Dell XPS One 27: Can An All-In-One Make Us Love Windows 8?

A Productivity PC For Windows 8

Dell’s XPS One 27 isn't a workstation, per se. But the flexibility to support high-end processors makes this Core i7-equipped, 16 GB-enhanced, SSD-cache improved all-in-one a performance monster in non-gaming applications. With its huge 27” ten-point touchscreen, it might even be the perfect product for collaborative creation.

But we're not seeing this thing marketed as a serious creativity tool. Instead, I went to Dell’s website and found this pumped-up rig next to the other, less expensive versions of the 27" XPS One, positioned as the world's most powerful personal gadgets. 

That angle makes sense when you start with the entry-level $1,400 model, but when we start playing around with $2,600 machines, we're well out of the realm of general-purpose playthings. For that amount of money, you want a serious workstation or a potent gaming box. Because our flagship XPS One is still stuck with an entry-level discrete GPU, work is the only place left for this top-end configuration to excel. And that it does.

As a desktop user, I’m still frankly more productive using previous Windows versions, even after growing accustomed to Windows 8’s idiosyncrasies. Perhaps that's because I'm on a next-gen operating system using the same keyboard and mouse inputs I've been using for decades. Yet, every day, fewer people are staying tethered to their desktops. They're using their fingers to navigate their mobile devices. And Dell is betting that when they get home, they want the same sort of experience.

That means factoring in the cost of a gorgeous 27" QHD screen into what we expect to pay for a capable machine. Even if we set aside $1,000 of the budget for Dell's display, $1,600 for the rest of the system is fairly steep. Take a look at one of more mainstream models, though. Paying $1,600 total for the entry-level touch-enabled model is actually pretty fair for a Core i5-3330S, 6 GB of DDR3-1600, a 1 TB hard drive, wireless networking, and a keyboard and mouse. Yes, you step down to Intel's HD Graphics engine in the process, but if you're willing to sacrifice gaming for a less expensive workhorse, the compromise seems smart.

Dell trades blows with the 27" iMac at its $1,600 price point, selling for $200 less and including a touchscreen display, while Apple gives you GeForce GTX 660M graphics and more memory. Those subtleties are probably less important to most folks than the fact that Dell keeps you in the world of Windows, while Apple shifts you over to OS X.

The Better Half: A Mobile Device User's Perspective

As a desktop enthusiast who spends most of his time in the office, switching between PC hardware on the test bench and my personal workstation, I'm hardly the best person to pass judgement on Windows 8's touch-based experience. Between Tom's Hardware staff, I've argued that the best description of Dell's XPS One 27 would come from someone whose primary link to technology came from mobile devices. I didn't need to look very far to find such a person. Meet my wife.

I’m your average (mobile device) consumer, who wondered what it would be like to own a large touchscreen-enabled PC. Instead of pleading with my husband to buy one, I visited his office to check out the technology he had for review. Lo and behold, there was Dell's XPS One 27. He knew I had been watching CES 2013 coverage, and he already knew I wanted to try out the latest round of Windows 8-equipped all-in-ones. He also knew I was going to have my way on this one.

So, he gave me the opportunity to take the XPS One with me to my office for a few days, as long as I gave him my impressions for today's story.

First of all, because this is an all-in-one, the weight of the system and the display are combined, so it's pretty heavy. Elegant as it is, don't make the mistake of thinking it's mobile. You won't want to lug it around. Second, consider that although Dell bundles a mouse and keyboard, the inclusion of a touchscreen display means you're going to spend more time (some) with your hands on the monitor than before (none). Keep glass cleaner and a cloth handy, because finger prints are unavoidable and distracting. 

Aesthetics are important to me, and this computer has many qualities I find attractive. Because I'm using a wireless network connection, the only cable I see is for power. Gone are all of the wires typically associated with a desktop PC. Also, you can reorient the screen to lay down, like a podium. The display itself is incredibly sharp. And because I'm not as jaded as my husband when it comes to high-end hardware, the combination of fast processor, copious memory, and tiered storage means performance, in my opinion, is unlike anything I've ever seen. 

