Dell XPS desktop PC review

We’ve taken a look at the whole Dell XPS desktop PC range in this review. While the Inspiron serves as the gateway to Dell computers, the XPS line is the high-end option offering the best performance and technology money can buy. XPS itself stands for eXtreme Performance System, and isn’t that just the most 80s name you’ve ever heard?

So, righteous and gnarly name aside, what separates the XPS from Dell’s other ranges? Well, it’s all in the specs. There is actually a lot of overlap in the XPS and Dell Inspiron ranges, with many top-end Inspiron models having similar specs to the lower end XPS computers, but the XPS range has a much higher ceiling when it comes to performance… and price. It’s worth every penny, though, and the Dell XPS desktop sits at the top of our guide to the best home computers

Dell XPS desktop: Specs

Basic XPS models come with a 10th Gen Intel i3 CPU, but spend a little more and you quickly find both 11th gen i5 and i7 processors taking over – there are even some models with i9 processors too, but unless you’re planning to do 4K video editing or gaming, that’s probably going to be overkill for you. RAM options start at 8GB, which is the minimum we’d recommend, and head all the way up to 64GB, which is almost enough to power a sentient AI.

As a basic guide, we’d say that the i3 processors are fine for light use – checking emails, browsing the web, running basic word processing and spreadsheet apps. Go up to i5, and you’re able to run more complex apps and should be fine for most home office applications. We would highly recommend an i7 for anything more labor intensive, such as photo editing or video apps, and if you plan to game, the i7 models should really be your go-to. You can game and edit on i5s, but will likely be frustrated by the inability to run and flip between many apps. If you’re dealing with 4K content on a regular basis, or just want to run all the games going, then you could invest in an i9… but that’s probably too much.

Like the Inspiron range, most of the entry level XPS computers have an integrated graphics chip, but you have a lot more options in the mid range when it comes to a dedicated GPU, with both NVIDIA and AMD graphics cards on offer. These aren’t bespoke gaming machines, but anything with an NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060 SUPER is going to be able to handle HD gaming at solid frame rates. We’d actually recommend Dell’s Alienware gaming PCs instead of the XPS range, if games are your primary focus.

It’s the same story when it comes to storage too. The basic XPS models come with a 1TB HDD, much like the Inspiron, but move up in price and you quickly find combo solutions packing both a SSD and HDD. The SSD lets you run the system, programs, and games to take advantage of its speed, while the HDD is ideal for file storage including photos, videos, and music. When you’re booting up and loading Windows it’ll all go much quicker with an SSD, although Dell’s HDD range are no slouches.

Prices vary wildly depending on the specs that you go for, with the current cheapest Dell XPS coming in at $649.99 MSRP. For that you get a 10th Gen Intel I3 CPU, 8GB of RAM and a 1TB HDD. On the opposite end of the spectrum, the top-end model costs $3,279.99 and comes with a 10th Gen Intel i9 CPU, 64GB of RAM, an NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3070 GPU and a 2TB NVMe SSD + 2TB HDD. Prices change all the time, and you’ll often find deals at the Dell store.

While these are the extremes, the most popular models of XPS sit in the middle of the price range, usually costing around $1000-$1500, and we think this is where the sweet spot is. All prices include the cost of Windows 10, which comes pre-installed.

Dell XPS desktop: Design

Who is it for?

If you need a mid or high tier desktop computer, then the Dell XPS line is a fantastic choice. We think this is the Dell computer line that will suit the vast majority of users as it covers most general use scenarios. There are a wide range of CPU, RAM, and storage options to suit your needs, and you can even get a decent GPU if you want a multipurpose machine that can handle some gaming or video editing.

If you’re considering one of the lower end XPS models, we’d actually recommend checking out the Inspiron line too. While Dell would like you to think there is a clear delineation between them, there really isn’t.

Simplicity and elegance mark the Dell XPS desktop designs. They’re available in dark grey across the whole range, although you can get white XPS desktops too (they’re special editions and cost a little more). You get a smooth frontage with tastefully placed ports, space for a slim DVD/Blu-ray drive, and a grill section for better airflow at the bottom of the unit. They’re the best looking desktops you can buy, and they run very quiet, even with the most demanding apps open.

On the front you have a power button sat just below the DVD drive (if you choose one) with an SD card slot, three USB-A 3.1 connections and a single USB-C 3.1. At the back you have a whopping six extra USB ports, an ethernet in, HDMI 1.4 slot, DVI, and all manner of other connections. We won’t list them all here, but if you’re plugging in a device built in the last five to ten years, it’ll likely fit in the back of the Dell XPS. The only thing that’s missing, and that’s because almost no PCs currently accept them, is support for things like CFexpress cards and ultra high-speed media.

Everything inside the unit is beautifully designed, and you can customize your PC as you see fit before it’s built, which is an excellent feature of the XPS machines. One word of caution: we’d spend the extra $20 to get a WiFi 6 card built-in on cheaper models, instead of the standard model, as you’ll get better connection speeds over wireless and future-proof your machine.

Should you get a DVD or Blu-ray drive built-in? If you want to retain the simple beauty of the XPS tower, and you absolutely need an optical drive, then yes – spend $100 and get the Blu-ray drive. If not, and you don’t mind an additional device attached via HDMI or USB… get an external DVD drive later.

