Standard memory in the 710 H2C is 2GB, though it supports a maximum of 4GB. This is split across two 1GB DDR2 667MHz modules running in a dual-channel arrangement for quicker-than-normal memory access. But it's not all peaches and cream -- the Dell motherboard in the 710 H2C doesn't support 800MHz memory. Anyone spending upwards of £4,000 on a gaming PC would, rightfully, be a tad miffed -- it could be a problem for any future upgrade, although not for current performance.
All should be forgiven, however, when you take a look at the graphics solution inside the 710 H2C. It uses two Nvidia GeForce 8800 GTX graphics cards running in a tandem SLI (serial link interface) configuration. Each has 760MB of RAM (for a total video memory of 1.5GB) and each has enough power to make F.E.A.R. run like Pong. Installing two is just taking the mickey.
As if that wasn't enough, the PC has an Ageia PhysX card. This sits in a port adjacent to the graphics cards and provides additional 3D physics processing in compatible games. It helps calculate how objects in a 3D space should react -- a task normally handled by the processor and graphics card. Whether it's worth having depends on the type of games you play -- there are relatively few titles that are PhysX-compatible.
Storage in the 710 H2C isn't particularly generous, but it's well thought-out. You can get up to 1TB of disk storage, but the default configuration is rather basic. Everything's installed on a pair of 160GB drives in a RAID 0 stripe -- an arrangement where data is interleaved across two disks for faster file access. The drives spin at a very quick 10,000rpm (standard hard drives run at around 7,200rpm) so you won't be surprised to learn the 710 H2C is no slouch in disk-intensive tasks.
Our review sample of the 710 H2C uses Windows XP. This is largely because at the time of its construction there were no SLI Nvidia Drivers for Windows Vista. They are available now, but Dell doesn't yet offer Vista pre-installed.
"OMG WTF!" is pretty much all the sense we could muster when analysing the 710's H2C performance capabilities. Its 10,000rpm RAID 0 hard drives helped it boot up in under 30 seconds, and it scored a dizzying 9,251 in PCMark 2005 -- the highest we've seen.
Likewise, the 710 H2C screamed its way through our gaming tests. It scored a monstrous 15,299 in 3DMark 2006, and ran F.E.A.R. at 140 frames per second -- again, the highest we've seen.
The 710 H2C is a stunning-looking and blisteringly quick computer. Its default storage is rather limited, and its memory bandwidth prevents it from fulfilling its potential, but it still makes the vast majority of computers look like pocket calculators. Buy one if you have the cash.
Edited by Jason Jenkins
Additional editing by Nick Hide