Customer Reviews: Dell XPS X8700-1253BLK Desktop (3.4 GHz Intel Core i7-4770 Processor, 8GB DDR3, 1TB HDD, Windows 8) Black (Discontinued by Manufacturer)
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon December 8, 2013
Short Version: This is a good $800 computer but the keyboard and mouse are very inexpensive models. It's also a system to grow with and $450 in upgrades will make it as good as Dell's $1700 XPS version. Read on for details.

I'll first say that to observe the computer's looks there are enough pictures and that it's size is slightly smaller than a classic mid tower. It ships with Win 8, easily upgraded to 8.1 and much of the bloatware typical of today's computers, I will focus on capabilities and quality.

I first booted it to check to see if it needed a BIOS flash (mine did) and then I pulled the plug on it and carefully took it all apart. Upon finding a well assembled but somewhat fragile feeling unit I scrutinized each part. This mid tower case has some room for upgrades having a cage for two 3.5 inch drives and another behind the front panel which also reveals space for a second optical drive in case you want to install Blu-ray or anything 5.25 inch. The optical reader/writer installed is a 16x DVD and feels very inexpensive. I also believe this case to be lacking in adequate ventilation to fill it with too many upgrades, as fast video cards and 7200 RPM drives get hot.

The mainboard is typical of this type of unit with four 1600MHz, 8 GB max ram slots (two used) and only one fast card slot in which the graphics card resides, one PCI 4x and two PCI 1x. SATA 3.0 with RAID is used along with a mSATA interface which Dell uses for caching on the special edition. The 1TB hard drive is a Seagate Barracuda with a 64Mb cache. I was all set to buy 16GB of fast ram and stopped to check compatibility. Well, I learned that today only Kingston and Crucial guarantee their ram for this unit. Others may well work, it shipped with Samsung, but I'm not going to be the tester who finds out, so another 8GB from Crucial's site, $87. Do you need it? Search Windows for resmon.exe on your computer and open it up and check the memory tab to find out, it will display percentage and amount used. I see right now I'm using 7.5GB. I've known many who were sure they would benefit from more RAM only to find out they didn't use what was installed, it depends on the programs you use, so keep checking.

Now this video card is a nice addition for non-gamers and will work for lots of games using HDMI, DVI-D and VGA connections, although it is low-level tech with just 1GB of slow DDR3 memory. If you're considering a video upgrade, this comes with a 460 watt power supply that seemed pretty inexpensive and I upgraded to a Corsair 600 watt. The Dell may be adequate but an upgrade can also provide better cooling while being quieter doing so, but to be sure, use an online power supply calculator for any video card upgrade. There's a media reader with slots for all popular formats and the standard audio jacks. The keyboard and mouse are basic and USB, no, very cheap and not wireless. It has USB 2 and 3 in front and back (10 in total) and always on USB charging on top of the case where there's a place for setting an external drive or whatever you charge. The Bluetooth works well and the wireless is weak but okay for 25 feet. It doesn't come with system discs, so grab a few DVD's and make some. So to recap: Good assembly and mostly okay parts that work just fine with the ability for some upgrades. This computer reminds me of the joke where Adam asks God for the perfect woman and God replies "That'll cost you an arm and a leg" so Adam says "What can I get for a rib?" Ouch!

I use some programs that aren't Win 8 compatible so I loaded Win 7 which I prefer anyway onto a SSD Intel 530 Series 240GB. Dell will sell you this unit with Win 7 so all the drivers are available at their site. Let me add that I've read that some have used mSATA as a boot drive also and that it is SATA 3.

I'll at times refer to "the HP", by that I'll mean a two year old HP Envy I own that's nearly identical to this Dell with a second generation i7 @ 3.4GHz versus this with the fourth @ 3.4GHz. Both boost to 3.9GHz, so set Windows Power Options to High Performance in the Control Panel to maximize the computers speed.

