Dell Dimension XPS: XPS Chassis



Dell's XPS chassis is a heavy-duty mid-tower finished predominately in blue with dark gray sides. The large 460-watt power supply is located at the bottom of the chassis with 2 small fans exhausting hot air to the rear from the power supply.



The floppy and 3 external drives bays are concealed behind a door. The door design is very clever and is hinged so that it can be stored conveniently on the side of the machine if you prefer constant access to the optical and floppy drives. Our test machine had both the latest 8X DVD+RW and a high-speed 48X CD-RW in black to match the system accessories.



Inside a front slide-open door are the front jacks, which include 2 USB, firewire, and headphone jacks.



While the chassis is blue, Dell's theme on the peripherals is black or black with silver trim. This is carried though to the keyboard with volume control. A Logitech Optical scroll mouse, also a matching silver and black, was included with the test system.



I doubt anyone could complain about the ports on the Dimension XPS rear panel. You get 6 more USB 2.0 jacks, the full complement of Audigy 2 audio I/O, digital and analog outputs on the ATI 9800 XT, 2 modem ports for those still using dial-up for the Internet, LAN port, parallel, 2 serial, and PS2 mouse/keyboard ports. There is not an old-style game port, but if you are buying a new gaming system, you are likely buying new USB game controllers as well. Through the slotted grill, you can see two large fans that exhaust hot air from the heat-duct that contains the CPU.



Getting into the Dell XPS case is as simple as pushing a large catch at the back of the left side. The entire left side and front of the chassis swings out to give you complete access to the motherboard, slots, and drive bays. This is certainly one of the slickest designs that we have seen in a case from any manufacturer.



With the case open, you get a good view of the green cooling duct that covers the 3.2GHz CPU in our test machine. Hot air from the CPU is directed to the rear of the chassis by this duct and exhausted by two large fans. Most people who buy a gaming system really aren't particularly concerned about noise, which is why we did not measure Sound Levels in our evaluation. However, with all the fans that are active in the XPS, we found it to be a very quiet computer. We doubt that noise from the computer will be an irritation for XPS users.

Index Dell Dimension XPS: XPS Motherboard
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  • justly - Monday, November 17, 2003 - link

    Wesley Fink, I appreciate your efforts and think you have made a positive change in Anandtech, but there are still things I find questionable with some Anandtech articles. I would like to address some of your responces to this article, and I ask that you try to understand my comments are not intended to be derogatory, just an observation of one individual.

    "We were careful to point out differences from our other benchmarks so readers would not jump to the wrong conclusions. We did consider publishing these benchmarks in isolation, without comparisons, but that would tell you little about the Dell's performance compared to the best components we have tested."

    I see no need to compare it to anything. If you or your readers want to compare it to systems Anandtech has configured all you have to do is provide a link to another article (that uses the same benchmarks) in the same manner that you did for the video cards, like this quote from the article "For a better idea of how the two cards compare, please refer to our benchmarks in AnandTech's ATI 9800 XT review".

    "Would you please explain HOW this has compromised AnandTech's integrity and is pandering to Dell?"

    I don't think "pandering" would be the correct term but favoritism might be. The way I see it many other OEMs (granted most are no where near the size of dell) have made gamming/high end systems for years, yet to the best of my knowlage Anandtech has never tested a full sized (non SFF) OEM system prior to testing this Dell system. The fact is, if Anandtech wanted to start testing full sized gamming systems why not chose a OEM that has made a name for itself by providing gamming systems. The choice to test a Dell is not such a big deal IMO as long as Anandtech aggressively tries to represent a wide variety of other OEMs, this means your readers should not have to wait for this Dell system to be obsolete before providing a review of a competing OEMs system.

    "Perhaps you will be more satisfied with the benchmark comparisons when we test a similarly equipped ElitePC system running an Athlon64 FX in an upcoming review."

    If you compare OEM to OEM or just link to other articles I will be satisfied.

