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

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

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

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

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

Features and Price


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  • 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...
  • Bluestealth - Tuesday, September 19, 2006 - link


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

    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.
  • 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.
  • 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?
  • 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.
  • 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
  • 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).
  • 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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