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Dell XPS Studio Desktop 8GB Tri-channel DDR3 Question

By yukka · 181 replies
Dec 22, 2008
  1. abstrait

    abstrait TS Rookie Posts: 59

    Yeah, it's definitely a deal for sure. I got my configuration for a hair over $900usd with two HD totaling 1.2TB, now running in RAID 0 which is one fast configuration (backups go to the external), plus the 4850. And the PSU is not even taxed with this config.

    If keeping the Dell, it will be interesting to see the solutions for the fan issues. If I keep mine, and I'm at 50/50 now, I want to get rid of the fan noise but ALSO get the temps of the processor down in the 30s if possible. Dont know if that will be easy with this case. The fan blower issue HAS to go for sure.

    ADDITION: Did you see my motherboard layout in the page before? You see that 4 pin connector for the CPU fan? That might be able to run that front case fan, too.

    Lastly, that @50C is coming with very low load. It's actually hard to get this thing above 15%!
  2. EnigmaMan

    EnigmaMan TS Rookie Posts: 24

    Hi abstrait,

    Thanks for a fascinating post.

    I noticed you've gone for the 2.66GHz processor, rather than the 2.93GHz one.

    Would there be much performance difference between the two ?

    Presumably the latter will generate even more heat and it adds a lot more to the cost of the PC.

    Do you think that the Noctua NF-B9-1600 Vortex-Control 92mm Quiet Case Fan
    should be up to the job ?

    Dell currently have a 10% discount on these machines at the moment, so I think I'm going to make a move.

    It'll be mainly used for Dot Net / MSSQL programming, with no gaming at all.

    I'm going to go with the 3GB RAM option and then buy 6GB 1333MHz RAM from Crucial and swap that out.

    I still don't understand why when I choose the 8GB RAM option (no that I'm going to) in conjunction with the basic 256MB GPU, it displays an "incompatibility warning".

    Decided not to go for a RAID HD as I think that SSDs will probably be taking over soon.

    Thanks for your valuable contributions and I'd appreciate your thoughts.
  3. Poke13

    Poke13 TS Rookie

    Hi enigma,

    Since owning my own version of this system the fans have been annoying me and are the most annoying thing on the system for sure.

    The system you are lookin at should be easily good enough for what you are planning to use it for and a lot more and I think this is why Dell will sell so many, as these machines actually do have a little bit of upgradability but it is all capped by the motherboard being very basic in comparison to other non OEM aftermarket MBs.

    In general I think they are a good deal but they do have a few niggly problems, mainly the fan and the slight hum when idling but at the price and the hardware you get you can expect it to be amazing especialy because the case is the same if not very similar to lower spec dell desktops. The biggest let down is definately the case but I suppose this is how they are so cheap, Dell did not have to design or manufacture a newer style case so passed the savings on, even the Power Supply was probably a batch left over from another lower spec'd Dell or something. All the parts are 'fine' but maybe in the long run could have done with being a little more matched to the performance of the core i7. hmm I could talk about this all day.

    I really want to get to the bottom of the case fan now as I (and abstrait) both thought it would have been the cpu fan? hmmm. All I know is I have heard it go into medium leaf blower mode when doing a virus scan or installing something, but when I encoded some mpeg video it went into turbo leafblower mode and that is the most worrying thing as to why it has to make so much noise! Argh its as if it reacts to hard drive activity and not just cpu temp hmmm.

    My thought is that its loud to try and pull as much air as a 120mm would in a bigger case but I suppose for such a system 1 case fan is a little on the bare minimum side of things!

    What do you guys think?
  4. abstrait

    abstrait TS Rookie Posts: 59

    On the Noctua NF-B9-1600 option, I'm thinking that fan might be definitely quiet enough for sure but I'm wondering if it will bring in enough air to get the i7 920 down into the 30s (also, man it's an expensive beast and two will bring a whopping $40). Right now, the average temp of the cores of my 920 is hovering around 50C which I think is a bit on the high side. Perhaps if you get TWO of those Noctua fans, replacing the rear and adding a front option, this powered by a splitter cable that comes off either the 3pin of the four pin CPU fan option near the RAM. That would surely put the cable more out of sight. I sure wish there was some way to manually control these fans. There is still no telling what in the BIOS is bringing this leaf blower case fan to life. I've still yet to hear the CPU fan make near the racket.

