Overall, the casing of the XPS 630 is very well constructed and build quality is good. The case largely consists of thick, lacquered aluminium and though fingerprints show easily, it’s also really easy to clean. This is offset by – déjà vu – the piano black plastic that forms the front and back of the case. Thankfully, the plastic is so thick it makes nearly as solid an impression as the metal. The only things that look relatively flimsy are the clips holding the front part of the chassis onto the rest of the case, but since there is no practical reason to remove the front (unless you want to mod, in which case why buy a pre-built system in the first place?), it it shouldn’t be a problem.
Another plus point is the relative thickness of the sides. This helps sound dampening and after an initially loud start-up, the computer settles into a quiet hum that is discernible but not particularly annoying.
There is a fair selection of inputs on offer. On the front, we have two USB 2.0, a six-pin FireWire and 3.5mm headphone and microphone ports. At the back there are a further four USBs, another six-pin FireWire and legacy PS/2 ports, while the 630 has some very capable dedicated audio in the form of a PCI-based Creative Labs Sound Blaster X-Fi XtremeGamer featuring digital in, out, and analogue 7.1 outputs.
The primary video card’s connectors are left free to give you two DVIs, while the secondary card’s connectors are hidden by a plastic dust cover that must be removed to access the other two ports. Conspicuous by its absence is any form of eSATA connector, a rather glaring omission in a PC aimed at the enthusiast market and especially one costing this much. Even Dell’s lower-end 420 range features this connection.
Inside, things look quite tidy. There are a few slightly sharp edges, but none you’re likely cut yourself on. The 3.5in bay is taken up by a media card reader supporting CompactFlash, MicroDrive, xD, SmartMedia, SD/miniSD, MMC/RS-MMC and MS/Pro/Duo, which is hidden under a hinged cover at the front. Unfortunately the cover’s latch and hinge are plastic, so despite being quite sturdy care is advisable.
There is a tool-free system for holding PCI cards, but though it is easy to operate, it isn’t the best at holding things in place – and Dell seems to have realised this, as it has added screws to all the cards. However, the system works well enough to be useful if you don’t move your PC around too much, and is incredibly handy when trying to screw things in.
A 750W non-modular PSU with braided cables should handle all the PC’s power needs with ease. Being non-modular actually makes it the only ‘messy’ part of the case, since there are some spare cables hanging loose, while others are too long. But this is nitpicking, really, as the cables are tidied reasonably well, and the spare ones are guided to where they might be used in the future. There is even a spare SATA cable attached to the motherboard and routed to an empty hard drive caddy, in case your needs outgrow the supplied 1-Terabyte. Alternatively, you can use the motherboard’s one remaining free SATA port to install a backing plane with eSATA, or to install a PC Blu-ray drive.
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