"The Dell XPS 8930 Tower is a modest desktop that happens to be a powerful entry-level gaming PC."
Interesting internal design
Solid port options
Great gaming performance
Good basis for expansion
Has an entry-level Intel CPU
Entry level configurations do not have an SSD
Dell's XPS hardware has been very exciting in recent years. Regardless of whether it is the XPS All-In-One or the XPS 13, they are the flagship products in the Dell product range. You focus on style and design without sacrificing the skills you expect from a premium PC.
In the background, Dell has a number of desktop towers with the XPS branding. We had the opportunity to test the new XPS 8930, a completely black PC with 8th generation Intel Core processors and some surprising game features. Our test device was delivered with the quad-core i3-8100, 8 GB RAM and especially the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 for a retail price of $ 1000. The XPS 8930 Tower functions as a gaming PC for beginners and as a simple home work station. You can of course upgrade to a Core i5 for an additional $ 100, a Core i7 for $ 250, or even upgrade to a Radeon RX 580 if you want.
With the rising prices for GPUs, such systems have become much more attractive. But does the XPS 8930 offer you a solid basis for your future computer requirements? Let's dive in.
Safe, familiar and harmless
You cannot do much with a tower like this to make it stand out. Unless you have a tricky gaming desktop with glowing neon lights, people often prefer these things to sit under desks where no one can see them.
The XPS Tower is not marketed at all as a gaming desktop and does not look like it.
With the recent redesign of the XPS 8930 Tower, Dell didn't do much to spice up the formula. It uses a combination of matte and glossy surfaces to create a black version of the game-oriented, silver XPS Tower Special Edition. This new all black version of the XPS Tower is nice enough not to hide it entirely on the back of your desk, but definitely nothing new.
It should be noted that the XPS Tower is not marketed as a gaming desktop at all – and does not look like it. Compared to Dell Inspiron Gaming Desktop, this is a far more subtle case based on clean lines and subdued design decisions. It's not a bad looking product, but it's nowhere near as interesting as we'd like it to be.
The good news is that the case itself feels solid and durable on all different panels and connection points. Although the exterior is made of plastic over a metal case, you won't feel much flexible or give in. In addition, at 22 pounds, it's fairly small and light, which is lighter than the 30-pound Inspiron or even something like the 33-pound Lenovo Ideacentre Y900. It's also two inches shorter than the Inspiron and an inch thinner.
Everything you need and more
The XPS has a decent selection of ports, the two USB-C ports between a small USB-A, an HDMI, a display port, a Gigabit Ethernet, a Mic-In and an SD card reader Mix. In other words, there is a lot of USB here and everything else you need. USB-C is nice to see as more and more devices and accessories use the newer port type – and especially because it was missing on the Inspiron 5675 gaming desktop from Dell.
Dell has a handful of ports attached to the front for easy access, along with the rare optical drive. Connecting a flash drive, smartphone or peripheral is quick and easy. You'll never run out of front ports or want more – and that's a good thing you don't have to worry.
Ready for upgrades – just take a closer look
As is common with common market desktops, access to your internal components is not clearly visible. But what they did here is a little more interesting. If you are like us, it may not be immediately apparent how you open this thing at all. We finally found a subtle black latch on the top of the back of the tower that opened to pull out the side wall. After opening it, we didn't feel like we could see much more. The CPU was completely hidden and we were immediately upset that Dell had decided to keep everything so overloaded.
Dell calls its tool-free system "innovative" and we agree. We just wouldn't call it intuitive.
At least we thought. Similar to the side panel, we found through the official website that the entire power supply rack swings out to expose the rest of the components. It's a very different way to put a PC tower together in a smaller space – and we have to welcome Dell for that.
Above all, the unique system enabled Dell to pack a significant amount of power into the case – enough to do some significant upgrades.
Speaking of upgrades: The CPU is soldered on so that you can not get ahead. However, the GPU can be easily replaced. You also have access to two available PCIe slots for expansion cards and two empty hard drive slots. While the size of the case limits upgradeability, there is plenty of room here to improve your specifications later.
Dell calls its tool-less system "innovative", and we agree. We just wouldn't call it intuitive. It took us a while to figure out what to do with it. However, this does not change the fact that Dell has given easy access to all the important components without having to break out a single screwdriver.
A secret quad-core CPU
Our test device was delivered with the Core i3-8100. This is the first time that we have tested it in a full PC package. Regardless of what you might think, some players have built entry-level builds on this CPU thanks to the fact that this generation's Core i3 is now quad-core and fairly affordable. The i3-8100 is obviously at the lower end of the spectrum, but has muscles with 3.6 GHz behind it.
We found that it outperformed older desktop PCs like the Surface Studio (Core i7-6820HQ) and Dell Inspiron 27 (Ryzen 7 1700) in single-core performance, but in most of them in multi-core performance Compare less. When used in real time, we found it to be more than suitable for daily activities and moderate workloads. Just don't expect it to handle 4K video. It should also be noted that you cannot overclock the i3-8100 – what you see is what you get. It is a CPU that is designed for efficiency and low power consumption. In a way, it's perfect for what the XPS 8930 is supposed to be.