    When messing with the clocking of the 4850, I did hear the ATI fan cycle into higher speeds as the GPU was stressed. But this was QUIET with a capital Q compared to the 1500w hair dryer case fan.

    If I keep this computer I'm going to try the two fan approach. Still havent decided on the exact fan, however as I'm trying to find the most movement of air for the least noise, a fine balancing act. I'm figuring two would be far better than one.

    Edit: Fan Blower has been coming on like a hair dryer with an attitude ever few minutes or so lately. My core temps remain averaged between 48-52C. Ive got to see if this is solvable.

    I did get a computer parts estimate based on an AnandTech build that came in near the 1200 mark for a nice system w/ EVGA or ASUS Motherboard. It might be cheaper in the long run, to be honest.

    ---------------------- EDIT ---------------------------

    OK, I did finally get the CPU cooler fan to go into action. I was noticeable but not near as loud as the case fan's jump onto hair dryer overdrive.

    As of now, looking at the core temps and the load, I cannot deduce why MINE is coming on as it is.

    Either I get an answer/solution in the nex three days, or the beast is heading back, much as I'm not looking forward to starting all over.

  5. EnigmaMan

    EnigmaMan TS Rookie Posts: 24

    Hi abstrait,

    Thanks for your recent postings which are as informative as ever.

    It's obviously winter at the moment in the northern hemisphere, so presumably these Studio XPS machines are going to be deafening during the height of summer when temperatures are much warmer.

    Would it be worth getting the 2.93GHz Core i7 instead of the 2.66GHz one ? They cost much more and probably generate more heat, but Dell have a 10% discount on at the moment.

    I was reading a computer mag yesterday and they had a group test of eight Core i7 based machines (Dell not included) and they were criticising quite a few of them for being too noisy.
  6. abstrait

    abstrait TS Rookie Posts: 59

    You know, aside from the fan noise and high temps, this computer works and runs like a champ. Indeed, if the beast was in a case with better airflow and fans, I'm sure it would be totally fine, aside from the obvious fast that Dell's BIOS is simply too basic, leaving the user with no way to control the variables that would bring the system and the Core i7 920 to capability.

    Still, for the person that has no interest in building his or her own system, this is a compelling solution if one addresses the FAN issue with the notion that HEAT should probably be brought down along with the noise. I'm betting this can be done but it's just not there with the stock setup. On the other hand, the longevity of the system might not be that jeopardized by the slightly higher temps. I'm just wanting to bring them down, regardless.

    On the choice between the i7 920 and the i7 940, I personally dont think the 940 is worth the price, especially if you ever move this processor to another motherboard with more control. The 920 is one of the best overclock processors of the i7 bunch and can hit over 4GHz in a motherboard that has a BIOS that allow this. It's definitely the sweet spot in the lineup. Obviously, for now, there is no way to do this via Dell's BIOS. Still, I wouldnt spend the extra ducats on the processor upgrade. Don't think you'll be seeing your best return in money to performance.
  7. EnigmaMan

    EnigmaMan TS Rookie Posts: 24

    Hi abstrait,

    I don't really see why YOU should have to work out which fan is making the noise and then incur further expense to replace it. I read on other forums about this machine that customers complain to Dell (with the threat of sending the system back) that the system is unacceptably noisy and put the onus on Dell to quieten it down to acceptable level.
  8. abstrait

    abstrait TS Rookie Posts: 59

    Having had Dell computers off and on for the last near 20 years, I can tell you that sometimes it's far easier to go with a solution on your own, especially now that Dell has gotten to the size they are now, long removed from when Michael Dell was doing it way back when.

    I could write them and have them send "another fan" to replace the culprit. And in all likelihood, get the exact same fan with the same characteristics, this reported in a few posts within Dell's own forum.

    But you raise a good point. Ultimately, Dell should take care of this issue. I just think that if dealing with something like the fan issue, and dead set on keeping your machine, you might find more satisfaction just researching and solving the issue on your own, besides spending potential hours on the phone in search of someone that has the answers, with a good chance of contradiction by another representative sitting two feet away.
  9. EnigmaMan

    EnigmaMan TS Rookie Posts: 24

    So on balance then, are you intending to keep it ?
  10. abstrait

    abstrait TS Rookie Posts: 59

    Well, that's the $900 question of the moment (that's the great deal on this machine that makes it a tough call), especially as I type, listening to that fan cycle on yet again to blower levels, just this very second.

