Sum and Substance:
Great value for money, has wireless networking card and Blu-ray optical drive,
Sparse upgrade options, hard drives are not easily swappable, application performance is relatively slow
The Whiz Kid Speaks:
Price – $1,149
Processor – 2.8 GHz AMD Phenom II X6 1055T
Memory – 6 GB, 1,333 MHz DDR3 SD RAM
Motherboard – AMD 780G
Graphics card – 1 GB ATI Radeon HD 5870
Networking – Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11
Hard disk – 1.5 TB, 7200 rpm
OS – Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit)
Optical drive – Blu-ray drive/dual layer DVD writer combo
Dell Studio XPS 7100 is quite similar to Intel based Studio XPS 8000 series of desktops. The only difference is that 7100 has a dark gray panel on the front and the 8000 series has all black front. But apart from that, these two desktops have similar design, both have the gadget tray on the top along with USB and mic/headphone ports. On the front, there are two doors concealing the 3.5 inch optical drive bay and a couple of USB ports.
Ok, we will get straight to the point – this is the best mid range gaming desktop we have ever had in our labs. It costs $1,149 and will be coming out by this July. The computer is powered by six core AMD processor which not the fastest in the market right but while gaming, the performances were above our expectations. The feature set is quite solid and it will appeal to budget gamers or any one looking for an entertainment centric desktop.
The exteriors of the Dell Studio XPS 7100 are quite sleek but it is messy on the inside. Dell has put in a double wide 3D card and in order to keep it stable, there is a mounting bracket inside the cabinet. The drive cage on the inside has been expanded to hold two more hard drives now but we would have liked if the hard drives were accessbile from the outside since this would have made swapping more easy. Dell will have to redesign its cases for that, but we would ask the manufacturer to do it soon and make it on the lines of Origin or Gateway.
For comparison purposes, we used the Gateway FX6831-01 which costs $1,299 and hence will compete with the Dell machine in the market. Gateway is more stylish and has an innovative design. That aside, it has a eight gigs of DDR3 RAM and quad core Intel Core i7 processor. These two factors made it better than Dell in our applications tests. On the flip side, the Dell Studio XPS 7100 can argue that it has a faster graphic card, wireless networking and Blu-ray drive. The price too is affordable. You might not be satisfied with this and you may look to upgrade it in the near future but we, as tech enthusiasts, think that this is the best out of the box configuration we have ever had in our labs for a long time.
Our only concern with the Dell Studio XPS 7100 is its application performance but that isn’t awful. We tested this desktop along side some of the midrange desktops and it came in last. So there are certainly other desktops in the market giving better performance for this price. This machine is based on Phenom II X6 1055T which is a quite fast six-core chip but it is not as fast as the quad core Core i7 processors. The slow performance in this system is made up for by a fast gaming speeds.
Dell Studio XPS 7100 was impressive in our test of Far Cry 2; it was as good as the Velocity Micro Edge Z30 which costs $1,499. This Dell system can handle any recent gaming title at high resolution with little hiccups. You also might need another graphic card if you are going for bigger or multiple monitors. You cannot put another card in here, just like the Velocity system because both these machines have a single graphic card slot. If you are going to use a standard 27 or 24 inch monitor, this is a great deal.
We won’t complain about the absence of second graphic card slot because that is not unexpected in such a PC. We tested five systems in this price range it found that only MainGear Vybe can take in two graphic cards and you have to add a better power system too which would further drive up the cost. Dell Studio XPS 7100 is not that upgrade friendly, there is a Wi-Fi and graphics card in place and all the four RAM slots are occupied. This gives you just one PCI card slot. You can put in either a TV tuner or sound card.
Dell Studio XPS 7100 is made for gamers and the powerful 3D card reiterates this fact. The processor too is fast enough. We would readily recommend this PC if you are looking for a mid range gaming desktop.