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Dell XPS One 2710 review: Dell XPS One 2710

The high resolution, 27-inch Dell XPS One 2710 is faster than the current high-end iMac, and has the same pixel-dense display.

Rich Brown Former Senior Editorial Director - Home and Wellness
Rich was the editorial lead for CNET's Home and Wellness sections, based in Louisville, Kentucky. Before moving to Louisville in 2013, Rich ran CNET's desktop computer review section for 10 years in New York City. He has worked as a tech journalist since 1994, covering everything from 3D printing to Z-Wave smart locks.
Expertise Smart home, Windows PCs, cooking (sometimes), woodworking tools (getting there...)
Rich Brown
8 min read

Dell has scored a major coup with its XPS One 2710 all-in-one desktop. The only Windows-based all-in-one to match the iMac's 27-inch, 2,560x,1,440-pixel screen, this Dell achieves the too-rare feat of a Windows PC separating itself from the commodity herd. You might wish for more hardware configurability -- swapping the TV tuner for a Blu-ray drive, for example. Still, between the beautiful display and its speedy performance, the Dell XPS One 2710 is one of the best all-in-ones available. My only hesitation is the potential for a new iMac in the next few weeks.

Dell XPS One 27 (Core i5 3450s)

Dell XPS One 2710

The Good

The <b>Dell XPS One 2710</b> boasts speedy performance and the highest screen resolution among 27-inch Windows all-in-ones.

The Bad

The overly glossy screen and a limited OSD take away from the display, and the absence of Blu-ray is strange at this price.

The Bottom Line

The pixel-dense Dell XPS One 2710 is one of the best Windows-based all-in-ones available and, barring a new iMac, an easy high-end recommendation.

The XPS One 2710 is the third 27-inch Windows all-in-one I've reviewed this year, joining the HP Omni 27 Quad and the Asus ET2700I. Along with those systems, Lenovo, Samsung, Vizio, and others have all showed 27-inch models. Unlike this Dell, all of those other models have 1,920x1,080-pixel screens. The XPS One 2710 is the only Windows all-in-one with a higher-resolution 2,560x1,440-pixel display.

The benefits of that display are similar to those of the current 27-inch iMac. The XPS One 2710 offers a refreshingly large canvas on which to arrange application windows. For standard computing tasks like Web browsing, photo viewing and manipulation, word processing, or spreadsheet work, the screen alone simply makes you feel like you're using a "better" computer.

This is not to say that Dell's display is perfect. The glossy exterior coating, similar to that on the iMac, is one problem. As our photo editor, Lori Grunin, noted, unless you're working in a pitch-black environment, reflections, particularly your own, will impede your ability to discern fine image detail.

Video can also be a problem. Movies in 1080p look fine, even if you're sitting close to the screen, but standard-definition content often looks terrible from within 5 or 6 feet. Its black levels, as noted by our TV reviewer Ty Pendlebury, are also more dark gray than black. When Ty asked to calibrate the display, we were both frustrated to find that Dell only provides a brightness control in its onscreen menu.

If it's not the perfect display, at least in a room where you can watch from a distance the XPS One 2710 will make a credible home entertainment center. Its screen is large enough, the HDMI input lets you connect standard video components, and its audio output is powerful enough and clear enough to travel across a reasonably sized room.

Dell XPS One 27 Asus ET2700I HP Omni 27 Quad
Price $1,599 $1,399 $1,249
Display size/resolution 27-inch, 2,560x1,440 27-inch, 1,920x1,080 27-inch, 1,920x1,080
CPU 2.8GHz Intel Core i5 3450S 2.8GHz Intel Core i7 2600S 2.5GHz Intel Core i5 2400S
Memory 8GB 1,600MHz DDR3 SDRAM 8GB 1,333MHZ DDR3 SDRAM 8GB 1,333MHZ DDR3 SDRAM
Graphics 2GB Nvidia GeForce GT 640M 1GB Nvidia GeForce GT 540M 64MB Intel HD Graphics 1000 (embedded)
Hard drives 1TB, 7,200 rpm 1TB, 7,200rpm 1TB, 7,200rpm
Optical drive dual-layer DVD burner Blu-ray player/dual-layer DVD burner combo Blu-ray player/dual-layer DVD burner combo
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 7 Home Premium SP1 (64-bit) Windows 7 Home Premium SP1 (64-bit) Windows 7 Home Premium SP1 (64-bit)

I suspect 27-inch all-in-one PCs will come down in price before too long, but for now they allow PC vendors to demand a premium, particularly in Dell's case with the higher resolution panel. All of the systems in the charts above also cost less than Apple's $1,699 27-inch iMac, a configuration now more than a year old.