    I've gone back and forth on this and almost feel an irrational attachment to this swine machine. But to be honest, I am leaning towards sending it back and going with my own build via newegg.com. I have worked up several "wish lists" to compare and contrast component choices/prices etc.

    It is possible that one could build a very nice alternative for a few hundred more, a few hundred that you would easily spend if trying to upgrade this machine down the line.

    Unfortunately, if going this route, it would be my third computer in two months, and it's already pushing my patience. Regardless, I will have an answer to this during the weekend, contingent if they will take the beast back with no issues, of course.
  11. EnigmaMan

    EnigmaMan TS Rookie Posts: 24

    Slightly off topic I know, but can you guys please recommend a decent LCD monitor around the 22" size ?

    I was looking at the Dell SP2309W which looks quite good.

    They quote the weight as follows

    Weight :
    Weight (panel only – for VESA mount): 10.96 lbs (4.98kg) Weight (with packaging): 25.80 lbs (11.72kg)

    Does that mean it will weight 4.98kg sitting on my desk, or is that without the stand ?

    If I order that with my Studio XPS, then I can take advantage of the current 10% discount.

    Otherwise I was looking at something like the Samsung SM2263UW.

    I'd appreciate your thoughts.
  12. FEChariot

    FEChariot TS Rookie Posts: 23

    Have you tried another fan yet? Or is this still the stock fan? If you got 6gb of ram, the 4850, and a raid 0 1.2tb drive system for $900, I can't imagine you would even come close to that price by building your own.

    My fans are here as well as the extra 2gb ram module. However it will be 17 more days before I can try them out in the computer. So I can't give any fan results until then.
  13. EnigmaMan

    EnigmaMan TS Rookie Posts: 24

    I read on another forum where someone was suggesting that Dell motherboards are manufactured by Foxconn.

    I don't know if this is the case, but I wonder if they might be able to provide us with some more reliable information, especially with regards to which fan to use and whether or not the Studio XPS can have one of two motherboards according to the chosen specification (as advised by the Dell rep).
  14. abstrait

    abstrait TS Rookie Posts: 59

    I had thought we had wrapped up the two motherboard quandary for the most part. I dont even think she was meaning this anyway based on her quote, which probably just pointed to "Dimms" as sticks of RAM. This was a sales rep and not anyone in the tech department. Again, the ONLY manual for the 435MT shows the six slots. There is almost no way they made a separate motherboard just for one configuration. And in all honesty, I don't even think she was saying this in the quote anyway. If they are sending out a three slot board, they don't list it anywhere in the 435MT specs. Didnt realize that Foxconn also made some MB for Intel, Apple, HP, among others.

    See Dell 435MT Motherboard LAYOUT

    On the fans, the motherboard maker would just refer you back to Dell as they dont make the case nor the configuration that Dell uses, both critical in the determination in fan specifics. There is not a lot of mystery on this one.

    One thing I would like to ask a knowledgeable Dell tech is how the motherboard is controlling the speed of the fans and what spec are they feeding off of.

    Lastly, my PSU is dropping from 147 to 43 watts randomly, causing wild fluctuations in the MHz readout. Doing some research on this now as well. Was not doing this yesterday.

    btw, my system is still 100% stock. I am not buying anything for it until I decide to keep it.

    On the monitor question, I always thought that Dell's better monitors were a nice deal with good quality as well. Lately, I've been preferring the glossy screens for clarity and the "see-through" aspect. Seems to bring more vibrant colors. Some dont like the ability to reflect and if you are in a badly lit environment, reflection-wise, it could be a problem. On the other hand, I dont find it the case and a suitable sacrifice. I do believe the monitor you mention has a glossy screen as well. For the price, it's probably a good deal if they are running a special.
  15. EnigmaMan

    EnigmaMan TS Rookie Posts: 24

    Yes, I'm convinced that there is only one motherboard, but I just thought I'd contribute that snippet of information, because the thread will serve as an excellent point of reference for anyone requiring more information about the Studio XPS.

    Well, I know that the Studio XPS isn't without it's faults, but I still think it's a good deal and I think that Dell have a better chance of still being around in a few years time to honour their "onsite warranty" than other lesser know brands, so I've more or less decided to order one and take advantage of their current 10% discount.

    I'm very surprised that HP don't seem to have a Core i7 desktop in their range. I know that Acer have got one and I believe that they now own Gateway and Compaq.

