Dell XPS One 27 (Windows 8) review: Far and away, the best Windows 8 all-in-one

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MSRP: $2,099.00

The Good The Dell XPS One 27 boasts the highest-display resolution among Windows 8 all-in-ones, and at an aggressive price.

The Bad A new adjustable display support arm is welcome, but stops short of reclining a full 90 degrees.

The Bottom Line Updated with a touch screen, a new stand, and up-to-date components, the Dell XPS One 27 leads the inaugural class of Windows 8 PCs.

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8.3 Overall
  • Design 7
  • Features 9
  • Performance 9
  • Support 7

Dell has informed us that it has increased the price of the $1,999 and $2,499 models of the XPS One 27 by $100. That means the $1,999 model will now cost $2,099, and the $2,499 model will cost $2,599. Our review unit, the now $2,099 model with a $200 Blu-ray drive upgrade, will cost $2,299 when the Blu-ray drive is available in December. The $1,399 and $1,599 units have not received a price increase.

It was only timing that held back the original XPS One 27 from an Editors' Choice Award. I wanted to see if Apple would unveil a new iMac, and also what might emerge from the PC side in the run-up to Windows 8. Apple's plans will be a mystery for another few hours, but after having seen the new slate of big-screen all-in-ones, I can say with confidence that Dell's updated XPS One 27 is the clear winner among the Windows crowd for its high-resolution 2,560x1,440-pixel display and a still-reasonable price tag.

I can see the pricing questions for this review now, so let's get that out of the way. The XPS One 27 starts at $1,399 for the non-touch model. The touch-screen version starts at $1,599. This review unit is based on the $2,099 step-up configuration, but Dell wanted to show off the big display so it included a Blu-ray drive.

The Blu-ray option is not available with the current $2,099 unit, but Dell says it will start offering the upgrade in December for $200. That puts this exact review configuration at $2,299. Other than the Blu-ray drive, it's identical to the $2,099 model that you can purchase today. If you want an XPS One 27 with a Blu-ray drive now, your only option is the highest-end $2,599 version.

At those higher price tiers, the XPS One 27 enters another pricing level relative to competing 27-inch all-in-ones. Vizio's CA27T-A4 starts at $1,219. The Lenovo IdeaCentre A720 starts at $1,470. Even Acer's high-flying Aspire 7600U tops out at $1,899. But none of those systems offers a 2,560x1,440-pixel resolution display, much less with touch input.

Considering that the touch-screen XPS One 27 starts at $1,599, Dell has the best of both worlds with this PC. It offers high-end options for those who want to pay for them, and it also outclasses its competition by offering the same high-resolution screen with its more modestly priced starting models.

Dell XPS One 27 Acer Aspire 7600U Apple iMac 27-inch
Price (at time of review) $2,299 $1,899 $1,999
Display size/resolution 27-inch, 2,560x1,440 27-inch, 1,920x1,080 27-inch, 2,560x1,440
CPU 3.1GHz Intel Core i7 3770S 2.5GHz Intel Core i5 3210M 3.1GHz Intel Core i5 2400
Memory 8GB 1,600MHz DDR3 SDRAM 8GB 1,333MHz DDR3 SDRAM 4GB 1,333MHz DDR3 SDRAM
Graphics 2GB Nvidia GeForce GT 640M 768MB Nvidia Geforce GT 640M 1GB AMD Radeon HD 6970M
Hard drives 2TB, 7,200rpm 1TB, 5,400rpm 1TB, 7,200rpm
Optical drive Blu-ray/dual-layer DVD burner Blu-ray/dual-layer DVD burner dual-layer DVD burner
Networking Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11b/g/n wireless Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11b/g/n wireless Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11b/g/n wireless
Operating system Windows 8 Pro (64-bit) Windows 8 (64-bit) Apple OS X Snow Leopard 10.6.7

Among Windows 8 launch PCs, the Acer Aspire 7600U is the only other model to approach the $2,000 price point. Even if you throw out the Dell's higher-resolution screen, the XPS One 27 is still a strong competitor to the Acer system. Dell includes more memory for the GeForce graphics card, and also offers a faster, higher-end Core i7 chip, and twice the hard drive space.

Acer poured a lot of effort into the design of its new all-in-one, and it probably looks a little slicker than the Dell. It also has a unique support foot that makes it easier to adjust the display than the Dell's double-jointed stand support. Where Acer is mostly attempting to make a "lifestyle" appeal for its new all-in-one, Dell sticks to its price-performance roots. The payoff is clear in terms of features and performance, and for any serious PC buyer, the XPS One 27 is the clear choice.

Comparing the XPS One 27 with Apple's high-end iMac is harder, given the potential for a new iMac announcement later today. If you discount operating system preference and compare against the existing iMac, the Dell offers more onboard storage, a touch screen, and the convenience of its HDMI input and output jacks.

The iMac's primary non-software advantage might be its Thunderbolt ports, which open up the door to fast external storage arrays and other peripherals that leverage Thunderbolt's faster data transfer speeds. Professional users in particular might appreciate that option. Otherwise, and again, operating systems aside, the Dell looks like a more fully featured offering than the existing iMac. An update from Apple can always turn this comparison on its head, and I will revisit this review in the event that Apple announces a new iMac.

[[Note: Apple did indeed announce new iMacs on October 23rd, introducing a new chassis, Intel Ivy Bridge CPUs, Nvidia Geforce 600-series graphics chips, and a solid state/mechanical hard drive storage option Apple calls Fusion Storage. The Dell can still claim touch input and a Blu-ray drive option, but overall your operating system and aesthetic preferences should be the biggest deciding factors in choosing between the two computers.]].

Adobe Photoshop CS5 image-processing test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)

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