Introduction

Our latest system review comes from a company that needs no introduction. Dell sent us their XPS 410 desktop system for review, and we are interested to see how a PC designed by the largest system integrator compares to the other offerings on the market. Being number one also makes you the biggest target, both for competitors as well as critics; people love to hate the top dogs. Sometimes those feelings are warranted, other times they stem from jealousy or other sources. We're here to put feelings aside and take a hard look at what Dell has on offer.

We've already reviewed a couple Core 2 Duo prebuilt systems from ABS computers and PC Club. It would hardly be an exaggeration to say that regardless of what we say in this review, Dell will probably sell more XPS 410 systems in the next month than either of those two companies will sell in a year. In fact, many of the people looking to buy XPS systems will likely never see this review. However, while we cater primarily to the enthusiast community, many enthusiasts have friends and family that need computer systems, and they don't always have sufficient time to build and support systems for those people. That's where prebuilt systems from OEMs like Dell come into play.

We certainly don't expect Dell to set any new performance records relative to other computer configurations we have reviewed, but overall performance is often secondary to other considerations. What sort of support is offered, how easy is it to assemble your system when it arrives, are there any serious problems people should be aware of, and what is the overall value of the package? These are just a few of the questions that are important to consider when looking to purchase a computer for friend or family member. We will provide answers to these questions and others, and we will also test the performance of the Dell XPS 410 in our review.

The configuration that Dell sent us is similar in some ways to the PC Club Enpower Sabre Extreme, and it represents a higher-end configuration that attempts to fulfill the requirements of a large variety of users. Most people have come to associate the XPS brand with "Extreme Performance" that often targets the gaming crowd. While that market is certainly covered with the current offerings, the XPS brand has grown to encompass a larger market segment. Dell's focus with XPS brand computers now is on premium service and quality, with designs that often stand out from the rest of Dell's offerings in appearance and features. Depending on options, XPS systems can range from moderate midrange configurations all the way up to ultra high-end builds that include every top-end part currently available.

The XPS 410 is a step down from the XPS 700 in that it doesn't allow you to use dual graphics cards or the Core 2 Extreme processor, and the chassis is more of a traditional design. The 410 is billed as offering a multimedia experience first and foremost, with configuration options that match that market. For those that don't need absolute maximum performance, it looks set to offer just about anything you could want in a modern system. Let's take a closer look.

Features and Price
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  • JarredWalton - Monday, September 18, 2006 - link

    The real problem is that most of the time the speech recognition is so accurate that I don't properly read the words and make sure DNS put what I intended. For example, in that above post, "for a look" should have been "where I look".

    Part of the solution is to learn to dictate very clearly and make sure you enunciate all of the words properly. Even with precise dictation, however, speech recognition is still going to make some mistakes. 95% accuracy is actually quite good, and I have learned to live within the limitations of the software.
    Reply
  • yyrkoon - Tuesday, September 19, 2006 - link

    sounds like you ned to incorporate a spell checker into your list of editing utilities :P Reply
  • yyrkoon - Tuesday, September 19, 2006 - link

    actually, I meant grammar utility, dahmed fingers . . . Reply
  • JarredWalton - Tuesday, September 19, 2006 - link

    Grammar checking utilities are notoriously bad. Half of the "errors" that they highlight are correct, but then they still miss a bunch of things that are incorrect. The best solution is just to proofread really thoroughly, but stuff still slips through at times. Reply
  • mino - Monday, September 18, 2006 - link

    I am sure amy would reallly appreciate to make bigger tests such as printed magizines do.
    The most writing should be on the ergonomics, case design, cooling, support, warranty and so on.
    While providing only some reference numbers of the performance of the systems averyone to each other with 2 your systems(benchmarked more thoroughly) as a reference for comparison (i.e. Intel,AMD one).

    Also some DIY system comparison won't hurt, It was a long time real system-to-system tests were done.
    This way IMHO even some synergies would show up which remain normally undetectable if only-component specific tests are done.

    Such test should also hugely go for real-life situations with tons of active background stuff like Google Desktop Search, radio, SETi.. running
    Reply
  • mino - Monday, September 18, 2006 - link

    amy == many ;) Reply
  • mino - Monday, September 18, 2006 - link

    And one special thing:

    PLEASE do som HDD tests with HUGELY fragmented - this is the real situation, yet pretty much not tested at all...

    i.e.: 500k scattered files on an 250G drive, half ogf it fragmented, then try moving copying some big file within such a drive.

    That's the real wold stress test many drive have to endure daily... 1MBps is no exception then!
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Monday, September 18, 2006 - link

    Windows Media Center by default is set to the fragment your hard drive during the night in order to keep performance optimized. If we were trying to do stress testing of hard drives to make them fail, I suppose such tests might be useful, but ideally we don't want to test performance in artificially handicapped situations.

    As far as printed magazines, this review was over a thousand words in length. I can pretty much guarantee that no print magazine is going to publish a review that long about any computer system... at least not unless they get some massive advertising money from the manufacturer first.
    Reply
  • mino - Tuesday, September 19, 2006 - link

    I reffered to print guys just because the TYPE of the review I mentioned reminded me their ways.
    Not trying to compare.. they would get trashed most likely:)
    That MCE thingie sounds nice. However most PC are OFF at night and it is not particularly welcome to have a system run defragment during my work on it.

    Even so, I have observed that even with a huge amount of no-fragmented files scattered around the drive behaves the way as the fragmented one.

    The reason I requested such tests was not to make the drives fail(hell they shouldn't) but to a hve a comparison how different ones compare in such a situation.

    This is a common situation an an heavily run WS or light file-server after a year or so of running.
    Reply
  • mino - Tuesday, September 19, 2006 - link

    Almost forget. I am sure many guys appreciate you comming here to reply to our comments.
    Thanks for that.
    Reply

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