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Dell XPS 27 Touch review: Looks are everything

Dell XPS 27 Touch review: Looks are everything

"I do wish the company had paid a little less attention to looks and a little more to usability"

The Dell XPS 27 Touch produced a high Desktop Worldbench 8.1 score (for an all-in-one, that is).

The Dell XPS 27 Touch produced a high Desktop Worldbench 8.1 score (for an all-in-one, that is).

When it comes to its high-end all-in-one PC lineup, Dell seems to be operating on the "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" principle. The XPS 27 Touch packs a speedy new Haswell CPU under its hood, but that's the only significant departure from earlier models.

Our review unit, which costs $US2100 as of July 17, 2013, sports a quad-core Intel Core i7-4770S processor; 8GB of DDR3/1600 memory; a discrete video card (Nvidia's GeForce GT 750M); and a roomy 2TB, 7200 rpm hard drive augmented by a 32GB mSATA SSD cache. That's impressive for any all-in-one, and it helped the XPS 27 Touch deliver a Desktop Worldbench 8.1 score of 262, which means it's more than two and a half times faster than our reference PC, Acer's Aspire U. It's also significantly faster than Vizio's CA27T-B1. The displays on both of those models are limited to 1920 by 1080 pixels, but they're also considerably less expensive (selling for $US1000 and $US1550, respectively).

Nevertheless, the Dell's score places the XPS 27 Touch solidly in the upper half of all the desktop systems we've tested so far, although it's nowhere near the custom-built gaming rigs we've evaluated (Primordial Computer's over-the-top, quad-Titan Medusa hit 385, while Micro Express's single-GPU MicroFlex 47B scored 421). Unlike most all-in-ones, however, the XPS 27 will satisfy the gamers in your family--as long as their expectations aren't too hardcore. In our Dirt Showdown, with the game's resolution at 1024 by 768 pixels and image quality set to low, the XPS 27 delivered a strong 125.7 frames per second. Compare that to our reference PC, which relies on the integrated GPU in its Intel Core i5 3230M processor: It delivered Dirt Showdown at just 47.5 fps.

As befits a new AIO of the Windows 8 era, the XPS 27 is outfitted with a 10-point touchscreen display (this was an optional feature on previous models). Dell boasts that it's the company's "brightest and most versatile touch display" to date. I agree, it's the best touchscreen I've seen from Dell. It's extremely bright, and images and text look fantastically crisp and clear thanks to its 2560-by-1440 resolution. Multitouch gestures are smooth and easy to perform, and the bezel-less design makes using Windows 8 a breeze. But the display is not perfect. I have the same minor complaint about this screen as I had about Dell's earlier XPS One 2710: Colors, especially skin tones, have a tendency to look oversaturated.

Dell's XPS 27 Touch is a nice, attractive system, but I do wish the company had paid a little less attention to looks and a little more to usability. This AIO is super pretty, and the changes I want would probably make it a little less so. While the media card reader and two USB 3.0 ports are conveniently located on the left side of the bezel, the HDMI ports (in and out), Thunderbolt/Mini DisplayPort, gigabit ethernet, and four additional USB 3.0 ports on the back of the display are obscured by the stand and are difficult to reach.

I'm also not a fan of the four touch-sensitive buttons on the lower left corner on the front of the display. A proximity sensor causes these unlabeled buttons to light up when you hover your finger over them, although the only one you might use on a regular basis is the Eject button for the DVD burner. And speaking of optical drives, if you want a Blu-ray/DVD combo, you'll need to move up to the $2600 model, which also comes with 16GB of memory and Windows 8 Pro. But if you get your movie fix via Internet streaming, you won't care.

Aside from those quibbles, the Dell XPS 27 Touch is an exquisite all-in-one.


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