-Alisa Soderstrom

Thomas Soderstrom
Thomas Soderstrom is a Senior Staff Editor at Tom's Hardware US. He tests and reviews cases, cooling, memory and motherboards.
  • JohnUSA
    A very important and crucial point: Touch screens are doomed to fail as users will find out soon that their arm, wrist and hand will get tired and sore soon as they keep extending their arms to use this pain producing gadget.
    Who ever invented the desktop touch monitor should be shot.
  • fnh
    JohnUSAA very important and crucial point: Touch screens are doomed to fail as users will find out soon that their arm, wrist and hand will get tired and sore soon as they keep extending their arms to use this pain producing gadget.Who ever invented the desktop touch monitor should be shot.
    There's probably some use for a touchscreen-desktop monitor productivity-wise.

    But as a Windows 8 saviour? Hell no!
  • mayankleoboy1
    The alternate review is a great Value-addition to this article.
    Its important to get a informal, subjective review from a general user. Numbers are very important, but they dont tell the complete picture.

    +1 for more "Average Joe" impressions in gadget reviews.
  • killerclick
    Touchscreens on desktops will never go mainstream. It's just a fad they're trying to push, like 3D was a few years back. People don't like to have to sit close to screens and use their arms to control them - that's why TVs have remotes. Touchscreens on desktops solve nothing and improve nothing. Sure it's more intuitive to touch something than point and click, but anyone who can't figure out pointing and clicking won't get much out of using a computer anyway.
    Touchscreens on laptops might suck less as a concept, but laptop screens suck by design because they're so small.
  • vaughn2k
    JohnUSAA very important and crucial point: Touch screens are doomed to fail as users will find out soon that their arm, wrist and hand will get tired and sore soon as they keep extending their arms to use this pain producing gadget.Who ever invented the desktop touch monitor should be shot.I find these all-in-one touch screens helpful for kiosks, data centers, production, (kitchen - maybe :P), POS, as a replacement for other tools such as keyboards and mouse - simply for convenience. But yes, not a tool to be used for 8hours work in-front of a computer. And if you would have this for those application I mentioned, this is too damn expensive and ludicrous!
  • ta152h
    Quick answer, no.

    Touchscreen has no place on a desktop, unless you have Felix Unger with plastic gloves touching it. It's messy, and it's hard not to feel like a retard while using it.

    This is a solution in search of a problem. I haven't heard too many complaints on the keyboard/mouse interface. I have heard plenty of complaints about Windows 8.
  • thinslicedbread
    Every time Tom's (or any other site for that matter) posts anything about Windows 8 or touch-screen PC's you always, ALWAYS, get people who instantly denounce such products almost as if they are "of the devil himself". As a power user, or anyone who actually comes to Tom's to read "tech-y" articles - Yes, Windows 8 is probably not for you. That's fine and dandy. But I get so tired of people just instantly proclaiming Windows 8 a failure because of the changes that Microsoft has made to it. While no, it does not have a start button, anyone who has used it for more than a day can tell you that it doesn't really matter. I tap the Windows key and start typing what I want and Windows finds it for me. The start screen gives me a quick overview of important applications without having to actually OPEN the application to find the information. I love my ASUS Vivo Tablet (Windows RT), and I find myself using that more often than my laptop or desktop when I just want to look something up or read and respond to an email.

    Case in point: I set my girlfriend up with what I thought was a really nice setup. A touch screen AIO in her spare room. It had (read: HAD) Windows 7 on it. She was constantly complaining about how she hated it when it either did not register her touches or the limited gestures that I so painfully set up. She went months without even turning the damn thing on. She complained that she couldn't do anything with it because it was just too hard to get a simple task done.
    Windows 8 comes out last October and I figure I'd give it a shot and if she still didn't like it, I'd have an extra computer in my man cave for something. I can't keep her off the thing. She absolutely loves it. She loves the live tiles, how it recognizes her gestures, how easy it is to navigate. I could go on...
    What I wish people would realize is that Windows 8, while it will probably not be as widely accepted as our beloved Windows 7, it is still a pretty solid step forward. If you are a power user (myself included) you will probably never install W8 on your desktop or even your laptop. But it is a fantastic piece of software that can change how people use computers.
  • magic couch
    On the file compression page the graphs show winRAR being faster than 7zip yet the article says 7zip is faster. Were the graphs reversed?
  • edwuave
    instead of touch, bundle with Kinect motion control = so much win.
  • clifftam
    It looks like a PC version of an iMac to me.