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The path to the Dell XPS PC that’s on the desk in front of me has been long. Riyad first sighted it out at E3 back in May and came back to the office raving about the new case that Dell had chosen for its latest XPS machine. Dell did start shipping the system in July in the US, powered by an Intel Pentium D based Extreme Edition CPU. Now Core 2 Duo is here and the XPS 700 we have been sent is powered by an E6700 Core 2 Duo running at 2.66Ghz. Confusingly though, at the time of writing if you go to the initial XPS details page on the Dell website it still advertises it as featuring a Pentium Extreme Edition.
Riyad certainly wasn’t kidding about the case though – it’s a beaut’! If you feel the need for a massive, silver slab of impressiveness on your desk then you’ll want this Dell. Instead of the coloured plastic that garnished the shell of the last XPS – this one has a smooth silver metal finish. I think it looks fantastic and better than anything you can get from Alienware. Not surprisingly it’s extremely heavy – you can lift it up and move it yourself but you won’t want to do so too often. Find a place that will show it off and leave it there.
It’s got a unique shape that tapers in the middle giving it a figure of eight shape when viewed from front on. A raised XPS logo is placed at the sides towards the front and a smart silver Dell logo is also located on the front. I can say that this fascia is unlike anything I’ve ever seen. Viewed from the side it looks as though the whole thing is leaning forward, as if it’s raving to go. There are also two metal feet that extend out from the rear to help balance it and enhance the appearance further, though it seemed stable without them extended.
The entire lower half is a black plastic grille and you can see a large fan sitting deep inside drawing air in. The power button is a small oblong that lights up yellow when pressed. The top half maintains the criss-cross pattern but contains drive bay covers. On the system we were supplied there are two optical drives – a 16-speed dual-layer DVD Burner and a 16-speed DVD-ROM drive, for disc-to-disc copying assuming no copyright restrictions. The bottom most flap is the most interesting as it hides a multi-format card reader – Compact Flash, SD, MMC, Memory Stick and xD are all supported. There’s space for a floppy drive underneath the one is present here. Be careful with these drive bay covers though as the build quality could be better – I pushed a button in on the bay that weren’t occupied and the button bent into the machine and I had to pull the cover off and reattach to get it looking right again.
Between these two sections are a headphone and microphone socket, two USB ports and a FireWire port. Hard disk and network lights are visible through the plastic but the surface is flush – it looks very cool. Even cooler though is an array of four LED lights at the top of each of the two sections. These can be set to a number of lights in the BIOS – red, amber, green, blue, purple blue and clear. It looks great in the dark- it would be cool if there was a dedicated switch to change the lights without having to go into the BIOS.
At the rear of the case you’ll find a further six USB ports and another FireWire. There’s only one Ethernet port – more on that later – but there is a serial socket, as well as a PS/2 and keyboard ports. There’s an optical out port present, which seems odd as the sound is provided by the included Creative X-Fi card, which makes it redundant.