on January 1, 2014
This review is for the XPS 8700 - 1253BLK. This model has the i7 Haswell, 8 GB of RAM, and the Nvidia 635 video card installed. It also comes stock with a DVD writer, Seagate 1TB hard drive and Windows 8 pre-installed. A cheapo keyboard and mouse are included; they remained in the box. You won't bother to unwrap them either, I suspect.
Upon delivery, I did what the guy who wrote the "inspecting the soldier" review did and took the case apart immediately. As an owner of a 2008 Core Duo Dell XPS 420 (which works flawlessly but is now dated), I was curious to know how far technology has progressed since 2008. After all, the ad copy for this system states that it's a FOURTH GENERATION i7 HASWELL and you will PREPARE TO BE BLOWN AWAY BY ITS SPEED.
The piano black case is very attractive and discreet. The only indicator light is a subtle white flashing hard drive light, and it's tastefully accented with shiny faux chrome fascia. It's an elegant system, to be sure. It's also very quiet when started.
Stripping the fascia off reveals an interior that, I am sorry to say, has regressed considerably from my XPS 420's tool-less chassis. The case looks cheap on the inside - very cheap. The frame is very thin sheet metal and isn't substantial like the 420. I remember buying cases like this in the 1990s for about $40, complete with the sharp edges and non-intuitive drive layouts. Fortunately, once you clip the plastic fascia back on, you once again have an attractive system on your desktop. I am disappointed that Dell case design seems to have taken a major step backward from the thoughtful design of the 420.
The power supply looks like something I would have gotten out of the bargain basement bin at a computer fair. It's stamped that it can do 460 watts, but it looks very, very cheap. I suspect that this PSU will be the first casualty and I intend to dump it at my earliest opportunity in favor of a more capable unit. I'm not saying that Dell is providing a shoddy product; but I expected something a bit more substantial for a higher-level system like the XPS 8700 series.
The cooling system for the Haswell surprised me as well. After reading about all of the cooling requirements for i7 processors (granted, these are for gaming rigs which this 8700 most certainly is not) I expected a more substantial heatsink/fan combination. Again, I'm not saying it's bad (and the CPU temps are within normal range), it just seemed... adequate.
Wi-Fi and audio are built in to the motherboard. It looks like built-in video is present as well, but it's disabled and capped off for this model computer. The built in HDMI port is capped off. That's OK since the system comes with a NVidia 635 1GB video card. A review of NVidia's website shows it to be an OEM card that's at the bottom of their current lineup. Since I am not a gamer and have no need of ultra-high resolution/frame rates, this card will serve me just fine. I may revisit this video card though if and when I move to dual HDMI displays - something that this card can't do.
A word about Windows 8: The system is pre-installed with version 8 and not 8.1. You'll have to do that manually. the issue that I ran in to was that I could not find the 8.1 update in the Microsoft store. I applied all of the Windows updates, purged the cache for the store, and still could not find the 8.1 update. Dell's website was of no help either. THE FIX: Microsoft says that you must have KB 2871389 update installed on your Win 8 system in order to "unlock" the upgrade in the Store. Dell pre-installed KB 2871389 with the system as shipped, but for some reason it doesn't signal to Microsoft that you are good to upgrade. You'll need to go into the Windows Update section in the Control Panel and delete the existing KB 2871389 installation. Check for updates again and let it install from Microsoft - you'll then be able to get the 8.1 update.
After upgrading Windows, I then dumped the OEM Seagate 1TB hard drive and installed a Samsung 840 PRO series 256GB SSD. I highly recommend getting an SSD for your boot drive - this system will literally be at your desktop and ready to go within 8 seconds or so. It's that fast! I moved the Seagate to be my secondary drive. With 5 SATA ports and 6 USB 3 ports (4 in back and 2 in front) you'll have serious storage expansion capabilities if you want to run external hard drives.
So, to summarize my thoughts:
- Haswell i7 is fast. Not "guy in the Memorex commercial" fast, but it's still a tremendous improvement over my old Core Duo.
- Attractive case. Understated, professional looking. It will hold two optical and three hard drives.
- Lots of USB 3 expansion potential.
- Memory can be upgraded to 32 GB. While this system ships with only 8 (2 4 GB sticks), I already have another 16 on order. However, more RAM isn't really required; 8 GB seems to be more than enough for the business/casual user.
- PSU as stated above.
- Windows 8 glitch as described above.
- Motherboard only has one PCI-e slot to accommodate a video card. If you are going to run dual video cards you are out of luck. It does appear that you can fit a fairly long video card in the case, however. The motherboard design and drive cage don't appear to present an obstacle to getting a more substantial card in the future.
