Introducing the Dell XPS One 2710

The last time we reviewed an all-in-one from Dell, our impressions were decidedly less than favorable. Dell delivered a polished software experience, but the Inspiron One 2320 we saw had serious issues virtually across the board in terms of both hardware and configuration. As a family appliance (the market typically targeted by all-in-ones), the Inspiron One 2320 was a bust. Yet with the XPS One 27 (along with the impending Inspiron One 20 and Inspiron One 23) they're looking to reverse their fortunes.

Gone are the poor quality screen, awkward stand, and middling connectivity. In their place we find a PLS screen by Samsung, a more ergonomic stand, and all the modern connectivity you could ask for. Better still, the advent of Ivy Bridge and Kepler promise to shore up many of the hardware weaknesses of the last generation of all-in-ones. So does the new Dell XPS One make the grade? Starting as usual with the hardware specs, here's what we received for review, in bold, with alternate parts listed where applicable (e.g. on the CPU).

Dell XPS One 2710 Specifications
Processor Intel Core i7-3770S
(4x3.1GHz, Hyper-Threading, 3.9GHz Turbo, 22nm, 8MB L3, 65W)

Intel Core i5-3450S
(4x2.8GHz, 3.5GHz Turbo, 22nm, 6MB L3, 65W)
Chipset Intel H77
Memory 2x4GB Samsung DDR3-1600 SODIMM (Max 2x8GB)
Graphics Intel HD 4000 (16 EUs, up to 1150MHz)

(384 CUDA cores, 645MHz/4GHz core/memory clocks, 128-bit memory bus)
Display 27" LED Glossy 16:9 2560x1440
Samsung PLS
Hard Drive(s) Seagate Barracuda 7200.12 2TB 7200-RPM SATA 6Gbps HDD

Samsung PM830 32GB mSATA 6Gbps SSD
Optical Drive Blu-ray reader/DVD+/-RW writer (HL-DT-ST CA30N)
Networking Atheros AR8161 PCIe Gigabit Ethernet
Intel Centrino Advanced-N 6235 802.11a/b/g/n
Bluetooth 4.0
Audio Realtek ALC275 HD Audio
Stereo speakers
Headphone and mic jacks
Front Side Webcam
Speaker grilles
Right Side Optical drive
Power button
Left Side Headphone and mic jacks
2x USB 3.0
SD/MMC/XD/MS Pro card reader
Back Side 4x USB 3.0
Ethernet jack
HDMI out
Optical out
Operating System Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
Dimensions 19.32" x 26.14" x 1.25-2.81"
490.75mm x 664mm, 31.76-71.6mm
Weight 35.16 lbs
15.95 kg
Extras Webcam
Wireless keyboard and mouse
Flash reader (MMC, SD/Mini SD, MS/Duo/Pro/Pro Duo)
Blu-ray reader
TV tuner (Optional)
Warranty 1-year basic support
Pricing Starting at $1,399
As configured: $1,999

Dell wasn't messing around with the new XPS One, and indeed the entire line is the result of their engineers having gone back to the drawing board. Fortunately, as I mentioned before, Dell also benefits from the new technology Ivy Bridge and Kepler bring with them.

The Ivy Bridge-based Intel Core i7-3770S is capable of being almost every bit the performance equal of the i7-3770K, starting from a 3.1GHz nominal clock speed (to maintain the slightly reduced 65W TDP) but able to turbo up to 3.9GHz on a single core, just like the 3770K can. It's only in the in-between turbo modes that the 3770K is able to produce a performance advantage, but the mild reduction in performance coincides with an equally mild reduction in overall power consumption. Honestly I remain a bit skeptical about the need for the S series chips; when Intel's quad-cores had 95W TDPs, a 30W reduction would be a substantial one, but just 12W seems too incremental and you'll see later on that the difference wasn't enough. The i5-3450S is the lower end CPU option for now, which drops the clock speeds and Hyper-Threading, along with a lower price.

What got my attention when I saw the spec sheet for the XPS One was the NVIDIA GeForce GT 640M equipped with GDDR5. Spec wise, the GK107 chip that powers the GT 640M is only slightly weaker than the previous generation's GF116. The GF116 may have been slightly underwhelming compared to AMD's Radeon HD 5770/6770, but it was generally able to get the job done at 1080p. The GK107 loses 8 ROPs and 64 bits off of the memory bus, but has roughly equivalent shader power. 384 CUDA cores clocked at 645MHz aren't bad at all, but when we reviewed the GK107 in the Acer TimelineU I suspected the chip was being memory constrained with just DDR3. Now that we have a system that pairs it with GDDR5, we can see if the increased memory bandwidth will allow the GeForce GT 640M to stretch its legs. Better still, there's the potential here to finally have a reasonably-priced graphics solution that can actually power all-in-ones and justify including discrete graphics hardware.

While the rest of the system's configuration is pretty respectable (with the 32GB SSD configured for Intel's Smart Response Technology), the screen is another big plus. Dell opted to include Samsung's PLS technology display in a 2560x1440 resolution, and it's a thing of beauty. If there's an unusual omission here, it's the lack of touchscreen support on this or even any of the new Dell all-in-ones. While I'm not a fan of large touchscreens, Microsoft has clearly decided to go whole hog on them for Windows 8, and so omitting that feature here seems shortsighted. If you're like some and prefer to stick with the old mouse and keyboard interface, though, you may find more to like here.