Should you get an XPS laptop instead?

Now there’s a question. We love the Dell XPS laptop range, and think they’re among the best laptops you can buy, so it’s down to personal preference. As the laptops are smaller, you don’t quite have the same range of specs. The XPS laptop range also starts with a 10th gen Intel i3 CPU, but all the portable XPS computers have SSDs as standard, starting at 256GB and moving up to 1TB. 

We adore the screens on the XPS laptops too, and you’ll start with a Full HD panel on the basic models, with the option to upgrade to 4K screens on the more expensive and powerful devices. These start at 13-inch models and go up to 17-inch. You can also get XPS laptops with touch screens, but we don’t tend to recommend these, as they’re quite uncomfortable to use long term.

In terms of price, you start at around $800 for the lowest spec, and go through the price bands up to $2700 for the top of the range XPS laptop. If you’re thinking about investing in the XPS laptop range, we think the models around $1400-1800 are the best value. Here you’re getting an i7 processor, 16GB of RAM, and 512GB HDD as standard, and if you’re willing to push up to $1800 you can get a 4K screen (on the 15-inch laptop models) with 32GB of RAM and an integrated graphics card. Those are impressive machines, only slightly held back by an older i7 processor.

Dell XPS desktop: User reviews

It’s tough to fault the Dell XPS desktops, and most of the models have an average score of 4.3 stars via the Dell website. The main thing that most users point out is the speed and efficiency of the XPS desktops, and the pace at which they operate Windows 10 and run apps seems to be a feature of almost every user review. 

Users also appreciate the smaller form factor of the desktop itself, and the fact that it’s well designed and easy enough to slot under or onto home desks. The XPS series also runs quiet compared to most other desktops, and several users pick up on this fact. While there are some occasional fan noises, general running is very quiet.

Where there have been issues, most users have been pleased by the resolution from Dell’s customer support, which is known for being excellent. While not all issues get resolved satisfactorily, the vast majority of them are, and customers seem very pleased with the service.

The more negative reviews tended to focus on features users felt were missing from the computers, or specific issues with apps and drivers that they were trying to use on the XPS desktops. There are some complaining about the speed of the machines, but few provide examples of what apps are slowing them down. Almost every negative review has been addressed by someone at Dell, and while not all will be satisfied, it’s good to see such a positive response to customer complaints.

Dell XPS desktop: Customer service

Dell’s customer service is renowned among PC manufacturers for being excellent. From purchase, through to your first year of operation it’s clear that you’ll get personalized service when you need it.

All XPS desktops come with a one-year warranty, and you can get in-home servicing and repairs if you allow Dell to perform a remote diagnosis on your machine (the app for this comes built-in when your PC arrives). If you want to extend your warranty after 12 months it costs $50 per year, which is reasonable value.

Most Dell PCs come with 12 months of McAfee Antivirus for free, which is a nice bonus, although if you’d rather you can install the Dell SupportAssist app, which has its own antivirus features built in, and acts as customer support too. This is $39 per year, so think about what’s right for you. We think it’s good value, but would always rather have one of the best antivirus software programs installed on our machine instead. 

Should you buy a Dell XPS desktop PC?

If your budget stretches to a Dell XPS desktop PC then, yes, you should absolutely buy one. In terms of build quality, design, and the efficiency of their operation, the XPS machines are unrivalled by any other mainstream PC manufacturer. The customer support is excellent too, and you can pair your desktop with a range of quality peripherals like monitors, keyboards, and wireless mice.

However, you do pay for it, and the XPS range is one of the more expensive options. It’s all relative – you can always save money by buying a slightly lower specification of PC, but if you compare XPS PCs to the likes of the HP Pavilion, for example, you do get more power and resources for your money elsewhere. But what you’re paying for here is quality, support, reliability, and aesthetics – things that genuinely matter when you’re buying a new PC.

Which Dell XPS desktop PC should you choose?

Ok, there are a handful of Dell XPS desktops we’d recommend, and it really comes down to your budget and need. If you’re looking to spend less than $1000, then this i5 spec for $730 is the best value for money. You’re starting with an 11th gen Intel i5, and only spending a little more than the older i3 model (which is the cheapest in the range). If you have the extra $80, we’d definitely add the dual drive option of a 256GB SSD and 1TB HDD – it’ll boot Windows lightning quick, but still leave you loads of storage space.

If you want to get the best PC for your money, we’d go with this 11th gen i7 configuration for $1179, and we’d add the option for the 512GB SSD / 2TB dual drive for an extra $80. Given the base price, that’s superb value for loads more storage. The i7 and 16GB of RAM will cover you for all work tasks, and even higher performance editing needs, and there’s a little Nvidia 1650 graphics card built in for very basic gaming.

If you’re looking for a gaming rig, again, we’d call your attention to the Alienware range. However, if you want your PC to be a master of all things, and budget is no real barrier, then check out the $1999 XPS special edition , which comes with an i7K chip – perfect for overclocking – and an AMD RX5700T graphics card. You’re saving a little money here on the AMD card, instead of paying for an Nvidia 3060 or 70, which are available… but do cost more.

Don’t forget that you’ll need a monitor and a mouse and keyboard with your desktop, unless you already own them.