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Dell XPS 8300 review: Jack-of-all-trades desktop

Review of Dell's XPS 8300 performance desktops.

Now that the Sandy Bridge storage flaw has been resolved, it's back to business for Intel and its desktop partners. The first post-recall tower system we've reviewed, Dell's XPS 8300, makes a reasonable showing, but it seems we have to look to other vendors to really show off what these new "second-generation" Core i7 chips can do.

The Dell XPS 8300 is one of the first mainstream PC's with Intel's new Sandy Bridge CPUs.
The Dell XPS 8300 is one of the first mainstream PC's with Intel's new Sandy Bridge CPUs. Sarah Tew/CNET

With Intel's 3.4GHz Core i7 2600 chip, a fast AMD Radeon HD 5870 graphics card, a Blu-ray burner, and other amenities, this Dell offers a well-rounded configuration for just over $1,600.

If we seem lukewarm on this PC, it's mostly due to the classic Dell problems. The shopping experience is confusing due to too many purchasing avenues on Dell's Web site. This particular XPS 8300 build also lacks some of the specialized features and attention to detail you can get for a similar price from more performance-oriented vendors. Dell's motherboard doesn't have a second graphics card slot, for example, which you can find in Velocity Micro's generally faster Z40 for less.

Dell's other shortcoming is that it won't overclock its CPUs. This isn't news, but it's hard to feel excited about a stock 3.4GHz Core i7 2600, when Dell's competitors are bumping their chips to 4GHz and beyond using standard cooling hardware.

Those interested in a straightforward desktop for versatile day-to-day computing and home entertainment will find the XPS 8300 meets their needs. If you're more inclined toward a PC with maximum performance for the dollar, we'd point you to Velocity Micro, Maingear, or another speed-oriented vendor.

Read the full review of the Dell XPS 8300.