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  • Wesley Fink - Wednesday, November 26, 2003 - link

    Flash is used for charts in all AnandTech reviews because it uses less bandwidth than any other option. On a site with very heavy traffic like AnandTech, bandwidth is very important. As Editors, we do not have the option to use other charting methods.

    If you still have an issue with Flash after hearing the explanation, you should send your complaints to
  • mindless1 - Saturday, November 22, 2003 - link

    I would tend to agree that this is a DELL high-end box, and the review best served to acquaint readers with Dell's current offerings, even though most of us do not want to be stuck with $3K worth of unconfigurable equipment that's so proprietary that it'll certainly cost more in the long run due to upgrade hassles.

    On the other hand, the review used flash images, which is clearly stupid. I'm opposed to flash to begin with, but could understand it IF you needed an animation for some reason, but it wasn't a case of that. Seems more like some people think they know better than the entire world or else have never heard of JPG and GIF.
  • sador - Thursday, November 20, 2003 - link

    MY biggest complaint with this article is that it gives the impression that there are no other "pre-assembled" gaming rigs out there for the money that can compete with it. What a joke! There was a dearth of competitive "pre-builts" in tha article to give a real apples-to-apples comparison. (At least as far as $$$ is concerned)

    Alienware, like it or not, had pre-config'd systems that will torch this one for less money! Calling this a high-end gaming rig is an insult to qaulity gaming rigs everywhere.

    This article did come across as "pandering" a bit to Dell. Whether that was to keep the Dell goods coming, or was sincerely to give this system a fair shake is for every reader to decide for themselves.
  • madgonad - Thursday, November 20, 2003 - link

    to #34 - I don't know how long that coupon is going to last. Since it appears to be part of the Anandtech endorsement package I would guess about 10 days.
    As you noticed in the benchmarks the Dell was beaten about the head and shoulders by systems far far less the expensive. The excuse was given that the Audigy2 card was to blame since it could not be deactivated. It wasn't mentioned that almost every other system being compared also had an Audigy2 card, making the issue moot.
    As to the reason most people have given, tech support, please do not trust anything important to Dell's tech support people. They will tell you to restore the reg or reinstall the OS. After that you get to hunt for the original box in basement to RMA it back to Dell. The onsite people will do the same.
    The straight poop is that if you come here you are not the type of consumer to buy the generic-corporate-america product which just gets by. You want a stand-out product that you have control over.
    Or put simply. If your shopping for a fast car, do you get a manual or automatic transmission?
  • cdrsft - Wednesday, November 19, 2003 - link

    Can you spell.... SELL OUT

    way to go AT
  • jc1x - Wednesday, November 19, 2003 - link

    I just did a quick browse to figure out how much it'ld have cost to setup the same system if I were to buy the components..

    300 MB + Case + PS
    500 2x HD w/ SATA
    400 P4 3.2 CPU
    200 1GB DDR 400 RAM
    460 VID - RADEON 9800XT
    270 Logitech Z680
    175 8x DVD+R/+RW
    65 AUDIGY 2
    50 XP Home
    990 16ms 20.1 in LCD

    3410 in parts vs 3049* assembled.. (diff $361)

    * 3049 = 3299 - 150 (rebate) - 100 off coupon

    So, on balance, it's a good deal on price.. performance wise, well, if you want to tweak, buy a new MB for 250 and you'ld still be below component costs.. not to mention shipping costs and the hassle of multiple support locations.
  • BlackShrike - Tuesday, November 18, 2003 - link

    Does anybody else think these comments are ridiculous? The proposed system is only good if you want tech support, a dell, or a very nice LCD. Otherwise, build your own computer. For $3300 I swear you could get the fastest and greatest cpu/motherboard combo of an AMD-51. Then 1 Gb of registered DDR 400. A sound blaster audigy 2. A beautiful surround sound system. A great 19 or 21 inch CRT (I don't like LCDs personnal preference). Then a radeon 9800 XT. A wireless mouse and keyboard. A DVD +/- RW etc and so forth. Hell all these are probably so far under $2500, plus you get the satisfaction of building it, which is quite enjoyable. Oh and why not a nice see through case with lights and cool fans. Basically, I'm saying if you want the best, BUILD IT YOURSELF! If you are lazy then quit bitching or get a Voodo/falcon northwest and lose all the flashy stuff and still pay over $4000. So good job at the review anandtech but I would NEVER buy a dell. AMD IS THE WAY TO BE! Plus all that proprietary stuff that the #5 guy was talking about was right! Man, shame on you anandtech for recommending such a system. Bad, very bad.
  • ComputerBeatnik - Tuesday, November 18, 2003 - link

