MEGATech Reviews: Dell XPS 27 All-in-One PC
This is one of the largest and most attractive all-in-one PCs I've had in the office, but don't expect it to have the massive performance to back up its imposing stance.
Pros
  • High-end, robust metal design
  • Super high resolution screen
  • Powerful speakers
Cons
  • Super reflective display
  • Very awkward port access
  • Less than stellar performance
7Overall Score

Yes, I realize I am overgeneralizing, but just bear with me. As a general rule of thumb, consumers who are interested in all-in-one PCs seek simplicity and value. They don't want to have a bunch of cables everywhere and they want a computer that just works. And then you've got the XPS line from Dell, which has traditionally been geared toward users who seek a little more power and style from their rigs. If you were to draw a Venn diagram, you probably wouldn't see too much overlap.

Apparently, though, I'm completely wrong in my assessment. Before Apple revealed it's $5,000+ iMac Pro, we got our hands on the Dell XPS 27 All-in-One PC. Is it just as much of a beast or is it just for show?

This Is One Hefty Beast

Whereas the XPS 13 2-in-1 we reviewed a while back was obviously designed with mobility and convenience in mind, the XPS 27 is decidedly a very different and much larger beast. The slightly darker silver metal (almost gunmetal) finish screams premium (if not likely inspired by the iMac), except the bezel around the screen is decidedly smaller. The six speakers in the front also feature quite prominently.

Our review unit, which may or may not necessarily be reflective of the retail version, arrived in a big red box. That screams personality right off the bat. The box was also very heavy; the courier label lists it at 55 pounds. Thankfully, it's not terribly awkward to move around, though you will want to take some care removing the protective coverings.

As with all Dell machines, the XPS 27 all-in-one comes in a variety of configurations, though the actual body remains the same. The unit as tested fits around the middle of the pack. The 27-inch touchscreen display has a 4K UHD resolution of 3840 x 2160 pixels (60Hz). For my part, I had to go into the display settings to bump up the size of text and icons, as they really become hard to read at default settings. The rest of the specs include an Intel Core i7-6700 processor, Intel HD graphics 530, 16GB of RAM, and Windows 10 Home 64-bit.

What's the Deal with the Ports?

Good news! This beast of an all-in-one PC comes loaded with all the I/O you could possibly want! Well, not quite, but there are a lot of ports for you to plug in pretty much all the the things you want to plug in. Unfortunately, practically all of the ports are so awkward to access that you'll wish you had nothing to plug into them.

While there is a single USB 3.0 port, a combo audio jack and an SD card reader on the side that you can access easily, the rest of them are oddly positioned right behind the aluminum articulating stand. I had a hard enough time stringing the power cable in there, let alone if I wanted to quickly plug in an external hard drive, an extra monitor, wired networking or anything of that sort.

It might take away from the clean finish, but there's a reason why Apple puts the ports on the back of the iMac they way that they do. In any case, the XPS 27 gets four USB 3.0 ports, one HDMI out, one DisplayPort 1.2, two Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C, DP, USB3.1, PowerShare compatible), one Gigabit Ethernet, and one audio out port.

Bundled Keyboard and Mouse

Of course, you can use whatever keyboard and mouse combination you want with this machine, but Dell has included a pretty nice set here. The Dell Premier Wireless Keyboard and Mouse (KM717) is paired via a tiny USB dongle that you plug into one of those difficult-to-access ports and never touch again. You can see it in the port photo from the previous section.

The keyboard is very thin and mostly reminiscent of the keyboard you'd get on a laptop. Key travel is relatively short, but it's nice and clicky. You get a series of function keys along the top, as well as volume controls which are notably missing from the main XPS 27 unit itself. You'll also notice a slider switch above the numpad for switching to other Bluetooth devices. There are no feet for raising the height of the keyboard, but it does come at a slight angle.

The wireless mouse is mostly utilitarian with the standard scroll wheel, plus an extra button along the left side, defaulted for going "back" in a web browser. The arc design is different than most conventional mice, offering a smoother glide across almost any surface. Range on both the keyboard and mouse is good. I was easily able to use it from the other side of the small bedroom where I set up the unit for testing.

All Work and No Play Makes...

Let's start with some positive notes. The articulating stand is very robust and the sheer heft of this machine provided a great deal of confidence. The large 4K display is as rich as you'd expect it to be and the speakers are more than adequate. Typing up blog posts and surfing the web, including watching 4K video, was not a problem at all.

But not all is well in XPS 27 land for me. The display is really glossy, so you'll need to be really mindful about placement. There is a window directly across from where I placed the unit and the reflection was horribly distracting. While day to day performance wasn't too much of a problem, gaming can be.

I was unable to run Street Fighter V at 1080p and "high" settings with anything remotely resembling a playable frame rate. It wasn't until I dialed back to 720p at medium settings that I could do anything and even then, the game crashed sporadically. I don't know if that's the fault of Dell, Steam or Capcom, but it was definitely a problem.

Also, I wish there were more on-board controls for adjusting the display settings (brightness, contrast, etc.), as well as the ability to turn off the screen without hitting the power button to turn off the computer entirely. I understand this is an AIO PC and not a monitor, but it would've still been appreciated.

PCMark and 3DMark Benchmarks

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How the Dell XPS 27 fared in our usual suite of benchmarks largely reflected my personal experience with the machine. It does perfectly well with your standard consumer-level or day-to-day, work-related tasks like word processing and web browsing. As soon as you try to push a bit more graphical performance out of those on-board Intel HD graphics, however, things start to look not nearly as good.

In PCMark 8:

  • Home Accelerated 3.0: Score of 4050, better than 70% of all results
  • Work Accelerated 3.0: Score of 4346, better than 68% of all results
  • Creative Accelerated 3.0: Score of 6028, better than 76% of all results.

In 3DMark:

  • Fire Strike 1.1: Score of 3949, better than 22% of all results
  • Sky Diver 1.0: Score of 14172, better than 46% of all results
  • Time Spy 1.0: Score of 1525, better than 7% of all results

If you're thinking of picking this up for some gaming or video editing, you're going to be sorely disappointed.

MEGATechie All-in-One Awesome or XPS 27 Exit Stage Left?

I really wanted to like the Dell XPS 27. I could see how this would make for a perfect family room computer. Kids could do homework on it, the family could gather around for some Netflix time, parents could quickly look up dinner recipes... and the industrial design with the CNC machined aluminum looks really classy too.

But then the shortcomings and compromises start to pile up. Why would you place all of the I/O behind the stand where they're almost impossible to reach? Why wouldn't you provide more control over how the monitor displays things? Why can't I easily crank up the brightness to combat the super reflective screen? I imagine graphics performance would be greatly improved with a dedicated GPU, which is thankfully an option, but it does take you in an upper echelon of pricing.

You can expect to spend over $2,000 on this machine, depending on your configuration. In Canada, even the base model starts at $1,899.99 with its non-touch display and Intel HD graphics. This scales all the way up to over $3,200 if you want Core i7, dual storage, and dedicated AMD RX 570 graphics. That's no small sum, but at least the 27-inch display is 4K UHD across the board.


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