Dell XPS 410: Core 2 Duo for the Masses

by Jarred Walton on 9/18/2006 12:20 PM EST
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  • OptimisTech - Tuesday, September 19, 2006 - link

    Anyone know how this differs from the Dimension 9200 in the Small Business division? It seems like the 9200 can be a little cheaper, but they seem identical. Reply
  • JarredWalton - Tuesday, September 19, 2006 - link

    The XPS 410 and the Dimension 9200 are the same basic system. The XPS simply comes with higher default components as well as some extra options in a few areas, while the 9200 has some lower end options that help to cut costs (i.e., by default it only ships with one DVD-ROM/CD-RW combo drive and an 80 GB hard drive, and DDR2-667 memory isn't listed as an upgrade). Also note that you do not get a higher level of technical support with the Dell dimension 9200 I think (though that might be wrong, as the 9200 is a business setup). Reply
  • Kougar - Monday, September 18, 2006 - link

    quote:

    We'll discuss the display more in a separate review.


    Definitely looking forward to it! 15" viewable is just not cutting it for me anymore...

    If I may ask, what other monitors might be in the article featuring the 2407WFP review or others? I have seen a review of the relatively hard to find 24" BenQ FP241W, which outscored the 2407WFP, but as I know nothing of the site I'd very much like to see one of Anandtech's solid reviews comparing it to the Dell model. Just another suggestion, anyway... ;)
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Monday, September 18, 2006 - link

    Honestly, a large part of LCD purchase decisions is going to come down to price, especially on 23/24" models. While a display may be twice as accurate, for everything but professional use that probably won't matter much. I've got both the old and new Dell 24" models (I bought the 2405FPW last year), a 23" Philips, as well as a few smaller, less-expensive displays in the 19-22" range. If the price is equal or close, get the better quality display of course, but there is very little to complain about with Dell's 24" LCDs in my experience. Reply
  • Kougar - Monday, September 18, 2006 - link

    Thank you for your reply!

    I didn't want to make a huge post, but a few things I probably should of pointed out that confuse the issue is that The BenQ is supposed to be cheaper, although at the moment it's about a little more in US dollars. In pounds it's a good deal cheaper though according to their review, which is partly why they scored it so well. But it's still pretty rare/new, so I figure prices will still be setlling on it.

    According to Trusted Reviews it's £549.99 without VAT, much below the Dell which they say is £702.00 without VAT. And also according to them better quality, enough for a perfect score across the board. Naturally TrustedReviews didn't score the 2407WFP half as well, so I'm trying to figure out which is indeed better for gaming purposes in response timings and such. ;)

    What you've said pretty much sums up what I've read about the Dell 2407WFP, which is mostly why I find their ratings of that BenQ and it's purported price to be so hard to believe!
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Monday, September 18, 2006 - link

    I do have one BenQ LCD, but it's only a 19" model. I feel BenQ is a little cheaper on build quality, and I did have a 20" model for a bit that started emiting a high-pitched squeal at times. I haven't done the specific tests on the 19" model yet, but most 23/24" LCDs are very similar, as there aren't that many panel manufacturers. I'd be surprised if the BenQ is substantially better, but if you can find it for less money it's certainly worth considering. I'm trying to get a 24" Acer for review as well, as it's priced about $100 lower than the Dell 2407WFP. Reply
  • Kougar - Monday, September 18, 2006 - link

    Yipe, those things can squeal? I would not feel comfortable sitting infront of any monitor that squealed!

    Thank you again, I do aprpeciate your opinion and experiences with both company's line of displays.

    And good luck getting that Acer, I'll add that one to my list! I'm planning on getting some kind of 22-24" widescreen display during the prime time sales season, but it really helps to have a good idea of what's out there already. Thanks again!
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Tuesday, September 19, 2006 - link

    It's usually a transistor or capacitor or something that causes the noise. A lot of motherboards do it as well in my experience, but the pitch and volume of the noise from this particular LCD was louder than most others that I've encountered. Reply
  • Sunrise089 - Monday, September 18, 2006 - link

    Top of page 5 reads "One final at them to talk about is the included TV tuner"

    "At them" should = "item"

    I couldn't figure out how you would have mistyped that, but then I remembered that speech-recognition software review you did. Looks like that still isn't a perfected system :)
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Monday, September 18, 2006 - link

    I do have to be very thorough about proofreading my articles, but after being up all night finishing up this review I missed that one. When I go through and do the final read before posting an article, I often encounter several spots for a look at the words and think, "what on earth did I say to get Dragon NaturallySpeaking to write that!?"

