Dell Studio XPS Desktop Review

Ok, I got the Dell Studio XPS Desktop about a month ago now.

It was my first Dell and I bought it to upgrade from my ca. 3-year-old 3.2GHz Intel Pentium Duo running Windows XP Pro. This machine had slowed down over the years, totally the fault of Windows. I finally reformatted the hard drives Manageand reinstalled everything (a total pain) but that brought the machine back from it’s knees.

The ordering process was easy enough, but depending on if I logged in as a private client or a business client, Dell’s website would offer me different configurations which were hard to compare. Calling Dell’s Hotline gave me the answer that ordering as a consumer got me the better prices. Business prices suck.

The configuration I got was:

* 2.66 GHz i7 core

* Windows Vista 64 bit

* 6 Gigs or RAM

* 1TB of Disk
* The 512MB ATIĀ  Graphic card.

That was it, easy peasy!

Then came the shock! Delivery was to be 50 days from the ordering date!!!

Holy shit, that totally pissed me off! A few days later I called Dell customer serive and was ready to cancel my order. I could not buy a computer that far ahead in the future. I needed the machine NOW, pronto, and was sure that by the time that period was over, Dell would already have cut pricesĀ  and a new and better model would be out.

Pleasant surprise, customer support said that the machine was being completed and would ship with the next day or so! Cool. I had the machine a few days later.

The machine I got was nice and compact. The side easily slid of to reveal the insides: nice and cleaned up. The harddrive is mounted vertically and there is room for a second one. So I installed my other 1TB drive on my old machine and it worked perfectly. I didn’t care too much about Vista 64 bit since I couldn’t find any good firewall software so I partitioned the hard drive and installed Windows XP Pro. I didn’t care about only being able to use 3GB of the installed 6GB. It worked well. Not quite as fast as I had expected initially but nice.

It was only after I ran my batch image resizer that I noticed the SPEED of the machine. What was going on? I look at the CPU usage history in the Task manager: HOLY SHIT! 8 processors were showing, at about 60% average usage and I could STILL WORK normally! No, they didn’t look like the snapshot below, they were really being used! Something similar happened when using Adobe Lightroom Export. Darn quick!

Why 8 Processors? There are 4 physical processors which turn into 8 through Intel’s Hyperthreading mechanism.
So this is the deal: If you’re just loading a single processor, you won’t really notice the speed this desktop has. Only when you have tasks which use several will the true muscle shine through. Same if you are using a CPU intensive task in the background which is loading one CPU to near capacity, you can still work normally on the desktop. Really nice!

One issue: The cooling fan ramping up like crazy for short bursts of time has been cured by the BIOS upgrade 1.0.12 which is downloadable from Dell. The Upgrade runs ins Windows and it totally painless and easy to install, so no reason not to. There have been more BIOS upgrades, get the latest from Dell here.

All in all, a nice machine and really beautiful for my long image batch processes which used to take all night are now done in less than an hour. Super Sweet!!!

Thanks Intel and Dell.

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