    "Future benchmarks will compare the XPS to other systems, but we thought our readers would be interested in how the Dell XPS compared to the best components we have tested."

    Again I would have to reiterate the pionts I made above. Do not wait for the Dell system to be obsolete, compare to other OEM systems, or just provide a link to another article for comparison especially a non OEM system. Also it appears the comparisons may have been done using the best components you had readily available but certainly not "the best components we have tested".

    There is one other person I would like to adress,
    neuroking, not that it matters much, but if you want to make a point don't exaggerate to the extent that you no longer have a valid point as you did here "And the 4 fps on Quake 3 isn't worth the hassle" when comparing the Dell to the other P4 3.2GHz in the test it is more than 23 fps slower and compared to the top performer it lags by almot 60 fps. When I see responces that distort the truth as much as you have in this one statement I automatically question the validity of anything you say.

    Reply
  • destaccado - Monday, November 17, 2003 - link

    #28 assumes that "not to mention every week there's a 10% or better coupon" I laugh at that statement dell doesn't have a 10% coupon every week and don't you think they put that 10% into the price of their systems? If they run a 10% coupon one week you can make sure it was built into that weeks pricing...Not to mention your saying that the dell for $1484 is a good buy? 2 gigs of ram is worthless and its a free upgrade so you can't put it somewhere where its more worthwhile in the system. I'll tell you what I'd build for $1484....

    A7N8x Deluxe -115
    1gig OCZ PC3500 Limited Ed cas 2225 -330
    radeon 9600xt (free hl2 coupon) - $214
    coolermaster wavemaster- 150
    antec or enermax 350w - 60
    athlon 2500+ oc'd to 3200+ (too easy)- 90
    seagate/wd 120gb sata - 110
    lite on dvd - 35
    lite on cdrw -35
    ms internet kb and opt mouse - 36
    xp home - 90
    teac floppy - 8
    audigy 2 zs - 83
    upgraded hs/fan - 35
    Total Price: $1381

    Now can you tell me with a straight face that that setup with a aluminum tower, better soundcard, bigger harddrive, way better videocard, and faster memory wouldn't kill the dell in terms of performance? Remember this is anandtech and most of the readers here would be more then capable of setting up a system like what I just configured....If this was pcmagazine nobody would be complaining about the review....
    Reply
  • Yo2 - Monday, November 17, 2003 - link

    A friend of mine bought one of these xps's stuffed with audigy, 9800pro, raid and 2GB of DDR - the first machine was DOA - believe it or not I set up over 50 dells so far and never had one DOA. We sent it back and ordered a new one as they would have only replaced it with a re-furb. Well the next one worked - initially. Every once in a while my friend gets a BSOD in XP pro we could not track down the source of this issue - so be warned dell is ok for office apps but gaming is a whole other ball-game (pun intended). I am also disappointed that anatech is now so blatendly advertizing dell systems. This undermines their journalistic independence as well as the credibility of the website and it's forums as a whole Reply
  • CaveKong - Sunday, November 16, 2003 - link

    The only interesting thing learned from this article is that for a $3,400 top-of-the-line gaming machine you get bargain-bin ram.

    The laughable fact is Anandtech has pretty much sold out. There's no excuse to compare this multi-thousand dollar computer (with a special deal just for us readers!....) to systems with slower video cards. Well, I'm sure the excuse is "people won't want to buy it if they see how badly the XPS loses compared to a system $2,000 cheaper, and then we won't get our kickbacks."

    This puts the final nail in the coffin of this site's integrity. What's next, "proving" that the Apple G5's really are the world's fastest personal computers?
    Reply
  • neuroking - Sunday, November 16, 2003 - link

    #20 - I disagree on a couple points.

    First, I see nothing wrong with wanting a high quality system that you never want to tweak. I've had 3 Dell systems at home, a couple dozen at work, the oldest being 5 years old now. Had ONE tech support issue that was resolved within one week. I had 7 issues with my Alienware system within 15 days. NONE were resolved in a satisfactory manner. (btw- the tech support ppl I talked to there were more difficult to understand than the Dell ones.)