    Please...that's a ton of money just to play games!!! Why not just buy an X-Box for $150? Reply
  • jc1x - Tuesday, November 18, 2003 - link

    to #33. try using the code that was provided.. it's now 3299 w/ a 150 rebate = $3149.. no it doesn't have the P4EE but it sure is much cheaper than any comparable.

    Frankly, I'll probably get one of these.. and when I feel the need to (and actually have the time), just swap the motherboard w/ something tweakable..
  • madgonad - Tuesday, November 18, 2003 - link

    I just went to the Dell website and built the XPS system as described. The regular price is in excess of Five grand when including the EE of the P4.
    Now if a couple FX51s systems equiped with the same video card and RAID were to be benchmarked, THAT would be a fair and balanced comparison. Anything else looks like a straw-man.
  • 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.

  • 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....
  • 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?
  • 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.

  • destaccado - Sunday, November 16, 2003 - link

    #20 if you want to understand the phone support don't buy alienware or call alienware an enthusiast 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,
  • 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

    Anyway thanks for the work but try for comparable numbers in the future...
  • 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.
  • 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.

  • Possessed Freak - Saturday, November 15, 2003 - link

    Again, I stated that if you can not alter the system as sent for the review, change the ones that are in the benchmarks. Using simple trouble shooting techniques, you need to remove variables one at a time until you can find out just why the dell machine is all over the benchmark chart. The easiest way to do this is to add similar pieces of equipment to the other machines so they are on even footing. ONLY then can you possibly see any shortcomings the dell has or better, doesn't have.

    I understand the idea of testing the XPS as a complete system, then make the benchmark machines complete systems. You don't see car and driver comparing the new Jetta to a home built liquid cooled rocket assisted go cart, why do it here?
  • TrogdorJW - Friday, November 14, 2003 - link

    Okay, addendum... similarly configured systems from Alienware and VoodooPC cost more than the Dell, especially if you want 2 GB of RAM. And you really can't beat the price for that 20 inch LCD. (You also really don't need it, do you? Heheh)

    I *WILL* say that Alienware's PC configuration tool kicks ass over all of the others. It's a marvelous design, updates everything without reloading a new page, gives you more options, and in general, just looks more classy than the other places. But their "base" systems are still pretty expensive. And of course I should point out that you can go with AMD with non-Dell companies, which will almost certainly give more bang for the buck.

    Anyway, I suppose Wesley is right in saying that it's hard to match the options on this Dell system for the price. But come on... we're AnandTech readers, and I would be really surprised if anyone who reads this review actually buys the system. Then again, what do I know? People have done stranger things, in my opinion.
  • TrogdorJW - Friday, November 14, 2003 - link

    Let me just post once again in *support* of Wesley's testing. I think using the system as configured is perfectly legit. But then, I think the *other* systems should have been modified to match it. My biggest gripe is that the end conclusion is that people that don't ever want to open up their computer but want a high performing system will love this XPC. True, they might. They're also stupid. Because, like I said earlier, you could go out and get a pre-built system with MUCH better support (Dell's tech support is getting worse every time I deal with them), MUCH better performance, and MUCH better upgrade options, all for a similar price, if not less.

    Who on earth would say that they want a high-end gaming machine, and then, after EVERY computer savvy person they know suggests checking out Alienware, Falcon, Voodoo, etc., the decide to go with Dell? They would have to be stupid.

    If I am looking for a good sports car, and I have little to no knowledge of such things, what should I do? That's right: find someone who does have experience in this area, and ask them. Ask several. Then make a decision based on that input.

