GDC 2006: Dell fires up $10,000 enthusiast PC
San Jose (CA) - Dell today announced the most expensive consumer PC the company has offered in several years. The XPS 600 Renegade comes with any feature a computer enthusiast could desire these days. There's a heavily overclocked dual-core Pentium processor, four graphics processors with 2 GB of memory, a standalone physics processor and a 30" display. Dell has been trying for some time to attract the attention of computer enthusiasts with its XPS series gaming PCs. Despite latest technology, the success of the high-end XPS machines has been meager and could not hide the fact that any XPS is a mass market product with limited appeal to enthusiasts.
In January, Dell announced that it would take another try to crack the gaming crowd with an extreme PC that would be closer to what enthusiasts typically buy from manufacturers such as Alienware, Voodoo PC or Falcon Northwest. This machine arrived today and is certain to gain the attention of a target group that did not take Dell seriously so far.
The XPS 600 Renegade is a limited production PC that includes everything that you may be looking for in a package that starts at $9930. At the core of the PC is a Pentium D 965 Extreme Edition processor that has been overclocked from 3.73 to 4.26 GHz. Other components include 2 GB DDR2-667 memory, a 160 GB 10,000 RPM WD Raptor as well as a second WD 400 GB 7200 RPM hard drive. The Renegade also comes with a quad-SLI system that includes four GeForce 7900 GTX graphics processors with a total of 2 GB of GDDR3 memory.
A unique feature, at least for now, is the integration of a discrete board with an Ageia Physx processor to enable physics processing. Dell did not provide further details and specifications of the PhysX board. Surprisingly, Dell decided to equip the system with a 650W power supply that is supported by two external 150W power supply bricks. Other enthusiast PC makers typically choose a single 850W or even a 1000W unit in quad-SLI systems.
Besides a DVD burner, a surround speaker set, and a higher-end sound card, the Renegade package also includes Dell's 35-pound 30" LCD, which offers a resolution of 2560 x 1600 pixel and a contrast ratio of 700:1.
Almost $10,000 for a PC is a lot of money and will be hard to swallow for many users - and some features may not even be attractive for hardcore gamers - such as a quad-SLI system that actually may result in less frame rate performance in some games than a single card system. But if you are looking for the best that money can buy today than even this hefty price tag could be considered a bargain: For example, comparable high-end PC from Alienware and VoodooPC check in at about $8500 - without a physics board and a 30" monitor, which currently sells for $2200 on Dell's Web site.
But Dell isn't interested in offering more value than Alienware & Co anyway. Expensive flagship products often have the sole purpose of improving a brand image. And it will be up to the enthusiast community to decide if the Renegade is up to the job.