Making a distinctive and uniquely appealing desktop PC is a daunting task nowadays, but not an impossible one. Dell’s approach to this challenge, unveiled with the 2017 XPS 27 all-in-one, is to go for audio overkill. This new desktop has six speakers staring down the user — four covering the mid and bass frequencies, plus dedicated tweeters in each corner — along with two more down-firing, full-range speakers and a pair of passive radiators. I say overkill, but audio has been generally a neglected aspect of desktop PCs, with makers expecting people to buy separate speakers or use headphones, so Dell is tapping into an opportunity to deliver a true all-in-one.
Dell’s new audio system has been engineered in collaboration with music producer Jack Joseph Puig, and the PC-making company isn’t too shy to claim it has "the best sound for an All-in-one PC." It certainly has more than enough hardware to grab that title. But Dell’s claims don’t end there: the company also says the XPS 27 is two times louder than Apple’s 27-inch iMac and has up to 10 times the bass of HP’s Envy 27.
Above the 10-speaker array, the XPS 27 offers a choice of 4K displays: one with touch and an articulating stand that pivots the computer down to an almost flat position, and another without touch but with higher brightness (350 nits versus 300). Perhaps because of the more complex stand, the touchscreen XPS 27 weighs substantially more at 38.2lb (17kg) versus the non-touch 28.7lb (13kg).
Intel’s sixth-generation CPUs provide the processing power inside the new XPS 27, with a choice between the Core i5-6400 or the Core i7-6700. The first one maxes out at 3.3GHz using Intel Turbo Boost, while the other peaks at 4GHz. Up to 32GB of DDR4 RAM can be specced alongside your chosen processor (with the option to add more memory sticks and top out at 64GB), and storage choices range from 1TB of solid state storage up to 2TB plus a 32GB M.2 SSD. The latter is a faster breed of SSD that goes beyond SATA’s speed limitations, and if you’re really thirsty for it, Dell also offers 512GB or 1TB M.2 SSD options.
The XPS 27 comes with two USB-C / Thunderbolt 3 ports, five USB 3.0 ports, and an HDMI output, headphone jack, and SD card reader. Oh, and it has a Gigabit Ethernet connector and an audio output, so there’s basically zero room for complaints about connectivity.
AMD’s R9 M470X graphics chip is an immediate upgrade option from the built-in Intel graphics, and after a while Dell promises to also offer the higher-grade R9 M485X. Neither of those mobile graphics chips is going to be powerful enough to get you on the VR bandwagon, but the XPS 27 is evidently not designed to be a hardcore gaming rig. You can tell by the absence of obnoxious LED lights. The choice of AMD GPUs ahead of Nvidia’s awesome Pascal series of graphics hardware is probably explained by the XPS 27’s relatively small 360W power supply unit — AMD’s chips are more forgiving in their power consumption, but that comes at the cost of performance.
Windows Hello support is included as part of the XPS 27, which is going on sale right away for a starting price of $1,499. The loveliest specifications will nudge past $2,000 pretty quickly, but even at that starting price, you get an awesome InfinityEdge display, a great audio system, tons of fast storage, and a machined-aluminum construction that looks pretty as a picture.