    Thanks for your opinion on the monitors by the way.
  16. FEChariot

    FEChariot TS Rookie Posts: 23

    Taken out of context I can see why you would think that, but I did start out the conversation stating I had the 8gb option configured in a (2x1x1)*2 so why she was asking that I don't know. That she was referring to dimms as modules make the most sense to me looking back on it.

    I can understand that because most likely any other case you get will have standard 120mm fans. Then again, its only $7 plus shipping.
  17. abstrait

    abstrait TS Rookie Posts: 59

    Dell Studio XPS 435 UPDATE

    1. Refer to the post above in reference to Dell PSU varying the wattage causing the CPU-Z status reporting software to read varying clock speed. This is actually totally normal as it's the effect of the CPU power reduction mechanism : C1E (Enhanced Halt State) and/or EIST (Enhanced Intel SpeedStep Technology) for Intel CPUs, If you load the system, you will see the frequency increase to its nominal value. With this system in full effect, my CPU core temps have decreased to the lower 40s (C) under normal conditions, only rising to the lower 50s when under heavier load. Feeling much better on this. Current CPU highest core temp is 41C as I type.

    2. Another Dell Studio XPS 435MT positive found. Dell is actually using a BETTER CPU COOLER assembly then comes stock with the i7 920 CPU. The stock cooling assembly with fan has gotten mediocre reviews. I assumed that was with the Dell. I finally found photos of the stock cooler and realized the Dell Core i7 920 implementation is a big improvement, actually more like better aftermarket coolers.

    3. Fan Noise ~ I'm a little less worried about the fan noise now as I think this can be reduced with a better aftermarket fan implementation utilizing quieter bearing construction combined with rubber insulation mounts. I believe that mounting another fan in the case front will aid cooling as well, this powered with a Y-Cable to either the case or CPU fan header (making sure you dont overload). One can also buy the inexpensive fan speed control to give more user control.

    4. When you get your system (Dell or otherwise), download the following FREE programs for System Performance and Temperature Monitoring. They are a great help and work very well. All below are EXCELLENT.

    • CPU-Z (Total System Info Report)
    • GPU-Z (Graphics Card Total Report)
    • Real Temp (CPU Report and Core Temp Monitioring)
    • Core Temp (CPU Report and Core Temp Monitoring)
    Hope this helps. I'm feeling much better about the Dell solution, especially if you get your system for an incredible deal, something that can be found with some sleuthing. If not looking for a package dell, one can also increase the value/performance by opting for aftermarket RAM with better spec/build. The only reason I might be returning or selling my 435MT is the interest in building my own which would cost a few more ducats but give the ultimate control in component, system, and performance parameters for the Core i7 920.

  18. EnigmaMan

    EnigmaMan TS Rookie Posts: 24

    Hi abstrait,

    Well that all sounds a whole lot more positive.

    I called HP U.K. today to ask them for the name of their Core i7 CPU based PC. Once I'd finally got the tech expert to understand what the Intel Core i7 processor was, he informed me that HP don't currently offer a PC based on this CPU.
  19. abstrait

    abstrait TS Rookie Posts: 59

    I'm not surprised, especially if you just reached the average salesperson. With the net, you can usually learn more than 98% of sales within a short period. Add some more deligence and a modicum of mechancical understanding and you'll be able to pass a scary percentage of computer techs with only minimum effort .

    On the HP vs Dell, I think on average, Dell is made better than HP, although they are an ok consumer computer manufacturer and there are more similarities between the big names than differences. Still, if you open up the HP, they tend to be more of a rat's nest of cables. Owners like them however.
  20. FEChariot

    FEChariot TS Rookie Posts: 23

    Thanks for the info. I'll definitely get these when my machine gets here.

    Another interesting point, I wrote a review on Dell.com last Wednesday for the Studio XPS warning people about the 8gb option. They still haven't posted it. I guess they censor their bad reviews.
  21. EnigmaMan

    EnigmaMan TS Rookie Posts: 24

    They probably no longer consider it relevant now that they have finally taken notice of what people have been saying for a long time and corrected their website.
  22. abstrait

    abstrait TS Rookie Posts: 59

    Dell Studio XPS 435MT UPDATE

    Whelp, what else can we find out? Strangeness abounds across the "big pond" as my Dell 435MT has almost completely stopped going to the "high speed blower" mode of fan operation. And my i7 920 CPU core temps are down in the upper 30s to low 40s Celsius on average, rarely hitting over 42.

