The Dell XPS 720 is one powerful system.

With the Core 2 Extreme QX6800, It comes with Intel's latest quad-core processor (overclocked by Dell to 3.2GHz - a move supported under the computer's one-year warranty). Add in 2GB of speedy Corsair 1066-MHz DDR2 RAM and it's easy to see why the Dell XPS 720 PC earned a score of 124 in our WorldBench 6 Beta 2 speed benchmark - right in the thick of a batch of gaming PCs we recently tested.

Equipped with Windows Vista Premium, the Dell XPS 720 PC has the oomph to satisfy heavy graphics users and gamers alike. Our test system came with a single 768MB nVidia GeForce 8800 GTX graphics card, which generated average frame rates of 202 frames per second in Far Cry at 1280x1024 resolution (with antialiasing turned on). This significantly better than the output of the other gaming systems we've seen recently.

The futuristic styling of the Dell XPS 720 PC's massive aluminum case is both attractive and practical. The large grilles on the front and the rear offer plenty of ventilation. And thanks to the big fans located inside the spacious case, cooling air can pass through the system. In our tests, even when the Dell XPS 720 PC was working hard, its noise level didn't rise above a whisper.

The forward-sloping Dell XPS 720 PC case design permits easy access to the cables at the back when the system is under a desk. Three LED lights illuminate the USB 2.0 ports at the rear while eight lights shine on the drive bays on the front of the system; Dell's QuickSet software lets you adjust the effects and lighting colours (blue, red, green, pink, and more).

The Dell XPS 720 PC's spacious case has room to hold four hard drives; our review system came with two 160GB, 10,000rpm hard drives in a striped RAID array for a total of 320GB storage.

To make adding hard drives easier, Dell prewires the Dell XPS 720 PC with the necessary internal SATA and power cables for a third and a fourth hard drive. Of the four externally accessible drive bays in our test machine, only one was used (for the 2X Blu-ray drive). The system has plenty of space for additional expansion cards, too, with three unoccupied PCI slots: one PCI Express x16, one PCI Express x1, and one regular PCI.

You don't need a screwdriver to install drives or expansion cards, as an easy-release mechanism that you can open by hand holds all the cards and drives firmly in place. Unfortunately, the Dell XPS 720 PC's memory card reader slots are situated too low, and a cover that slides over the slots impedes access to them. We had to use a significant amount of force to get the 2.5mm-thick aluminum side panel loose, too.

The bundled 24in Dell UltraSharp 2407WFP wide-screen LCD monitor produced attractive, bright, and sharp images; though it also displayed smooth motion when playing back a movie DVD, it needed some tweaking to produce optimum image quality.

Dell XPS 720: Specs

  • Intel Core 2 Extreme Processor QX6800 (8MB L2 Cache, 3.20GHz, 1066MHz FSB)
  • Windows Vista Home Premium
  • 2GB RAM
  • 768MB nVidia GeForce 8800 GTX graphics card
  • 2x 160GB, 10,000rpm hard drives
  • 24in Dell UltraSharp 2407WFP wide-screen LCD monitor
  • optional Blu-Ray drive, 16x DVD+/-RW11 drive
  • 48X combo drive
  • Intel Core 2 Extreme Processor QX6800 (8MB L2 Cache, 3.20GHz, 1066MHz FSB)
  • Windows Vista Home Premium
  • 2GB RAM
  • 768MB nVidia GeForce 8800 GTX graphics card
  • 2x 160GB, 10,000rpm hard drives
  • 24in Dell UltraSharp 2407WFP wide-screen LCD monitor
  • optional Blu-Ray drive, 16x DVD+/-RW11 drive
  • 48X combo drive

OUR VERDICT

If money is no object, you may find more appeal in Dell's XPS 720 H2C (in which liquid cooling and a QX6800 CPU overclocked to 3.46GHz are standard), but for us, the Dell XPS 720 PC is an enviable gaming beast in its own right.

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