Dell Studio XPS 8000-2361JBK review: Dell Studio XPS 8000-2361JBK

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MSRP: $1,119.99
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3.5 stars

CNET Editors' Rating

The Good Strong performance for its price; impressive power efficiency; better deal than the same configuration on Dell's Web site.

The Bad All-black exterior in this retail model looks bland next to the multicolored models available directly from Dell; midtower design would benefit more from a better graphics card than wireless networking.

The Bottom Line The retail version of Dell's Studio XPS 8000 desktop might lack some of the charm of its direct-from-Dell counterpart, but its strong price-performance offering makes it easy to overlook the minor cosmetic deficiencies. That and its admirable power consumption make this system an impressive all-purpose midrange desktop.

Visit manufacturer site for details.

7.3 Overall
  • Design 7.0
  • Features 7.0
  • Performance 8.0
  • Service and support 7.0

Editors' note: This review is part of our 2009 Retail Laptop and Desktop Holiday Roundup, which covers specific fixed configurations of popular systems found in retail stores.

We've already reviewed a direct-order version of Dell's Studio XPS 8000, but we thought it would be worthwhile to also have a look at the fixed-configuration version available at retail locations. We came away impressed by the price-performance value of the $1,119 Studio XPS 8000-2361JBK, although we must say we like the online version's black-on-white exterior better than the all-black affair offered in stores. Cosmetic issues aside, we feel comfortable recommending this Dell as a day-to-day desktop for general productivity and mainstream PC gaming.

The retro-futuristic aesthetic of Dell's newer desktops has placed its PCs second only to Apple in terms of visual appeal. The rounded shapes of Dell's various cases have contributed, but the color variety that successfully mixed white, black, and, in some cases, red, has probably done more to separate Dell from the current glut of all-black Windows PCs. That's why we're a bit disappointed to find the retail version of the Studio XPS 8000 regress to all-black conformity. We get that the prickly demands of in-store retail allow for fewer risks, and the color scheme is not generally a primary consideration in how we judge a desktop. Still, reverting to monochromatic black in the retail version of the Studio XPS 8000 is a letdown.

  Dell Studio XPS 8000-2361-JBK Asus Essentio CG5290-BP007
Price $1,119 $1,199
CPU 2.8GHz Intel Core i7 860 2.67GHz Intel Core i7 920
Motherboard chipset Intel P55 Express Intel X58
Memory 8GB 1,066MHz DDR3 SDRAM 9GB 1,066MHz DDR3 SDRAM
Graphics 1,024MB Nvidia GeForce GTS 240 896MB Nvidia GeForce GTX 260 (216 core)
Hard drives 1TB, 7,200rpm 1TB 7,200 rpm
Optical drive dual-layer DVD burner dual-layer DVD burner
Networking Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11n wireless Gigibit Ethernet
Operating system Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit) Windows Vista Home Premium SP1 (64-bit)

Fortunately, there's more to this Dell than just looks. The combination of Intel's new Core i7 860 CPU and plenty of RAM makes this PC a versatile performer, and competitive among other desktops in its price range. The Asus system above represented the higher end of the retail spectrum for the back-to-school season, and aside from the Dell's wireless card and the Asus' higher-end graphics card, the two are roughly the same as far as features. Dell wins on price, though, and also on performance, as you'll see below. We should also add that if you were to configure this same Studio XPS 8000 on Dell's Web site, you'd pay $1,308 as of this writing.

Adobe Photoshop CS3 image-processing test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)

Apple iTunes encoding test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Dell Studio XPS 8000-2361JBK
Velocity Micro Edge Z30
Dell Studio XPS 8000
Asus Essentio CG5290-BP007

Multimedia multitasking (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)

(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Rendering Multiple CPUs  
Rendering Single CPU  
Falcon Northwest Talon
Velocity Micro Edge Z30
Asus Essentio CG5290-BP007
Dell Studio XPS 8000-2361JBK
Dell Studio XPS 8000

Outpacing or tying the more expensive Asus on every benchmark is an impressive enough feat for the Dell, but we're also surprised to see it run on par with a $1,350 overclocked midrange gaming box from Velocity Micro on our iTunes test. Short of professional-level processor-intensive tasks, we expect this Dell will have few performance issues in your day-to-day computing.

Unreal Tournament 3 (in fps)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
1,920 x 1,200 (4x aa)  
1,280 x 1,024 (4x aa)  
Dell Studio XPS 8000-2361JBK

Far Cry 2 (in fps)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
1,920x1,200 (DirectX 10, 4x aa, very high)  
1,440 x 900 (DirectX 10, 4x aa, very high)  
Dell Studio XPS 8000-2361JBK

Using this Dell for gaming is a slightly different story. It should be fine for most mainstream PC titles, at least those that are currently available. And as long as you stay realistic about the image quality and resolution, you can probably eke out an acceptable experience from more challenging games. Still, given that this system and its better-than-basic GeForce 240 GTS graphics card clearly have some gaming ambitions, we might have suggested that Dell trade the wireless networking card for an even better 3D card. This is a midtower after all, so you're likely to put it on a desk and leave it there, which makes stringing an Ethernet cable to it a reasonable option.

With the graphics card and wireless card currently in place, the Studio XPS 8000 offers only modest upgradeability. You get one standard PCI expansion slot, and a single 1x PCI Express slot. Ditch the Wi-Fi card and you gain another 1x PCI Express input. There's no second graphics card slot in this system, which isn't a surprise given its price. Memory upgrades are also limited, since all four slots are currently occupied, although you'll probably be fine with 8GB of RAM for the foreseeable future. You also get room to add one more hard drive, via Dell's unique, clunky faceplate-mounting system.

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