For several months, Dell had planned a computer that would bring all the latest features together in a new cutting-edge machine targeted at the Gamer. The result of that effort is the Dimension XPS, a 3.2GHz computer in an enhanced case with a 460-watt power supply. While you can order Dimension XPS in many configurations, our unit was equipped with every top-of-the-line option on the list — including the 3.2 Pentium 4 on the Intel 875P chipset motherboard, SATA RAID with a pair of 250GB hard drives, a Radeon 9800 XT, Creative's top Audigy 2 sound card, 8X DVD+RW and 48X CD-RW, Logitech's top Z-680 5.1 speaker system, and a 16ms 20" flat-panel display designed for gaming.

As you can see from the list above, everything about the Dell Dimension XPS that we are evaluating is top-of-the-line. While you can order the system with more modest choices, and prices starting at $1799, we realized many of our readers would want this system, so we asked Dell for a price on the system exactly as we tested. Dell provided a price, but they also kindly put together a special offer for AnandTech readers. The Dimension XPS, configured exactly as we are testing it, is available from Dell for $3399. To get this special price of $3399, you need to enter E-Value code 6V411-XPSRPW when you order the system from Dell. The E-Value code is also valid for phone orders.

Those who select the CRT option will receive the system as pictured above. Other components pictured are the same as our review system. As we mentioned, our $3399 test system included the 20" 16ms flat panel display pictured below.

We were so impressed with the 20" display that AnandTech decided to do a separate review of the flat-panel. You can check out Kristopher Kubicki's review of the 20" display at Kris goes into much more technical detail on this exciting new panel than we could include in a complete system review. Dell considers this new 20" flat-panel their first LCD fast enough to be used for gaming, and after AnandTech's testing, we certainly agree.

It is impossible to review the Dell Dimension XPS without considering the market to which it is targeted. Dell has loaded the XPS with just about every “bragging-rights” feature you could think of if you were putting together a list of components for the ultimate gaming machine. However, Dell has never really targeted the hobbyist or enthusiast who wants to tweak the last bit of performance out of their computer by overclocking or tweaking the memory for the best performance possible. The Dell Dimension XPS is no different in this regard. It is not designed for the hobbyist or overclocker; rather, it is designed and tweaked for the buyers who want their gaming system already set up, already tweaked for best performance, and ready to give great gaming performance right out of the box. As we evaluate the Dell Dimension XPS, this is an important distinction. Overclockers and tweakers will not be satisfied with the XPS, but buyers who would never think of overclocking will be thrilled. So will potential buyers who want the best gaming system available with a good warranty, but who wouldn't even think of putting it together themselves. Enthusiasts will find the Dell system somewhat limiting, but the 90% of buyers who don't overclock, don't do their own upgrades, or would never think of assembling a computer themselves will be thrilled with the Dell Dimension XPS.

System Specifications

 Dell Dimension XPS System Specifications
Expansion Bays (5.25"/3.5"/Hidden) 3/1/3
Front USB Ports 2
Rear USB Ports 6
Internal USB Ports 0
Front Firewire Ports 1 Standard
Rear Firewire Ports 1 Standard
On-Board Parallel Port 1 Rear
On-Board Game Port None
Modem Ports 2 Rear
On-Board Serial Ports 2 Rear
Front Audio Jacks 2 — Headphone
Rear Audio Jacks 6 Mini on Audigy 2
SPDIF One — Rear
Mini Out
Number of Fans (including CPU/chipset) 4
Power Supply 460W

Dell Dimension XPS: XPS Chassis
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  • Wesley Fink - Wednesday, November 26, 2003 - link

    Flash is used for charts in all AnandTech reviews because it uses less bandwidth than any other option. On a site with very heavy traffic like AnandTech, bandwidth is very important. As Editors, we do not have the option to use other charting methods.

    If you still have an issue with Flash after hearing the explanation, you should send your complaints to
  • mindless1 - Saturday, November 22, 2003 - link

    I would tend to agree that this is a DELL high-end box, and the review best served to acquaint readers with Dell's current offerings, even though most of us do not want to be stuck with $3K worth of unconfigurable equipment that's so proprietary that it'll certainly cost more in the long run due to upgrade hassles.

