Dell Dimension XPS: XPS Chassis

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Index Dell Dimension XPS: XPS Motherboard


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  • 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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