The price looks pretty steep at first glance, but you have to consider everything that you're getting. The base model still includes a display that would typically go for around $1000 on its own (Samsung's 27" PLS displays don't come cheap!), so $400 gets you the remaining components for a decent desktop experience. At the high-end, which is what we're reviewing, Dell loads up all the extras: more memory, faster CPU, SSD caching, Blu-ray, etc. There's definitely a case of diminishing returns, but Dell is clearly going after the same market as the high-end Apple iMac. That may not be a great way to go about things, though, since one of Apple's biggest selling points is the uniqueness of their OS X experience. In terms of strict hardware comparisons, however, the XPS One 2710 at $1999 comes out ahead of the current 2012 iMac 27" in quite a few areas. Let's get to the benchmarks now and see just what Dell has to offer.

System Performance
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  • jabber - Tuesday, May 29, 2012 - link

    Ahhh crap. As I saw it as an All In One I would have thought Dell would have put in a touchscreen, I guess they have heard about whats round the corner?

    Forget it....
  • IKeelU - Tuesday, May 29, 2012 - link

    Is it just me or is everyone jumping on the "One" bandwagon? This last month alone, I've seen ads for the HTC One (smartphone) and the Nikon 1 (camera), and here I'm reading about the Dell XPS/Inspiron One.

    Maybe marketing people should be given a dictionary and thesaurus when they graduate.
  • michael2k - Tuesday, May 29, 2012 - link

    The interesting part is the supplied power information from Apple:

    152W Idle, 365W Load, which is much, much higher than the numbers the Dell XPS 2710 posts. What are the thermals for the iMac?
  • Steelbom - Friday, June 1, 2012 - link

    They get hot -- although I don't think as hot as this system, but the fans don't move from 1000 RPM which is practically silent.
  • guidryp - Tuesday, May 29, 2012 - link

    Look up "Gorilla Arm Syndrome".

    Touch on desktops is simply an ergonomic no-no. A completely wasted gimmick that maybe a few suckers would buy, but nothing to base a product around, regardless of what MS is sticking in their OS.
  • frozentundra123456 - Tuesday, May 29, 2012 - link

    I agree. Why would you want fingerprints, grease, etc. on a desktop monitor, not to mention that you have to sit and look at it really close. I could see touch on a laptop if you could eliminate the need to carry around a mouse, but not on the desktop.

    The all in ones seem to be popular in the big box stores, but they seem to force too many compromises to me. Run hot, cant replace/upgrade the monitor, relatively weak performance for the price. Basically all the disadvantages of a laptop without the portibility.
  • PubFiction - Tuesday, May 29, 2012 - link

    Your guys are too closed minded. Many people touch monitors to show people things. No one said you had to get rid of the mouse, but having touch as an option opens up lots of possibilities for new uses.

    If you want to start getting all picky lets just point out the fact that all in one computers are a stupid idea in the first place. Why would you spend the money to put a nice large display in a computer that will need to be thrown out with the computer in 2-3 years when it is simply under powered?

    But the fact is people buy them for various reasons.
  • Voo - Friday, June 1, 2012 - link

    Anyone trying to touch my 30" dells (just monitors) at work or at home would be thrown out of my office/home with broken arms. I mean who in their right mind would want fingerprints on their beautiful screens? My Galaxy S screen is already a huge mess, but at least it's fairly easy to get it reasonably clean.

    Now I can understand the use of a multitouch trackpad, that has real value (though a mouse and mouse gesture support is not too bad either) and much better ergonomics. But nobody in their right mind sits even close enough to their 30" monitor that they can easily touch it, so how's that going to work?

    And yes I don't understand that either - my monitors have an extended warranty of 5 years and I expect them to last much longer than that (my last ones did). Good monitors are still hugely expensive, but at least they are fine for several upgrade cycles.
  • Penti - Tuesday, May 29, 2012 - link

    Why wouldn't you just use the multitouch trackpad for any gestures? It's not like you need to see your input device. Just as nobody would think of putting the stick shift or semi-automatic gearshift on a touchscreen on the windscreen of your car for you to see. You need feedback but it's not like you get that by putting your whole arm/hand on a screen in front off you. If you have a really large screen it will probably be further away then an arms length any way. It's different on small devices and devices where you don't have to feed in data in some database or business software all day. Those kind of tasks wouldn't even work without keyboard shortcuts.

    All the other alternatives on phones are worse though, say a trackball where the convention just works totally differently. Or better yet make proper use of the keyboard. Apple do have their mind in the right track when they don't try to make OS X into an touchscreen OS. Microsoft has pretty much made Windows Runtime irrelevant and would be better of build on Windows CE kernels and a totally different native SDK. It's not like phones or ARM tablets will be able to run Win32 desktop apps any way.

    You do need to control everything by the keyboard and trackpad on a desktop OS and it needs to come first. Even penable input is more important there, but at a desk you would use a Wacom tablet for the actual pen input.
  • philipma1957 - Tuesday, May 29, 2012 - link

    dell 2 x 8 gb = max ram
    iMac 4 x 8 gb ram = 32gb ram

    dell gt 640 gpu does not come close to iMac hd 6970m

    dell uses half the power of the iMac

    the dell is a nice apartment dweller all in one. tv dvr htpc

    the iMac can be used for heavier work load.

    one last thing about the dell why not the i7 3770t 45 watts vs 65 watts for the i7 3770s to me this is a real error. the machine is underpowered when you compare it to a loaded iMac. which would be good for an apartment dweller, having the 45 watt cpu would have been the way to go.

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