The price is where things get a little bit shady. It's not that the i3-8100 is a bad CPU – Dell just charges a little too much for it. It's something that won't go unnoticed if you don't push your system to its limits, but you may notice it in the performance of certain games and other processor-intensive applications. Compared to Dell Inspiron 5675 Gaming Desktop or Asus G11DF, you only pay a little more for less computing power.
Super fast, super slow
Our test device came with 256 GB NVMe SSD storage from Toshiba and a 1 TB SATA hard disk from Western Digital. The inclusion of the SSD for storage is a big plus, but unfortunately it's only available in the high-end configurations, which is a bit stupid. Get the standard rotating molasses hard drive for less than $ 1,000.
The good news is that the SSD is crazy fast with a fast read speed of 2.72 GB per second and a much slower write speed of 346 MB per second. The extreme difference is a bit strange, although it is difficult to complain about such a fast reading speed. As expected, the hard drive is much slower in comparison, although it's always nice to have 1 TB of storage – just don't expect to pull files out of it quickly.
Playing was not an afterthought
Most people will want to know about this relatively inexpensive desktop if they can play games. The answer is yes, especially if you are talking about 1080p.
With the powerful Nvidia GTX 1060 GPU with 6 GB GDDR5, we found that the gaming performance is smooth and For Honor at Extreme works at a constant 77 fps (frames per second). It even handled Deus Ex: Mankind Divided better than some of its competitors and averaged 51 fps with high graphics settings compared to the MSI Trident 3 and the Asus G11DF. In our 3DMark tests, we found that the XPS 8930 is competitive with the MSI Trident 3, a compact gaming PC with the same graphics card. It's hard not to be impressed when you consider the look of the chassis and the price you paid. The performance in Civilization VI was similarly smooth and reached 62 fps at Ultra.
Bill Roberson / Digital Trends
Bill Roberson / Digital Trends
It continued to outperform its rivals in Battlefield 1, where we tested it on both medium and ultra-graphic details in 1080p. In either case, you can get a lot out of this GTX 1060 and exceed the frame rates of desktops like the Asus G11DF and MSI Trident 3. Of course, you get more from a system with a GTX 1080 – or even the Radeon of the Dell Inspiron 5675 RX 580 that landed in Battlefield 1 93 fps – but we were pretty happy with how well XPS 8930 was able to do our gaming tests in 1080p.
We also tested it on a 1440p display to see how many pixels the GTX 1060 can push. The XPS 8930 was ready for the challenge of mastering games like Battlefield 1 and Civilization VI on Ultra and reaching 1440p at 60 fps or higher.
However, as you can see, the XPS 8930 bumped into a wall when trying to run Deus Ex in Ultra mode at 1440p. It only expressed 34 fps. Playing at 1440p on the XPS 8930 is possible, but you'll find that there are restrictions on the game and graphics settings you use. We even tried Battlefield 1 in 4K for kicks and the results weren't great (around 31 fps), but it was still playable.
Overall, we were surprised that the XPS 8930 did pretty much everything we threw at it. The GTX 1060 is clearly a powerful little GPU and should survive a few game cycles before trying to upgrade. And don't forget that the powerful graphics card also makes 3D rendering and photo editing easier in addition to games.
The XPS 8930 has a basic 1-year hardware service that includes the included in-home service. That's not a bad thing, but you can jump up to one of the premium support plans that range from an additional year to four years of support.
The Dell XPS 8930 Tower is designed for a small population. It's not a dedicated gaming PC, which means it doesn't go far enough in terms of custom cases or expansion options. However, this is a good option for families who want a shared desktop for working in a home office and great gaming performance.
Is there a better alternative?
You may think building your own gaming rig is your best alternative, but nowadays high GPU prices make something like the XPS 8930 a much more attractive proposition. However, there are some very strong alternatives that you should consider before buying.
The first is the Dell Inspiron 5675 gaming desktop, which offers better overall value. You can purchase a package similar to the XPS 8930 for just $ 750, or a much better Core i7-8700 and a GTX 1060 for $ 1000. The design isn't as understated as the XPS, but it wouldn't look out of place in a home office either. The only downside to this configuration is that you only get the 3GB version of the GTX 1060 and a smaller 128GB SSD compared to the 256GB of the XPS.
Another possible option is something like the MSI Trident 3, which has a completely different form factor, but a very comparable performance. However, it comes with additional costs, which makes the XPS 8930 better value for money. The $ 1000 Asus G11DF isn't exactly an eye-catcher, but with the Ryzen 5 and GTX 1060 it offers a more game-focused package – and some impressive performance results. The G11DF can also be configured with the GTX 1070 and Ryzen 7 on request.
How long it will take?
As far as ports are concerned, there is a nice selection of legacy and future security. There's also plenty of room for upgrades here, so you can start with something more modest and eventually save enough nickel for some updated components.
Should you buy it
Yes, if you want or need an all-rounder. The Dell XPS Tower isn't the best value in a particular area, but it does everything that makes it a good choice for a family PC, or for those who want to work hard, play hard on a single desktop. Computer.