Introducing the Dell XPS One 2710

The last time we reviewed an all-in-one from Dell, our impressions were decidedly less than favorable. Dell delivered a polished software experience, but the Inspiron One 2320 we saw had serious issues virtually across the board in terms of both hardware and configuration. As a family appliance (the market typically targeted by all-in-ones), the Inspiron One 2320 was a bust. Yet with the XPS One 27 (along with the impending Inspiron One 20 and Inspiron One 23) they're looking to reverse their fortunes.

Gone are the poor quality screen, awkward stand, and middling connectivity. In their place we find a PLS screen by Samsung, a more ergonomic stand, and all the modern connectivity you could ask for. Better still, the advent of Ivy Bridge and Kepler promise to shore up many of the hardware weaknesses of the last generation of all-in-ones. So does the new Dell XPS One make the grade? Starting as usual with the hardware specs, here's what we received for review, in bold, with alternate parts listed where applicable (e.g. on the CPU).

Dell XPS One 2710 Specifications
Processor Intel Core i7-3770S
(4x3.1GHz, Hyper-Threading, 3.9GHz Turbo, 22nm, 8MB L3, 65W)

Intel Core i5-3450S
(4x2.8GHz, 3.5GHz Turbo, 22nm, 6MB L3, 65W)
Chipset Intel H77
Memory 2x4GB Samsung DDR3-1600 SODIMM (Max 2x8GB)
Graphics Intel HD 4000 (16 EUs, up to 1150MHz)

NVIDIA GeForce GT 640M 2GB GDDR5
(384 CUDA cores, 645MHz/4GHz core/memory clocks, 128-bit memory bus)
Display 27" LED Glossy 16:9 2560x1440
Samsung PLS
Hard Drive(s) Seagate Barracuda 7200.12 2TB 7200-RPM SATA 6Gbps HDD

Samsung PM830 32GB mSATA 6Gbps SSD
Optical Drive Blu-ray reader/DVD+/-RW writer (HL-DT-ST CA30N)
Networking Atheros AR8161 PCIe Gigabit Ethernet
Intel Centrino Advanced-N 6235 802.11a/b/g/n
Bluetooth 4.0
Audio Realtek ALC275 HD Audio
Stereo speakers
Headphone and mic jacks
Front Side Webcam
Speaker grilles
Right Side Optical drive
Power button
Left Side Headphone and mic jacks
2x USB 3.0
SD/MMC/XD/MS Pro card reader
Back Side 4x USB 3.0
Ethernet jack
Line-out
HDMI out
HDMI in
Optical out
CATV in
Operating System Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
Dimensions 19.32" x 26.14" x 1.25-2.81"
490.75mm x 664mm, 31.76-71.6mm
Weight 35.16 lbs
15.95 kg
Extras Webcam
Wireless keyboard and mouse
Flash reader (MMC, SD/Mini SD, MS/Duo/Pro/Pro Duo)
Blu-ray reader
TV tuner (Optional)
Warranty 1-year basic support
Pricing Starting at $1,399
As configured: $1,999

Dell wasn't messing around with the new XPS One, and indeed the entire line is the result of their engineers having gone back to the drawing board. Fortunately, as I mentioned before, Dell also benefits from the new technology Ivy Bridge and Kepler bring with them.

The Ivy Bridge-based Intel Core i7-3770S is capable of being almost every bit the performance equal of the i7-3770K, starting from a 3.1GHz nominal clock speed (to maintain the slightly reduced 65W TDP) but able to turbo up to 3.9GHz on a single core, just like the 3770K can. It's only in the in-between turbo modes that the 3770K is able to produce a performance advantage, but the mild reduction in performance coincides with an equally mild reduction in overall power consumption. Honestly I remain a bit skeptical about the need for the S series chips; when Intel's quad-cores had 95W TDPs, a 30W reduction would be a substantial one, but just 12W seems too incremental and you'll see later on that the difference wasn't enough. The i5-3450S is the lower end CPU option for now, which drops the clock speeds and Hyper-Threading, along with a lower price.

