When considering a new PC, most customers weigh up the pros and cons of a desktop PC vs a laptop, with many of us choosing a laptop for use at home to save space and avoid clutter. All-in-one systems such as the Dell XPS ONE DSGi E6550 offer a third option, combining many of the space-saving features of a laptop with a full-sized keyboard and display.

The Dell XPS ONE DSGi E6550 houses these features in an incredibly stylish and attention-grabbing package that would look good in any home. Its glossy screen is flanked by a pair of thin vertical speakers and topped by an integrated webcam, while a set of hidden transport controls automatically illuminate when your hand approaches. If you’ve ever considered Dell PCs to be uninspired or boring, this machine will change your mind.

Space constraints prohibit powerful cooling systems, which would be far too noisy to be practical; therefore power-hungry, high-performance components can’t be used. The 2.33GHz Intel Core 2 Duo E6550 is considerably slower than you’d expect from a desktop PC at this price, limiting the Dell XPS ONE DSGi E6550's WorldBench 6 real-world speed performance to a below-average 97 points.

More importantly for some, the system graphics are provided by a rather underpowered 256MB Mobility Radeon HD 2400. The Dell XPS ONE DSGi E6550 is not for gaming, then.

Chart ranking: Power desktop PCs (August issue)


  1. Chillblast Fusion Thunderbolt
  2. Mesh Xtreme X9450 GTX Pro
  3. Arbico Elite 9870EX
  4. CyberPower Sli KO GT
  5. Dell XPS ONE DSGi E6550

>> NEXT PAGE: Power desktop PCs buying advice and our expert verdict

Buying advice: Power desktop PCs (August issue)

Processor: Intel Core 2 Duos are almost always the processors to go for: their performance is excellent for the price. But don’t power a standard desktop with a processor beginning with ‘E6’ – these chips’ time has passed.

If you’re feeling more adventurous, go for one of Intel’s latest quad-core processors, such as the Q9450. These deliver better performance than the previous generation of quad chips.

Memory: If you’re spending more than £1,000 on a PC, it should come with at least 4GB of RAM – only the Dell XPS ONE DSGi E6550 falls short of that here, and that’s an exceptional case.

For a PC that’ll be able to cope easily with programs in 2008 and beyond, get 4GB of RAM in two modules, so you’ll have room for expansion later.
A 64bit operating system will help you take full advantage of your memory, especially if you’re using dual graphics cards – these sap RAM on 32bit systems.

Storage: Expect at least 500GB at this price. Beyond this, go for a pair of such drives rather than a single larger unit. It’ll boost your performance and prevent you losing lots of data if a drive fails. Raid setups are also an option. Hard drives are relatively inexpensive, so consider mirroring for added security.

Cover backup with a multiformat DVD writer. Dual-layer capabilities (allowing you to store 8.5GB rather than 4.7GB on a disc) are useful. Make sure the drive supports DVD+R DL at eight-speed or more – some more recent drives offer twice this speed. You should also be able to get eight-speed DVD+RW.
If you want Blu-ray playback, be prepared to compromise on your DVD-burning speeds. Alternatively, buy a second DVD burner for backup duties.

Display: We’re seeing increasing numbers of 24in displays in our high-end PC charts. You may baulk at the idea of such a large PC screen, but 24in is currently the magic size where full 1,080p high-definition (HD) playback becomes available – so these monitors make ideal partners for Blu-ray Disc drives.

If this doesn’t appeal, 22in displays are excellent value. Make sure you get a digital input for the best image quality and additional inputs if you want to attach other devices. An HD multimedia interface (HDMI) is useful if you want to share your display with a games console.

Graphics card: It’s possible to spend an eye-watering amount of money on gaming hardware – a top-spec graphics card can easily cost more than the rest of the system put together. For a thrilling gaming experience we recommend at least a pair of GeForce 8800 GTS cards or one GeForce 9800 GX2. ATI’s less costly Radeon HD 3870 X2 can deliver excellent performance – especially when doubled up into a quad-processor setup. The Radeon HD 3870 and GeForce 9800 GX2 also leave slots free for upgrades such as sound cards or TV tuners.

The GeForce 9800 GTX offers better performance than the GeForce 8800 GTS, but will cost you more than a little extra.

Sound card and speakers: There have been big steps forward in onboard sound, with support for 7.1-channel audio (seven speakers and a subwoofer), but it’s still no match for a decent sound card. You should be able to find a PC with a Creative Audigy card or, better still, one from the excellent X-Fi range. If you only want stereo 2.1-channel speakers, make sure they’re high-quality models; most firms are bundling 5.1 speakers, which allow full surround sound when watching films or playing games.

Dell XPS ONE DSGi E6550: Specs

  • 2.33GHz Intel Core 2 Duo E6550
  • Windows Vista Home Premium 32bit
  • 2GB DDR RAM
  • 298GB SATA
  • Dell XPS A2010 motherboard
  • 6 x USB
  • 20in built-in display (0.285mm pixel pitch, 1,680x1,050)
  • 256MB PCI Express onboard Mobility Radeon HD2400 (framerates: Crysis [HQ] 4fps, Fear 7fps)
  • onboard Realtek ALC262
  • speakers built into monitor
  • subwoofer
  • 8x/8x/4x/4x/6x/8x/5x/8x (DVD-R/+R/-RW/+RW/-R DL/+R DL/-RAM/-ROM)
  • Microsoft Works
  • McAfee Security
  • Roxio Creator DE
  • Dell utilities
  • one-year return-to-base warranty
  • WorldBench 6 score: 97
  • 2.33GHz Intel Core 2 Duo E6550
  • Windows Vista Home Premium 32bit
  • 2GB DDR RAM
  • 298GB SATA
  • Dell XPS A2010 motherboard
  • 6 x USB
  • 20in built-in display (0.285mm pixel pitch, 1,680x1,050)
  • 256MB PCI Express onboard Mobility Radeon HD2400 (framerates: Crysis [HQ] 4fps, Fear 7fps)
  • onboard Realtek ALC262
  • speakers built into monitor
  • subwoofer
  • 8x/8x/4x/4x/6x/8x/5x/8x (DVD-R/+R/-RW/+RW/-R DL/+R DL/-RAM/-ROM)
  • Microsoft Works
  • McAfee Security
  • Roxio Creator DE
  • Dell utilities
  • one-year return-to-base warranty
  • WorldBench 6 score: 97

OUR VERDICT

Despite its performance limitations, the Dell XPS ONE DSGi E6550 is an interesting alternative that may be just what you’re looking for.

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