Dell XPS 8500 CAD Station Graphics Options

I am taking a position at a company as a mechanical engineer, and we are looking to piece together a desktop/workstation to meet my computing needs for 3D CAD. Applications mainly used will be SolidWorks and some lighter rendering programs built in to SolidWorks. We have so far outlined an XPS 8500 system that more than meets our needs for ram, processor speed and storage. However, the included on-board graphics seems relatively week to be able to support large resolution dual monitors with the complex 3D applications we will be using. As we were looking to upgrade, we were hoping that a dedicated video card could be installed at ordering so that we do not have to purchase and install our own after the tower arrives. Two great candidates that would meet our needs would be the NVIDIA Quadro 1800FX, or the Quadro 2000, plus any needed power supply upgrade to handle the card. Would it be possible to have one of these cards, or something comparable, installed as an upgrade while ordering? We don’t seem to see any options while personalizing to upgrade the video card. If these cards are not available, would you have any video upgrades you could recommend and install that would easily support dual monitors with heavy CAD 3D applications?

I have taken a screenshot of the XPS system we have outlined so far:

Key notables for this XPS system are:

Windows 7 64 Bit with Microsoft Office
16GB DDR3 Memory
3rd Gen i7-3770 processor (3.40)

It also seems that an OEM Radeon HD 7770 2GB GDDR5 card can be an option on one of these XPS 8500 systems with 16GB of memory. I run a non-OEM HD 5770 on my home computer, and it easily handles my dual LED monitors. However, without any more information on what available ports are included with the OEM model 7770, I have no idea how robust this card would be for dual monitors at generous resolution.

Any opinions or options that anyone knows of from Dell would be great! I have also created a similar thread on the Dell boards, and have emailed Dell tech support to see if they have any recommended solutions. The company has had great success using Dells ordered to their door, and would like to not molest the tower at all upon arrival. We would like to find a Dell solution to our door that will meet our needs with Dell reliability and warrantee coverage.
Thank you!

6 answers Last reply
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  1. Hello Mike,

    This is going to be a bit of a long answer so please do bear with me.

    The XPS 8500 is designed to handle a 460W Power Supply. Upgrades to the power supply are not supported or recommended by Dell as they may cause issues with the Motherboard so unfortunately I do not believe that Dell will be able to ship you a system with a larger Power Supply out of the factory.

    The NVIDIA Quadro 1800FX and Quadro 2000 are both Open GL cards that are not shipped on the XPS 8500. Open GL cards are normally used on the Dell Precision Line of machines and are better at handling rendering and dual monitors (so if you do have the budget you may want to look at the Precision line of Notebooks/desktops as they are equipped to handle the demands of 3D rendering and are the preferred choice of most Graphics designers).

    With regards to the OEM ATI 7770 video card it does indeed ship with the XPS 8500. The card has 3 ports on it namely a Display Port, a HDMI port and a Dual Link DVI. I have listed below the technical specifications of the ATI card

    1) Bus type PCI Express 3.0 (x16 lanes)
    2) Chip technology 28nm CMOS, Core Voltage 0.8V~1.2V
    3) Engine clock 1000 MHZ
    4) Memory clock 1125 MHz
    5) Memory size/type 2 GB/GDDR5
    6) Internal connector None
    7) External Display Connector DVI-I, HDMI, and DisplayPort
    8) Display maximum resolutions Dual-Link DVI: 2560 x 1600, 32-bit color Single-Link DVI: 1920 x 1200, 32-bit color HDMI: 1920 x 1080, 32-bit color DisplayPort: 2560 x 1600, 32-bit color VGA: 1920 x 1440, 32-bits color
    9) Display options Display modes supporting digital flat panels, HDTVs, DisplayPort panels, and analog CRTs:
    VGA (through DVI-VGA adapter)

    10) The following simultaneous display configurations are supported:

    DVI + DisplayPort
    VGA + DisplayPort
    HDMI + DisplayPort
    DVI + HDMI

    11) Operating temperature [Ambient] 50° F to 131° F (10° to 55° C)

    I hope this helps. Let me know if you are looking for any other information and I will try and look it up for you.
  2. Hello Mike,

    Just found out that the system will also ship with amn ATI 7870 video card as well. This is a better card than the OEM 7770 and I can supply you with the Technical Specifications if your interested.

    Let me know.
  3. Hello there.

    Sorry for late response, I did not notice your thread earlier.

    I don't know why the Dell guy gives such advice, but I think you should not listen to him. He seem to not have a clue about computer hardware at all.

    Having a higher power supply in the computer will not cause any problems with any of the components unless it's a low quality, cheap unit. If you want to check power supply rankings, go here:

    As you can see, there are tiers of power supplies, I wouldn't recommend with getting a power supply that is below tier 3 or is not in the list at all.

    The HD 7770 has the following ports: one dual link DVI, one HDMI and two mini display ports. It can support up to three monitors considering you use either native Display Port monitor or active display port adapter for the third monitor.

    Furthermore, HD 7770 is a little bit faster than HD 5770. Check this:,3135.html

    I know it's not CAD work benchmarks, but it will give you an idea how it performs compared to the HD 5770.

    Thirdly, would you consider going for something that's not Dell? If they don't let you customize enough, there are other options that might fit your need better. I suppose building a system is not an option? That would save both money and you'd really get what you want.

    Hope I helped ;).
  4. Since you are using existing monitors, make sure the card has the ports you need. If you are using big engineering displays and you've had them awhile they may both want dual link DVI, in which case any of the new Radeon cards will require an active dp to dvi-d adapter, which is a relatively expensive item ($80+) and another bit of wiring to deal with.

    Dell makes some nice machines, but they don't allow the range of customization you can get other places. This reduces their support costs and lets them control quality, but it does make it hard to take one of their consumer oriented products and turn it into an engineering workstation for example.
  5. Hmmmm....thought about it on the way home. The Dell guy is right about on thing: If this is a CAD workstation, and you want Dell, just buy a Precision workstation. The XPS 8500 is a home gaming box. A workstation will be more reliable (ymmv) and less likely to come with some home oriented crapware installed. The drivers that come with a Quadro card are optimized for CAD systems and generally impossible to get to work with a consumer graphics card. The machine is a little more expensive, but not bad when you consider what a Solidworks license is going to cost and trivial compared to what the business has to pay an engineer (you) to run it.
  6. Hello Mike,

    Sorry about my initial reply as it seems to have left some ambiguity. To clarify while you can upgrade the Power Supply on the XPS 8500 Desktop to ones with higher Wattages, Dell does not support such upgrades and doing so would void the warranty on the system which is why we don’t recommend such an option. The NVIDIA Quadro 1800FX and Quadro 2000 are not cards that are shipped with the XPS 8500 from factory so you will need to add them to the machine after purchase.

    As I said earlier the Open GL cards are much better suited to rendering (when compared to the ATI Radeon 7770 which are meant for gaming rather than running CAD) and are the preferred choice for designers. The Quadro 2000 has a low power draw of 63W so it should be suitable to be used on the XPS 8500 without having to upgrade the Power Supply. There is also another Video card i.e. the ATI Firepro 4800 which requires a 350W power supply that you can also consider. The power requirements for both these cards are listed below

    Refer to the links for the power supply required:
    Quadro 2000 -
    Ati Firepro 4800 -

    Choosing either of these options on the XPS 8500 would mean that you would need to add them to the computer after purchase.
    If you wish to have a complete solution purchased from Dell on which you do not need to add any components seperately and have the warranty intact on the entire solution then the Dell Precision notebook or desktop is the best option since these are Workstation machines.
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