    This Dell system isn't being targetted at the starndard "I want a decent computer and I don't know much" crowd. It's the "eXtreme PC" (at least, I imagine that's what XPC stands for). To quote their web pages, it's the "Ultimate technology and display for intense gaming and graphics; perfect for demanding multimedia."

    Seriously, let's continue with their info:
    Key Features

    The ultimate technology and design in a PC. Perfect for demanding multi-media such as intense gaming, video editing and large graphic files.

    The Dimension XPS is built for Power Users (such as the extreme gamer) looking for advanced computing capabilities in a conventional desktop. It offers the highest expandability of the Dimension systems to tackle graphic-intensive files and video-editing applications. Built with XPS Technology that includes a new chassis design, specialized thermals to keep the system cool and quiet, power for the long haul and the most engrossing realism in video and sound.

    It STARTS at $1649, and that gets you the following (after a $150 mail-in rebate):
    P4 3.0 GHz
    WinXP Home
    2 GB RAM (free upgrade from 512 MB. Nice, that... too bad it's slow RAM)
    GeForce FX 5200 128 MB
    SoundBlaster Audigy 2
    80 GB Ultra ATA/100 7200 RPM drive
    16X DVD
    48X CD-RW (free upgrade)
    Integrated Gbit Ethernet (You missed this, Wesley! It's NOT 10/100)
    17" .25dp monitor
    Keyboard and mouse
    I'm guessing the "cheap" version comes with their 1 year limited warranty plus At-Home service. It comes "free" with Wordperfect Office and MS Money. It also comes with a TON of other garbage software to clutter the hard drive. UGH! Several of these programs are trial versions that will bombard you with ads after they expire as well. How nice. It might actually cost you money to tell them not to install all this crap software. (Scratch that... you *CAN* select to have none of the extra software installed, so it's a small victory.)

    So, the beggining gamer system is CRAP, and when you spend the big bucks and upgrade it, it's STILL going to be CRAP. It dupes the people that don't know computers with the low end system that will not live up to expectations, or it overcharges you for a high-end system with certain parts that STILL underperform.

    $3000 gets you a hell of a lot of computer, from any major shop. And the enthusiast PC companies don't have phone tech support provided direct from India. (Personally, I like to be able to understand the tech support people, should problems arise.)
  • firtol88 - Friday, November 14, 2003 - link

    I think people expect better from Anandtech as mentioned this is on par with what you see at Tom's.

    Why bother with numbers if they are useless...

    Why would you compare systems with different video cards, disk subsystems, and OSs it leaves too many variables for the data to be of any value.

    Had this review been performed as most have (historicaly), with as few variables as possible, it would surely be viewed in a different light.

  • mbs6 - Friday, November 14, 2003 - link

    Over the years I've tried to not be an anti-Dell zealot, but Dell really pushes me in that direction. I don't routinely work with Dell computers, but every time I do I'm not impressed. I recently visited a client of ours and used their Dell P4 2.4Ghz computer and I was honestly shocked at how SLOW it was. My own machine at the office is an Athlon 2000+ and it is noticeably faster and snappier! After quite a few years of data-gathering, I think I have finally come to the following conclusions.

    Dell computers are overpriced and of questionable quality. Furthermore, Dell is little more than the retail division of Intel and this hurts consumers because it marginalizes AMD's processors. Without AMD, Dell might be stuck offering a P4 3.2GHz system for the next decade! I've gotten to the point now where rather than tell a non-technical friend to buy a Dell, I'll build the system for them and have them reimburse me. $3 Grrr for that thing?
  • Pumpkinierre - Friday, November 14, 2003 - link

    #16 sorry error should be queries posed in #4 Reply
  • Pumpkinierre - Friday, November 14, 2003 - link

    I agree with #14 and #15 which makes it all the more difficult to understand why Wesley answers stupidities regarding 'system vs component testing (#11)' and not testing procedure and operational running queries that I posed in #5. I asked the 1st question because only the DELL XPS had XP home ed. while the others had XPpro installed and the 2nd question because of the unusual nature of the CPU cooling system. Yes and No would have sufficed Wesley! Reply
  • Freed0mTickler - Friday, November 14, 2003 - link

    Where did the myth that gamers are rich come from. Dells rig, the P4EE, Athlon FX ?

