Dell XPS 710 review:

Dell XPS 710

For the rest of its specs, Dell sent us the typical high-end configuration of 2GB of 667MHz DDR2 memory, two 150GB Western Digital 10,000rpm hard drives in a RAID 0 configuration, plus a massive 750GB third drive (7,200rpm) for storage. It also included a Sound Blaster X-Fi Extreme Music (D) audio card (the D means it's Dell's own version, which lacks support for DTS audio), a DVD burner, a DVD-ROM drive, and a multiformat media card reader. Dell threw in the Saitek Eclipse II backlit gaming keyboard and the ever-trusty Logitech G5 Laser Mouse. By all accounts, the XPS 710 is as fully loaded as we found the XPS 700.

You may recall some controversy with the XPS 700 and its motherboard chipset. Without making it clear on its Web site, Dell sold the XPS 700 with a modified version of Nvidia's Nforce 590 SLI chipset, with a few of the features disabled. Overclockers were particularly annoyed that Dell cut out a feature that would automatically overclock certain high-end memory. Rather than risk the ire of scrutinizing journalists and Web site commenters, Dell now indicates on its Web site that the XPS 710 uses the Nforce 590 SLI (D) chipset, the same custom version it uses in the XPS 700. We'd rather have the features, but at least Dell now spells everything out. Dell also seems to have overcome the ship-date difficulties it experienced when the XPS 700 first announced. At one point, Dell's Web site speculated as long as a two-month delay between the time you order an XPS 700 and the time you actually receive it. That time has since shrunk for the XPS 700 (still available as of this writing) to less than a week. The XPS 710 seems to have a similarly reasonable build time of about two weeks, so whatever delivery issues it had, Dell seems to have dealt with.

Finally, we've given all of the major desktop vendors credit lately for adding remote-support capabilities. Dell's is called DellConnect, and it lets a technician assume control of your PC over the Web (with your permission) to solve problems you aren't confident enough to explain yourself. That's a great feature. We're also glad to see that Dell has made the XPS 710's default warranty last for two years. Too many high-end PCs come with only a skimpy one year of parts-and-labor coverage. Onsite service will cost you extra, which is reasonable, but Dell also offers 24/7 phone support to its accelerated XPS support line, as well as robust online support with all manner of troubleshooting help and resources.

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System configurations:

ABS Ultimate X9 III
Windows XP Professional SP2; 3.38GHz Intel Core 2 Extreme X6800; 2,048MB DDR2 SDRAM 920MHz; (2) 512MB ATI X1900 CrossFire; (2) 150GB Western Digital 10,000rpm SATA/150; Intel 8201GR/GH SATA RAID controller (RAID 0)

Apple Mac Pro
OS X 10.4.8; 2 x 3.0GHz Xeon 5160; 1,024MB DDR2 FB-SDRAM 667MHz; 512MB ATI Radeon X1900; 500GB Seagate 7,200rpm SATA/150

Dell XPS 710 (Intel Core 2 Extreme QX6700)
Windows XP Professional SP2; 2.66GHz Intel Core 2 Duo X6800; 2,048MB DDR2 SDRAM 667MHz; (2) 512MB Nvidia GeForce 7950 GX2 (Quad SLI); (2) 150GB Western Digital 10,000rpm Serial ATA/150 hard drives (RAID 0); 750GB Seagate 7,200rpm Serial ATA hard drive

Gateway FX530XT (Intel Core 2 Extreme QX6700)
Windows XP Professional SP2; 2.66GHz Intel Core 2 Extreme QX6700 overclocked to 3.2GHz; 2,048MB DDR2 SDRAM 667MHz; (2) 512MB ATI Radeon X1950 XT (CrossFire Mode); (2) 150GB Western Digital 10,000rpm serial ATA/150 hard drives (RAID 0)

Polywell Poly i680SLI Quad Core
Windows XP Professional SP2; 2.66GHz Intel Core 2 Extreme QX6700; 2,048MB DDR2 SDRAM 800MHz; 768MB Nvidia GeForce 8800 GTX; (2) 150GB Western Digital 10,000rpm Serial ATA/150 hard drives (RAID 0);

Intel Core 2 Extreme QX6700 test bed
Windows XP Professional SP2; 2.6GHz Intel Core 2 Extreme QX6700; 1,024MB DDR2 SDRAM 667MHz; 256MB ATI Radeon X1900; 74GB Western Digital 10,000rpm SATA/150

What you'll pay

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