    Second, let's see what $1650 gets you when you buy it.
    Case/mobo/fans/psu -- $250.
    P4 3GHz ------------- $270.
    2 GB PC3200 DDR ----- $400.
    Audigy 2 ------------ $70.
    Keyboard/mouse ------ $50.
    DVD and CDRW Drives - $75.
    80GB Drive ---------- $80.
    FX5200 128MB -------- $70.
    XP Home ------------- $50
    ==============================
    Total --------------$1315 + time to put together, research, possability of misconfiguring.

    Wow! Not to mention that every week there's a 10% or better coupon. So $1649-$165 = $1484. So the question is whether is it worth $170 for a single source for tech support and for a stable system. Sure the RAM is slower, but the system is built for stability (check my other post). You can nitpick my prices above, but if you'r ordering from 15 different stores, you will have multiple shipping charges, and if you order from one or two, chances are someplace will have one of those components for cheaper.

    I know this blows some people's minds, but some people like to keep up with the latest tech (and thus read Anandtech), AND want to just come home and play a game after work, AND need to keep their computer running reliably for real-have-to-earn-a-paycheck-because-we-aren't-unemployed-or-a-student work. I don't want to worry about remembering to crank my fans up when I play a game. And the 4 fps on Quake 3 isn't worth the hassle.

    Oh, and go config this system on one of those other sites. In general, you will find then MUCH more expensive.

    And I'm not sure how much of a power user you really are if you whine about preinstalled software. How about uninstalling it? Not like it's in the BIOS. First thing I always do is clean out the crappy programs. And anyways, you can select which ones you want. There is a "no software" option for almost every software bundle they try to jam in.

    And the term "major shop" is VERY relative. I feel better about support from a store that has 100's of thousands of customers/year, including most major companies and educational institutions than Bob's World O' Chips. This system doesn't compete with the specialist stores that service a couple thousand units/year. They are competing against HP, IBM, Gateway, etc. In that world, yes, it is an Extreme PC.

    Okay, I'll stop now, since I keep thinking of more reasons your snottiness is ridiculous, I could just keep going for hours.

    B
    Reply
  • destaccado - Sunday, November 16, 2003 - link

    #20 if you want to understand the phone support don't buy alienware or call alienware an enthusiast shop......call them up and you'll see what I'm talking about.... Reply
  • neuroking - Sunday, November 16, 2003 - link

    First, I think that AnandTech has really done a great job with this review. I do reviews for another website (no I won't plug it), and they have properly compensated for problems we all encounter when reviewing systems, especially prebuilt ones.

    First, every site has three options: reconfigure every previous system to match the one we're reviewing, dumb down the review system to match the older systems, or add a disclaimer that there will be some differneces. People on the forums seem to be quoting the differences as if they are a revolation, or they caught AnandTech cheating. The reviewer took EVERY opportunity to make differences known.

    As reviewers, every site is in a rat race to see who can get what first. The problem is, if we want to get the newest components, we have to wait for the slowest to update system to make them available. This violates this first rule of getting the newest up. Also, keep in mind many many many companies do not just donate a system for review. They lend it to the reviewer for a month or two. If you want a new shootout every time a component is updated, top of the line systems must be continually donated to the review site. This doesn't happen. Anandtech would have to contact all previous companies, have the hardware configured and sent (IF the vendor allows a second review), and reconfigure the system for benchmarks. Since most comapnies take 10-14 days to ship, this again violates the first rule.

    Second, Anandtech made it obvious that this was not for hardcore gamers. What they did not mention is that even though Dell markets toward hardcore gamers, other will be buying it, including medical, research, and educational buyers. Having worked in labs and for big companies, I can tell you we NEVER want to build our systems because we either have to build several at once, or we don't want to have to deal with multiple vendors. The XPS is the only system with the P4EE available from Dell, hence, when a lab underling is told "we got more money. go get a couple top of the line systems", they will opt for the XPS over the 8300.

