After the success of Dell's Studio laptop line it was inevitable desktop counterparts would follow and they've done so in style. Not only has the company introduced slimline Core 2-based desktops, but its Studio XPS range also offers Intel's new Core i7 platform (codenamed Nehalem) in a compact case and at a reasonably compact price, too.
Studio XPS' start at £749, but our particular configuration comes in at £879 without a monitor. For this outlay you get a pretty hefty system, including an Intel Core i7 920, 6GBs of DDR3 RAM, the TR award winning ATI Radeon HD 4850 and twin 500GB hard drives. But, before digging deeper into the computer's innards, let's just take a glance at its exterior and what comes with it.
You get a very decent bundle, unusually including DVI to VGA and HDMI adapters. There are two Dell full-colour quick-start guides; one details how to connect your TV tuner equipped PC to a set-top box or directly to cable/digital antenna, while the other deals with setting up your wireless mouse and keyboard. There's also a full guide to setting up the computer, with clear illustrations along the way. Bundled discs include Windows Vista Home Premium 64-bit SP1, one with drivers and utilities, and another with Microsoft Works 9.
You also get a wireless mouse and keyboard, which both take a pair of AA batteries. These are the same as found on Dell's other XPS desktops, such as the One and Studio Hybrid. Looking at the mouse, it's ambidextrous and its glossy black top matches the machine perfectly. This top section is also removable, being held on magnetically, and removing this cover not only lets you change the batteries, but also clean any accumulated dirt that might have built up around the two-way mouse-wheel. Thankfully, the sides are curved and have a matte plastic finish, lending a good and comfortable grip.
Even better, though, is the slim keyboard. It has a classy appearance, especially the flush volume control wheel, and it's not half bad to type on, either. Build quality is certainly acceptable and key feedback is decent, if a bit on the light side. Dell's media remote, which requires three AAA batteries, has sharper edges than we're used to, but with a little care is comfortable enough. Button layout isn't the most accessible either, some of the buttons are a tad small, but it's still perfectly usable and fairly well-built.