Dell XPS 27 AIO review

This entertainment-savvy All-in-One PC is a little pricey

TODO alt text

Our Verdict

Though it’s ludicrously more expensive than its nearest competitor, the Dell XPS 27 is offers crisp-sounding speakers, lush Ultra HD display and – for the most part – a stellar design.

For

  • Handsome display
  • Satisfying mouse and keyboard
  • Virtually unparalleled built-in sound

Against

  • Mouse and keyboard use AAA batteries
  • Relatively expensive
  • No HDMI-in

A lot changes in four years. That how long it’s been since we reviewed the Dell XPS One 27 Touch, an All-in-One PC that sported Blu-Ray drive options and relied solely on Intel’s integrated solution for graphics. 

Since 2012, the standard has shifted for desktop computers. With Microsoft’s advent of the Surface Studio, there is now the expectation for PC makers to think outside of the box and implement forward-thinking AIOs engineered for versatility, 4K monitors and outstanding speakers, while also catering to designers and gamers.

The 2017 Dell XPS 27, what with its lumbering 27-inch Ultra HD display, 6th-generation Intel Core i7 processor and discrete AMD Radeon GPU, aims to be your next All-in-One computing solution. Confidently endowed with six front-facing speakers and a weighty, albeit subtle design, let’s take a look at whether the Dell XPS 27 offers enough value to justify its lofty price tag.

Spec sheet

CPU: 3.4GHz Intel Core i7-6700 processor (quad-core, 8MB cache, up to 4.0GHz)
Graphics: AMD Radeon R9 M470X (4GB GDDR5 VRAM)
RAM: 16GB DDR4 (2,133MHz)
Screen: 27-inch, UHD (3,840 x 2,160) display with touch and articulating stand
Storage: 512GB PCIe SSD
Ports: 5 x USB 3.0; 2 x Thunderbolt 3; 1 x DisplayPort; 1 x HDMI out; 1 x SD card slot
Connectivity: Dell Wireless 3165 802.11ac Wi-Fi; Bluetooth 4.0
Camera: 720p infrared camera
Weight: 38.2 pounds (17.3kg)Size: 17.1 x 24.6 x 3.16 inches (43.4 x 62.5 x 8.03cm; H x W x D)

Pricing and availability

There’s no getting around the $1,349 or £1,699 (about AU$1,755) price range that the Dell XPS 27 inhabits. Even with standard specs it’s more lavish than a baseline 24-inch iMac, which costs $1,099 (£1,049, AU$1,699), on the low end.

Note, that’s without the touchscreen and articulating hinges. Even so, the Dell XPS 27 is more of a 5K iMac competitor, what with its colossal 27-inch Ultra HD display. 

Pitting it against Apple’s larger, more extravagant iMac model, the Dell XPS 27 is a lot more enticing. Although the version we were sent is valued at $2,799 or £2,599 (about AU$3,641), it has a lot more on offer than Apple’s top-end, $2,299 (£2,249, AU$3,599) 5K iMac. 

For that lofty lump of cash, the Dell XPS 27 is graced with an i7 processor and a full-fledged SSD. The premium also nets you 8GB more RAM and a graphics card with double the VRAM.

When compared to the HP Envy AIO 27, however, the XPS 27 begins to seem a tad overpriced. For $1,899 (£1,999, about AU$2,475), you can snatch yourself a similarly specced AIO 27 from HP. 

For almost a grand less, you’re getting an almost equivalent configuration  with a touchscreen, an i7 processor, 4GB of Nvidia VRAM, 16GB of DDR4 RAM and a 2TB hard drive combined with 256GB of PCIe SSD storage.

Though the quality of the speakers, mouse and keyboard put the HP Envy AIO 27 to shame, the price difference is monumental between the two. 

Design

There’s no denying that the Dell XPS 27 is a looker. Even the rear of the machine glimmers with a silvery metallic finish and the rounded adornment of Dell’s own logo. 

Although there is no fancy backlighting in sight on the back of the machine, the ostensible minimalism is honestly for the best. It exhibits the subtlety and sophistication that the company is known for and a quality we’ve admired with other machines like the Dell XPS Tower.

Turn around to the front, however, and you’ll notice a full sound bar firing directly at you. Among these are two tweeters devised with high notes and vocals in mind, four full-range drivers for punchy midrange sounds and two passive radiators for the bass.

When Dell says its speakers are immersive, the company means it, as the XPS 27’s sound system is a clear draw for audiophiles in the market for an All-in-One. The sound is as loud as it is vibrant. Even with the system volume tuned down to about 10%, you can hear the Dell XPS 27 from across the room or even outside it.

Despite all the central components stuffed into the Dell XPS 27’s bodacious gut, it still manages a relatively slim bezel complemented by a crystal-clear Ultra hi-def display.

As long as you have the touchscreen equipped, there’s an articulating stand that allows you to lay it flat on its back. You can get up close and personal with the XPS 27 without any loss in quality when viewing the screen.

