Dell’s mid-range XPS offering brings Core 2 Duo muscle to the midrange market. We’ve recently seen Dell turn over a new leaf when it comes to bloatware and tech support. However, we see here that they're back to their old ways.
As many of you might know by now, HardOCP doesn’t "review" systems; we evaluate the experiences they facilitate. We order the system the same as you would and evaluate every aspect of the end-user experience. Not only does this give us a better idea of what hardware an end user actually receives, it also allows us to obtain a more accurate picture of just how each company functions and treats its customers. As fast as PC hardware has become over the years, we think giving a personal computer "5 stars" based on a synthetic benchmark is simply irresponsible. We think service, support, and reliability are much more important factors in today's climate than speed. Fast is easily bought, but purchasing and ownership satisfaction can be elusive.
This process allows us to not only evaluate the system, but the OEM that builds it. Our goal is to give you the wide-angle lens view of the computer and the company so that you can make informed and educated decisions as to what you purchase or recommend to clients, friends, and family.
Dell is a small computer company based in a small state in the US of A. Okay, maybe not, but do we need to introduce Dell? It is the largest PC distributor in the world, and sells more systems in a week than most boutique vendors do in a year. Its gross income is actually gross.
However, sometimes bigger isn’t always better, and we’ve had a rather lackluster history with Dell’s XPS line of performance-oriented desktop PCs. One would think that with Dell’s money and R&D power, it could build top-notch, flawless systems that ran circles around the competition—for half the price. And one would be wrong. So far, the XPS line has gone 2-for-3 here at [H] Consumer.
The first XPS we evaluated was the XPS 400 back in December of 2005. We took it to the mat over its invasive and problem-causing bloatware. Our experiences with Dell’s “premium” XPS support were also largely un-premium. Six months later we took a gander at the XPS 200, which impressed us very much. We went so far as to award it a Gold Editor’s Choice award—the highest award we offer. Shortly after that, we looked at their XPS M170 desktop replacement laptop. We were very pleased with the build quality and performance, and the XPS support continued to be quite impressive for a Tier I builder.
This isn’t Dell’s top-of-the-line XPS 700, but it’s still an XPS system, which is Dell’s cream of the crop product line. It’s also a Core 2 Duo system, the third one we’ve tested. (The first one was Velocity Micro’s ProMagix E2200, and our second was the Gateway FX510XG which shares the same processor as our XPS 410.) Given its pedigree and burly processor, we expect it to perform quite well in our benchmarks. It’s not billed as a gaming machine per se, so we won’t be judging on that criteria alone, but we’ll be looking to see how it performs across the spectrum of our real-world benchmarks. As a PC that is neither super high end, nor budget, the XPS 410 is a “mid-to-high end” PC with good, but not top-of-the-line components across the board. As such, we’re expecting competent performance in every test. It should also run quietly, and be completely stable and well-constructed. And since it’s an XPS system, which has exclusive “premium” tech support, we’ll be looking for excellent service and superb RMA support. We also expect it to have little-to-no bloatware - a problem that Dell claims to have rectified.
Here’s what we got:
*There are differences between the system we tested and the configuration available online. First, we ordered our system without a monitor, but while we had our system in-house Dell began shipping all XPS 410 PCs with a 19” monitor included. It also requires you to buy speakers, even though we ordered ours without speakers. The system we looked at did not include a TV Tuner, but all XPS 410 PCs now include one. We also ordered 1GB of RAM, but the minimum now available for this model is 2GB.