Once the warranty on a computer expires and increasing numbers of annoying issues cause me to bring it into a shop with issues I cannot resolve myself, it is time to begin shopping for a new desktop computer. My most recent ‘time to get a new computer’ experience brought me to the DELL XPS 8300.
In both design and function, it is the most powerful computer I have ever owned and with the ability to customize the specific ‘build’ and at the available discounted price, I think I have made a very smart choice.
As most things become more expensive over time, many electronics have actually become less costly as the market has become increasingly competitive. Computers are probably the best example of this economically counter-intuitive phenomenon. The DELL desktop that this XPS 8300 is replacing, a DELL Inspiron 530 that was also a great value back in 2008, provided less power, less speed and fewer features for a price that was about 40% higher than this new XPS 8300.
The very best bottom-line values in desktop computers are probably found by buying one from a major manufacturer that is prebuilt. This means you buy it off the shelf (or online) as the company decided to make it. If you want alterations or additions, you need to see about these things yourself after the purchase. I prefer the chance to customize the computer according to my own needs and preferences so what is delivered is just as I want it to be from day one.
The basic DELL XPS 8300 comes perfectly well designed for most users. I chose a few modifications that increased both the available working memory (RAM) from 8GBs to 12GBs (the XPS 8300’s capacity is a mind-boggling 32GBs!), included a Firewire card and ports (for faster downloads from my video camera), a couple of USB 3 ports (for the newest generation of USB devices,) an upgraded built-in Wireless-N mini-card (antenna is internal) so I could easily connect it to my home wireless network and a second optical (CD/DVD) drive so I can copy disks directly from one to the other.
Powered by the second generation Intel iCore7-2600 processor running at 3.4 GHz and accompanied by the 8GB of RAM in the basic system set-up, this machine would be plenty fast enough for most people most of the time. By my adding the additional 4GB of RAM, I can do multiple tasks with nothing slowing down. It probably really wasn’t necessary – But, it seemed like a good idea when it came up as an option.
The system came with a large and bright 24″ monitor (2420L) which makes an astounding difference when viewing video. There were three surprises about this system. The first two came with the monitor. One was the discovery that the connecting cable supplied was the analog VGA type, rather than the more advanced digital (DVI-D) type. This makes a tad of difference and I have upgraded the cable.
The second actually came first, during the ordering process. I already owned a good monitor so asked about having this one deleted from my order – figuring I would save a little cash. I was told that because this system was on special as a system, that the monitor came with it. In fact, to build and deliver it to me without the included monitor would have actually cost me more! I was astounded. Since then, I have given the other monitor to a family member who was glad to have it and I am delighted with the sharp and non-distorted large field of view provided by this new 2420L monitor.
The third surprise was that while the system was advertised as having one 1TB (1000 GB) hard (“C”) drive, there are actually two 500 GB hard drives connected so as to function as one. Should I ever want to add any more hard drive memory to this computer, it would need to be via an external hard drive as there is no available bay to add one “inside the box.” This is not apt to become a problem as a Terabyte (TB) is a HUGE amount of space.
The standard package included 4 USB 2 ports. I added 2 USB 3 ports and a Firewire (EEE-1394) card with 2 ports to support faster video transfers from my DVC (Digital Video Camera.) Standard sound ports are included as is an HDMI cable port, especially useful when interfacing with a non-networked HDTV.
The supplied (wired) keyboard and (laser) mouse are standard equipment and I have kept mine in the box as I prefer the wireless Logitech K340 keyboard and the M510 wireless mouse. Feeling tethered has never been one of my favorite feelings!
With a small and unobtrusive Bluetooth dongle from IOgear inserted into one of the 8 available USB ports, my wireless WP-300 headphones from Creative Labs work perfectly.
Not being a gamer, I elected to not upgrade the included, integrated video card (NVIDIA GeForce GT 530) with the more powerful and discreet type preferred by “power gamers” who require more intense video processing. It seemed unnecessary for my needs – but it might be useful for yours!
DELL has done a reliable job of keeping up with current technology and, over the years, providing more product at what seems to be an ever increasing value. While some consumer magazines have reported that their service is sub-par compared to other manufacturers, I have not found it so. This is my fourth DELL system and I expect the same responsive service when I might need it that I received with my former three systems.
One final note:
For many years, I was afraid to open the box, to go into the computer case to clean it, change or install components. I got over that some time ago. Up until this SPX8300, however, opening the case involved removing screws which are always too easily lost. Now, the case is secured by simply sliding it into a locked position. No screws to open or lose. No sweat.
I feel that I got a lot of computer for the money. My final cost, two day shipping included, was just under $1,300. Not a bargain basement price, but this is far from a bargain basement computer. I am pleased to be able to offer it my highest recommendation.