    On the other hand, the review used flash images, which is clearly stupid. I'm opposed to flash to begin with, but could understand it IF you needed an animation for some reason, but it wasn't a case of that. Seems more like some people think they know better than the entire world or else have never heard of JPG and GIF.
  • sador - Thursday, November 20, 2003 - link

    MY biggest complaint with this article is that it gives the impression that there are no other "pre-assembled" gaming rigs out there for the money that can compete with it. What a joke! There was a dearth of competitive "pre-builts" in tha article to give a real apples-to-apples comparison. (At least as far as $$$ is concerned)

    Alienware, like it or not, had pre-config'd systems that will torch this one for less money! Calling this a high-end gaming rig is an insult to qaulity gaming rigs everywhere.

    This article did come across as "pandering" a bit to Dell. Whether that was to keep the Dell goods coming, or was sincerely to give this system a fair shake is for every reader to decide for themselves.
  • madgonad - Thursday, November 20, 2003 - link

    to #34 - I don't know how long that coupon is going to last. Since it appears to be part of the Anandtech endorsement package I would guess about 10 days.
    As you noticed in the benchmarks the Dell was beaten about the head and shoulders by systems far far less the expensive. The excuse was given that the Audigy2 card was to blame since it could not be deactivated. It wasn't mentioned that almost every other system being compared also had an Audigy2 card, making the issue moot.
    As to the reason most people have given, tech support, please do not trust anything important to Dell's tech support people. They will tell you to restore the reg or reinstall the OS. After that you get to hunt for the original box in basement to RMA it back to Dell. The onsite people will do the same.
    The straight poop is that if you come here you are not the type of consumer to buy the generic-corporate-america product which just gets by. You want a stand-out product that you have control over.
    Or put simply. If your shopping for a fast car, do you get a manual or automatic transmission?
  • cdrsft - Wednesday, November 19, 2003 - link

    Can you spell.... SELL OUT

    way to go AT
  • jc1x - Wednesday, November 19, 2003 - link

    I just did a quick browse to figure out how much it'ld have cost to setup the same system if I were to buy the components..

    300 MB + Case + PS
    500 2x HD w/ SATA
    400 P4 3.2 CPU
    200 1GB DDR 400 RAM
    460 VID - RADEON 9800XT
    270 Logitech Z680
    175 8x DVD+R/+RW
    65 AUDIGY 2
    50 XP Home
    990 16ms 20.1 in LCD

    3410 in parts vs 3049* assembled.. (diff $361)

    * 3049 = 3299 - 150 (rebate) - 100 off coupon

    So, on balance, it's a good deal on price.. performance wise, well, if you want to tweak, buy a new MB for 250 and you'ld still be below component costs.. not to mention shipping costs and the hassle of multiple support locations.
  • BlackShrike - Tuesday, November 18, 2003 - link

    Does anybody else think these comments are ridiculous? The proposed system is only good if you want tech support, a dell, or a very nice LCD. Otherwise, build your own computer. For $3300 I swear you could get the fastest and greatest cpu/motherboard combo of an AMD-51. Then 1 Gb of registered DDR 400. A sound blaster audigy 2. A beautiful surround sound system. A great 19 or 21 inch CRT (I don't like LCDs personnal preference). Then a radeon 9800 XT. A wireless mouse and keyboard. A DVD +/- RW etc and so forth. Hell all these are probably so far under $2500, plus you get the satisfaction of building it, which is quite enjoyable. Oh and why not a nice see through case with lights and cool fans. Basically, I'm saying if you want the best, BUILD IT YOURSELF! If you are lazy then quit bitching or get a Voodo/falcon northwest and lose all the flashy stuff and still pay over $4000. So good job at the review anandtech but I would NEVER buy a dell. AMD IS THE WAY TO BE! Plus all that proprietary stuff that the #5 guy was talking about was right! Man, shame on you anandtech for recommending such a system. Bad, very bad.
  • ComputerBeatnik - Tuesday, November 18, 2003 - link

    Please...that's a ton of money just to play games!!! Why not just buy an X-Box for $150?
  • jc1x - Tuesday, November 18, 2003 - link

    to #33. try using the code that was provided.. it's now 3299 w/ a 150 rebate = $3149.. no it doesn't have the P4EE but it sure is much cheaper than any comparable.

    Frankly, I'll probably get one of these.. and when I feel the need to (and actually have the time), just swap the motherboard w/ something tweakable..
  • madgonad - Tuesday, November 18, 2003 - link

    I just went to the Dell website and built the XPS system as described. The regular price is in excess of Five grand when including the EE of the P4.
    Now if a couple FX51s systems equiped with the same video card and RAID were to be benchmarked, THAT would be a fair and balanced comparison. Anything else looks like a straw-man.

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