Dell Studio XPS 7100 Closer Look

If nothing else, the Dell Studio XPS 7100 desktop is an attractive piece of kit. The case itself utilizes a lot of features that are becoming increasingly common in enthusiast cases. For starters, the power button is on top of the machine and glows with an attractive white LED when the system is on and orange when in standby. Behind it is an indented tray perfectly sized to fit stray CDs, and lining the top edge of that tray are two USB 2.0 ports, a headphone jack, and a mic jack.

The face of the machine is kept spare, utilizing an attractive gray matte plastic with a chrome accent around it. Working down from the top, we start with a series of memory card readers. Below it are two optical drive bays hidden behind folding doors; pressing the gray button to the right ejects the drives. The folding mechanism works well, but if you manually fold down the door on the second bay you may be disappointed to see the metal placeholder of the case interior. It's an odd lack of finish, but will spend its entire life being hidden behind the second door.

Beneath the optical drives is an external 3.5” bay that's opened by sliding the faceplate downward. The bay is empty apart from two USB 2.0 drives, but has a black plastic placeholder in it. Overall it seems curiously empty and most external peripherals for the bay these days would just be card readers (rendered redundant by the card reader at the top of the face), but it's a nice inclusion that improves expandability of the tower. The remainder of the face is the chrome Dell logo and a vent at the bottom, just above the Windows 7 and AMD Vision Black branding stickers.

The sides of the XPS 7100 are as uneventful as the sides of modern cases often are, featuring unobtrusive black paneling, but there's a wrinkle here. Perfectly aligned with the Radeon HD 5870 inside is an oblong vent on the side panel. It's debatable how necessary the vent is, but it's nice without being as conspicuous as a massive window and lets you peek inside at the reference Bat-cooler used on ATI's Radeon HD 5800 series.

The back of the machine is, praise it all, clean and well laid out. The power supply is in its traditional position at the top of the tower above the motherboard's port cluster and the case's 80mm exhaust fan. The port cluster itself is fairly barren but includes the essentials: four USB 2.0 ports, an Ethernet jack, an eSATA port, and the customary six jacks for 5.1 audio, line-in, and microphone. Above these are the aforementioned blocked off HDMI and DVI ports, with an optical port for audio at the top.

While a MicroATX build is great for saving space and the Studio XPS 7100 is certainly an attractive space saver, the major drawback lies in limited expandability. The included Radeon HD 5870 eats up fully half of the available slots, and the wireless-n card chews up another, leaving just a single open PCI slot. If you order down the chain and get a single slot video card it will open another PCIe x1 slot. Dell also only equips the board with four SATA ports, two of which are already in use when the machine arrives. While four are generally enough for most users, the media crowd looking at a machine like this may find themselves choosing between putting a FireWire card or SATA card in the spare PCI slot.

Finally, the included keyboard and mouse are just fine and perfectly serviceable, featuring keys that are about halfway between full-sized keys and slim laptop keys. The keyboard is comfortable enough to use and has the usual suspects as far as multimedia controls and shortcuts, but doesn't include a wrist rest, and utilizes a scrunched navigation block (three rows of two keys) that may take a little getting used to.

Dell Studio XPS 7100: Good from the Factory? Dell Studio XPS 7100 User Experience
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  • harbingerkts - Thursday, July 8, 2010 - link

    My situation was fairly similar, except with the deal that Dell was running at the time I purchased, I could match the price on Newegg if I bought the cheapest component in each class on Newegg... but the Dell came with a 2 year warranty with accidental damage coverage.

    If you haven't already, throw even a cheap 64GB SSD in there as a OS/Game drive. The difference in speed vs the HD they put in is night and day. Just make sure to request the full OS / Application disks from Dell if you do.
  • adonn78 - Thursday, July 8, 2010 - link

    I am a bit afraid oft he 460 watt budget generic Power supply unit used int hsi system. On top of that I would be afraid of the system overheating int he summer months with the standard air cooling heatsinl/fan. Other than that it seems like a powerful system for the price. but I'd rather get a system from ibuypower or cyberpower off of newegg for about the same but with liquid cooling, better PSU, and a nicer case with better cooling.
  • Wolfpup - Wednesday, September 1, 2010 - link

    I've had to switch to a notebook so haven't been paying as much attention to Dell's desktops anymore, but skimming over the Studio XPS 7100 and 8100, it's looking like they still offer a nicely put together system at a reasonable price. Back in the day I bought about half my systems from Dell, and half built myself, and never had complaints with Dell...I think they use standard power supplies on most systems too, so it's probably fine even if you need more power down the line. (Plus my Dells were always quieter than my systems I intentionally bought to be quiet using Sonata cases and the like.)
  • lapasta - Friday, October 29, 2010 - link

    nice system
    but for that config $1,149.99 damneddddddddddddd

    im dutch and i know im a little paying to much attention on what is the cheapest LOL

    but cmon

    550W stille power supply
    Processor AMD Phenom II X6 1055T SIX-Core (AM3, 8MB, 6 x 2.8 Ghz, boxed)
    Mainbord Asus M4N68T-M AM3 (support 8GB ram)
    Video nVidia GeForce GTX 460 768mb gddr5 Directx 11 HDMI out
    HDD 500GB S-ata2 7200RPM
    memory KINGSTON 4GB DDR3 1333MHZ PC10600
    sound 7.1 High-Definition Audio
    networking LAN 10/100/1000 Mb/s
    USB 2.0 connections 4x Usb 2.0 at the back, 2x USB 2.0 at the front
    Microfoon connection 1x at front
    headphone 1x at front
    DVD dr5ive Samsung Dual Layer DVD-R +/- 22x
    garanty 2 year inclusief with support

    and the best part now in stores for only 500 EUR thats 692,85USD

    god i love holland lol

    peace out greetings pasta
  • Bruce20 - Friday, November 18, 2011 - link

    I bet this thing would be great for a home <a href="">music recording</a>. I need to get me some better supplies than i have.
  • qzyxya - Thursday, January 17, 2013 - link

    I have this computer and i'm wondering what speed of ram to get, I know it has 4 ram slots and can accept 16gb (i assume), but idk what speed.

    Also what is the name of this motherboard?
  • DocWoo - Friday, April 21, 2017 - link

    It's 2017 and my Dell XPS 7100 still is running, Twice I had to vacuum dust out of the CPU when the fans got noisy. Last time, the heat sink stuck to the CPU and removing it pulled the AMD chip out of the socket. Pins bent, but I re-straightened them, put it back in the ZIF and it booted, LOL. $200 for an obsolete CPU if I had to replace it.

    But I will be updating.
  • DocWoo - Wednesday, August 29, 2018 - link

    Still running the XPS 7100 on Win 7 after 6 years. This summer, I put in a GeoForce graphics card, a 650W power supply, and a solid state C: drive. FWIW, windows experience at 7.5. No gaming. Just Lightroom and video edits.
  • DocWu - Sunday, December 15, 2019 - link

    Nine years after I bought it. Still running. Upgrade to Corsair 450W PSU and Geoforce GT1030. 12GB RAM. 256GB boot SSD and several HD's. Windows 10.

    AMD CPU fell out and I had to spend several hours straightening the pins. If that hadn't worked, I would have bought a new box.

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