    Third, websites rely on revenue. Usually that revenue comes from advertising. Since the system reviewed is not a 'bad' one, it doesn't hurt to try and get some advertising money. AND the deal AnandTech is offering is an EXCELLENT one. The LCD alone is $760 if you play the coupon game.

    Fourth, people want to compare the price to other vendors. I purchased an Alienware system I was going to review. Top of the line (pretty much matched the specs for this Dell), and made Alienware aware I was reviewing it. In a word, the system was HORRIBLE. BSODs when I tried burning DVDs, and probably the worst tech support I've seen ever. Problem with the case? Guess what? No matter how small, you have to send the whole system back. Came misconfigured, and the list goes on. Luckily I was able to return it for a full refund. And if you want, go configure this system at Voodoo. If you opt for the 'value system' it will probably cost $750+ more. For the F-Class, expect $1750 more.

    Personally, I'm calling Dell tomorrow to see if I can alter the config a little and get one. Ihave been in talks with other vendors (Alienware and VoodooPC), and have yet to see an offer that comes even close. to this.

    Anandtech reviewers - you knew you were gonna take heat for this and you did an excellent job in the end from many angles.

    Anandtech readers - Remember that a full blown multisystem shootout is usually difficult, if not impossible to do. The nature of the internet review business makes every single day a review is withheld a loss of revenue that is not overcome by the increase in traffic. Nor is it usually such a significant difference in performance that it would warrent that loss of revenue. As always, readers are asked to use their previous knowledge to fill in the gaps. If you are at this site, you should have a decent grounding in what info to add/ignore from this review. If you are a casual reader who entered "Dimension XPS review" in Google, this may be all you need to buy this system.

    A final note, here's a run down:
    Company CPUs GPU Audio
    Dell 3.2GHz P4EE 9800XT Audigy 2
    Alienware3.2GHz P4EE 9800XT Audigy 2
    Athlon FX-51 Fx5950 Audigy ZS
    VoodooPC 3.2GHz P4EE 9800XT Audigy ZS
    Athlon FX-51 Fx5950
    FalconNW 3.2GHz P4EE 9800XT Audigy 2
    Athlon FX-51 Fx5950 Audigy ZS

    The prices for all the non-Dell systems easily broke $4000, with Falcon NW and Voodoo F-Class breaking $5000 without a monitor.

    Hope this helps,
    Brandon
    Reply
  • firtol88 - Saturday, November 15, 2003 - link

    "we thought our readers would be interested in how the Dell XPS compared to the best components we have tested."

    then use the best components you have tested

    http://www.anandtech.com/video/showdoc.html?i=1904

    http://www.anandtech.com/storage/showdoc.html?i=17...

    Anyway thanks for the work but try for comparable numbers in the future...
    Reply
  • Wesley Fink - Saturday, November 15, 2003 - link

    #22 - A better analogy might be that you don't see Car and Driver replacing the Jetta Engine with a Ford Engine just so they will be the same for testing. If we receive a complete system with a Radeon 9100 video card and a 2.6GHz P4, I do not think it would make sense to replace the components with a 9800 PRO and a 3.2 P4 just for testing. What would that tell our readers about buying the system that comes stock with a Radeon 9100 and a 2.6 P4?

    Future benchmarks will compare the XPS to other systems, but we thought our readers would be interested in how the Dell XPS compared to the best components we have tested.
    Reply
  • stephenvv - Saturday, November 15, 2003 - link

    I, for one, enjoyed this review and hope Anandtech continues to review systems as well as components.

    One, it's interesting change from component reviews and second, it highlights the complexities of how a full system benchmarks rather than a standard testbed.

    I think a roundup from time to time of Alienware, Voodoo, Dell and other "gamers" system would be a nice addition.

    Lots of gamers/performance junkies buy this way and it certainly helps them evaluate what to buy.

    For the rest of us who roll our own, looking at complete systems always is a good benchmark, not just in performance, but in design, aethestics and usability.

    Reply

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