Dell XPS 700

Dell XPS 700

Dell’s flagship XPS 700 fuses Core 2 Duo processing and SLI gaming power in a package guaranteed to turn heads. But is the XPS branding worth the premium price?

Introduction

About Our Program

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 and [H] Consumer

Dell and [H] have a long and storied history. Well, maybe not long, but certainly storied. Like Gateway, they’re one of the Tier I OEM’s willing to take part in our evaluation program. Although some of our experiences with Dell have left much to be desired, we’ve been greatly impressed with their willingness to listen to the concerns we’ve raised over the past year that we’ve been evaluating their machines.

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While we’re very happy about many of the changes Dell has made or has promised to make regarding their commitment to gamers, we’re still seeing problems with the implementation. As recently as last month’s XPS 410 evaluation, we encountered problems in every scoring category other than Multimedia and Gaming Ability. In addition to unresolved system stability issues, we had a teeth-grindingly frustrating technical support experience marked by hang-ups and lackadaisical (some might say obstinate) technicians.

The remainder of our previous experiences with Dell have been a mixed bag. Both the XPS M170 laptop and the XPS 200 desktop earned Editor’s Choice awards. On the other hand, with the XPS 400, we found a system crippled by bloatware, stability problems, and disastrous technical support.

There’s also been great discussion throughout the industry about the availability of the XPS 700’s. As you’ll see for our particular system, our estimated ship date was November 2nd when we ordered the machine back at the end of August. Dell has had a lot of trouble getting these units off the assembly line for the past few months, so needless to say, we were very lucky to get one – and ahead of schedule, at that.

What We’re Looking For

As this is the crème de la crème of Dell’s consumer line, we have rather high expectations for this system, both in terms of gaming ability as well as raw speed. We’ve had faster Core 2 Duo chips in our office, most notably the Velocity Micro E2200 (sporting a E6600), but the XPS 700’s E6400 is a monster in its own right.

Similarly, we want to see how well a pair of 7900 GS’s in SLI stack up to the several 7900 GT SLI machines we’ve recently evaluated (see ABS and Systemax).

Finally, we want to see what kind of premium the XPS branding brings to the table other than price. In our XPS 410 article, we failed to get the “premium” vibe from that experience. We’re interested to see if a higher price tag buys the customer anything.

What We Ordered

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