Dell XPS 630 review: Dell XPS 630

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CNET Editors' Rating

4.5 stars Outstanding
  • Overall: 8.7
  • Design: 9.0
  • Features: 9.0
  • Performance: 8.0
  • Service and support: 8.0
Review Date:
Updated on:

The Good Fastest gaming performance in its price category (mostly); distinctive chassis; lots of expandability; Nvidia software makes overclocking easy.

The Bad Large case.

The Bottom Line With its second full-fledged gaming PC, Dell shows that it understands the mainstream gaming desktop as well as the high-end. The Dell XPS 630 delivers everything a gamer would want in a sub-$2,000 PC, from its components, to its case, to its powerful software. We've seen no better system in this newly competitive category.

CNET Editors' Choice Feb '08

Editors' Top Picks

We have a feeling that Dell is going to sell a lot of XPS 630 systems. This new midrange desktop brings over many of the features we like about Dell's XPS 720, but in a more manageable size. The price starts at $1,249 at launch, and for that you get the sleek angled case, a well-organized interior, a quad-core CPU, and a fast 3D graphics card. Bump the price to $1,619 and you get our review system, which includes a second graphics card for even better gaming power. Compared to other systems in its class, the XPS 630 did very well on our benchmarks, which sealed the deal for us. This system was built for strong gaming bang-for-the-buck, and Dell most definitely achieved that goal, making this system an Editors' Choice winner.

The XPS 630 combines familiar characteristics of a few desktops we've reviewed recently. Like the Gateway FX7020 and the Uberclok Ion, the XPS 630 is a sub-$2,000 gaming PC with a quad-core processor, respectable gaming capabilities, and a spacious 500GB hard drive. Velocity Micro's ProMagix E2055 is also similar to this Dell system in price, although it has dual-core CPU with a faster clock speed. When you compare the Velocity system with the XPS 630, it becomes apparent that the Dell is a more well-rounded PC, despite the fact that the Velocity has the edge in a few component categories.

  Dell XPS 630 Velocity Micro ProMagix E2055
Price $1,619 $1,499
CPU 2.6GHz Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600 3.13GHz Intel Core 2 Duo E8500
Memory 2GB 800MHz DDR2 SDRAM 3GB 800MHz DDR2 SDRAM
Graphics (2) 512MB Nvidia GeForce 8800 GT 256MB ATI Radeon HD 3850
Hard drives 500GB, 7,200 rpm 500GB, 7,200 rpm
Optical drive Dual-layer DVD burner Dual-layer DVD burner, DVD-ROM drive
Networking Gigabit Ethernet Gigabit Ethernet
Operating system Windows Vista Home Premium Windows Vista Home Premium

The biggest differences between the two systems, configuration-wise, are in their processors and their graphics cards, although the memory matters also. The CPU difference is especially interesting, because it represents something of a philosophical gap in desktops right now. Would you rather have a faster dual-core CPU, which will give you lots of speed on most current applications, or would you prefer a slightly slower (although similarly priced) quad-core processor, to the benefit of the few multithreaded programs and games out there right now, and with the promise of more to come in the future? Dell will let you configure the XPS 630 with an array of Core 2 Duo CPUs shortly after launch, so if you like the idea of an XPS 630 with a dual-core chip, you'll have that option soon. For our money, even though the Velocity Micro desktop wins out on a few benchmarks, we'd still go quad-core, largely for the future-proofing aspect.

Adobe Photoshop CS3 image-processing test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Uberclok Ion
138 
Dell XPS 630
169 

Apple iTunes encoding test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Uberclok Ion
126 
Dell XPS 630
168 

Multimedia multitasking (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Uberclok Ion
473 
Dell XPS 630
594 

CineBench
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Rendering multiple CPUs  
Rendering single CPU  
Uberclok Ion
11481 
3773 
Dell XPS 630
8482 
2459 
Gateway FX7020
6827 
1821 

Even though the CPU might be up for grabs, the Dell has the clear graphics card advantage over the Velocity Micro, and indeed, any of the three desktops we've mentioned so far. The XPS 630's pair of GeForce 8800 GT cards dominates on our benchmarks to the point that it's a little embarrassing for Velocity Micro. Even if you opt for the Dell with a single 8800 GT, that's a vast improvement in 3D capability over the Velocity's lower-end Radeon HD 3850 card.

For the most part, the gaming scores speak for themselves, but we should point out the Unreal Tournament 3 chart, specifically the differences between the Dell and the Uberclok. On that test, the Dell and its pair of 3D cards wins out on the more demanding 1,920x1,200 test, but it lags behind on the Uberclok on the 1,280x1,024 test. The reason is that SLI is able to flex its muscle at higher resolutions, but as you drop the resolution down, CPU speed begins to make more of a difference. The Uberclok has only a single 3D card, but an overclocked Core 2 Quad Q6600 chip, the same one as in the Dell. The good news for you is that not only can you overclock the Core 2 Quad Q6600 yourself, Dell even provides software that makes it easy.

Unreal Tournament 3 (in frames per second)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
1,920 x 1,200  
1,280 x 1,024  
Dell XPS 630
106.3 
128.3 
Uberclok Ion
84 
146.4 
Gateway FX7020
73.1 
110.5 

Editors' Top Picks

 

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Where to Buy

Dell XPS 630

Part Number: DXCZCP1 Released: Feb. 26, 2008

This configuration is no longer available from Dell.
Click here to view Dell's latest offers.

Quick Specifications See All

  • Release date Feb. 26, 2008
  • Graphics Processor ATI Radeon HD 3870
  • Capacity 1 x 500 GB
  • OS Provided Microsoft Windows Vista Home Premium
  • Video Memory 512 MB
  • Monitor Type None.
About The Author

Rich Brown is an executive editor for CNET Reviews. He has worked as a technology journalist since 1994.