    I say these machines mock us gamers. Fact is that the nforce rig, sub $1000, embarasses the rigs 3x's its price.

    Im glad anadtech did this review to expose what we all know, Dell tweaks for stability at cost of speed, and always uses slow RAM. Id like to see Dells XPS and alienware / falcon northwest comparisons based on price.

    I think the future of gaming rigs will be price/performance - not some extravagant over priced underperforming PC like the XPS w/ 'bragging rights'. We only brag when we build a serious rig at low cost that performs like a demon.
  • bigtoe33 - Friday, November 14, 2003 - link

    Im sorry but all the people who are being very negative about this review you really do need to get a life!!

    Anandtech is here to promote/report about new products to the public.To do this it has to survive.To survive the site has to advertise,this is why you will see reviews of pre built systems as well as top of the line components.

    If your NOT into prebuilt systems then don't read the review.If you did read it please respect that this review is not aimed at you and to bitch about it is just plain stupid.
    Not everyone likes to build and tweak, and this system may just fill those peoples needs.

    Im a tweaker, i build and test many rigs every week.I wouldn't be seen dead with this gaming rig.That doesn't mean i think Anandtech has sold out to Dell though or anyone else, as quite frankly they haven't!!

    Wesley's review was honest and we should all respect that.
  • Wesley Fink - Friday, November 14, 2003 - link

    #10 and #12 - From Final Thoughts in the review:

    "The last group is the Enthusiast, Hobbyist, or Overclocker who, frankly, wouldn't be caught dead buying this gaming rig. With no tweaking options at all, the XPS would be a complete disappointment to this group, and would be considered a waste of good components."

    Would you please explain HOW this has compromised AnandTech's integrity and is pandering to Dell?
  • araczynski - Friday, November 14, 2003 - link

    this has got to be one of the most pointless reviews i've ever seen here.

    this site is for people that are more or less tech-savvy, who like to build their own machines. why would we care about the performance of a pre-packaged-just-add-water box from anybody (at least anybody mainstream). i think its a known fact that you'll never get your money's worth with those.

    no, i didn't read the review, and based on teh comments above, i'm glad i didn't waste my time.

    please get back to the more meaningfull stuff.
  • Wesley Fink - Friday, November 14, 2003 - link

    #9 - AnandTech works very hard to maintain consistent conditions when we test COMPONENTS, but a system has to be viewed differently. If the system is a barebone it is tested with standard components, but if it is a complete system we do not modify it for testing by removing or changing components. We are not, in this case, testing just a motherboard, or just a drive system, we are testing a complete system as delivered to and used by end users. End users will not remove the Audigy for gaming, not will they replace the 9800 XT with a 9800 PRO to see how games run. We therefore test complete systems, as much as we can, as we receive them. This is particularly true with the Dell XPS, because the user is VERY unlikely to change anything in this machine.

    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.

    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.
  • jlv - Friday, November 14, 2003 - link

    This review leaves me with a bad feeling.

    The XPS won on tests where hard drive speed mattered, and that's because it had a faster disk subsystem (striped SATA). Is that called out in the

    Here you are holding up a $3300 system, and it doesn't outperform. (But you give us a "special offer" to buy one ourselves). I'd love to know what the other systems cost, for comparison sake.

    Overall, this is the type of "review" that lead me to stop going to TomsHardware.
  • Possessed Freak - Friday, November 14, 2003 - link

    This is probably the only review I have disliked from Anandtech for the past year or two.

    If you suspect the audigy is causing benches to slow down, and you can't fully disable the device in windows, remove it?

    If you have a faster video card than all the other benches, change it?

    Offer two bars for the tests, one "as shipped" and one "modified" so we can see if there is something else holding the dell back.

    You suspect sata raid is speeding up some benches, as a reviewer isn't it your job to find out? I don't have one of these machines to see just how the raid affects the benches, you do. Run a myriad of tests to find out just why the dell is all over the place in these benchmarks.

