All-in-one PCs are nothing new, but the Dell XPS One 27 is enough to make anyone sit up and pay attention. As the crowning glory of Dell’s all-in-one range, this behemoth mounts a 27in IPS display atop a flexible stand, and crams in as much top-flight hardware as your credit card can handle. Now that it’s available with an optional touchscreen, this premium-priced all-in-one looks to be the perfect match for Windows 8.
Where Apple’s latest iMacs major on stick-thin slenderness, Dell’s XPS One 27 opts for a more heavyweight build. Levering the hefty 16kg chassis out of the box immediately reassures as to the Dell’s burly build quality, and with its finish a mixture of metal and soft-touch black plastics, it’s as stylish as Windows all-in-one PCs get. This is every inch the luxury all-in-one PC.
Living large The star of the show is the 27in display. With a huge 2,560 x 1,440 resolution, the Windows 8 Start screen is blown up to massive, pin-sharp proportions, and there’s enough space to spread several applications across the desktop side by side. Image quality is very good indeed. It isn’t quite up there with the best 27in monitors we’ve seen, but there’s little cause for complaint. Both photographs and movies sparkle with life thanks to the screen’s glossy finish, and the 297cd/m2 maximum brightness and 697:1 contrast ratio help to deliver vivid images.
If there’s any reason to nitpick, it’s due to the Dell’s colour reproduction: with an average Delta E deviation of 4.7, the panel’s colour palette isn’t as accurately rendered as the best 27in monitors. Cram a Blu-ray disc into the XPS One 27’s optical drive, however, and you’re unlikely to care. The inky blacks and bright whites of the IPS display lend high-definition images tremendous punch, and it does a good job of keeping motion smooth and smear-free. Allied with decent integrated speakers, the XPS One 27 makes a convincing media PC.
There isn’t as much bass, nor the clarity of dedicated speaker sets, but Waves’ MaxxAudio software makes the most of the hardware at hand. If only the best will do, there are both analog and optical digital outputs available on the XPS One 27’s back panel for ferrying audio to external speakers. Covering the Dell’s display with fingerprints won’t be anyone’s first impulse, but its touchscreen encourages you to do just that. The panel supports full ten-point multitouch, and all the usual Windows 8 edge-swipe gestures. It’s as responsive as the best touchscreen devices we’ve used, and Dell has also bundled a compact wireless keyboard and mouse for normal usage. The keyboard’s slightly concave Scrabble-tile keys grip the finger nicely, and the mouse, while a mite plasticky, is comfy to use and accurate.
The Dell’s adjustable stand helps you to get the most from the XPS One 27’s touchscreen. This provides 80mm of height adjustment, and cranes right down to desk level, tilting backwards for more comfortable touch operation. Unlike some touchscreen PCs we’ve seen, however, it doesn’t fold back completely flat, instead tilting to around 45 degrees.
The big squeeze Squeezing powerful components into an all-in-one PC isn’t always easy, but Dell has tackled the problem with a combination of low-power desktop and mobile parts. Low power doesn’t mean low performance, however – our review unit came with a 3.1GHz Core i7-3770S, which has a quad-core architecture, and is capable of boosting individual CPU cores right up to 3.9GHz.
That nippy Core i7 CPU is backed by 8GB of RAM, and for storage there’s a 2TB HDD and a 32GB SSD caching drive. The result is a seriously quick all-in-one PC: with an overall score of 0.98 in our Real World Benchmarks, the XPS One 27 is as fast as many full-sized desktop PCs. In some areas, it’s even faster than our 3.4GHz Sandy Bridge reference PC; racing through the mediaencoding segment of our benchmarks with an overall score of 1.08.
However, Graphics performance is a little less impressive. Nvidia’s GeForce GT 640M is more commonly found on mid-range laptops, and it struggles to make the most of the 27in display’s resolution. It’s more than capable of cranking out smooth, playable frame rates at lower resolutions and reduced detail settings, but pushing our Crysis benchmark up to Full HD and High detail saw it struggle to an average of 26fps. Running games at the display’s native 2,560 x 1,440 resolution is too much for Nvidia’s mobile GPU, however; most modern games require the detail settings to be dialled right down.
There’s very little missing elsewhere, though. There’s an HDMI input for connecting external devices, such as a games console or laptop, and an HDMI output for powering a secondary display. Two USB 3 ports are within easy reach on the XPS One 27’s left-hand edge, next to a pair of 3.5mm audio jacks for connecting headphones or a microphone. At the rear there are another four USB 3 ports, Gigabit Ethernet and an optical S/PDIF output for routing the audio via a home-cinema receiver or hi-fi. Wireless connectivity is adequate: Bluetooth 4 is included as standard, but we’d rather see dual- than single-band Wi-Fi at this price.
While Dell’s XPS One 27 impresses in many areas, we have one major criticism: we’re not convinced that Windows 8’s touch features are suited to such a large display. The Dell’s 2,560 x 1,440 panel is wasted on full-screen apps, and since gestures require a large amount of physical side-to-side movement on a 27in display, using the touchscreen for any length of time is tiring and unwieldy.
In some circumstances, we can imagine it making a superb money-no-object media PC, with the giant touchscreen working well from a standing position, or for brief, casual use. For most people, however, spending £300 extra on the optional touchscreen is overkill. If it were our money, we’d pocket the difference and buy the non-touch £1,399/$1.588 model, safe in the knowledge that we’d be getting the best Windows 8 all-in-one PC that money can currently buy.
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