We mentioned that the XPS 730 H2C has room for upgrades, and our config has two spare RAM slots, an extra hard-drive bay, and one free PCI Express slot. As this is an NForce 790i motherboard, it will support up to three Nvidia graphics cards, aka tri-SLI. Our review model came with a sound card that would block access for a third video card, so you'd have to go without for three graphics cards. And while there are four memory slots, Dell says it won't offer 64-bit Vista until a few weeks after the XPS 730 H2C launches. Without 64-bit Vista, you can support only 2.5GB of RAM, so if you're after more than that, you will want to wait until Dell expands its OS offerings.
Like past XPS systems, Dell continues to champion the cause of keeping your Windows desktop and the system in general uncluttered with crapware icons and other resource-hogging bundled apps. Aside from Windows Vista Home Premium, Dell includes a Roxio burning application, the 3DMark 06 graphics benchmarking suite. As with Dell's midrange XPS 630, you also get Nvidia's handy System Monitor interface, which provides you with a handy means for overclocking your components even further, as well as a reliable means to monitor their temperature and overall health.
Dell is one of the first vendors to embrace Nvidia's System Monitor software, and we find it a fairly helpful and easy-to-use application. Dell has a similarly handy program of its own on the system by way of the LightFX 2.0 application. This program controls the five LED lighting zones around the outside of the XPS 730 H2C's case, some of which are actually useful, for example lighting up ports on the rear panel, so you can check connections in a dark room. Between those two apps, Dell shows some polish that other vendors, including Maingear, do not. If we had to pick exterior lights or more bang for the buck we'd always take the latter, but there's also something to be said for going further on little extras, especially on a high-end PC.
Our review configuration also came with a handful of accessories, all optional. The Logitech G5 Laser Mouse remains our favorite gaming mouse, and the updated Logitech G15 keyboard provides lots of flexibility for macro programming and custom feedback on its built-in black-and-white LCD. We also got a basic toolkit, as well as a set of Dell-branded Turtle Beach EarForce HPA2 5.1 headphones, complete with a boom mic for online trash talking. You can also opt out of those accessories and lower the price a couple of hundred dollars.
Because this is an XPS system, it qualifies for Dell's specialized tech support hotline, which you can call toll-free 24-7. Dell says you'll find a more rugged breed of support tech on the other end, someone who's ready and able to dive into your demanding performance PC-related queries. The standard warranty provides this system with one year of parts-and-labor protection, and Dell also has a variety of useful resources online, including configuration specific support information that you can access via your special Dell service code.
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Windows Vista Home Premium; 2.4GHz Intel Core 2 Duo Q6600; 2GB 667MHz DDR2 SDRAM; (2) 512MB Nvidia GeForce 8800 GT graphics cards; 500GB 7,200 rpm Seagate hard drive
Dell XPS 730 H2C
Windows Vista Home Premium; 3.8GHz Intel Core 2 Quad QX9770; 2GB 1,600MHz (overclocked) DDR3 SDRAM; (2) 1GB ATI Radeon HD 3870 X2 graphics cards; (2) 160GB 10,000rpm Western Digital hard drives, 1TB 7,200rpm Hitachi hard drive
Windows Vista Ultimate; 4.0GHz (overclocked) Intel Core 2 Extreme QX9650; 2GB 1,333MHz DDR3 SDRAM; (2) 512MB ATI Radeon HD 3870 graphics cards; (2) 150GB Western Digital 10,000rpm hard drives; 750GB Seagate 7,200rpm hard drive
Windows Vista Ultimate; 3.5GHz (overclocked) Intel Core 2 Duo E8400; 4GB 800MHz DDR2 SDRAM; (2) 512MB Nvidia GeForce 8800 GTS graphics cards; 150GB Western Digital 10,000rpm hard drive; 500GB Seagate 7,200rpm hard drive
Windows Vista Home Premium (tested); Windows XP Professional SP2 (second partition); 3.2GHz (overclocked) Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600; 2GB 800MHz DDR2 SDRAM, 512MB Nvidia GeForce 8800 GT graphics card; 500GB 7,200 rpm Seagate hard drive