For several months, Dell had planned a computer that would bring all the latest features together in a new cutting-edge machine targeted at the Gamer. The result of that effort is the Dimension XPS, a 3.2GHz computer in an enhanced case with a 460-watt power supply. While you can order Dimension XPS in many configurations, our unit was equipped with every top-of-the-line option on the list — including the 3.2 Pentium 4 on the Intel 875P chipset motherboard, SATA RAID with a pair of 250GB hard drives, a Radeon 9800 XT, Creative's top Audigy 2 sound card, 8X DVD+RW and 48X CD-RW, Logitech's top Z-680 5.1 speaker system, and a 16ms 20" flat-panel display designed for gaming.

As you can see from the list above, everything about the Dell Dimension XPS that we are evaluating is top-of-the-line. While you can order the system with more modest choices, and prices starting at $1799, we realized many of our readers would want this system, so we asked Dell for a price on the system exactly as we tested. Dell provided a price, but they also kindly put together a special offer for AnandTech readers. The Dimension XPS, configured exactly as we are testing it, is available from Dell for $3399. To get this special price of $3399, you need to enter E-Value code 6V411-XPSRPW when you order the system from Dell. The E-Value code is also valid for phone orders.

Those who select the CRT option will receive the system as pictured above. Other components pictured are the same as our review system. As we mentioned, our $3399 test system included the 20" 16ms flat panel display pictured below.

We were so impressed with the 20" display that AnandTech decided to do a separate review of the flat-panel. You can check out Kristopher Kubicki's review of the 20" display at Kris goes into much more technical detail on this exciting new panel than we could include in a complete system review. Dell considers this new 20" flat-panel their first LCD fast enough to be used for gaming, and after AnandTech's testing, we certainly agree.

It is impossible to review the Dell Dimension XPS without considering the market to which it is targeted. Dell has loaded the XPS with just about every “bragging-rights” feature you could think of if you were putting together a list of components for the ultimate gaming machine. However, Dell has never really targeted the hobbyist or enthusiast who wants to tweak the last bit of performance out of their computer by overclocking or tweaking the memory for the best performance possible. The Dell Dimension XPS is no different in this regard. 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, but buyers who would never think of overclocking will be thrilled. So will potential buyers who want the best gaming system available with a good warranty, but who wouldn't even think of putting it together themselves. Enthusiasts will find the Dell system somewhat limiting, but the 90% of buyers who don't overclock, don't do their own upgrades, or would never think of assembling a computer themselves will be thrilled with the Dell Dimension XPS.

System Specifications

 Dell Dimension XPS System Specifications
Expansion Bays (5.25"/3.5"/Hidden) 3/1/3
Front USB Ports 2
Rear USB Ports 6
Internal USB Ports 0
Front Firewire Ports 1 Standard
Rear Firewire Ports 1 Standard
On-Board Parallel Port 1 Rear
On-Board Game Port None
Modem Ports 2 Rear
On-Board Serial Ports 2 Rear
Front Audio Jacks 2 — Headphone
Rear Audio Jacks 6 Mini on Audigy 2
SPDIF One — Rear
Mini Out
Number of Fans (including CPU/chipset) 4
Power Supply 460W

Dell Dimension XPS: XPS Chassis


View All Comments

  • 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?

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