Of these 27-inch Windows systems, the Dell is the most expensive, but it also offers the fastest CPU and the most powerful graphics card. You can order the Omni 27 Quad with a third-generation Core i5 chip, a TV tuner, and with a DVD-burner downgrade to match the Dell, but HP does not offer the newer Nvidia graphics card, and its 27-inch screen is only a 1,920x1,080 model. The price of that reconfigured HP will be $1,419. Given its still higher-end components, the Dell seems fairly priced.

My primary value complaint is the same as with the Dell XPS 8500. It might not be common knowledge, but Dell has largely abandoned the build-your-own PC model with which it first had so much success. For many Dell PCs, including the XPS One 2710, you can only chose from a few fixed configurations. The $1,999 model, for example, is the only one with a Blu-ray drive in it. From a business standpoint, I can see why Dell would reserve that feature for its highest-priced unit, but given the large screen and the fact that Blu-ray is so common now, this $1,599 XPS One 2710 feels underequipped with only a standard DVD burner.

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

Cinebench 11.5
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Rendering Multiple CPUs  
Rendering Single CPU  

Even if it's fair, the Dell's higher cost will seem like a lot for mainstream shoppers, but fortunately it also has the performance to back up its price tag. Lenovo's $1,350 IdeaCentre B520, with its Core i7 CPU, is the only higher-end all-in-one that consistent outperforms the Dell. You will notice the iMacs have an edge on our tests that rely on iTunes and QuickTime, but as those are both Apple-made programs, the iMacs have an advantage running them in OS X. The Photoshop and Cinebench tests are arguably more informative due to their operating system agnosticism, and here the Dell is faster by a slim margin.

The Dell also makes a workable gaming PC, but it will have a challenge playing games at its native resolution. You will have better luck playing demanding games like the Witcher 2, Max Payne 3, and Battlefield 3 at 1,920x1,080 pixels and dropping down the image quality settings. At that lower resolution, the XPS One 2710 will play most present-day PC games at an acceptable frame rate.

Connectivity options on the XPS One 2710 include HDMI in and output (the latter for adding a second monitor), and, straightforwardly, six USB 3.0 jacks. This might be the first Windows desktop I've seen with USB 3.0 exclusively, as opposed to mix of USB 2.0 and 3.0 ports. Audio jacks include an S/PDIF output, as well as separate speaker and headphone analog jacks. There's a TV tuner on the back as well, and I'd happily trade that for a Blu-Ray drive.

Like most all-in-ones, you can't easily access the interior of the XPS One 2710. That leaves you especially reliant on the Dell's service and support. Its policies compare well with those of its mainstream competition. You get 24-7 phone support, a one-year parts-and-labor warranty, a variety of support resources online, and various diagnostic tools on the system itself. Phone support quality, of course, varies from support rep to support rep.

Aside from a few polish and configuration gripes, I like this computer quite a bit, not least because it finally brings Windows all-in-ones on par with Apple in terms of screen resolution. It's also faster than the 27-inch iMac on many programs, and has a lower price. For those considering a high-end all-in-one purchase, wait a few weeks to see what, if anything, emerges in the way of a new iMac, but keep the Dell XPS One 2710 at the top of your list.

Find out more about how we test desktop systems.

System configurations:
Apple iMac 27-inch
Apple OS X Snow Leopard 10.6.7; 3.1GHz Intel Core i5 (second generation); 4GB 1,333MHz DDR3 SDRAM; 1GB ATI Radeon HD 6970M graphics card; 1TB 7,200rpm hard drive

Asus ET2700I (Core i7, April 2012)
Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit (SP1); 2.8GHz Intel Core i7 2600S; 8GB 1,333MHz DDR3 SDRAM; 1GB Nvidia GeForce GT 540M graphics card; 1TB 7,200rpm hard drive

Dell XPS One 2710
Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit (SP1); 2.8GHz Intel Core i5 3450S; 8GB 1,600MHz DDR3 SDRAM; 2GB Nvidia GeForce 640M graphics card; 1TB 7,200rpm hard drive

HP Omni 27 Quad
Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit (SP1); 2.5GHz Intel Core i5 2400S; 8GB 1,333MHz DDR3 SDRAM; 64MB Intel HD Graphics 1000 (embedded); 1TB 7,200rpm hard drive

Lenovo IdeaCentre B520
Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit (SP1); 3.4GHz Intel Core i7-2600; 8GB 1,333MHz DDR3 SDRAM; 2GB Nvidia GeForce GT 555 graphics card; 2TB 7,200rpm hard drive

Sony Vaio L Series

Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit (SP1); 2.5GHz Intel Core i5 3120M; 6GB 1,600MHz DDR3 SDRAM; 64MB Intel HD 4000 embedded graphics chip; 1TB 5,400rpm hard drive

Dell XPS One 27 (Core i5 3450s)

Dell XPS One 2710

Score Breakdown

Design 8Features 8Performance 8Support 7