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Dell Studio XPS 435mt review

Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : £899
inc VAT

Dell’s XPS brand is usually associated with high-end gaming products, so this system a big step for the company’s stylish Studio range.

The name isn’t unwarranted though, as this compact desktop PC has a powerful Core i7 processor. It’s the first Dell PC we’ve seen to use Intel’s latest range of processors.

The XPS 435mt has a 2.66GHz Core i7-920 processor, the cheapest of the three available but still incredibly powerful. It delivered an impressive overall result in our PCMark Vantage benchmark. High scores in both the TV & Movies and Productivity sections of the benchmark highlight this PC’s versatility and are due in part to its 6GB of triple-channel DDR3 RAM. This is more than most people will need, but it’s a real boon when editing HD video. The system comes with the 64-bit version of Windows Vista Home Premium, so you can make full use of all this memory.

An ATI Radeon HD 4850 with 512MB of memory handles the graphics. It ran our Call of Duty 4 benchmark at 56.2fps, so it’s capable of playing most games smoothly, even at a resolution of 1,920×1,080. The incredibly demanding Crysis proved more of a challenge, as the card managed only 25.8fps in our benchmark. It ran smoothly when we reduced the resolution to 1,440×900, however.

For storage the 435mt provides a 1TB RAID 0 array made up of two 500GB hard disks. This makes hard disk access quicker, but if one disk fails you will lose all your data. You could reformat the disks and use a different configuration, such as RAID 1, for example, which would reduce your storage capacity but make your data safer. A hybrid TV tuner was fitted to our test system, and receives both analogue and digital broadcasts. It’s only a single tuner though, so you can’t watch one channel while recording another.

The small, glossy case looks good on a desk but isn’t particularly practical. Annoyingly, the flap for the optical drive blocks the button you need to push to close it. Inside the case, the 435mt is untidy and badly designed, with wires trailing everywhere and the hard disks sitting unhelpfully in the way of every other major component. It’s loud too, with intrusive whirrs escaping from the chassis.

You don’t get any peripherals with this PC, apart from a wireless keyboard and mouse. Adding a decent monitor and speakers – such as Iiyama’s E2208HDS and Logitech’s X-230s – raises the total price to a hefty £1,069. This isn’t the best PC for anyone who plans to make upgrades in the future, as the case is rather cramped. However, if you’re looking for the computing power of a Core i7 processor in a compact chassis, it’s still a decent choice.

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