What got my attention when I saw the spec sheet for the XPS One was the NVIDIA GeForce GT 640M equipped with GDDR5. Spec wise, the GK107 chip that powers the GT 640M is only slightly weaker than the previous generation's GF116. The GF116 may have been slightly underwhelming compared to AMD's Radeon HD 5770/6770, but it was generally able to get the job done at 1080p. The GK107 loses 8 ROPs and 64 bits off of the memory bus, but has roughly equivalent shader power. 384 CUDA cores clocked at 645MHz aren't bad at all, but when we reviewed the GK107 in the Acer TimelineU I suspected the chip was being memory constrained with just DDR3. Now that we have a system that pairs it with GDDR5, we can see if the increased memory bandwidth will allow the GeForce GT 640M to stretch its legs. Better still, there's the potential here to finally have a reasonably-priced graphics solution that can actually power all-in-ones and justify including discrete graphics hardware.

While the rest of the system's configuration is pretty respectable (with the 32GB SSD configured for Intel's Smart Response Technology), the screen is another big plus. Dell opted to include Samsung's PLS technology display in a 2560x1440 resolution, and it's a thing of beauty. If there's an unusual omission here, it's the lack of touchscreen support on this or even any of the new Dell all-in-ones. While I'm not a fan of large touchscreens, Microsoft has clearly decided to go whole hog on them for Windows 8, and so omitting that feature here seems shortsighted. If you're like some and prefer to stick with the old mouse and keyboard interface, though, you may find more to like here.

The price looks pretty steep at first glance, but you have to consider everything that you're getting. The base model still includes a display that would typically go for around $1000 on its own (Samsung's 27" PLS displays don't come cheap!), so $400 gets you the remaining components for a decent desktop experience. At the high-end, which is what we're reviewing, Dell loads up all the extras: more memory, faster CPU, SSD caching, Blu-ray, etc. There's definitely a case of diminishing returns, but Dell is clearly going after the same market as the high-end Apple iMac. That may not be a great way to go about things, though, since one of Apple's biggest selling points is the uniqueness of their OS X experience. In terms of strict hardware comparisons, however, the XPS One 2710 at $1999 comes out ahead of the current 2012 iMac 27" in quite a few areas. Let's get to the benchmarks now and see just what Dell has to offer.

System Performance
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  • robco - Wednesday, May 30, 2012 - link

    I will say I like the fact that the Dell keyboard still includes a numeric keypad. I wish Apple still offered a wireless keyboard with one. But I do wonder if the thermal issue will be a problem for people planning on keeping the system a while. Guess it's a good idea to get that extended warranty. We have the current gen iMac with the 6970M and even playing D3 and other games, the system never gets too loud. If Dell can fix the cooling issues, this would make a nice alternative. I do like the ability to connect other devices to utilize the display, something I hope Apple will allow at some point.

    But as with tablets and phones, it seems when other manufacturers catch up or exceed Apple, Apple releases a new version. I'm sure we'll see Ivy Bridge in the next iMac soon, and probably a GPU bump. I'm not sure what else Apple has up their sleeve.

    So far having the AIO has been nice for getting rid of cable clutter and keeping things neat. But aside from installing RAM on the iMac, everything else is a PITA and involves removing the display.
    Reply
  • cjb110 - Wednesday, May 30, 2012 - link

    My first thought when you mentioned the lack of cooling, is why the solid back? Couldn't you cover that thing with holes?? Reply
  • picklemilk - Saturday, June 02, 2012 - link

    I would really like to see a review of the Z1 it seems to be doing the right things. Reply
  • Wised - Wednesday, July 11, 2012 - link

    The bechmark scores of the z1 and the dell are almost identical. With the Z1 you get at most a 10% improvement in scores for twice the price. But they are also 2 completely different beasts anyway, one is a zeon workstation the other a home multimedia appliance. Wht is neat to see is how much improved the new intel processors are now you can get zeon level performance on a run of the mill i7. Reply
  • gagaliya - Monday, June 04, 2012 - link

    I just dont understand why those PC Makers refuse to provide us with a decent graphic option for extra cost. The previous generation iMac is the only all-in-one offering a respectable graphic upgrade of radeon 6970m which is still the fastest graphic card in an all-in-one and that was 2 years ago.

