The Bottom Line
Feb 22 2013 - Dell's XPS 8500 while more affordable still offers a fair amount of performance thanks to retaining the Core i7-3770 processor. The problem is that it is less about graphics than it was in the past and this is hurting it against some of the competition. At least Dell continues their trend of limiting the amount of software they installed which makes this a smooth operating system with little clutter.
- Strong Core i7 Processor
- Wireless Networking With Bluetooth
- Very Minimal Software Installation
- Mediocre Graphics Card
- Chipset Limits Some Performance Features
- Intel Core i7-3770 Quad Core Desktop Processor
- 8GB PC3-12800 DDR3 Memory
- 2TB 7200rpm SATA Hard Drive
- Dual Layer DVD+/-RW Burner
- AMD Radeon 7570 Graphics Card With 1GB Memory
- Intel HDA 7.1 Audio
- Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11b/g/n Wireless, Bluetooth
- Four USB 3.0, Six USB 2.0, HDMI, DVI, 19-in-1 Card Reader
- Windows 8, Office Starter, McAfee Security Center
Review - Dell 2013 XPS 8500
Feb 22 2013 - The 2013 version of the Dell XPS 8500 is essentially little changed from the version that I reviewed back in June of 2012. The big difference here is that prices have come down making the system available for under $1000 with only a few minor changes that differ between this $899 version at the $1100 model.
The system is still powered by the very power Intel Core i7-3770 quad core processor. This is one of the fastest desktop consumer processors on the market and should have little trouble taking on even the most demanding of computing tasks including desktop video work. The only major difference here between the two versions that is this model comes with just 8GB of DDR3 memory. Now this is sufficient for a smooth overall experience within the Windows 8 operating system even with very memory intensive applications.
Storage features are pretty much unchanged with the two terabyte hard drive that provides plenty of space for applications, data and media files. The drive does spin at the 7200rpm rate which provides it with a good level of response but it would be nice to see some solid state options available. If you do need additional space, there are four USB 3.0 (two front, two back) ports for use with high speed external storage drives. The system still features a dual layer DVD burner for playback and recording of CD or DVD media as well as a flash card reader for use with the common portable memory cards for digital peripherals.
The most significant area of change is in the graphics system. The more expensive model featured a NVIDIA GeForce GT 640 graphics card while this model uses an AMD Radeon HD 7570 card. This puts it at a lower level of 3D performance which means the system is less suitable for PC gaming but Dell would rather those looking to do that looked at the Alienware X51. It should be able to play older PC games up to the 1920x1080 resolution of most monitors by most newer games will have to run at lower resolutions and detail levels. There is an option to upgrade to the GeForce GT 640 but this pushes the price close to the $1000 level and it will still struggle to reach 1920x1080 in demanding games. Now for those looking for accelerating outside of 3D games, both cards do offer gains for desktop video and graphics work. Those hoping to upgrade should be aware that the power supply is limited to 460 watts which means that it can't quite reach the top end of existing graphics cards.
The performance features of the Dell XPS 8500 is still held back by the use of the more mainstream chipset rather than the Z77 chipset. This means features like virtualized graphics and Intel's Smart Response Technology are not available on the system which puts it at a slight disadvantage to some of its competitors. On the other hand, Dell still does a great job of limiting software installed on the system which provides a smoother overall experience with the system.
As mentioned above, this version of the Dell XPS 8500 is priced around $900. It is possible to bring this price over $1000 through customization for features such as faster graphics, larger hard drives or Blu-ray. Very few of the desktop systems offer the general performance of the Core i7-3770 but a couple systems are comparable. The Acer Predator AG3620 is roughly the same price and offers more memory but with a low end GeForce GT 630 graphics card. The Lenovo IdeaCentre K430 also offers more memory but offers the faster GeForec GT 640 for roughly the same overall price.