    Anyway, thanks for the correction. Hopefully that's the last one. :-)
    Reply
  • 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
  • JarredWalton - Tuesday, September 19, 2006 - link

    No problem - gotta do my job as author! :)

    You might want to email Gary on the HDD stuff, as that's basically beyond the scope of system testing. He's handling HDD reviews, so maybe you can pass on your suggestions. I think he's covered HDD performance well, though getting repeatable results with real world tests is going to be somewhat difficult.
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Monday, September 18, 2006 - link

    ^^ Er...
    "defragment" not "the fragment"

    *EIGHT* thousand words, not "a thousand".

    LOL Stupid Dragon NaturallySpeaking! (Stupid editor for not proofing my post before hitting reply.)
    Reply
  • biggersteve - Monday, September 18, 2006 - link

    An amazing story. XPS has a special support number 800-999-3355. We called this number and the guy in India was pretty efficient and helpful. XP had died with a reboot loop. Could not even safe boot. The guy advised us to use ctl-F11 to completely erase the HD and start over. We'd only had it a week so that was ok, though I suspect we could have done a roll-back, though we couldn't even safe boot. Anyway, all this happened after Microsoft helpfully installed 37 automatic updates. The guy at Dell said half the calls they're getting are because of this. (The other half must be the battery recall...) So he told us to turn off Windows Automatic Updates and never ever ever use it again. I only have one data point, but it looks like Microsoft released an automatic update that whacks all the XPS 410's out there and maybe more. So now we have a standoff where Dell is telling everyone to never use Microsoft automatic updates. Who wins? The virus and spyware writers. And Apple... since Apple controls the hardware and OS alike, they'd never release a cluster-fsck like this one. Reply
  • yyrkoon - Monday, September 18, 2006 - link

    well, this should be obvious, but the person who told you to turn off windows automatic updates, and to 'never ever ever turn it on again' is an idiot. Sounds like either you had/ have spyware, or a virus, OR, you installed a hardware update from MS, instead using Dells drivers. I have personally run into 'MS certified drivers' issues with Dell systems in the past (more than once). I dont own a Dell myself, but the majority of our customers, that want a prebuilt in-expencive systems, we recommend to buy from Dell, so we do see our share of them.

    My recommendation, would be to USE automatic updates, but instead of having it download, and install the updates for you, configure it to notify you only, then you can manually download, and install yourself. When installing the updates, make sure to choose 'custom', and read what each update is all about. 9 times out of 10, if it isnt a critical update, or a security fix, you dont need it.
    Reply
  • mino - Tuesday, September 19, 2006 - link

    Agreed on the auto-off stuff.
    However it is possible some MS priority update will not like some HW/drivers even WHQL-ed ones. Compatibility is the word. Windows world is simply too diverse to check all of the possibilities.
    Reply
  • mino - Monday, September 18, 2006 - link

    Experienced such a story many times... SP2, .NET 2.0, specific "hot-fix" ...

    Cynic would say "Welcome to the world of Windows!". ;(
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Monday, September 18, 2006 - link

    Interesting. I did download and apply all of the currently available patches from Microsoft without any problems. Note that I downloaded these manually rather than letting Windows do the patch automatically during the night. I don't know if that would make a difference, but I don't particularly like having the automatic update process running all the time. Reply
  • mino - Tuesday, September 19, 2006 - link

    Most of the times things work, the problem are the situations when they do not.
    Not once have I had to spend a day installing a few updates a time, just to find out which one was incompatible .. so that some Windows feature would work.
    Reply
  • Pastuch - Monday, September 18, 2006 - link