- Gimmicky Dell software that is always trying to sell you something more. I dropped quite a few Benjamins on this system, I don't want to see any more commercials, thank you.
Overall, I am pleased with my purchase. I am happy with Dell computers and I expect that this computer will serve me as well as my XPS 420 has (and continues to do so). I do recommend this system to you, the prospective buyer. Like I said in the intro, it's a great start to a Dell system; a few tweaks and it will be perfect.
on May 5, 2015
Great Computer and REALLY fast shipping. But shop around - there are some great deals on this same configuration. Unfortunately I did not see them until after I purchased this one. Only issues I had was the wireless card did not have bluetooth and the GeForce 720 only had 1Gb of memory. I picked up another wireless card for $25.00, a GeForce 960 and because of that, upgraded the 450 watt PSU. I also went ahead and picked up 16Gb more of memory and a SDD so after an initial $750.00 purchase, $300.00 in upgrades I feel I easily have a $1,700 computer.
on December 9, 2013
Bought this computer for my Dad as a lightning sale (black Friday) Couldn't beat the price of $619 for a core i7. I've been searching and searching and nearly bought a core i5 from Lenovo when this sale popped up. Setup was easy and the computer worked well. My only gripe is that it came with Windows 8. I don't know much about windows 8 and have been using 7 for some time. I guess my beef is that windows 8 seems to take so long to do just about anything such as file transfers from a USB drive, updates and I wasn't too impressed with the apps.
I should have just reinstalled windows 7, but I was short of time. Also, it came with Dell Backup and Recovery, but you had to pay another $39 if you wanted to get features like scheduled backups. That seems like a ripoff to me.
But over all the computer is great. My Dad will be able to work on his photos and video production with lightning speeds due to the Core i7 and also the additional graphics card.
Not sure I'd pay the full $739 but for what I paid it was a great PC and a great deal.
on January 24, 2014
I've had this now for almost 3 weeks and absolutely love it. Windows 8 came loaded, but make sure to get the free update to 8.1 as it makes it more like older Windows (with the start button and its functions). Its the perfect computer for gaming, surfing the internet, checking email and just about anything you throw at it. I've been playing Command and Conquer Red Alert 3, Elder Scrolls: Skyrim, and Minecraft which all run on highest settings and work flawlessly. I couldn't believe the price for what I was getting. Such a great product. I had to contact Dell Support since I got this bizarre error saying that the memory could not be read (only when I was shutting down) and the excellent support rep fixed it within an hour over the phone. I haven't had the problem since. If you are going to be a medium-gamer, need to utilize productivity software, edit pictures/music or anything that requires a processor, I would highly recommend this computer over any of its competitors.
on January 24, 2014
This would be an excellent computer except for the fact that it is only available with Windows 8, which is a horrible travesty of an operating system. As we all know, productivity is a quotient of what is accomplished divided by the effort that is required. By this formula, Windows 8 is a total, abject failure. everything that was once easy, and I'm referring to actual work/school activities (NOT time-wasting foolishness such as Facebook or gaming!), takes much more effort with this pathetic excuse for an operating system.
I'm sure this will be a five-star computer once I install a clean hard drive and load a 64-bit version of Windows XP Professional. I'll install 7 if the machine won't accept XP; at least 7 is only a partial failure. If neither of those work, I'll just stick to running a virtual machine in VMware.
McAfee is also a big mistake on the part of Dell. It's as useless as Symantec's more recent versions, and won't allow for the installation of proper anti-virus and anti-malware programs; one must uninstall McAfee to be able to install anything that actually works.
on September 11, 2014
I was debating whether to purchase another laptop or to go back to a desktop with this purchase. The laptop has the convenience of portability, however, is much more expensive and isn't easy to upgrade. So, I did some research, and this desktop had the most high-end components inside for the price, with plenty of options to upgrade/expand. The CPU is the clear winner in this desktop, it is much faster than my outgoing laptop's 1st generation i7 CPU. The GPU was solid for internet browsing and watching movies, however I have already replaced it with a more powerful card. The one thing I was slightly disappointed in was the fact that it does not have dual-band WiFi capabilities. Luckily, the WiFi card wasn't built-in to the motherboard and was easy to swap with a dual-band AC version. This machine is also very quiet, is durable due to steel construction, and has a conservative look that won't look dated anytime soon. I am writing this review after about a year of owning it, so there are probably better deals on machines with newer components, but I would still highly recommend it!