Dell, HP, and iBuyPower Back-to-School PC Roundup

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Dell XPS 8300 Configuration and First Impression

Next up we have Dell's XPS 8300 system. This machine is aimed at all-round content creation and multimedia chores, and though it didn't ship to us with a built-in TV tuner like HP's system did, there's an option to add one when configuring an XPS 8300 online.


Monitor sold separately

Dell XPS 8300
Specifications and Features (as tested)

Model

XPS 8300
CPU

Intel Core i7 2600 with air cooling
Memory

8GB DDR3 1333MHz
Graphics

AMD Radeon HD 6770
Storage

Seagate Barracuda XT 2TB (6Gb/s, 7200 RPM)
Optical

Blu-ray Reader/DVD Burner Combo
Operating System

Windows 7 Home Premium x64
Internet

10/100/1000 Ethernet and 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi
Front Panel Ports

4 x USB 2.0; 1 x USB 3.0; Memory card reader; Headphone and mic
Rear Panel Ports

4 x USB 2.0; eSATA; GbE LAN; Optical SPDIF; Audio inputs
Sound Integrated 7.1 surround sound with THX TruStudio PC
Power Supply 460W
Keyboard / Mouse Dell wireless keyboard and mouse
Warranty

1 Year Limited
Price

$1,300 (as configured)


Like both other systems in this roundup, Dell chose Intel's Sandy Bridge platform to serve as the foundation. The OEM then dropped in a performance-oriented mechanical hard drive with a generous 64MB of cache, 7200 RPM spindle speed, and a SATA 6Gbps interface. Rounding out the setup is 8GB of DDR3 memory and a Radeon HD 6770 graphics card.

Contents

  • Dell wireless keyboard
  • Dell wireless mouse
  • Power cord
  • Quick Start Guide and related documentation
  • VGA to DVI Adapter
  • Drivers and Utilities disc
  • Windows Reinstallation DVD
Is that a Windows disc bundled into the system contents? It is -- Huzzah!



And then our celebratory cheers turned into grumbling jeers. We're okay with the weather widget in the upper right corner of the desktop, but the pop-ups are a drag, and in particular McAfee's persistent cries for attention will make you want to smother it with a pillow, which is what we ended up doing. Dell shipped us a 15-month subscription to McAfee, but since it got in the way of benchmarking (the pop-ups caused some benchmarks to crash), we uninstalled the security software for the duration of tests.

We did a little digging and uncovered other bits of crapware pre-loaded on our XPS 8300, though like HP's system, most of it didn't start up with Windows. The XPS 8300 loaded Windows faster than the other systems in our roundup, cold booting in just 47 seconds, and taking 9 seconds to power down.

Dell includes its "Stage" software on XPS 8300 systems, which is a fancy name for a dock. It gives users quick access to frequently accessed files such as multimedia content and games. There's also a Syncup button for accessing the 2GB of online backup Dell includes free of charge for one year.

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