    I am actually a Dell employee at their technical support centers in Ottawa Ontario Canada. I can say with all honesty that if you get anyone in north america youll probably get great support. The problem is that Dell phone support has a large number of different queues and our customers tend to get bounced around quite a bit. The company is really trying to improve their customer service which is why they have moved most of their tech support to Canada. If you know someone that isnt tech savy they have the option of buying a "Dell on Call" plan. This is an annual plan or single incident that provides support for pretty much anything. If you are going to get a Dell you can get a 30day trial of DOC (Dell on Call) support with your system. A typical DOC call will have the agent remotely connect to your computer and show you the basics of spyware/adware prevention, updates, system maintenance , etc. I have been an Anand reader for years and I think the type of people likely to buy this PC would benefit from Dell on Call software support. I actually worked in DOC for the last 6 months and was resently promoted to IT operations for the building here in Ottawa.

    For the record: I've never bought a dell and I'll continue to build all my PCs from scratch and overclock the $hit out of them. Nothing like taking an Opteron 146 (2.0) to 2.8 on AIr!

    P.S. In the next year you will be able to get almost any of our machines with AMD or Intel chips. I was one of the thousands of Dell employees that have been pushing for this for a long time. ;)
    Reply
  • regpfj - Monday, September 18, 2006 - link

    To Jarred - great review, nice job. I liked the discussion of the case features and proprietary motherboard. It's fun to see a legacy-free setup, although serial and IDE have their place too. These unusual things make Dell stuff a bit more interesting to read about.

    On to my question -
    On page 9, the fps vs resolution graphs confused me a tiny bit. For all games except Bf2, performance is a bit lower at 1600 x 1200 than at 1680 x 1050. I think 16x12 is about 9% more pixels than 16.8 x 10.5, right? So is Bf2 just weird, or did the numbers get turned around a bit?
    Reply
  • Gary Key - Monday, September 18, 2006 - link

    quote:

    On to my question - On page 9, the fps vs resolution graphs confused me a tiny bit. For all games except Bf2, performance is a bit lower at 1600 x 1200 than at 1680 x 1050. I think 16x12 is about 9% more pixels than 16.8 x 10.5, right? So is Bf2 just weird, or did the numbers get turned around a bit?


    BF2 is just a bit weird with the benchmark results. Although our demo contains several minutes of intense action on the Daqing Oilfield map in a variety of vehicles and personnel assignments we typically find there is very little difference in the benchmarks between 1600x1200/1680x1050 or 1920x1200/1920x1440 resolutions with a decent video card. Also, with the latest video cards like the 7900GTX or X1900 there is no penalty now for 4xAA at 1280x1024 as an example. The benchmark will score the same as we are not GPU limited at that resolution with the Dell configuration as an example.
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Monday, September 18, 2006 - link

    BF2 also doesn't properly support WS formats except in demo playback. Go figure. So perhaps it isn't properly optimized for aspect ratios other than 1.333 (the standard for 4:3 displays). Reply
  • giantpandaman2 - Monday, September 18, 2006 - link

    Thoroughly enjoyed it. :)

    Again, only suggestion would be to add how long it took between ordering and receiving.
    Reply
  • bamacre - Monday, September 18, 2006 - link

    I've been telling everyone how well-designed these cases are, and how powerful the PSU's are. I stuck an X1900 XTX card in a precision 390 with a 375W PSU, and it ran great. People don't understand wattage isn't everything.

    And, I totally agree, I wish case manufacturers would take a peek and learn a few things from the higher-end Dell cases.

    Again, great job on the review.
    Reply
  • yyrkoon - Monday, September 18, 2006 - link

    Dell cases suck, however thier cases work for thier systems very well. Dell has always(atleast for the last several years) had innovative ways of cooling thier systems, I'm a bit surprised I even saw a radiator in this system, because normally, with a normal heatsink, and thier exaust shroud, thier systems run pretty dahmed cool.

    Anyhow, if you REALLY think thier cases are great, buy a Lian Li, then think on it again :) All it takes for me to realize it sucks, is to look at the back of the case, and notice how cheap it is.

