"Power without the sweat & tears"4.0 starson by fbbbb
Pros: Power, image, overall system setup, support.
Cons: As it stands, limited upgrade possibility, some rough edges.
Summary: I wanted a nice gaming rig, but I didn't want to spend squillions of hours playing with delicatedly balanced drivers, endlessly scouring newegg, posting on forums for compatible parts - been there done that.
In this instance the H2C was basically manna from heaven for me. It's a pre-built, reasonably hardcore gaming rig which comes fully supported (and I buy the full 3-year pack with any computer I buy). Since it's a Dell I could also use my corporate buying leverage for best prices,
There was very little I had to do to the H2C's after I received them as they arrived fully loaded partswise with nothing else I really could add - all I did was to exchange the shipped X-Fi's with the Elite Pro version and also attached the RME Fireface audio interface to each machine. As thus configured, the Elite Pros handle the gaming audio while the Firefaces handle music.
Both the H2C's have been rock-solid in use, and have proved capable performers - I'm running both with XP and have zero complaints. I can honestly say that these machines are more reliable than some for-business hardware. I have had reson to call Dell for support on the XPS 700, but not with the H2C yet as they have been totally dependable.
The power of the H2C is undoubted but I'm still disappointed at how little that power is used in many present titles and software in general, so it doesn't always feel as fast as it should be - although the 8800GTX's contribute most noticeably to the perception of speed. Hopefully this will become less of a problem as multicore becomes the de facto way to go.
The case is a great piece of work, if distinctly hernia-inducing. If you have to put this anywhere but the ground floor, I hope you have friends or a lift. It has some rough edges especially on the front panel which given the price and the level that this system is pitched at makes it feel unnecessarily cheap, but in terms of the overall look it's like a piece of military hardware and makes virtually every other PC - even those with similar-sized cases - seem positively wimpy. Despite this the look isn't overblown and thankfully you can change the external LED lights to a tasteful shade, or turn it off altogether.
The other problem of high-performance gaming PC's is noise, and many of the boutique manufacturers seem to just hang as many (low-noise these days, but still 'dumb' in most cases) fans as they think is necessary and leave it at that. Dell's H2C system and fans do an audibly more intelligent job of cooling than other power machines I've used.
I must say that I had some reservations regarding the upgradability of the machines but I wasn't too worried about it as I will most likely pass the PC down after 2-3 years. However with Dell's recently announced upgrade path, I feel better about it and will probably take advantage of the offer, and use that opportunity to upgrade the systems to Vista.
If the front panel was better accomplished, I'd be happy to give the H2C a 9 as it is by far the best all-round home machine I've had to date. As it is I'm dropping a mark for that, because quality everywhere counts at this relatively rarified level.