Dell Studio XPS 8100 Review: Performance, Power and Conclusion

April 21, 2010 by J.R. Nelson Reads (68,910)
Editor's Rating

Ratings Breakdown (1-10)

    • Software & Support
    • 8
    • Upgrade Capabilities
    • 8
    • Usability
    • 10
    • Design
    • 9
    • Performance
    • 7
    • Features
    • 7
    • Total Score:
    • 8.17
    • Rating 1 to 10, top score 10

You can have the most stylish computer in the world, and if it can’t run the programs you need, it’s not going to be very useful. I was a bit surprised to see that Dell offers the Studio XPS series of desktops with dual-core processors. Granted, they’re the latest generation of dual-core CPUs, but it was still something of a surprise; I figured that any desktop over a thousand dollars would have quad-core processors across the board. As it turns out, none of that really matters. The Core i5-650 in our review unit was plenty fast enough to handle any typical computing tasks, and when paired with the discrete video, proved more than capable to handle light gaming.

wPrime benchmark test results:(lower scores equal better performance)

Desktop Score
Alienware Area-51 x58 (Core i7-965 @ 3.2GHz) 7.426s
HP Pavilion Elite m9600t (Core i7-920 @ 2.66GHz) 8.835s
Dell Studio XPS (Core i7-920 @ 2.66GHz) 9.1s
AVA Direct GT3 (Core i7-920 @ 2.66GHz) 9.671s
Dell Studio XPS 8000 (Core i5-750 @ 2.66GHz) 11.717s
Dell Studio XPS 8100 (Core i5-650 @ 3.2Ghz) 14.368s

PCMark Vantage system benchmark test results: (higher scores equal better performance)

Desktop PCMark Vantage
Alienware Aurora ALX (Core i7-975 @ 3.33GHz) 11,129 PCMarks
Dell Studio XPS 8100 (Core i5-650 @ 3.2Ghz) 9,199 PCMarks
Dell Studio XPS 8000 (Core i5-750 @ 2.66GHz)  6,825 PCMarks
HP Pavilion Elite m9600t (Core i7-920 @ 2.66GHz) 6,479 PCMarks

AVA Direct GT3 (Core i7-920 @ 2.66GHz)

6,134 PCMarks

Dell Studio XPS (Core i7-920 @ 2.66GHz)

6,056 PCMarks

3DMark Vantage graphics benchmark test results: (higher scores equal better performance)

Desktop 3DMark Vantage
Alienware Area-51 x58 (Core i7-965, 2 x ATI HD4870X2) p21865
AVA Direct GT3 (Core i7-920, ATI HD4850) p9834
Dell Studio XPS 8000 (Core i5-750, NVIDIA GTX 260) p9458
HP Pavilion Elite m9600t (Core i7-920, ATI HD4850) p7815
Dell Studio XPS (Core i7-920, ATI HD4850) p7603
Dell Studio XPS 8100 (Core i5-650 @ 3.2Ghz, NVIDIA GTS 240) p7412

Speaking of gaming, I did toss a couple of recent games onto the XPS 8100, just to see how well they’d play. I wasn’t expecting much, since this isn’t really directed at gamers; the Studio XPS line is more of a high-end mainstream, multimedia-inclined line. Still, the 8100 handled itself very well. Consumers who pick up the Studio and want to play a few games – at least, when configured with some flavor of discrete graphics capability – will hardly be disappointed.

Both games were run at a resolution of 1680×1050, with maximum detail settings; AA was set to 4x on both with AF maxed.

Game Framerates
Min Max Average
Left 4 Dead 2 44 fps 119 fps 87.587 fps
Call of Duty: World at War 37 fps 73 fps 54.495 fps

The nice part of Dell’s customizable order process is that once you decide on the brand and model you want, you can largely pick the performance target you need. If you’re looking for a relatively basic model that handles average home and home office tasks, you might order a Studio XPS 8100 at the $699 end of the scale; if you need a computer that does more, you can correspondingly pay more and get a computer that’s closer to the unit we used in this review.

Power and Noise
Few non-gaming desktops are especially loud these days, and the XPS 8100 is no different. Sitting at idle, the computer has noticeable but manageable noise levels, and it fades into the background. Putting it under stress, the fan noise does raise significantly. It’s not bad, but it would be distracting if, like many home users, your office spaces is shared with your TV space.

The Studio desktop managed to draw 98 watts of electricity at idle – that’s fairly substantial for a computer that isn’t really doing anything. When gaming, the pull raised to 195 watts of energy, and when maxing out everything we could, it drew an average of 245 watts. Keep in mind that over the course of the computer’s lifetime, the Studio XPS will draw an average much close the the 98 watts at idle than the 245 watts at max.

The Studio XPS 8100 is Dell’s second entry into the Studio XPS 8000 series of desktops, and the fourth in their Studio XPS line overall. It sits in an interesting place compared to the rest of Dell’s lineup: it isn’t part of the value-oriented Inspiron line, nor does it claim the flagship status of the Studio XPS 9000 and Alienware brands. Instead, it sits comfortably in the middle of the road.

An attractive mix of build quality, design and features, the Dell Studio XPS 8100 is a mid-range computer for users with a mid-range kind of budget. Configurable to match most price points, the Studio XPS line lets you have an affordable computer with a bit of panache. It would be nice to see this computer with these features PLUS a quad-core processor at this price, but even so – it does the job, and it does it with style.


  • Contemporary design
  • Good build quality
  • Tray, ports on top


  • Silver trim feels cheap
  • Front: fingerprint magnet
  • Loud under load



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