Dell Studio XPS 7100 User Experience

The performance of the Dell Studio XPS 7100 is mostly an amalgam of known quantities; we've run some cursory benchmarks but performance generally falls in line with what we know of the Phenom II X6 and the Radeon HD 5870. Suffice it to say, if you're going to be doing any gaming or media work, the XPS 7100 in this configuration is more than up to the task.

Well, almost. It may very well be the SB750 attached to the single Seagate Barracuda 7200.11 drive, but the system just doesn't feel as snappy as a machine with a faster storage subsystem might. Anand is a major proponent of using an SSD for the system drive and a large mechanical drive for storage and that's probably a wise investment here. Also consider that for heavy video work, it's extremely wise to use two separate drives anyhow: one to render from, a scratch drive, and one to render to, a project drive. The storage subsystem remains the slowest component of the modern PC, and anything you can do to mitigate that will help.

What's a nice change of pace from not too long ago is the lack of bloat the XPS 7100 ships with. Windows 7 already does a great job of obscuring bloat (between hiding icons in the system tray and just plain running well), but there's very little here to obscure. The included Dell software is mostly useful, offering driver updates, online support, and use of Dell's “DataSafe” online storage service. If there's an odd outlier it's Dell's dock software. The dock offers sets of shortcuts at the top of the screen not totally dissimilar to the dock in Mac OS X. It's attractive and was probably more useful when Vista was shipping, but the revised taskbar in Windows 7 renders it somewhat redundant.

There are really only two troublesome apps that come bundled with the XPS 7100. The first is, ironically, Dell's own update software. Dell's software is certainly useful, but it has a habit of just randomly popping up whenever you're doing something else, right in the middle of the screen. So if you're, say, running benchmarks all day, you might find your run completely ruined by this random interloper. Likewise, the bundled McAfee Security Center isn't at all unusual to see in factory machines, and remains one of the most obnoxious and least useful PC security suites on the planet. It nags you to complete the setup and register it just to be able to uninstall, though you can force-kill via task manager and go into the Control Panel for the uninstall process.

Overall, the experience of using the Dell Studio XPS 7100 was surprisingly a joy. The system is definitely high performance, the factory install was very clean, but most importantly and probably best of all, it just runs coolly and quietly. One might expect a factory computer to be fairly noisy – especially given the 125W Phenom II X6 processor and the 187W ATI Radeon HD 5870 – but even under load the XPS 7100 is actually remarkably quiet.

To give some sense of just how wonderfully quiet the XPS 7100 is, consider this: I have my own custom built desktop running in an Antec P182 case. I use an Intel Core 2 Quad Q9650, overclocked, under a Xigmatek S1283 cooler. Hanging out below that is an ATI Radeon HD 5870. All the fans in my case are on low and the processor cooler is configured in the BIOS to run silently and only spin up under extreme load. My case produces the softest of hums, and that hum actually drowns out the XPS 7100. Some reviews – including our own – suggest the Radeon HD 5870 is pretty loud, but I honestly haven't heard it.

Of course, none of that would matter if the insides of the XPS 7100 were marinating in their own succulent juices, but lo and behold, the card and processor run surprisingly cool. Just putting your hand under the bottom vent on the face you can feel a quiet intake fan, and the clean cabling and spacing inside the case likely contribute to the excellent thermal characteristics.

Dell Studio XPS 7100 Closer Look Dell Studio XPS 7100 Performance
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  • multivac - Wednesday, July 7, 2010 - link

    Pun intended? Reply
  • Dustin Sklavos - Wednesday, July 7, 2010 - link

    No, but now I feel stupid for not having thought of that.

    You are awesome for pointing it out, and I congratulate you.
    Reply
  • multivac - Wednesday, July 7, 2010 - link

    dont be mad, its just not the best of titles considering the press dell got recently.
    im sorry if that offended you, perhaps it wasn`t the best way to point it out.
    still it was a good article of an odd product line for the site.
    cheers
    Reply
  • Dustin Sklavos - Wednesday, July 7, 2010 - link

    Dude, I thought it was hilarious. No offense at all taken. Reply
  • Ganesh_balan - Wednesday, July 7, 2010 - link

    That was quite impressive! I wonder if the system ever had to be overclocked, what could be the stability issues the user might be facing! Reply
  • 7Enigma - Wednesday, July 7, 2010 - link

    Exactly. After all the detailed descriptions and commentary, I'm shocked the author just missed/ignored this fact. I wouldn't touch this system with a 10-foot pole with that craptastic PSU. Reply
  • beginner99 - Wednesday, July 7, 2010 - link

    yeah and probably pretty inefficient. typical of pre-build systems. Crappy PSU, crappy case, crappy mobo and crappy bios.

    And being "quiet" and "low-temp" is easier if you omit dust filters. So temps will go up pretty fast with dust accumulation. That vent almost at bottom near gpu is prone for dust intake especially if the case is on the floor.
    Reply
  • Lapoki - Wednesday, July 7, 2010 - link

    ...and i was scared to put a 5850 in my system with Corsair VX450 PSU.
    Thankfully everything is running great with a E8400 @ 4.2 GHz and 5850 @ 925/4800.

    Found a very good article at Tom's which helped me in going ahead with this purchase decision:
    http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/balanced-gamin...
    Reply
  • adonn78 - Thursday, July 8, 2010 - link

    The PSU being only 460 watts and being a generic one that is probably only 60% efficient and probably not well made scares the be-jebus out of me. Reply
  • HOOfan 1 - Sunday, July 11, 2010 - link

    Delta is not generic... Reply

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