Sometimes an excellent operating system can be made even better
Dell Studio XPS 8000 desktop PC
A decent Dell PC for the home or small office
- Fast performance, Blu-ray drive, 23in Full HD monitor
- Upgrades are expensive, internal layout is cramped and the hard drive mounts are inconvenient
We're a bit down on the overall design of the Dell Studio XPS 8000, especially its insides, but that shouldn't take away from the fact that it's a fast machine. It can be used for almost any task, except for high-end gaming, and it's suitable for the home or even small offices.
Price$ 1,999.00 (AUD)
Dell's Studio XPS 8000 is designed for home users who want a powerful PC that can be used for almost any type of task. It features the latest in Intel processing technology and the latest in Dell case design.
The case has been designed so that you can place the PC on the floor and still access its USB ports and memory card slots comfortably. They are easy to access because they are angled slightly upward. In front of the USB ports, which are located on top of the case, there is an area where you can place your MP3 player, phone or digital camera while it's connected to the PC. The design assumes you won't have the PC placed under a desk, where the top might be inaccessible.
The front of the case has a concealed Blu-ray/DVD drive, as well as a sliding door that reveals two more USB 2.0 ports, a large Dell logo and a vent at the bottom for sucking in cool air. While it's a functional design, its looks certainly didn't attract any praise from those who saw it. The dark, glossy front panel and white body probably won't match many people's decor; we'd prefer it if the whole case was black and if the front panel wasn't glossy.
On the inside, the case has none of the intricate Dell design and flair that we're used to seeing in XPS systems. In all fairness, however, it's not as expensive as old XPS machines used to be. Nevertheless, there is no large shrouding to direct the airflow over the CPU and graphics card, the cabling is not routed out of the way, and the drives are not tool-less. In fact, the hard drive layout is very poor. Instead of using horizontal mountings, Dell has installed the sole hard drive vertically in this PC and left little room for upgrades. Only one more hard drive can be added and this has to be installed vertically, too. We'd prefer it if Dell made the case a little wider and provided up to four outward-facing (toward the side) hard drive bays instead.
The inside of the Studio XPS 8000 is a tad messy and the hard drives are seated upright, rather than flat.
Specs and speed
The Studio XPS 8000 is powered by an Intel Core i5 750 CPU, which is a quad-core CPU that runs at 2.66GHz, and you also get 6GB of DDR3 SDRAM, a 1GB NVIDIA GeForce 220 graphics card and a 1TB hard drive. This configuration makes the Studio XPS 8000 suitable for running office applications, using the Internet, media encoding, 3D rendering, and even a tiny bit of gaming.
This was shown in our tests. A score of 124 was achieved in the WorldBench 6 benchmark. It was particularly speedy in the Adobe Photoshop, Blu-ray image creation (using Nero) and file archiving (WinZip) portions of the benchmark. In Blender 3D it recorded a time of 36sec and in our iTunes MP3 conversion test it recorded 52sec. Both of those times are what we expected out of a PC with a Core i5 750 CPU.
The 1GB NVIDIA GeForce 220 graphics card is not powerful and it doesn't support DirectX 11. It will rack up about 31fps in many DirectX 10-based games when playing at a resolution of 1280x1024 and without any image enhancements such as anti-aliasing. This means that if you want to play games with this PC, you'll have to use low resolution and image quality settings. There is an option to upgrade to a GeForce 240 for approximately $35 more, but this won't provide much more performance. The bottom line is that if you are a serious gamer, this PC is not for you.
With 6GB of RAM, the Studio XPS 8000 is already well-equipped to handle large files and multitasking. But if you want to upgrade to 8GB or 12GB, you'll have to pay $239.80 or $1215.50, respectively. These prices are exorbitant (and slightly worse than what Apple charges for upgrades to its iMacs), so if you plan on upgrading this machine in the future, doing it through Dell will leave you with a large hole in your wallet.
Hard drive upgrades are not much better. Adding a second hard drive will cost you up to $462 more for an extra 1TB of storage. For that amount of money you can buy four 1TB hard drives from your local computer store! Because of the limited space inside the case, and the awkward installation procedure you'll have to go through, we recommend buying an external drive if you want to add more space to the Studio XPS 8000. You can use one with USB 2.0 or the faster eSATA interface, as the PC has both types of connections available.
You don't get much space for expansion cards because this PC uses a micro-ATX motherboard. Your best bet if you want to install a wireless networking adapter or digital TV tuner is to use USB. There are eight USB 2.0 ports, and you also get a FireWire port and Gigabit Ethernet.
We like the speed of the Studio XPS 8000 and think it's a potent PC for home use or for a small office. However, its design isn't as good as we'd we're used to seeing from machines that brandish the XPS letters. Its internal layout is cramped and awkward, its external design is too glossy and assumes you'll want to place it on the floor instead of up high, and upgrades through Dell will be very expensive. That said, if you don't foresee yourself wanting to upgrade, you have no problems with the design of the case, and you want a potent PC for your family, then the Studio XPS 8000 is a good option. For $1999, you also get a 23in Full HD widescreen monitor.
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