    If you are not willing to change the dell specs then how hard is it to add audigy's to the other test bed machines, or add the latest vid card?

  • LoneWolf15 - Friday, November 14, 2003 - link

    Quoted from the article:

    "It is not designed for the hobbyist or overclocker; rather, it is designed and tweaked for the buyers who want their gaming system already set up, already tweaked for best performance, and ready to give great gaming performance right out of the box. As we evaluate the Dell Dimension XPS, this is an important distinction. Overclockers and tweakers will not be satisfied with the XPS"

    Guess what? This means that probably 90% or better of Anandtech readers WILL NOT be satisfied with the XPS.

    Even if I'm not overclocking, and not pushing my system's BIOS to the limits, I can build a system with similar components far cheaper, with better down-the-road upgradeability and at least equal performance and build quality. I can also do without the LCD --no matter how sleek they look, LCD's still aren't for gamers or video/graphics pros, IMHO.

    Dell is fairly good in a business environment (I'm a sysadmin over several hundred of them) though support has gone downhill since they moved their phone centers from the US to Bangalore, India. I'd rather support myself, and I'd think most Anandtech readers would too. I just don't see this system as being targeted at the average Anandtech reader.
  • AlexWade - Friday, November 14, 2003 - link

    Can I gripe about Dell's for a second?

    Our computer labs just upgraded to Dell's. I swear, they seem so slow. But, here is where my gripe with Dell begins. If I said the LCD has a bad image quality, I'd be giving it too much credit. I can see the individual dots with my face 1 foot away from the screen.

    Okay, I'm done complaining.
  • firtol88 - Friday, November 14, 2003 - link

    "Dell shipped the XPS with an ATI Radeon 9800 XT video card, which was used for all benchmarks with the Dell system. Please keep in mind that all of our comparison benchmarks were run with the ATI Radeon 9800 PRO, which is slightly slower."

    OK so this is really just an add right...

    Anyway your conclusion should read 'when equiped with a vidieo card offering an 8% increase in clock speed, a 7% increase in memory speed and double the video memory this Dell XPS system can almost keep up with the other systems we tested...'
  • TrogdorJW - Friday, November 14, 2003 - link

    I think the discrepancies that show up in the testing are very easy to pinpoint. But what a waste of good components. It would be SO easy for Dell to provide a truly great gaming system, but they are held back by their need to be proprietary and not allow any tweaking.

    First, the defects. As stated, lack of tweaking is not a good thing for most of us. Worse than that, though, is that the system will not even run at the SPD settings in memory modules. I can live without being able to manually set the timings, since this is Dell, but if I have CAS2 2-2-2-6 RAM, by DAMN the system had better run at those settings! That, incidentally, is almost certainly why the system performance drops so far in some tests.

    Next, they go with an i875 chipset for the motherboard, but then they don't even give you Intel's Gigabit CSA interface. Is it needed? Not by a lot of people, but come ON, Dell - your in freaking bed with Intel already, so at least give us their top features! For a system targetted at gamers and costing a cool $3G, there's no reason to stick the user with an old 10/100 Ethernet connection.

    Now, the case looks pretty cool, for the most part, but that is a butt-ugly cabling job. I realize that IDE cables are spec'ed to be no more than 18 inches long, but if you go with QUALITY cables, you can get longer 24" cables that work fine (especially since they're only for the CD drives), and there *has* to be a way to hide them out of the way a bit better. As much as it pains me to say this (since one of the few companies I hate more than Dell is Apple - I blame it on having to support Dell systems at my job), for a look at how to properly create a fold-open case and still keep the IDE cables tucked away nicely, the G4 systems were great. Again, Dell could have easily done the same, and they SHOULD have done the same for their XPS "Gamer" machine.

    While I'm on the subject of the case, I understand that it is overall a pretty well-made system, but the huge cover over the CPU and motherboard just looks fugly if you ask me. Yeah, it works, but it sure ain't gonna win a beauty contest! Also, the 460W power supply is a nice addition. Too bad it's a proprietary Dell design, I'm sure, so if it goes out and your warranty is expired, you'll be spent ordering a replacement from Dell for $200 or so. (Unfortunately, this probably isn't exaggerating!) And WHY IN TARNATION DID THEY PUT THE POWER SUPPLY ON THE BOTTOM!? Oh, wait, there's no tweaking, so you don't need to worry about heat... but *still*, it's just odd. I mean, the PS creates a LOT of heat, heat rises.... Stupid.