Do you need this Dell i7 or would the cheaper i5 version be okay? No, maybe you don't, I'll explain why. This processor is massive overkill for everyday needs and it won't seem faster to many users. It's about 20% faster processing than the HP and 30% faster processing than the i5. Just processing, not a 30% faster computer. The web, your email, Office, downloads, printing and such won't seem different. Small improvements are noticed in editing and processing large files. By processing I mean opening a program, loading a file and modifying or processing it. A large photo process that takes 10 seconds on an i5 will now take 7. But most of what you do may take .1 and now .07 seconds and that won't feel different. This is why; Your drives are the slowest component in your computer by many times over and conversely the processor is fast, so spending $160 on a solid state drive has a much greater impact than spending $160 on the i7. Using a SSD will make an i5 feel much faster than this i7. So if the extra cost is too much right now I'd recommend the i5 and buy the drive later, if it's an 8GB, 1TB, XPS 8700 with a GT635 they are otherwise identical. For gaming, I'd spend it on your video card because it does more work than your processor or your drive. So the processor is not the sole requirement for speed. Maybe, the least expensive Dell i5 model, without the video card is all you need. Am I trying to tell you not to buy this? No, I'm providing you with knowledge so you can make an informed decision. After all my upgrades this is still the third slowest system I own, even my laptop is i7, GeForce and SSD, but that fits in my budget and since building my first computer in 1989 I've professionally advised many on systems large and small.

So what's new in two years? Mainly, the HP didn't come with Bluetooth, but for $13 a USB adapter solved that. It also lacked USB 3 and a $20 card solved that, the SATA interface is slower but I can't tell if that's all theoretical speed.

I'm not sure what else to say since mine is now a XPS i7, 16GB memory, 240GB SSD boot drive, 1TB internal, 2TB external, GTX 660 Ti 2GB, Corsair 600 watt running Win 7 and Bluetooth keyboard and mouse. I purchased this lesser version so I could do my own upgrades. About me, I've spent eight years being schooled in electronics and I've built upwards of 100 high powered computers, workstations and servers. So why not build? It's not worth it anymore unless you need a specialized unit or unless you just enjoy doing it, like building fast cars and I purchased this as a home office computer.

So do I recommend this? Sure, just as it came was good, my upgrades weren't needed and so longevity of the parts will be the deciding factor for me, I won't bother with the warranty. Although, in a word, I'd say it's adequate, which means it's all the average user needs, eXtreme Performance Series is not an accurate description, that model starts at $1700. The Intel processor is the only premium part used and that only reached 3.89 GHz in the benchmark I ran, which was a first for me with an Intel (I expected over 3.9) and sums up this computer system. By the way, the HP has a SSD, 8 gigs of ram and a GTX 650 Ti 2GB and I'm perfectly happy with it after two years, the Dell isn't a replacement, it's another and doesn't feel like an upgrade. So getting this may reduce your urge for a new model in the future. For others the deciding factor may be dealing with Dell, which I won't be doing. But the way you should treat a computer is like a pet. It needs regular attention like driver and program updates and this being a newer processor BIOS updates are more likely so I guess I'll make sneaky quick visits to Dell's site. Also, Dell provides many tutorials on YouTube that may be helpful. As always, I'm just here to help and provide the facts to wise Amazon shoppers.

Update: I've made myself a liar and tested faster RAM. It provides a small but noticeable performance increase at the sacrifice of your RAM presently installed as mixing the two negates the speed increase. Crucial Ballistix Sport 16GB Kit (8GBx2) DDR3 1600 MT/s (PC3-12800) CL9 @1.5V UDIMM 240-Pin Memory BLS2KIT8G3D1609DS1S00

Update: It's been two months of daily and heavy use and I can report no problems with my Dell. I've taken the time to read every XPS 8700 customer review I could find, here and at other sites (about 100) and they're mostly positive.
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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.
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on December 4, 2013
Ordered on a Saturday as one of their Black Friday Lightning Deals it arrived that Monday. Bought it as a gift for my gaming son. We purchased a separate graphics card to sweeten the gift but really not necessary. Had it set up and networked in in 10 minutes. Without the card he's playing all his games inclusive of brand new titles, steam content and more. So far so good. Really couldn't believe how fast it came to my door. Ordering that straight from Dell I would have been lucky to get it in 3 weeks.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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on February 1, 2014
Has plenty of power, and all the things you need. Easy setup and use, works great! The front panel USB and Media Reader makes transferring things easy.
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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.
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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!
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on December 12, 2013
The new i7 processor is fantastic! The computer, as I come to expect from Dell, is great and would highly recommend this computer!
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