Given that there’s no stylus included with the Dell XPS 27, a touchscreen seems hardly necessary except for use as a giant tablet. Nevertheless, there’s at least the option to avoid its inclusion altogether and, still, retain  the Intel Core i7-6700 processor. 

The Dell XPS 27 also ships with a Premier wireless mouse and keyboard –  which are surprisingly impressive for pack-ins. The mouse is sleek and lightweight, yet at the same time, avoids feeling cheap. The keyboard, on the other hand, goes all out with a number pad, dedicated media control buttons and a virtually silent membrane interface that feels natural to the touch.

The only downside, we would say, is the use of AAA batteries rather than a native rechargeable solution for the keyboard and mouse. Though they’re bound to last you awhile longer than something you’d plug into the wall, the requirement of household alkaline batteries is a bit antiquated in 2017.

Ports-a-million, if you can get to them

The Dell XPS 27 is well-versed in ports as well. On the right side of the display, you’ll find a USB 3.0 port with PowerShare just above the power button while, on the left, you’ll be grateful to discover an SD card slot and an audio jack in place for your convenience. It was smart of Dell to install ports on the side as well as the back, that is, until you find out why it was necessary to begin with.

The rest of the ports are located on the back of the device, and boy are they a pain to get to. Within a small, hollowed out cubbyhole on the rear of the All-in-One are four more USB 3.0 ports, two Thunderbolt 3 USB Type-C ports, one DisplayPort and an HDMI out port. 

Unfortunately, this whole ensemble of ports is inaccessible being caught between the chassis and one of the hinges on the adjustable stand.

While this setup is damned hard it is to access, it didn't get in the way too much during our time with the All-in-One considering we didn't often need more than one USB port. The Dell XPS 27 is also enough of a hulking monster on its own; the attachment of an external monitor would only add to its table-weight which, at 38.2 pounds (17.3kg), is already a lot.

That being said, it would have been nice to have an HDMI input port at our disposal in the spirit of the HP Envy AIO 27, which itself can be used as an external monitor for your other devices.

Benchmarks

Here’s how the Dell XPS 27 performed in our suite of benchmark tests

3DMark: Sky Diver: 13,934; Fire Strike: 3,961; Time Spy: 1,532
Cinebench CPU: 780 points; Graphics: 103.99 fps
GeekBench 3: 3,970 (single-core); 15,237 (multi-core)
PCMark 8 (Home Test): 3,786 points

Performance

Because it wrestles with the idea of discrete graphics, onloading an AMD Radeon R9 M470X, the Dell XPS 27 performed fairly well in our graphics-based benchmarks. That said, the XPS 27 is a far cry from a gaming PC. 

Even so, it’ll be able to handle most of the games you want to play at somewhere along the lines of medium to high settings. This is a machine that’s clearly geared towards more general forms of entertainment as well as creatively-driven assignments.

Compared to the HP Envy AIO 27, the XPS scored better in every test. In Cinebench in particular, the Dell XPS 27 received a score of 780 points while the HP Envy AIO 27 garnered 662 points.

For those stuck between these two butting rivals, the Dell XPS 27 is the faster machine, even if that speed does come with a towering price tag. Just another factor to keep in mind as you determine just how much a little extra performance boost is worth financially.

Final verdict

From its gaudy (though admittedly desirable) sextet of speakers to its glossy and gargantuan 4K display, the Dell XPS 27 is clearly an entertainment computer meant to be gawked at. It’s no gaming PC, nor is it meant to be, but the XPS 27 throws a convincing pitch as a productivity machine as well. 

While it’s held back by a price that’s simply unjustifiable when compared to its closest competitor, the Dell XPS 27 almost makes up for that with a comfier mouse and keyboard, better performance and a sleeker design than the HP AIO 27. Those snug peripherals, however, are ultimately hindered by the demand for AAA household batteries rather than opting for a more convenient rechargeable solution.

That goes without mentioning the weight of the XPS 27, which is already a lot even without a supported external monitor connected via HDMI or DisplayPort. As we mentioned before, it’s pretty disappointing when other All-in-Ones like the HP AIO 27 tote HDMI-in ports for use as an external monitor itself, the XPS 27 overlooks this feature entirely.

All-in-all, the Dell XPS 27 will give you a sound All-in-One computing experience, but for the price you may be inclined to ask, “but what else?” The lack of a pressure-sensitive stylus means it isn’t as great for designers as the nearly-as-expensive Surface Studio; then again, maybe it doesn’t need to be.

The Dell XPS 27’s practical design, gorgeous screen and out-of-this world sound quality all make for a dreamy entertainment center.
 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Gabe has been writing about video games and technology since he was 16 years old. Currently serving as a Contributing Editor & Producer for TechRadar, where he keeps articles fresh and up to date on the reg, you may recognize his byline from Digital Trends, TechSpot and Kotaku UK. He can't tell if his adoration of Sonic the Hedgehog is genuine or ironic anymore.