    Finally, did I mention that Dell systems are PROPRIETARY? It's not a big deal now, when you buy the system and it's all new and happy. But three or four years down the road, when parts start having issues and the warranty is gone, what are you going to do? I've seen proprietary Dell motherboards for old Pentium II systems that will still cost you over $200! And since the power supply, case, and motherboard are all proprietary as well, you're stuck either paying Dell a premium for service, or else you have to buy a new case, power supply, and motherboard should any of these fail after the warranty. DO NOT DISCOUNT THIS COST!!!

    Now, with all of my complaints about that out of the way, let me address the benchmarks. Gee... scores seem to be all over the place. Wonder why? Well, my guess is that it's due to bottlenecks that the various benchmarks stress. Common bottlenecks include the memory subsystem (Quake 3 is notorious for stressing this!), hard drives, graphics card, and of course all of these at the same time, in varying degrees.

    So it set a new high in Content Creation? No big surprise, since the benchmark is heavily influenced by hard drive speeds, and the striped SATA array is certainly up to snuff. Several of the other benchmarks depend on hard drive speeds to varying degrees, and when this is the case, the Dell gets a boost relative to the other contestants.

    How about the low gaming scores and low workstation scores? Check those 3-3-3-8 memory timings out! There is no such thing as "optimizing" a P4 i875 system to run best at 3-3-3-8 timings. The P4 is more forgiving of slower timings than other processors, but lower will ALWAYS be better, or at least no worse. And knowing Dell, the system is probably really running on a 198.5 MHz bus or something, "just to be safe" - basically, the opposite philosophy of Asus and Abit and such.

    But what about the areas that the system excels at that CAN'T be attributed to the hard drive array? Well, it DOES have the fastest graphics card around, the 9800XT. That's why some games and some workstation benchmarks score really well. Not all games stress the memory like Quake 3. Aquamark 3 most certainly doesn't care much about memory speeds in comparison to its desire for a fast CPU and graphics card. But a slow memory subsystem will usually hurt games that are highly optimized. (I think most would agree that Quake engine games and Unreal games tend to be very well optimized, whereas 3DMark and Aquamark and some of the other "eye candy" benchmarks aren't written as well, so they stress the CPU or graphics card more.)

    Anyway, the overall impression of this system for any but the most hardware impared HAS to be negative. This is a GAMING machine, and yet the only games that it won at, even with it's graphics card advantage, are Aquamark3 and X2. Wait... those aren't even games (yet). Yeah, the 20" LCD display would be pretty nice to have, if you've got the cash. But the only reason to get this over a REAL gaming machine - built by Falcon Northwest, Voodoo, Alienware, or some other company - is that you're too damn chicken to buy anything that isn't made by the same company that provides your "Easy as Hell" work computers.

    That's my story, and I'm sticking to it.
  • Pumpkinierre - Friday, November 14, 2003 - link

    Interesting setup- a coupla questions:
    1)Does Windows XP home ed. support Hyperthreading? (I know it doesnt support SMP)
    2)Was there a CPU temperature monitor and if so did you get a squiz at it, at idle and during the benchmarks? I'm interested in that cooling extraction system.
  • TheInvincibleMustard - Friday, November 14, 2003 - link

    And I ask again, is it so hard to somehow highlight the product being tested in the scoring tables? I cannot imagine it's that hard to "paint" that bar graphic red while all the rest are blue ...

    Aside from that, did Dell offer any reasons for the discrepancies that showed up throughout the testings? Or have you not heard back from them yet?
  • edub82 - Friday, November 14, 2003 - link

    I'm glad to see Anandtech bringing in some more revenue with advertisments for Dell now. Special Deal Only for Anand readers... :P Reply
  • dvinnen - Friday, November 14, 2003 - link

    At least it looks better than an alienware. Reply

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