variant on the iMac all-in-one is a step up for the Windows side of the fence. A 27-inch, 2560x1440 IPS screen, attractive styling, beefy, extremely loud audio capabilities and a bevy of useful ports elevates it beyond the standard.
The screen is glossy — sometimes feeling a little too glossy — and the only adjustment you'll get is tilt; which is understandable, given the sheer size and weight of the thing.
There are basic touch controls at the bottom right, which borrow heavily from Dell's UltraSharp monitor line. Bring your hand close, and the buttons will light up. Press any of them, and a general, easy-to-follow context-sensitive menu will appear on the screen. It's impressively elegant, if limited in the case of the XPS 2710, offering only volume, screen brightness and input switching.
Yes, input switching; the XPS 2710 features two HDMI ports on the back — one in, one out — so you can either add a second monitor (which, unlike the XPS, will be limited to 1080p in resolution), or use the XPS itself as a monitor for things like your PlayStation.
While Dell is usually one of the few companies that put effort into HDMI input filtering, in the case of the XPS, we've got a basic effort. It does support 24p and YPbPr, but in our HQV tests it showed that while it was doing a little noise reduction, it failed everything else, making it not good for interlaced content. Both of our Mission: Impossible III test scenes showed judder in horizontal and vertical panning. The upshot? It's great for games consoles, but not the best for stand-alone Blu-Ray players.
There are two USB 3.0 ports, headphone and microphone jacks and an SD card reader on the left-hand side. Flip it around to the back, and you get another four USB 3.0 ports, gigabit Ethernet and SPDIF, if you're a bit more audio inclined than most. There's a loop in the neck to allow cable management to keep things nice and tidy.
The right-hand side fits in a BD-ROM, which should actually be fine for watching movies, as the Windows software you'll be using will address the problems with the HDMI input noted above.
The top features dual microphones on either side of the webcam, which in a cute move can actually be blocked by a shutter, in case you want to ensure privacy.
The two areas that could use the most improvement are the wireless keyboard and mouse — not to say that they're bad at all, but the keys feel shallower than most, and, while the mouse works fine, we'd like to see something a little more ergonomically minded.
The heart beating inside of the XPS 2710 is a Core i7 3770S @ 3.1GHz, which is married with 8GB of RAM, a 2TB hard drive, a 32GB SSD cache and a GeForce GT 640M.
Handbrake encoding (in seconds)
Dell XPS 2710 (Core i7 3770S, 2TB HDD + 32GB SSD, 8GB RAM, GeForce GT 640M)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
The impressive gains made by mobile technology this generation, mostly thanks to SSD caching and Ivy Bridge, allow the XPS 2710 to outstrip the last-generation Alienware X51, a machine that uses desktop parts.
For production tasks, let alone everyday use, the XPS 2710 will deftly handle whatever you choose to throw at it.
No mobile graphics part that Dell could outfit the XPS 2710 with could ever touch the desktop graphics card in the X51, but the 640M still manages a decent showing.
Games look fantastic at 2560x1440, but it's too much of a stretch for this GPU. Dropping to at least 1920x1080 allows us to ratchet up the detail: Arkham Asylum only played at medium at native res, whereas dropping to full HD allowed very high detail.
|Batman: Arkham Asylum|
|1920x1080, 4x AA, Detail level: Very high, PhysX off.|
|1680x1050, DirectX 10, MSAA 4x, Quality: Low, PhysX: Off.|
|The Witcher 2|
|1366x768, low spec.|
|1680x1050, medium detail|
We require a 30fps minimum to deem something playable, except on Metro; regardless of the power we've thrown at it, we've always had ~9fps troughs creep their way in. Here, we refer to the average frame rate for guidance.
So it's not a high-end gaming machine, but it's still decent for a PC that uses laptop parts. Sadly, there's no ability to put in a higher-end graphics card at this time; both the AU$1599 and AU$2499 configurations of the XPS 2710 feature the 640M. The only difference is CPU, with the lower-priced option using a Core i5 3540S.
This is hands down the best Windows all-in-one we've used. It doesn't bother with the silliness of touch in a desktop, preferring to deliver an excellently executed experience instead. Recommended.