Dell XPS 730x gaming PC

This hard-core gaming computer packs in two video cards, water-cooling and an insanely fast processor

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Dell XPS 730x
  • Dell XPS 730x
  • Dell XPS 730x
  • Dell XPS 730x

Pros

  • Massively overpowered, water cooling cuts down on noise, well-constructed case

Cons

  • Enormous, prohibitively expensive, water cooling isn’t particularly quiet, no eSATA on front panel

Bottom Line

Dell’s behemoth XPS 730x gaming PC is overkill. Two video cards, water cooling, a mammoth processor, 6GB of RAM and a garish full tower case combine to make a machine that will handle any recent game thrown at it, and its performance was excellent during our tests.

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Dell’s behemoth XPS 730x gaming PC is overkill. Two video cards, water cooling, a mammoth processor, 6GB of RAM and a garish full tower case combine to make a machine that will handle any recent game thrown at it, and its performance was excellent during our tests.

The Dell XPS 730x is a no-holds-barred gaming PC that packs the bleeding edge of computing technology — the fastest Intel Core i7 CPU, two powerful graphics cards, water cooling and 6GB of DDR3 RAM — into a slick (if massive) case. Its price is simply ridiculous, but if you are after a powerful gaming computer from a brand name company and money is no object, this is the one to get.

The Dell XPS 730x's case is huge, measuring 572mm tall and 594mm deep. It’s not light, either: our test system was close 31kg. We’re thankful that the case has a pair of flip-out feet to keep it stable. They're made from the same thick metal as the rest of the case’s panels. This gaming PC is imposing but stylish, although the piano-black plastic of the front panel is a fingerprint magnet

Thankfully a large cleaning cloth, complete with XPS logo, is one of the accessories thrown in. Velcro cable ties, a great aluminium mouse-mat and plenty of manuals and guides are all kept together in a leather-bound carry case (which, interestingly enough, perfectly fits a Dell Inspiron Mini 9 netbook in its main pocket). A standard keyboard and laser mouse are bundled along with one of Dell’s 2408WFP flat panel LCD monitors.

Hitting the power button, we were greeted with a loud whoosh as every cooling fan in the system leapt into action. This cacophony soon fell to a quiet murmur, though. When idling, the Dell XPS 730x is easily kept cool by the H2C water-cooling system. We found it odd that in such a high-end machine only the CPU and motherboard chipset are included in the water-cooling loop, not the two NVIDIA GeForce GTX 285 graphics cards in SLI mode as well. The graphics cards' stock fans can be obnoxiously loud under full processing loads. At full power, the water-cooling system isn’t as quiet as we would have liked but it does a good job of dissipating heat; we found fan noise levels consistent even during gaming.

Our test machine was kitted out with the most powerful Intel processor on offer: the quad-core Core i7 975 Extreme Edition with 8MB of L3 cache. The CPU runs at 3.33Ghz (at standard clock speeds, although Dell offers overclocking settings in the system’s BIOS). The PC has 6GB of 1066Mhz DDR3 RAM stuffed into its three on-board DIMM slots, although it is also available with 3GB.

The two NVidia GTX 285 graphics cards have 1GB of memory each. A single 2GB ATI HD4870X2 is available for those with allegiance to the red camp. The hard drive in our test machine was a single 1TB Hitachi HD103JU, although a deal on the Dell Web site (running until the end of July) throws in a second 1TB hard drive for free. A Blu-ray disc burner takes care of old and new optical media.

The power supply running the show is an OEM Dell 1000W unit. This is powerful enough to keep the system running at full load, and you’ll be able to install more hard drives easily. There’s not much space for expandability in this case apart from free hard drive and optical drive bays, but you won’t need to upgrade this PC for a very long time. If you do feel the urge, the three RAM slots accept a maximum of 12GB.

An Intel X58 chipset-based motherboard provides plenty of ports. Four rear and two front USB ports make sure you’ll be able to connect a keyboard and mouse and still have room for flash drives and external hard drives, and a pair of teaming Gigabit LAN ports provide a potential 2Gbps bandwidth over a wired network, with one port working as a backup if the other fails. There is also a single eSATA port on the backplate and PS/2 connectors for older keyboards and mice. Digital video professionals will appreciate the inclusion of FireWire ports on both the front and the rear of the case.

We ran 3DMark06 to see how the Dell XPS 730x compares to other high-end gaming rigs like the Altech NRG Storm, and we were very impressed by the results. The Dell XPS 730x managed a 3DMark06 score of 23,700 without any optimisations or tweaking. The system’s performance in Blender 3D was not as exemplary, with a result of just under 27sec falling behind the NRG Storm’s 22sec benchmark.

The Dell XPS 730x sits in a very niche segment of the market, catering for hardcore gamers that don’t have the technical nous to build their own desktop computers. It commands a massive price premium over a similar home-made system, but if you want the best system Dell has to offer you’ve got to pay for it.

Our test machine costs $9374.10. The Dell XPS 730x is available in a range of specifications from a starting price of $3799.

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