Dell XPS 8300 desktop review: Dell XPS 8300 desktop

3DMark 11 offers a whole suite of gaming tests, but we chose to use only the combined test, which taxes the entire system in one benchmark. We run the Extreme test using the default settings. For the Performance test we adjust the texture filtering to 16x anisotropic filtering, and for the Entry level test we adjust the resolution to 1,680x1,050 pixels.

As you can see from our results, 3DMark 11 is a challenging test, where even on the Entry level setting the systems can't get above 20 frames per second. That seems to track with our Metro 2033 results below, although we run that test only on the highest possible settings. Similar to our Photoshop CS5 testing, we need to gather more 3DMark 11 results before we're able to say how these scores track with real-world performance, but the early returns suggest that it will work like our Crysis test for older games, representing a sort of worst-case gaming scenario. We would expect a PC that posted 30 fps on 3DMark 11 would be able to handle anything else out there with little difficulty.

Crysis
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
1,600x1,200 (high, 4x aa)  
1,280x1,024 (medium, 4x aa)  

Far Cry 2
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
1,920x1,200 (DirectX 10, 4x aa, very high)  
1,440x900 (DirectX 10, 4x aa, very high)  

Metro 2033
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
2,560x1,536 (DirectX 11, very high)  
1,920x1,080 (DirectX 11, very high)  

Despite the low frame rates, all of these systems can play Metro 2033 at slightly reduced settings, and the virtue of modern game design is that even with less demanding image quality, most games still look very good. Just know that none of these systems can play the Metro 2033 well at its highest settings. We wouldn't expect that from PCs in this price range, either. And while Dell has built a competent gaming system here based on its Far Cry 2 scores, the Velocity Micro's overclocked Core i5 CPU and GeForce 560 Ti card prove a more potent gaming combination than the XPS 8300's stock Core i7 chip and its AMD Radeon HD 5870 card.

The XPS 8300 is also hurt by the fact that you can't add a second graphics card, or really much of anything, to it. The Velocity system offers a second 3D card slot, but inside the Dell you have room for only a single 1x PCI Express card. You get a free hard-drive bay from Dell's strange upturned bay design, but other than that you'll need to replace existing hardware to alter the internal components.

The Dell's external connectivity is better, with lots of options for connecting external data and media devices. In addition to the pair of USB 3.0 ports we mentioned before, you get an eSATA port on the back of the system. The graphics card offers HDMI, DVI, and Mini DisplayPort video outputs, and for audio you get a full set of 7.1 analog outs, as well as a separate optical S/PDIF digital audio jack. No Windows PC that we know of offers Intel's Thunderbolt port yet, so for now, this system is as complete as we expect in terms of its connection options.

Juice box
Dell XPS 8300 Average watts per hour
Off 1.44
Sleep 2.3
Idle 65.6
Load 232.67
Raw (annual kWh) 384.16104
Energy Star-compliant Yes
Annual operating cost (@$0.1135/kWh) $43.60

Annual power consumption cost

Like most performance-oriented systems, the Dell is not shy about its power consumption, but we can't help but notice a striking difference between the Dell and the Gateway FX6850-51u. The two are very close in configuration, and in terms of power-hungry parts, the Dell's only difference is its AMD Radeon HD 5870 graphics card. The Gateway has a far more modest GeForce GT 440. Apparently the difference between the two cards is high enough to cause the Dell to require more than twice as much power. Technically, though, the Dell meets the requirements of an Energy Star efficiency rating.

Service and support
Dell's service and support compare well with its mainstream competition. You get 24-7 phone support, a yearlong parts-and-labor warranty, a variety of support resources online, and various diagnostic tools on the system itself.

Conclusion
Dell configured this XPS 8300 as a jack-of-all-trades system, available for a reasonable price. You may be in the market for such a PC, but performance-oriented shoppers in particular can find faster, more versatile PCs out there without having to spend much more.

Find out more about how we test desktop systems.

System configurations:
Acer Aspire Predator
Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit; 2.93GHz Intel Core i7 870; 8GB 1,333MHz DDR3 SDRAM; 1GB ATI Radeon HD 5850 graphics card; 1.5TB, 7,200rpm Seagate hard drive

Dell XPS 8300
Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit; 3.4GHz Intel Core i7 2600; 8GB 1,333MHz DDR3 SDRAM; 1GB AMD Radeon HD 5870; 1.5TB 7,200rpm Seagate hard drive

Gateway FX6850-51u
Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit; 3.4GHz Intel Core i7 2600; 8GB 1,333MHz DDR3 SDRAM; 1.5GB Nvidia GeForce GT440 graphics card; 1TB 7,200rpm Hitachi hard drive

Maingear F131
Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit; 3.87GHz (overclocked) Intel Core i7 960; 6GB 1,600MHz DDR3 SDRAM; (2) 1GB ATI Radeon HD 5870 graphics cards; 80GB Intel X25-M solid-state hard drive; 1.5TB 5,400rpm Western Digital hard drive

Origin Genesis
Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit; 4.7GHz Intel Core i7 2600K (overclocked); 8GB 1,333MHz DDR3 SDRAM; 1.5GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 580 graphics card (overclocked); 80GB solid-state hard drive; 1TB 7,200rpm Western Digital hard drive

Velocity Micro Z40
Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit; 4.0GHz Intel Core i5 2500K (overclocked); 4GB 1,333MHz DDR3 SDRAM; 1GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 560Ti graphics card (overclocked); 1TB 7,200rpm Hitachi hard drive

What you'll pay

Pricing is currently unavailable.

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Where to Buy

Dell XPS 8300 desktop

Part Number: Dell8300desktop

MSRP: $1,614.99

See manufacturer website for availability.

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