    Dell makes great computers for people who dont want to build thier own systems, however, for those of us who do build our own systems, I think all of us would agree, that nothing is better than a hand built system. You wont, however, be able to beat Dell prices (latest Dell catelog showed thier rock bottom system selling for $399 us, including a 17" LCD !)
    Reply
  • mino - Monday, September 18, 2006 - link

    For sinle C2D, 2sticks generi DDR2, single X1900XTX, dual HDD and dual optical ANY _properly_designed_ 350W PSU is sufficient.

    The real issu is, these times 300W != 300W, thats the real issue.

    As a fact wattage matters, however the real one, not the written one...
    Reply
  • kristof007 - Monday, September 18, 2006 - link

    I really enjoyed reading through the review. So I was wondering would you be able to take that supporting piece off the 7900 and snap it onto a gfx card you buy? Reply
  • JarredWalton - Monday, September 18, 2006 - link

    The blue plastic is basically made to hold a GPU in place and it should work with any standard GPU. Some specialized cooling solutions won't fit most likely, but I did slot in an X1900XT card and it fit without problems. Reply
  • Homerboy - Monday, September 18, 2006 - link

    I'm so sick of the standard, anti-big-box-company rhetoric that's thrown aroung the Anantech Forums. Maybe this will quiet their tone.
    Reply
  • mino - Monday, September 18, 2006 - link

    In the US, Absolutelly True.

    Here, in Slovakia, Central Europe, NO.

    Simply because the smaller the market, the more expensive the Dell and the worse the support.

    We buy no pre-built ones since the for a price on an low-end pre-build I can have mid-to-high end custom build.

    And local support -if knowledgeable- is FAR more effective and responsive that any DELL's. Not to mention cheaper, since most HW issues are warrantied even on customs. The real problem's are HW-SW and SW and most of these are not warrantied by anybody, so you are gonna solve them by yourself or pay huge sums for paid support.

    Here the ~$200 per incident from big players is outrageous. Such can pay me 2-3 days of on-site professional's salary. And I need that professional no matter what.

    Those Dell's prices are cute, if one forgets they ask $1000 here for the same machine sold at $500 in US... That puts thing a bit into the perspective.


    Also to maintain an stable of a few hundred of those machines >3yrs often becomes a real pain.
    Reason being 1GHz/512M Athlon/PIII from 2001 is still pretty sufficient for most of the tasks these days, also budgetary constriants are never predictable...

    As of now, I simply buy 30% motherboards above the PC count and I'm pretty nicely covered for 5+yrs. 3yrs is warranty, and after that I have own spare parts stacked up nicely on the self.
    Any other part is a comodity thingie, som almost no stockpile needed.

    This way we can repair any HW failure within minutes of diagnose and if needed pretty comfortably operate for a few yers under seriosly limited budget.

    So for me - screw the Dell's of this world :)
    Reply
  • mino - Monday, September 18, 2006 - link

    Otherwise this machine is pretty solid, no question about it, ideal for making your average clueless kid an game addict.

    One thing not reasonable is the lack of RS232, LPT, PS/2 and FW, that makes it unusable as far as I'm concerned.

    Just wonder, will the ATX channel case builders ever actually LEARN how to make a proper AND cheapo case???

    It is possible and pretty easy to do at the same time, yet they are like afraid to make a killer product...
    Reply
  • Bluestealth - Tuesday, September 19, 2006 - link

    quote:

    One thing not reasonable is the lack of RS232, LPT, PS/2 and FW, that makes it unusable as far as I'm concerned.

    Really...
    Most mouses nowadays are usb
    Keyboards also come in usb(although there are still a lot of PS/2 keyboards),
    RS232... USB Serial Port?(I realize the network guys use these, but they are obsolete for the general person),
    FW... I haven't run into something that "required" this for a while,
    LPT... soon there won't be many LPT printers left surviving, and again there are USB adapters.
    I wish my new motherboard didn't have RS232/LPT/PS/2, they just waste space.
    It did however come with lots of USB and 2 FW ports, which is nice.
    Reply
  • mino - Tuesday, September 19, 2006 - link

    PS/2 usually just works, USB works, OS loads up and USB mouse turns off.I had amny times such a situation.
    That was just a single example..

