The motherboard, a custom Dell nVidia nForce 650i SLI variant, sports a lovely black PCB, and thankfully none of the flashy colour-coding that a third party board might display. The motherboard’s cooling is not passive either, but the small fan does not add too much noise. RAM slots are easily accessible, and are equipped with two 1GB sticks of plain, generic Mosel 800MHz DDR2 memory in dual channel mode.
This seems slightly miserly, especially on a Quad-core SLI system, as many modern games can take advantage of up to 3GB under a 32bit Operating System. To maintain dual channel mode, all Dell had to do was add two more sticks of 512, or, considering the dirt-cheap DDR2 prices, put in 4GB (which would also be better if the consumer ever wanted to upgrade to Vista 64). But to be fair, it does offer the 3GB option for only £20 extra onto the base price, and RAM is one of the easiest upgrades to do yourself.
In terms of performance, the Dell XPS 630 is obviously going to trample almost everything you can throw at it – though of course, the machine that runs Crysis at full detail and a decent resolution has yet to be assembled. Even a single nVidia 8800GT would make for a good gaming machine, and having two of them in SLI means that this configuration breezes through graphically intensive games.
Most modern titles should give it no more bother than a mosquito would a tank. Call of Duty 4, for example, ran perfectly smoothly at 1,920 x 1,200 with all the settings at maximum, and never dipped below 50 frames per second. So keep in mind that to do full justice to this system, you should pair it with a monitor that supports this kind of resolution, like the recently reviewed Dell UltraSharp 2408WFP.
While not outstanding value, the Dell XPS 630 is a good machine sporting a few unique touches. It’s well built, attractive, quiet and still offers some room for future expansion. Meanwhile, its components will let you run most games, with the exception of Crysis, at high settings at 1,920 x 1,200. Add in the peace of mind and extensive warranty options afforded by buying from the second largest PC manufacturer in the world, and it’s a worthwhile option even if you could get a similar configuration cheaper elsewhere.