- Review Date: 01/22/2013
- Bottom line: The Dell XPS One 27 Touch is the way everyone should first use Windows 8. It's a power user's system that check all the boxes and makes Windows 8 great.
- Pros: Fast processor. DX11 graphics. mSATA with Intel SRT. 802.11 a/b/g/n 2.4GHz and 5GHz Wi-Fi. Improved hinge with height adjustment. 10-finger touch and seamless screen glass. 2,560-by-1,440 resolution. HDMI in and out. Nice styling. Internal power supply (No power brick). Nice sound. No confusing USB 2.0 ports. Sleep Charge. Performance is at mSATA speeds. Comes with Windows 8 tutorial program.
- Cons: USB 3.0 ports aren't blue. A little thick compared to competitors. Reflective screen.
The Dell XPS One 27 Touch ($2,599.99 list) is a high-end all-in-one desktop PC that gets Windows 8 right. It starts off by helping you learn how to use the new operating system (and let's face it, Win 8 is new to most people); plus its touch interface makes sense in the new tiled Start screen environment. Add a speedy Core i7 processor and feature set that lets you run faster and farther than other all-in-one PCs, and you'll see why we chose the Dell XPS One 27 Touch as our new high-end all-in-one desktop Editors' Choice, sharing the title with the Apple iMac 27-inch (Late 2012). It has the power, it has the features, and it's got the touch.
Design and Features
From the front, the XPS One 27 Touch looks a lot like Dell's older non-touch model, at least until you adjust its height. Both systems sport 27-inch 2,560 by 1,440 (a.k.a., QHD) screens. Per its moniker, the XPS One 27 Touch has a 10-finger capacitive touch screen built into its chassis. The most prominent difference between the two is apparent when you look at the system from the side: The XPS One 27 Touch has a two-hinge support arm that not only governs tilt, but also allows a range of height adjustment, which is more versatile than a single-hinge arm that doesn't have height adjustments. The dual-hinge design also allows you to lean the screen way back for easier hands-on use. This is similar to systems like the Lenovo A720
The XPS One 27 Touch's power cord still connects directly to the unit, eschewing the need for an external power brick (a good thing). You may wish to compare this system's styling (and certainly its price tag) to the iMac 27-inch (Late 2012). The iMac is certainly more svelte, due to its thinner chassis and lack of an optical drive, but the XPS One 27 Touch holds up fine due to its height adjustment and minimalist styling. If you want more outré styling, then possibly systems like the Vizio 27-inch All-in-One PC (CA27-A1) would be more to your liking (and less expensive, though less quick as well).
The front of the system is where all the action happens. The bezel around the screen is glossy black, while the speaker "chin" below the screen sports a neutral gray color. These features will blend into the background when the system is in operation, as the 27-inch screen is bright and vivid. Blu-ray movies and online videos present well on the screen. We recommend you choose "no" when the pre-installed PowerDVD program asks to reduce the resolution to 1080p (1,920 by 1,080) to match the output from Blu-ray movies (the system is powerful enough to scale 1080p video up to the full screen resolution).
The screen is glossy, helping color accuracy, but the glossy finish also contributed to inadvertent reflections, particularly when viewing dark movie scenes or monochromatic desktop backgrounds. The XPS One 27 Touch has a row of backlit soft buttons below the screen that let you change inputs to the HDMI in port, eject the disc, or to turn the screen off entirely. The HDMI in port lets you connect additional sources like game consoles and will let you continue to use the screen after the internal PC components are obsolete. The HDMI out port lets you hook the system up to a larger screen HDTV, or use another monitor with the system for a multi-monitor multitasking setup.
The system's six USB 3.0 ports aren't blue, as they are on most laptops and desktops, but they are all compliant with the fast USB 3.0 standard. This means you don't have to worry about plugging your hard drive or external SSD in the "wrong" (i.e., slower) port. There's an SD card reader on the side for your digital snapshots. The system's Ethernet port is the remaining external connector, but you don't have to use wired Ethernet with the XPS One 27 Touch: The system comes with Bluetooth and 2.4GHz and 5 GHz 802.11a/b/g/n Wi-Fi, and the included keyboard and mouse are wireless.
Windows 8 is best used on a touch-screen system, so it's no surprise that Windows 8 works well on the XPS One 27 Touch. The Start screen's tiles come up quickly, and it's easy to swipe, twist, and tap on the large seamless glass panel. You can bring up charms and use other Windows 8 UI commands with a swipe of the finger on the touch screen.
Aside from the standard group of Microsoft apps, Dell pre-loads Amazon (the store), Kindle (the reading app), Dell Shop (buying hard goods from Dell), Skype, Movie Maker, Photo Gallery, Cyberlink Media Suite (PowerDVD), and a link to download or activate Office. The fact that all of these apps are on the Start screen helps to keep the XPS One 27's desktop mode uncluttered. You'll also find a Getting Started with Windows 8 app on the Start screen, which is a great help to the millions of folks out there that haven't used Windows 8 until now.
Windows 8 is reasonably easy to navigate, once you unlearn many of the shortcuts you learned for XP, 7, et al. For example, the Getting Started app helps you learn how to use the Charms bar and switch between apps. You can still use the keyboard and mouse to navigate Windows, but the touch screen is better when you're on the Start screen. The configuration we looked at comes with a one-year subscription to McAfee Security Center as well as a one-year warranty.
The system comes with a high-end Intel Core i7 processor, 16GB of memory, Nvidia GeForce GT 640M graphics, and a 2 TB hard drive with 32GB mSATA supplemental cache drive. The cache drive helps speed operations, plus 2TB is plenty of storage space for an average family (or one determined downloader). 16GB is a massive amount of system memory. Capacities this large used to be reserved for video editors and people working on huge photo projects. For the consumer power user, 16GB means that you can keep lots of apps open and active simultaneously (like having 50 browser tabs open, viewing a photo library, and playing World of Warcraft simultaneously).
The XPS One 27 Touch has plenty of power. The Intel Core i7-3770S processor and Nvidia GeForce GT 640M graphics combine to give a power user a system that won't shrink from doing real work. It can handle moderate gaming duties, as shown by its 38 frames-per-second (fps) score at Aliens Vs. Predator and 41 fps score the Heaven benchmark test (both at medium quality settings). Handbrake is quick as well, with a score of 34 seconds, second only to the (slightly) quicker Apple iMac 27-inch (32 seconds). The XPS One 27 Touch is in a similar race on the Photoshop CS6 test, coming in a second ahead of the iMac (3:15).
Both the iMac and the XPS XPS One 27 Touch have hybrid-style drives, though the iMac's Fusion drive works in a fundamentally different manner than the Dell's Intel SRT setup. Regardless, the end result is a system much faster overall than less expensive high-end touch screen all-in-one PCs like the Acer Aspire 7600U (A7600U-UR308).
The Dell XPS One 27 Touch is close to the pinnacle of all-in-one desktops, with a price tag to match. With a Blu-ray player, higher resolution than HD screen, and high-end power, the Dell XPS One 27 Touch is a great choice for users who want to use Windows 8 now, or those in the market for a high-end all-in-one that is not an iMac. The iMac we reviewed is pricier and has higher-end graphics so it's got better 3D numbers, but the XPS One 27 Touch is lock in step with the iMac on the multimedia tests. The XPS One 27 Touch the closest thing we have seen a perfect Windows 8 PC.
This review is in partnership with PCMag.com.