    I am OK with an no-legacy approach as along as it is meaningfull.
    However to make legacy-free boards by removing all legacy stuff and not use the place for any other usage (i.e another 4-6 USB ports) is stupid.

    Also 6 USB ports as a complete I/O ? that's a joke!
    keyboard, mouse, printer, scanner, monitor, RS232 adapter and you have not a single port left!

    6 USB is nice if you have all that legacy - the big reason we use PS/2 KB and mouses is it frees up 2 USB ports.

    As for RS232, there is s huge amount of various equipment _produced_ for RS232! Why? because it makes no sense to go (pretty complicated vs. RS232) USB for simple data-reporting tasks.
    Reply
  • Bluestealth - Tuesday, September 19, 2006 - link

    Some companies use a USB to serial chip (or emulation) to allow them to easily upgrade their products, and for something that was designed with USB in mind, which is ever increasing, it will cease to be a problem.
    I currently have 1 USB Joystick, 1 Keyboard/Mouse Transceiver, 1 RF Remote. That is only 3 ports for me, I have 4 Rear USB ports, can add 4 more, a 4 port hub (plug stuff in on my desk easier), and have 2 front USB ports. For a majority of people 6 is NO PROBLEM, there are USB hubs for a reason though.
    These computers are not designed for everyone, they are designed for most people, most people nowadays will not use the LPT/serial ports, while a lot still may still use PS/2 ports dell "provided" a USB keyboard and mouse. Most people have a mouse, keyboard, printer, and "maybe" something else such as a scanner.
    It would be great if there were 8 USB ports on the back but I am assuming the last 2 went to that card reader. Intel decided on 10 USB ports, dell would have to add in card to support more, or add an additional chip to the board.
    Monitor... did you not see the 2 DVI ports? (I don't know how you even justify listing this), RS232 is not required for most people.
    Ok I did go on a rant, but this just screams of stupidly, USB is an expandable bus; it doesn’t have a fixed number of ports, only devices which is 127(?) per controller.
    Sure they are saving quite a bit of money on an I/O chip from winbond, but in the end it doesn’t affect many people, so why not?
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Tuesday, September 19, 2006 - link

    Two USB on the front, six on back, two more to the flash reader I think. Keyboard+mouse takes one port (the keyboard has two extra ports on it). You've got printer, scanner, headphones, network, and maybe one or two other things that can go USB, but that still leaves one extra port for most people. An LPT/Serial card is an option if you want that (it will use a PCI slot). Most people don't need it, though. If they had put firewire in the extra rear space, that would have allowed the use of a PCI LPT/COM and still have the sound card and TV Tuner. Not sure about PhysX, though... need a PCI-E version I guess. Reply
  • mino - Monday, September 18, 2006 - link

    "even on customs" => "even in the case of a custom setup" Reply
  • kmmatney - Monday, September 18, 2006 - link

    Dells Suck!


    Just kidding. When my Mom needed a new computer I had her buy a Dell. Its been trouble-free for several years.
    Reply
  • Jetster - Monday, September 18, 2006 - link

    i'm really impressed with the case design,especially the internal layout, excellent airflow. easily better than the most standared atx case you can buy on the market now. and AT's statement is so true: "It's almost a shame that most people that purchase an XPS 410 are unlikely to appreciate the ease with which the system can be upgraded."
    BTW did Dell use the new video card design with the chipset on the other side? casue the hsf is facing upward, which is better imo
    Reply
  • Homerboy - Monday, September 18, 2006 - link

    yeap. They are designed well, implemented even better and can't be beat bang for the buck. Sure higher-end and performance PCs will never be an pre-builts bread and butter, but they do it perfectly fine for the masses who don't know how to do it themsleves.

    And as far as their run-of-the-mill "workstations" and home PC are concerned. You simply can_not_beat a big-name manufacture on price and support.

    (*please note I build all my own PCs, but family, friends, and workplace all get pre-builts... Dell's actually).
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Monday, September 18, 2006 - link

    BTX motherboards have the slots flipped, so the case opens on the right instead of the left. That makes the GPU HSF face upward, as you can see. I didn't go into extreme detail on the BTX format, as I figure the images illustrate it well enough. :) Reply

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