Introduction

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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  • Gary Key - Monday, September 18, 2006 - link

    quote:

    On to my question - On page 9, the fps vs resolution graphs confused me a tiny bit. For all games except Bf2, performance is a bit lower at 1600 x 1200 than at 1680 x 1050. I think 16x12 is about 9% more pixels than 16.8 x 10.5, right? So is Bf2 just weird, or did the numbers get turned around a bit?


    BF2 is just a bit weird with the benchmark results. Although our demo contains several minutes of intense action on the Daqing Oilfield map in a variety of vehicles and personnel assignments we typically find there is very little difference in the benchmarks between 1600x1200/1680x1050 or 1920x1200/1920x1440 resolutions with a decent video card. Also, with the latest video cards like the 7900GTX or X1900 there is no penalty now for 4xAA at 1280x1024 as an example. The benchmark will score the same as we are not GPU limited at that resolution with the Dell configuration as an example.
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Monday, September 18, 2006 - link

    BF2 also doesn't properly support WS formats except in demo playback. Go figure. So perhaps it isn't properly optimized for aspect ratios other than 1.333 (the standard for 4:3 displays). Reply
  • giantpandaman2 - Monday, September 18, 2006 - link

    Thoroughly enjoyed it. :)

    Again, only suggestion would be to add how long it took between ordering and receiving.
    Reply
  • bamacre - Monday, September 18, 2006 - link

    I've been telling everyone how well-designed these cases are, and how powerful the PSU's are. I stuck an X1900 XTX card in a precision 390 with a 375W PSU, and it ran great. People don't understand wattage isn't everything.

    And, I totally agree, I wish case manufacturers would take a peek and learn a few things from the higher-end Dell cases.

    Again, great job on the review.
    Reply
  • yyrkoon - Monday, September 18, 2006 - link

    Dell cases suck, however thier cases work for thier systems very well. Dell has always(atleast for the last several years) had innovative ways of cooling thier systems, I'm a bit surprised I even saw a radiator in this system, because normally, with a normal heatsink, and thier exaust shroud, thier systems run pretty dahmed cool.

    Anyhow, if you REALLY think thier cases are great, buy a Lian Li, then think on it again :) All it takes for me to realize it sucks, is to look at the back of the case, and notice how cheap it is.

    Dell makes great computers for people who dont want to build thier own systems, however, for those of us who do build our own systems, I think all of us would agree, that nothing is better than a hand built system. You wont, however, be able to beat Dell prices (latest Dell catelog showed thier rock bottom system selling for $399 us, including a 17" LCD !)
    Reply
  • mino - Monday, September 18, 2006 - link

    For sinle C2D, 2sticks generi DDR2, single X1900XTX, dual HDD and dual optical ANY _properly_designed_ 350W PSU is sufficient.

    The real issu is, these times 300W != 300W, thats the real issue.

    As a fact wattage matters, however the real one, not the written one...
    Reply
  • kristof007 - Monday, September 18, 2006 - link

    I really enjoyed reading through the review. So I was wondering would you be able to take that supporting piece off the 7900 and snap it onto a gfx card you buy? Reply
  • JarredWalton - Monday, September 18, 2006 - link

    The blue plastic is basically made to hold a GPU in place and it should work with any standard GPU. Some specialized cooling solutions won't fit most likely, but I did slot in an X1900XT card and it fit without problems. Reply
  • Homerboy - Monday, September 18, 2006 - link

    I'm so sick of the standard, anti-big-box-company rhetoric that's thrown aroung the Anantech Forums. Maybe this will quiet their tone.
    Reply
  • mino - Monday, September 18, 2006 - link

    In the US, Absolutelly True.

    Here, in Slovakia, Central Europe, NO.

    Simply because the smaller the market, the more expensive the Dell and the worse the support.

    We buy no pre-built ones since the for a price on an low-end pre-build I can have mid-to-high end custom build.

    And local support -if knowledgeable- is FAR more effective and responsive that any DELL's. Not to mention cheaper, since most HW issues are warrantied even on customs. The real problem's are HW-SW and SW and most of these are not warrantied by anybody, so you are gonna solve them by yourself or pay huge sums for paid support.

    Here the ~$200 per incident from big players is outrageous. Such can pay me 2-3 days of on-site professional's salary. And I need that professional no matter what.

    Those Dell's prices are cute, if one forgets they ask $1000 here for the same machine sold at $500 in US... That puts thing a bit into the perspective.


    Also to maintain an stable of a few hundred of those machines >3yrs often becomes a real pain.
    Reason being 1GHz/512M Athlon/PIII from 2001 is still pretty sufficient for most of the tasks these days, also budgetary constriants are never predictable...

    As of now, I simply buy 30% motherboards above the PC count and I'm pretty nicely covered for 5+yrs. 3yrs is warranty, and after that I have own spare parts stacked up nicely on the self.
    Any other part is a comodity thingie, som almost no stockpile needed.

    This way we can repair any HW failure within minutes of diagnose and if needed pretty comfortably operate for a few yers under seriosly limited budget.

    So for me - screw the Dell's of this world :)
    Reply

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