Dell XPS 700 upgrades to Core 2 Duo, Extreme on time, but will it ship?

Posted by Scott M. Fulton, III

Round Rock (TX) - Keeping one promise Dell Computer chairman Michael Dell made earlier this month to have Core 2 Duo and Core 2 Extreme processors available in top-of-the-line models "day and date" with Intel's release, the company has modified the buildout components available for its XPS 700 series computers, with the new processors now available. But will Dell Computer be able to keep an even bigger promise: specifically, shipping XPS systems its customers have already ordered?

Today, Dell's Web site now lists starter prices for XPS 700 at $2,270. However, just how many of those lower-end models of what could undoubtedly be described as the Hummer of the computer world, is debatable. We polled Dell's database today for a system similar to the demonstrator we saw in Grapevine, with a Core 2 Extreme processor, 4 GB of RAM, 1.5 TB total of RAID array drives, an Ageia PhysX card, a 30" monitor, 1 KW power supply, and the limited edition red case. That took us up to $8,043, not including shipping and, most likely, police escort.

Since our original story last 11 July, multiple readers wrote TG Daily to tell us they were experiencing inordinate delays in shipments of XPS 700 units they had ordered prior to the Core 2 Duo upgrade. Many customers on Dell's Web site report shipment delays of several months, dating back to the unit's original release as a Pentium D 950 system last May; and some customers were apparently told, perhaps inadvertently, that no XPS 700 units had ever been shipped at all.

Customers reported some of the delay excuses supplied by Dell's customer support included lack of availability of Nvidia graphics cards, retooling of the system case, and problems with the nForce 590 chipset - the most noteworthy one being that it didn't actually exist. One customer reported a delay of several weeks which ended up being due, according to information received from the pre-order status page, to the speakers the customer ordered having yet to be produced. Another customer shared what was apparently the log of an online chat session with a Dell customer support agent, who advised that customer that, in the future, he would be wise to stay away from ordering parts that didn't exist.

On Dell's corporate blog, XPS product team representative Mary Joseph posted the following explanation last week: "Due to the delays many of you have experienced, we will provide an option of either a free upgrade to a Core 2 Duo processor or a Dell gift card for all those who have ordered systems as of up until July 18, 2006. We ask for your continued patience as we roll out communication to our customer care and sales teams. Customers should wait until Dell contacts them regarding the status of their orders."

As of today, some customers reported learning that XPS 700 systems ordered back in June have yet to be assembled. "Manufacturing is slowly starting to get these out," a Dell customer advocate is cited as having written via e-mail. "I am sorry for the confusion with this and am very sorry for the delay."

See the upgraded Dell XPS 700 in our slide show ...