    So let me say this again, I don't think the "leaf blower" case fan has come on in the last 36 hours give or take, and aside from the slight extra hum of the case fan, the machine has been amazingly silent.

    In addition, my GPU temps are now in the 50s and staying there.

    So what is going on? I'm trying to figure it out. First, I noticed that my power supply was supplying less watts and throttling down when not needed. I've got a slew of stuff open at the moment with three browsers going, including the memory hog (best nicely designed and fast) Google Chrome (My FF has over 45 tabs open with 20s in IE and Chrome). With Firefox, IE 7, and Chrome along with a bank fo web design software (DW), graphic options (PSP 7 & Photoshop), and the normal FTP/file management (and my radio station broadcast running via winamp/oddcast) this thing is humming along with no fuss and a solid 147.3w.

    Well, one big difference is I've stopped removing and reattaching the side panel and disconnecting and reconnecting that case fan. The side panel has been installed with no mucking with the fan for the last 40 hours. And it seems as if the pressure or air flow within the machine, important in establishing the cooling efficiency has stabilized. That/'s the only thing I can theorize. Perhaps the system was not pulling air through with it being opened and shut. Once it settled down and developed a solid flow, front to back, it's calmed down.

    Whatever it is, I have not had one single fan burst in as as many hours as stated. This was after it was coming on like banging a gong! Very interesting. I need to add some of this stuff to the Dell site vs this more obscure forum.

  23. EnigmaMan

    EnigmaMan TS Rookie Posts: 24

    How very strange.

    Maybe it's just a "bedding in" period, after which everything just runs smoother.

    Is your room temperature any lower than it was, or outside barometric pressure, or the wind blowing in a different direct ;-)
  24. abstrait

    abstrait TS Rookie Posts: 59

    Heh... yeah, I thought of the room temperature thing but it's pretty consistent. I have an overhead ceiling fan that's OFF and was on but that's not doing it.

    I do believe in "the burning in of components" too but not sure if this is it either in this case. Could be.

    Im thinking of removing the side panel again to try and instigate another variable. I've already opened a slew of programs since posting above, just to try and get something going, including a system scan and a few huge photoshop conversions. While the processor core temps went up a bit (4c), still no fan blower mode. Really thinking that the settling of the air flow might be a factor.

    Strange indeed. Perhaps it's the moon quadrant....heh.
  25. FEChariot

    FEChariot TS Rookie Posts: 23

    The problem is that the website is still wrong. Dual channel is not really accurate either. When the 3 modules are not matched it acts as a single channel. I guess you can look at it like there are 2 single channels. So Dimms 1,2,3 are a channel and 4,5,6 are the other, Then those two are dual channel. However this would make matched modules on Dimms 1,2,3 and 4,5,6 hex channel and not tri channel so they are not consistent.

    My point is that I tried to let consumers be aware of the oversight by Dell with regards to the 8gb upgrade and Dell choose to sensor my review. They have not fixed the problem and choose to continue to exploit the consumers and try to hide information that would inform them otherwise.

    Furthermore, last week I wrote a detailed email informing them of their problem and I copied even the sales team manager and they completely ignored the email. Clearly the ethics of this company have been run into the ground since Michael Dell was building systems in his garage.

    I just want to give everyone an update. I have the machine and I updated the RAM to 9 gb in true tri channel operation. My lowly ATI 4670 is performing amazingly well for now. I changed out the dell case fan with the EVERCOOL SFF-9


    and i think i went from a 5hp leaf blower to a 3 hp leaf blower. Still a leaf blower non the less. I downloaded a sidebar tool showing ram usage and all 4 core cpu performance and I notice that I have a one core spike in cpu usage coinciding with the leaf blower mode. I notice the leaf blower mode actually more often when I am using just one firefox app with one window's media player app than when I am playing Call of Duty WAW.

    I have been running Core temp 0.99.4 and my temps are ~50C. I'm looking for a side bar that tracks temp versus time like my CPU side bar to help show the difference.

    I am able to play Call of duty WAW at max graphics with an average FPS of 60FPS with this setup so I am going to delay the upgrade to the 4870 for a while maybe even wait for the next gen ATI/Nvidia.

    I do think I am going to add a pci fan such as this one:


    Just because the temps are a little higher than I prefer. BTW I gave up on the case fan in the front because there was no easy way to mount it. The HD light and the CPU reset button got in the way.

    I think the Dell XPS is a great way to go if you know more about computers than the Dell sales team - This doesn't take much BTW.
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