Dell XPS Desktop Special Edition (8940): Powerful Yet Subtle – Digitalmunition

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Published on January 22nd, 2021 📆 | 7414 Views ⚑


Dell XPS Desktop Special Edition (8940): Powerful Yet Subtle

Dell makes desktop builds and they remain oblivious to the consumers mainly due to high prices. Gamers would rather spend their money on incompatible options with the primary focus on the graphical prowess of the system or its computing power. But it takes a lot more than just a graphics card and a processor to build a functional and performance-centric system. Consumers tend to move away from pre-built desktop systems from brands as they are exorbitant when compared to the individual parts pricing.


What we ignore is the fact that a lot goes into the development of a desktop-grade build rather than just stuffing the costly components into a chassis. The money that you pay to the brands like Dell is for their top-notch R&D and expertise in the craft. Plus they like to overcharge too. Nevertheless, with a pre-built desktop-grade system, you get the advantage of scheduled and prompt maintenance, which is nowhere to be found in self-built systems.

Enough rambling about the advantages and limitations of a pre-built system. The product in consideration is the Dell XPS Desktop Special Edition (8940) that appears a whole generation apart from the Alienware lineup. By generation apart we mean that in terms of visual appearance it has gone back to the early 2000s. Let’s dive deep into what Dell XPS got right and what could have been done better, as far as our requirements go.

Subtle is the way to sum it up. It is so simplistic to a point where nostalgia hits you, reminding you of your go-to computer from two decades. A highly concealed front chassis with, surprisingly good IO and an optical disk drive. Ah! The disk drive. Why does anyone need a disk drive in 2021? The question is not why but what if you need it? It is a Blu-ray drive so that you can watch your lord of the rings trilogy and copy it to your computer too. It unobtrusive and it’s there, no harm no foul. The screeching of the drive header against the disk is a melody lost somewhere around the last decade.

The bottom half of the front of the chassis has a ventilation mesh that aids in channeling the airflow inside and then outside of the chassis. The Dell XPS Desktop Special Edition (8940) comes in a bright white color scheme, opposite to the company’s obsession for black. It is a change, a graceful one that doesn’t require you to wipe the dust off your system after every day. The peripherals that include a mouse and a keyword also are shipped along with the system. The basic version matches the color scheme but is wired. We don’t mind the nostalgic wired keyboard and mouse but for users that love a wireless combo, Dell offers that too, at an extra cost.

The back chassis is identical to the older system where you had the grey steel frame and color scheme where most colors were only found on the IO ports and nowhere else. Steel mesh is present all over the backside of the chassis that securely shrouds your components. Even the thumbscrews are grey which clearly depicts the efforts gone into making this retro-style case.

Connectivity options
Dell has gone over the fence in making this case as connectivity friendly as possible. The front packs four USB 3.2 Gen 1 ports that are three Type-A and one Type-C. It has a full-size SD card reader with a headphones jack and Blu-ray optical disk drive. The drive is super slim and blends in very easily. The backside has even more USB ports most of which, four in fact are USB 3.2 Gen 1 and two USB 2.0 ports. You’ll never run out of USB ports on this case and can easily plug-in the keyboard and mouse USB pins in the back, making it a tidy setup.

The motherboard has an HDMI and display port but they are disabled as the case, maxed-out configuration one has a discrete NVIDIA GeForce RTX 30 series card. The graphics card comes with an HDMI and three display ports allowing connection to multiple screens easier. The case also supports a wireless card, Killer Wi-Fi 6, and BlueTooth, which makes more room at the back of the case. A gigabit ethernet port is also located at the backside making it easier to harness the speed from your fiber optic connection.

Case Design
The case is pretty simple in construction but there’s more to the case than it appears. Fitting an RTX 30 series GPU inside the case, while keeping the temperatures from soaring higher, is a challenge with this design. Keep in mind that the front part has an only half area that allows air to seep in. The case does not have any extra radiator or a water-cooled loop that runs on either the processor or the graphics card.


We were brimming with curiosity to learn how the system performed under duress and if the design of the case impeded its hardware. But the results were decent considering a beefy RTX 30 series GPU and Intel i7-10700K. Both of them did not go beyond the safe thermal mark while giving superior performance in Blender, Photoshop, and Call of Duty Warzone. Cyberpunk 2077 had some lingering issues but that was on the game side and not the system.

The engineers were successful in encouraging the airflow from front to back and bringing cool air into the system. The fans did get a bit noisy when you run AAA titles. It is admissible taking into account the small fan size and the heat that RTX 30 series GPU generates.

Hardware Configuration
We went for the ultimate specs that the Dell XPS Desktop Special Edition has to provide. Our system came with an eight-core sixteen thread, i7-10700K, and the NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3070. It is a full card and not a Max-Q design. The system comes with 32 gigs of DDR4 memory that is ample unless you plan to run 10000 tabs in chrome. The configuration is pretty powerful and including an m.2 SSD with 512 GB and a 2 TB SATA drive, you can now install cod: Warzone eight times. It comes with windows 10 out of the box that is installed on the SSD and not the SATA drive.

The spec sheet is impressive but we couldn’t find a Ryzen processor option, especially the 5000 series one. It is sad to see Dell rooting for Intel when AMD is giving a ton of reasons to shift the side.

Well, the Dell XPS desktop special edition, lands heavy blows in our benchmarking tests and scores what a system of this configuration ideally should achieve. It does not stutter or freeze thanks to superb optimization by Dell. The system also lacks any bloatware that you always find on prebuilt systems. It gets hot and noisy but not to the extent that you have to run for a fire extinguisher. Even in CPU intensive games like Crysis remastered and Rise of the Tomb Raider, it runs fine with no visible throttling.


It is anything but cheap, and our variant comes at a price of almost 2200 USD. It is nowhere near to a budget build considering the 3070 alone costs a quarter of the price tag. The inclusion of no special radiator, a smaller chassis, no RGB scheme, and no water-cooled loop makes the price, a harsh one for budget builds. We chose the best possible features, so our bill landed this way, but the system configuration starts at 1000 USD, give or take a little. The only way to justify this price is the assurance that you get from purchasing a Dell.

Well, the retro style case has had our attention from the beginning we received it. It stays away from monstrous RGB lighting that blinds you with appalling color combinations. It isn’t striking RED or pink or black and does not draw attention at all. If kids saw this case, they would never power it one, possibly thinking of it as a refurbished scrap. It’s that subtle and minimalistic in design. The height is also less so you can fit in bottom desk compartments, but air-flow can present some trouble there.

The connectivity is superb on the Dell XPS Desktop Special Edition with more than extra USB, connectivity, and display ports. It even has a Blu-ray disk drive, if you dream of firing up XP games on this desktop. What hurts the most is the price, if it was around 1700 USD range without a SATA drive and the Blu-ray disk drive, it would be the best possible desktop on the market right now.

Dell XPS Desktop Special Edition will see a price cut, we hope so, otherwise, gamers are going to stick to building their cases from scratch. Pre-built systems have always been costly with this one being no exception. It can run your games and pretty much everything without breaking a sweat only if you can shell out more than 2200 bucks only for a desktop.

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