    Dell continues to fail with their all in ones by offering such a mediocre graphic with no option to upgrade, dont those guys realize when you shell out $1500-$2500 for a pc, graphic matters.

    I will continue to wait for vizio or imac...
    Reply
  • Wised - Tuesday, July 17, 2012 - link

    Completely erroneous, the graphic card specs are only part of graphics performance. The most potent Imac with the "premium" radeon 6970 offers almost identical graphics performance to the One 27 with its more "proletariat" nvidia 640. Graphics performance is a combination of card, processor, memory speed and bus performance, thus having a higer "ranking" card is no guarantee of better graphics execution. In fact the one 27 beats the mac on most graphics parameters. Reply
  • WPLJ42 - Friday, June 08, 2012 - link

    I am glad to see this review. My HP AIO uses an Athlon II X2 250u, with an 18.5 inch screen. It still runs warm, and was very noisy until I unstuck the exhaust fan with compressed air. The Inspiron One 20 and 23 inch models are on Dell's site now. Yes, the 20 is all Sandy Bridge, and the 23 has just one Ivy Bridge. Dell is in error as we speak, as the 23 is listed with i3 and i5 Sandy Bridge CPUs, and HD 4000 graphics. All things considered, including this review, I am disappointed with the Dell desktops. Almost the entire Inspiron desktop lineup is low end CPUs with HD 2000 graphics. Reply
  • Bownce - Friday, June 15, 2012 - link

    Has Dell pipelined the monitor itself yet? I already have an iMac 27" and doubling up with either a Cinema Display or this update to their U2711 is intriguing. Reply
  • AX-Turbo - Friday, June 29, 2012 - link

    Hello!

    Just read this article and I wonder under which conditions the 97° of the CPU was reached, resp. how the "high load" was made - with real, common load-situations, or with the extreme way (e.g. Prime 95 x8 Tasks + Furmark + extreme heat mode) - load, which you usually never reach in day-to-day-situations? Thanxx for an short answer and sorry for my rookie english.
    Reply
  • Wised - Wednesday, July 11, 2012 - link

    I fail to see what advantage a touchscreen would provide in a multimedia 27 inch screen. One of the main advantages of a big screen is to be farther away, beyond touching distance! Windows 8 touchscreen abilities are for pad and phone use they are pretty much worthless on a largescreen PC, furthermore you can enjoy all the other advantages of windows 8 without any touch features at all, in fact you can disable the metro interface completely. If you wish to use the metro portion of windos 8 you can always use a gesture friendly wireless touchpad like the the one available from logitech or you can opt for one of the new gesture recognition peripherals and not have to touch anything at all :) Lastly regarding the "thermal" issue, unless you are regularly going to be calculating the orbits of the Jovian moon system, you will never be runnig the 3770s processor hard enough to raise the temperature to a critical level. The computer can run 3d games all day long without straining the system, in fact, you can be running business applications and similar software all the time without the fans ever coming into play at all. The thermal "issue" is at best a theoretical one for the overwhelming majority of users, in fact, most will probably never even scratch the surface of the available computing nor video capability, ever. I've been processing 36mp photos, on a constant basis, I have yet to hear the fans. The fact is that considering what this computer is and what its aimed for, its performance is exceptional in all parameters. PC users have been long waiting for an all in one to measure up to the i MAC. Well, here it is, not only does it compete, it beats it in essentially all categories, at , I might add, at a much better price. To get a similarly equipped imac to my 16 meg ram version is around 1K more. Reply

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