjust any system settings. For that, you will need the NVIDIA Control Panel. The version of the NVIDIA Control Panel pre-installed on the XPS 730 mirrors nearly all of the options available through the BIOS in addition to many option not accessible in the BIOS.

          

The NVIDIA Control Panel offers a very large number of options and setting ranging from LED color and fan control to memory timings and overclocking. You can see many of the most interesting options in the screenshots above. The utility also lets you create and set profiles. Each profile stores its own set of system settings so you can dial in your preferred settings for a number of scenarios and quickly switch between them without manually changing each setting every time. Overall, both utilities are fairly straightforward and easy to use.

It is also worth mentioning that both of these utilities are not exclusive to the XPS 730. The NVIDIA Control Panel can be used with any NVIDIA motherboard and the NVIDIA System Monitor will work with all ESA compliant hardware.
 

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