Dell XPS 720
- Great for gaming, fast hard drive performance
- The case is too big and too fussy on the inside, the CPU speed options in the BIOS are locked, no eSATA ports, doesn't support a high-end SLI configuration
The Dell XPS 720 is a little hard to judge. One can't help but admire the effort Dell has put into its design and construction, yet by the same token, its a little awkward and the construction is excessive. It sure does look good though, so if you're after a machine that will be used for gaming, or even 3-D and video rendering applications, then it's worth considering.
Price$ 2,599.00 (AUD)
Best Deals (Selling at 1 store)
Dell's XPS 720 is aimed primarily at gamers who don't mind having the world's biggest PC in their room. While its configuration can be tailored to suit your needs and budget, the configuration we tested is tame compared to its housing, which stands about 55cm tall, 22cm wide and about 57cm deep. It's quite possibly the suburban Humvee of desktop PCs because of this impractical size.
Our test unit shipped with an Intel Core 2 Quad 6600 CPU, running at 2.4GHz, along with 4GB of DDR2 667MHz RAM and a GeForce 8800 GTX graphics card. Two Western Digital Raptor hard drives were installed in a RAID 0 array, for a total formatted capacity of 298GB; a Serial ATA-based DVD burner was installed, as was a Creative X-Fi sound card.
This configuration produced a competitive score of 109 in WorldBench 6 and its 8800 GTX-based card returned mostly favourable results during our DirectX 10 gaming tests. In fact, it recorded the fastest score we've seen to date in the Call of Juarez test -- 34 frames per second (fps) -- but it averaged only 19fps in the Lost Planet test. However, it will play current DirectX 9-based games very smoothly at high resolution and detail settings. This is just as well; the monitor options for this system, when going through the ordering process, start at 24in, move to 27in (both with a native resolution of 1920x1200) and end at 30in (with a native resolution of 2560x1600). We had no problems playing FEAR at a resolution of 2048x1536 with 4x antialiasing and 16x anisotropic filtering enabled -- it scored 117fps in this test.
Additionally, because the XPS 720 is based on NVIDIA's nForce 680i SLI chipset, it can support a second graphics card in SLI mode (you wouldn't think so by looking at the layout of the motherboard, as the two graphics cards end up with barely any clearance between them). But, Dell says it will only support two mid-range cards (8600GTS), and not two high-end cards, as the power supply isn't strong enough to handle them. Therefore, a single GeForce 8800 Ultra is the most graphics power that can be packed into this system.
The motherboard is based on the BTX form factor, so it's installed on the left-hand side of the case, rather than the right-hand side (when looking at the case from the front). It's a large motherboard by any standard, yet it's not gluttonous. It has six SATA II ports, eight ready-to-use USB 2.0 ports (two at the front of the case), two FireWire ports (one at the front) and one gigabit Ethernet port.
All around the motherboard, structural supports abound for the add-in cards and the cooling fans -- and there are lot of cooling fans in the case. Two 12cm fans at the front of the case push cool air through the large CPU heat sink and the graphics card, respectively, towards the rear of the case, while an 8cm fan is positioned in between the two hard drives cages at the top. Almost all of the front and rear of the case is vented, so there is no shortage of fresh air, but dust filters aren't installed. Because the case is a little fiddly to work on (the hard drives are at the top, behind the DVD burner) Dell has included pre-routed cables for all of the available drive ports. This means if you want to install another hard drive, all you have to do is plug in the power and data cables that are already hanging from the empty drive cage. It makes the case look messy, but then again, it's not like it has a windowed side-panel. Tools aren't required when installing a new component either, as everything is held in place by clips and brackets.
You might want to opt for a third hard drive when configuring this system, as the two 160GB Raptor drives will fill up fast, and you'll also want something to back them up. During our tests, the Raptors produced a transfer rate of 61MBps, which is a slightly faster result than we were expecting. They do make a fair bit of noise, however, and this is noticeable due to the size of the case and its vents. The fans, however, are mostly quiet except during boot-up.
At the front of the case, LEDs give off interesting line patterns, and their colours can be customised in the BIOS. Unfortunately, the CPU speed can't be customised in the BIOS. Dell has locked the front side bus and clock multiplier settings, which is a shame as the Core 2 CPUs are known to be good at running faster than their rated speeds.
Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!
Samsung portable 1TB T3 drive
Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive
Epson WorkForce ET-4550
Epson EcoTank Expression ET-2500
Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop
UE Boom 2 Bluetooth speaker
Smart LED Bulb LB130
Linksys AC5400 MU-MIMO Gigabit router
Huawei Mate 9
Belkin MIXIT Metallic Lightning to USB Cable
Google Daydream VR headset
Logitech G403 Prodigy mouse
Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive
Epson WorkForce DS-360W
Lexar® Portable SSD
Acer Swift 7
3SIXT Ultra HD Sports Action Camera
HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450
Garmin Fenix Chronos smartwatch
Surface Pro 4
Dell XPS 13 laptop
Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones
HP Pavilion x360 13”
Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards
Dell Inspiron 5000 series 2-in-1
Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive
Blade 28 backpack by Arc’teryx
Most Popular Reviews
- 1 Gigabyte Aorus GA-AX370-Gaming 5 AMD Ryzen AM4 motherboard review
- 2 Kogan curved 4K UHD 55-inch LED LCD TV review
- 3 Panasonic Blu-ray recorder PVR set-top box review
- 4 Garmin Fenix Chronos fitness tracker smartwatch review
- 5 Star Wars Death Star Bluetooth levitating rotating speaker review
Latest News Articles
- Samsung Galaxy S7 hardware will come to the DragonBoard 820c computer
- Now you can try Microsoft's supersized Surface Hub before buying
- Samsung scraps a Raspberry Pi 3 competitor, shrinks Artik line
- Google wants to add AI to gadgets made using Raspberry Pi
- How to fix a limited connectivity problem on a Windows 7 PC
PCW Evaluation Team
A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.
I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.
As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.
I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.
Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!
For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.
- LG G6: unboxing, hands on review and detail shots
- Samsung Galaxy A5 2017: unboxing, hands on review and detail shots
- Behind the scenes with Team Walkinshaw at V8 Supercars Melbourne 2017
- Which flagship TV is best? Sony 4K HDR Bravia 2016 versus LG 4K HDR OLED 2016
- 10 Blu-ray movies / Best looking Blu-ray movies
- FTSocial Media ExecutiveNSW
- FTHyperion SpecialistNSW
- TPSolution Architect - Integration - Bespoke ProjectQLD
- CCUser Researcher/Business AnalysisACT
- TPLead TesterNSW
- TP.Net Software DeveloperQLD
- FTSenior Technical Consultant - Microsoft / VMWareVIC
- FTKey Account ManagerVIC
- FTSOE EngineerQLD
- TPSenior Business AnalystQLD
- FTGIS Software DeveloperQLD
- FTDigital Support ConsultantSA
- TPOrganisational Change Manager | Office 365QLD
- FTDrupal Developer - Senior or Mid levelQLD
- FTCCTV Sales & SupportNSW
- FTSolution Architect l MS Exchange, O365NSW
- TPSenior Project ManagerVIC
- FTSenior C# Analyst Programmer, Product & MarketsNSW
- CCHyperion SpecialistQLD
- CCOrganisational Change Analyst - Banking/Financial ServicesNSW
- FTJunior-Mid Level Implementation CoordinatorQLD
- CCPega DeveloperNSW
- FTApplication Support Analyst - SMSF solutions - www.class.com.auNSW
- FTSenior Applications Support AnalystSA
- PTMobile App DeveloperVIC