Many thought Dell's XPS gaming brand would vanish into obscurity after the company acquired Alienware. Little did they know Dell would continue to produce outstanding gaming rigs, the flagship model for which is the brand new XPS 710 H2C.
On the surface, the machine resembles the original XPS 710, but it introduces two key elements we've never seen on a Dell computer. Firstly, it's factory overclocked, and secondly, it uses a space-age water-cooling system.
Our review sample of the H2C 710 can be customised up from the base spec on the Dell Web site for £3,203.45 (the base spec costs £2,998.99), although this is subject to change. It comes with a range of optional monitors up to 24 inches in size, but if you really want to push the boat out you can get Dell's 30-inch UltraSharp 3007WFP-HC, which brings the total to £4,218.
The chassis for the XPC 710 H2C looks really intimidating. Given the choice between confronting a deranged serial killer or this monstrosity, we'd take the knife-wielding psycho every time. We're intimidated by its size, by the ominous whooshing sound it makes when we press the power button, and by the way the chassis is subtly slanted forward -- like it's about to pounce on your face.
Those brave enough to get close up are in for a treat. The exterior is made of glossy black aluminium, not that cheap plastic nonsense you get on Alienware desktops. Unfortunately, the metal doesn't extend to the front; instead you get a flimsy-looking plastic grille, which feels as if it could break under a heavy-handed touch.
We'll ignore the flimsiness, though; the tower has a set of four LED lights that shine down on the grille in such a way that the light beams seem to disappear gradually inside the case. The effect is attractive -- we've yet to meet a person who doesn't like it. There's also a light on the rear of the case -- the IO panel is lit by an LED, so it's very easy to see which holes you're jamming your cables into.
The XPS 710 H2C packs some serious hardware. It uses an Intel quad-core QX6700 CPU -- that's the one with four individual processing cores on a single die. Not only that, but it's been factory-overclocked from the default 2.66GHz to a monstrous 3.2GHz. Imagine Albert Einstein, Stephen Hawking, Heinz Wolff and the Nutty Professor all mashed on to a single chip then force-fed a load of Omega 3 -- it's that quick.
Dell could be forgiven for installing half a dozen cooling fans to keep the overclocked CPU from going into meltdown, but it's gone one better by installing a space-age two-part cooling system. The custom-designed H2C cooler combines standard water cooling with thermo-electric heat dissipation of the sort you usually find on a NASA space shuttle. The ceramic tiles deflect heat away from the CPU and clever circuitry inside regulates the temperature so the chip isn't damaged by condensation.