Dell XPS 630 review

£1649
Price when reviewed

Please note: due to ongoing issues with the XP630 we have removed the Recommended award. Please visit our forums for full details.

We’ve seen plenty of PCs in our Labs recently that have concentrated on performance, but compromised on the styling – or vice versa. It’s obvious, though, that Dell has tried to pander to both form and function with the XPS 630. The impressive specification is matched by the dramatic exterior and – in an upgrade from the standard 20in TFT – they’ve included a huge 24in panel.

Gamers will be especially pleased by the graphics hardware. Its pair of GeForce 8800 GT cards running in a SLI configuration is a highly impressive line-up, and one that allowed the XPS 630 to obliterate our 3D benchmarks.

The machine soared through our Crysis benchmark, returning 41fps in high settings, and the 630 only stumbled when we attempted to run the game at the 24in monitor’s native resolution of 1,920 x 1,200 and increased the quality settings. It’s a machine that will be able to handle almost any modern game with ease, and one that only one other PC we’ve seen would have been able to match – the Cyberpower Gamer Infinity Ultimate Dream.

The processor continues the trend of impressive scores, achieving 1.49 in our 2D benchmarks – almost 50% quicker than our reference 3.2GHz Pentium D PC. It isn’t the best score we’ve seen, though: the Chillblast Fusion Photo OC II and Gladiator Trident PCP6600 Quattro both managed 1.93 and 1.94 respectively, and a couple of other rigs scored similarly in our Ultimate PC Labs. The 630’s Q6600 processor is, however, a flexible beast – Dell has left it at stock speed here, but it’s easily overclockable if you’re prepared to have a play around in the BIOS.

The impressive specification is housed in a hulking case with a strange interior: the ATX motherboard is suspended back to front in the chassis. This means the dual graphics cards are positioned towards the top of the case, leaving the processor’s heatsink at the bottom of the chassis. During use, this didn’t seem to affect cooling unduly, however, and the 630 remained reasonably cool.

The GPUs are complemented by a Soundblaster X-Fi XtremeGamer sound card, although no speakers are included. And with two free PCI-E slots (one 1x and one 8x) plus a regular PCI, there’s plenty of potential to add to the system. We wouldn’t recommend adding more hard disks, however: the system’s 1TB is probably enough to be getting on with, and the two disks that provide this block half the airflow from the front fan. Adding more will only compound this problem. It also isn’t helped by some untidy wiring inside.

The outside of the case has echoes of the slightly odd interior. It looks dramatic, but get your hands on it and you have the feeling that it doesn’t quite work. The brushed metal sides are solid enough, but the black plastic front and grill feel cheap. The door that hides the card reader feels particularly flimsy.

it_photo_5652The rear of the case is unfamiliar to look at, chiefly because of the unconventional positioning of the motherboard. Four USB ports, PS/2, FireWire, LAN and a couple of DVI-I sockets are what you’d expect on a normal system, but we were a little disappointed given the high-performance nature of the XPS line that there was no HDMI output included.

Warranty

Warranty 1 year(s) return to base

Basic specifications

Total hard disk capacity 1,000
RAM capacity 2.00GB
Screen size 24.0in

Processor

CPU family Intel Core 2 Quad
CPU nominal frequency 2.40GHz
CPU overclocked frequency N/A
Processor socket LGA 775

Motherboard

Motherboard Dell 0PP150
Conventional PCI slots free 1
PCI-E x8 slots free 1
PCI-E x1 slots free 1
Wired adapter speed 1,000Mbits/sec

Graphics card

Multiple SLI/CrossFire cards? yes
3D performance setting High
Graphics chipset Nvidia GeForce 8800 GT
Graphics card RAM 512MB
Number of graphics cards 2

Hard disk

Capacity 1.00TB
Hard disk 2 nominal capacity 1,000GB
Hard disk 3 make and model N/A
Hard disk 3 nominal capacity N/A
Hard disk 4 make and model N/A
Hard disk 4 nominal capacity N/A

Drives

Optical drive Toshiba TS-H653B
Optical disc technology DVD writer
Optical disk 2 make and model N/A
Optical disk 3 make and model N/A

Monitor

Monitor make and model Dell E2408WFP

Additional Peripherals

Speakers N/A
Speaker type N/A
Sound card Creative SoundBlaster X-Fi XtremeGamer
Peripherals N/A

Case

Case format Full tower
Dimensions 195 x 519 x 489mm (WDH)

Rear ports

USB ports (downstream) 6
FireWire ports 2
PS/2 mouse port no
Modem no

Front ports

Front panel USB ports 2
Front panel FireWire ports 1
Front panel memory card reader no

Operating system and software

OS family Windows Vista

Noise and power

Idle power consumption 179W
Peak power consumption 293W

Performance tests

Overall application benchmark score 1.49
Office application benchmark score 1.23
2D graphics application benchmark score 1.59
Encoding application benchmark score 1.26
Multitasking application benchmark score 1.87
3D performance (crysis) low settings 41fps
3D performance setting High

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