The Dell Studio XPS 8100 is a mid-range, all-purpose PC aimed at home users. It has an Intel Core i5-650 processor, 4GB of DDR3 RAM, 1TB of hard drive space and an NVIDIA GTS 240 graphics card as standard. Dell’s site allows you to customise the system’s specifications to your taste, although adding extra power is an expensive proposition.

'Studio XPS' is engraved into the side panels of the Dell Studio XPS 8100.

Dell Studio XPS 8100: Design and specifications

The Dell Studio XPS 8100 is quite attractive for a desktop computer. Although the chassis is beige, it’s a far cry from the boring and bland desktop towers of the past. A glossy black, smooth front lends a sense of quality to the tower. Card slots are arranged on the front panel along with a hidden DVD-RW drive and two USB ports behind a sliding panel. An additional two USB ports can be found, along with headphone and microphone jacks, in a recessed section on the Dell Studio XPS 8100’s top panel.

Our review unit used an Intel Core i5-650 dual-core processor clocked at 3.2GHz. It had the standard configuration of 4GB of DDR3 RAM and two 500GB hard drives in a RAID 1 configuration. Its GeForce 310 video card isn't one that is offered on Dell's website, and it's significantly less powerful than the GeForce GTS 240 that the XPS 8100 will ship with, not to mention the optional GeForce GTX 260 video card. No monitor is included in the base bundle, so you’ll need to shell out a few pounds more unless you already have one handy.

The Dell Studio XPS 8100 has two front-mounted USB ports behind a sliding door.

Adding more powerful components does drive the price up quickly. When we opted to customise a Dell Studio XPS 8100 system build on Dell’s website with a Core i7-860 processor over the standard Core i5, 8GB of RAM instead of 4GB and a 23in monitor, the price jumped.

Two more USB ports and headphone/microphone jacks can be found on the Dell Studio XPS 8100's top panel.

Dell Studio XPS 8100: Performance benchmarks

As a mid-range system, the Dell Studio XPS 8100 does not have the raw number-crunching power of an Intel Core i7-based desktop PC. Its Core i5 processor is more powerful for most tasks than slightly older Intel Core 2 Duo high-end CPUs, though. We compared it to some consumer and businesses desktops to gauge its performance. Our Studio XPS 8100 came with Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit preinstalled, so it could make full use of its 4GB of DDR3 RAM — a 32-bit operating system would not be able to utilise all of the system’s memory.

Performance Benchmarks
  WorldBench 6 iTunes Encoding
Blender 3D
rendering

Dell Studio XPS 8100

n/a 53s 46s
Dell Precision T1500 n/a 45s 26s
HP Pavilion Elite HPE-190a 141 49s 34s
Dell Studio XPS 8000 124 52s 36s
Acer Aspire M7720 104 1m 1s 24s
Acer Aspire Predator G7770 103 60s 35s
Altech NRG Storm 103 38s 22s


The Dell Studio XPS 8100’s performance is similar to the XPS 8000 we reviewed in November last year. It recorded a very similar iTunes result to the XPS 8000 when encoding 53min of WAV files to 192kbps MP3. But it recorded a slower time in the Blender 3D test. The Blender test can be scaled depending on how many CPU cores you have, so the extra physical cores in the XPS 8000 system are responsible for the 10sec difference in performance. As for 3D performance, with a GeForce GTS 240 or GTX 260 graphics card the Studio XPS 8100 should have plenty of grunt to play most recent PC games at a moderate resolution and detail level.

See also: Group test: what's the best desktop PC?

NEXT: our expert verdict >>

Dell Studio XPS 8100: Specs

  • Intel Core i5-650 dual-core processor, 3.2GHz
  • 4GB DDR3 RAM
  • GeForce 310 video card
  • two 500GB hard drives in a RAID 1 configuration
  • Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
  • 3.5mm headphone jack, DVI, Ethernet, Optical Digital Audio, USB 2.0, VGA (D-sub)
  • 10.18kg
  • 409x185x455mm
  • Intel Core i5-650 dual-core processor, 3.2GHz
  • 4GB DDR3 RAM
  • GeForce 310 video card
  • two 500GB hard drives in a RAID 1 configuration
  • Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
  • 3.5mm headphone jack, DVI, Ethernet, Optical Digital Audio, USB 2.0, VGA (D-sub)
  • 10.18kg
  • 409x185x455mm

OUR VERDICT

As a mid-range, all-purpose desktop computer, the Dell Studio XPS 8100 provides more than acceptable performance figures. It's not especially expensive in its standard configuration, although if you want to add in more powerful components the price rises dramatically. If you're looking for a PC that's got enough power for your family’s needs — whether it's web browsing, music, a bit of video editing or some light gaming — the Dell Studio XPS 8100 will do the job.

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