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May 16, 2017

Dell XPS 27 all-in-one (2017): Our first take

by John_A

Earlier this year, Dell launched the XPS 27, an all-in-one that checked pretty much all the boxes. It packed an Intel 6th generation Core i5/i7 processor, a dedicated AMD 400 series graphics card, and some of the most impressive on-board audio we’d heard.

It’s come time for an XPS 27 refresh, but this time around, Dell isn’t rocking the boat. Instead, it’s building on the groundwork it laid with January’s XPS 27, improving upon it in small — but appreciable — ways.

We had some hands-on time with the updated XPS 27 at a Dell preview event in New York City. Here’s what we thought.

Now with more VR

The new XPS 27 shares the old model’s design — right down to the machined aluminum and fully articulated, dual-hinge stand. It’s just as sturdy as the model we took for a spin in January, and no less modular. You can still pop off the cover and upgrade the components yourself, if you feel so inclined.

It’s come time for an XPS 27 refresh, but this time around, Dell improving upon it in small — but appreciable — ways.

“VR readiness” is the headline improvement. Dell has taken the liberty of upgrading the XPS 27’s processor to Intel’s 7th Generation Kaby Lake Processors and AMD’s Polaris graphics (Radeon RX 570), which a company representative told Digital Trends will “fully support” the most popular games for HTC’s Vive headset and Oculus’ Rift. Dell said it’s also designed with Microsoft’s Windows Mixed Reality VR/AR platform in mind, which will launch in earnest later this year.

While this upgrade is just a matter of switching out hardware, it has impact. Most all-in-one computers can’t handle VR headsets, shutting out a large swath of people from the technology. Adding the RX 570 will also make the Dell XPS 27 all-in-one a reasonably capable gaming machine. We think that’s great. All-in-one computers have long been marketed as machines that handle both productivity and entertainment, but most lack the latter half of the equation. Dell’s XPS 27, though, can play as hard as it works.

Get ready to rock out, again

What hasn’t changed with the refreshed XPS 27 is the front-facing speaker array, and that’s a good thing. The innovative soundbar, which consists of ten speakers — six forward-firing, two “radiating” speakers that bounce sound downward, outward, and around the room, and stereo drives — is no less clear or crisp than we remembered. It’ll still fill a home office with sound, yet somehow avoids butchering mid- and high-range frequencies in the process.


Kyle Wiggers/Digital Trends

That’s not to say there isn’t room for improvement. We still would’ve liked to see a subwoofer squeezed into the XPS 27’s frame, but Dell said that would’ve necessitated compromises on design.

The XPS 27’s display is the same, another smart move. It’s 4K (3,840 x 2,160 pixels) in resolution, up from 2016’s 2K (2,560 x 1,440) panel. And it’s tuned to Adobe’s RGB color spectrum, which Dell says delivers a wider color gamut, higher contrast, and up to 64 times the number of colors conventional monitors are capable of displaying. From what we could see, it’s vibrant, bright, and relatively glare-free. A touchscreen model will be available for a small upcharge.

Practical inputs

Dell opted not to mess with the XPS 27’s inputs. In practical terms, that means the new XPS has a USB 3.0 port, an SD-card reader, and a 3.5mm audio jack on the side. and four additional USB 3.0 ports and an HDMI-out port around back. Rounding out the connectivity options is a DisplayPort 1.2 connector, a gigabit Ethernet port, an analog audio out plug, and a USB Type-C connector with  Thunderbolt 3.

And in terms of peripherals, the XPS 27 still ships with Dell’s comfortable, nondescript Premier wireless keyboard an mouse.

It still makes a strong case for the PC maker’s brand of all-in-one computer.

The XPS 27’s configurations are the same, too. It supports up to 32GB of DDR4 memory, and up to 2TB of hard drive space, including up to 1TB of PCIe SSD storage. Presumably, those upgrades will be independent of processor and graphics card choices.

On the software side of things, the refreshed XPS 27 supports most of Windows 10’s headlining features. An embedded infrared sensor and webcam supports Windows Hello facial recognition, and an array of far-field microphones that lets users trigger Cortana from across the room.

In the months since we saw the first iteration of Dell’s refreshed XPS 27, we haven’t changed our opinion — we still think it makes a strong case for the PC maker’s brand of all-in-one computer. It’s not as aesthetically pleasing as Apple’s iMac lineup or Microsoft’s Surface Studio, but it’s a compelling $1,500 package that’s far more affordable than the $1,800 27-inch iMac and $3,000 Surface Studio.

Highs

  • Bright and vibrant display
  • Powerful speakers
  • AMD RX 570 graphics can handle VR
  • Less expensive than high-end competitors

Lows

  • Still thicker and heavier than competition




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