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Dell updates its highest-end XPS system

New Dell XPS 720 H2C

Dell's XPS gets an impressive spec update. Dell

We've given Dell a hard time in the past for not keeping its alleged gaming rigs up to date, but the new XPS 720 H2C looks once again like the real deal. We say "once again" because the original 710 model won an Editors' Choice award back in January. With this new version, Dell addressed many of the complaints we had about the first model, and even expanded on some features. We don't want to crown anything before getting our hands on it, but on paper the 720 looks tough to beat. It costs $6,000 (with a 24-inch wide-screen LCD), so if there's a downside, it's that you can't afford it.

The specs get most of the updates we'd expect. Dell moves to the Intel Core 2 Extreme QX6800 quad-core CPU, offering a factory overclock to an ambitious 3.73GHz. Dell has also moved to Nvidia's NForce 680i SLI motherboard. Whether that's the "(D)", with a few altered features, we don't yet know, but it appears to have finally embraced Corsair's Dominator EPP RAM, which gives you an auto-overclock boost to 1,066MHz, up from its standard 800MHz. You only get 2GB with this model, though, whereas the 710 gave you 4GB. Perhaps Dell skimped on the memory because it has also added two of Nvidia's ridiculously expensive GeForce 8800 Ultra cards. Because it's so entrenched with Nvidia's board tech, we're not exactly sure that Dell would have made the move to those new ATI Radeon HD 2900 cards, even if they had proven faster, but in this case it doesn't seem to have hurt anything for staying with GeForce.

Finally, it appears that Dell has borrowed some tech from its Alienware subsidiary (aka "Dell South Beach," from what we've heard) by expanding the case-lighting software to the extent that you can "create unique lighting scenarios that match specific game activities such as breathing or heartbeat," according to the Dell press release. We might rather the new LightFX software give you more practical capabilities, like the Alienware systems that can use the lights to alert you of new e-mail and such. And who knows, it might let you do that. We're actually meeting with Dell representatives today, so we'll be sure to ask them.