The Bottom Line
- + Price
- + Upgradable
- + Supports 13th Gen Intel CPUs
- + Plenty of options
- - Proprietary motherboard
- - Proprietary PSU
Should you buy it?AvoidConsiderShortlistBuy
Introduction and Pricing
It has been a while since we had a desktop system in for testing, but we were lucky enough to snag an XPS 8950 from Dell just as we finished the XPS 9315 just a few weeks back. As most know, XPS is still the flagship brand for Dell, while Alienware is the premium gaming brand. That said, the XPS still offers a strong platform that can be configured for gaming if one doesn't like the aesthetic of Alienware platforms. The 8950 is a very configurable system, as seen in the image below, so let us see how our review was spec'd out.
Before diving in, I will note that our review system was configured with the 12600K. At the time of writing, I could not configure the system as sent on the Dell.com website, so we chose the 12700 non-K for pricing reasons.
Moving on, the XPS 8950 is an Intel 600 series chipset platform. It can be spec'd with any CPU from the 12400 to the 12900K. As mentioned above, our unit was sent with the 12600K. Memory is DDR5, 16GB in a two-stick configuration running at 4400MHz. Further, our XPS 8950 includes the NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3060 Ti LHR with 8GB of GDDR6, and storage consists of a 2TB NVMe and 1TB SATA HDD. Allowing for expansion, the XPS 8950 has several PSU options, ours coming with the 750W unit. We also added water cooling just for the extra thermal headroom in testing.
The MSRP for this system comes in at $1717.99 at the time of writing. Dell includes a one-year warranty along with available 24/7 support.
The XPS 8950, BIOS and Software
Packaging and BIOS
Unboxing the XPS 8950, we are graced by a mostly white chassis with the front I/O painted silver. At the top, you will find the power button followed by a full-size card reader, a 3.5mm audio jack, three USB 3.2 ports, and USB-C at the bottom. Also of note, this unit does have an optical drive installed.
Moving to the backside, at the top, you will find a thumbscrew to release the side panel of the chassis. We then move down into the exhaust fan and rear I/O. This includes a full set of rear audio outputs and DisplayPort. Further down, you'll note another set of four USB-A ports and another USB-C.
At the bottom, we have the PSU and its input, and above, the GeForce RTX 3060 Ti and its four DP and one HDMI ports.
Opening the XPS 8950, Dell manages the cable arrangement quite well. Starting at the top, we have two cages for 3.5" HDDs, one occupied by our IronWolf drive. Moving down into the system, Dell uses a custom motherboard; even the form factor is not a DIY standard. It offers multiple NVMe slots and is a four-slot DDR5 motherboard that can handle 128GB of memory. The CPU is socketed, so there is room for an upgrade. Further down, we note everything snapped into place, including cooling fans and the GPU itself.
The BIOS is basic and includes the main menu showing the installed hardware configuration.
The advanced menu does include options for core configuration along with HT and Speed Step. Further down, you will find support for resizable bar support and SATA/NVMe operation mode.
Dell includes overclocking features in the BIOS. Though simplified, it does allow several levels.
My Dell is the software included with the XPS 8950. This includes model identification and warranty support on the right panel.
Exploring the software, the menu above allows for personalization control, device manager, and system health.
Dell Cinema moves into sound and network traffic control with CinemaStream.
As seen above, we have CPUz shots for both the CPU and memory.
As noted, our 8950 came with the 3060 Ti installed.
Cinebench, Crossmark and AIDA64
Cinebench is a long-standing render benchmark that has been heavily relied upon by both Intel and AMD to highlight their newest platforms during unveils. The benchmark has two tests, a single-core workload that will utilize one thread or 1T and a multi-threaded test that uses all threads or nT of a tested CPU.
Starting with R23, the XPS landed us 1902 single thread and 17333 for multi-thread.
Throwing the 8950 into our charts, we have just one comparison machine in the ThinkStation outfitted with the 12900.
Above we tossed our nT results into our chart.
CrossMark allowed a score of 1911; this includes 1822 in productivity and 2051 in creativity. Responsiveness landed in 1786.
Moving that data to charts, the XPS holds its own, grabbing a better score in responsiveness.
Above, we have the memory bench results for 8950 with throughput running between 52K and 58K while latency is quite high at 92ns.
Throwing those results into our charts, the 8950 has considerable latency from the stock DDR5 modules. It's 10ns slower than the ThinkStation using DDR5 SODIMMs.
3DMark and Gaming
Getting into 3DMark, the XPS landed a single-thread score of 986 and a sixteen-thread score of 8019.
In comparison, we still have the ThinkStation alongside the 8950.
Time Spy landed an overall score of 11374, slightly above average for the hardware and capable of 105 FPS+ in BFV.
Back to our charts, the XPS 8950 performs better in gaming than the productivity-focused ThinkStation.
Hitting the storage benchmark, the XPS 8950 landed with a score of 2750, with bandwidth at 476.32.
Procyon results were quite good and on par with what we found testing a host of Z690 boards last gen with our 12600K. 6501 for Photo and 6792 for Office.
I tagged a few extra benches in here for the 8950. One was WEBXPRT4, scoring 316 points.
Value and Final Thoughts
Price v Performance landed well for the 8950, given the small number of platforms in our charts.
Dell's XPS 8950, while a 12th Gen Intel platform, is a good starting point for a nervous newbie just getting into gaming or streaming who is still deciding about building a machine. It offers the performance expected of its components, as we noted in our testing, and does not require all the knowledge needed when putting together a system yourself. It's upgradeable to a point; this includes memory, CPU, and GPU, and if configured correctly when ordering can support the absolute best components available.
In our testing, while limited on pre-built comparisons, the XPS 8950 did quite well and aligned with what we saw evaluating many Z690 motherboards with our 12600K last generation. R23 provided 1902 single thread and 17333 nT. While looking at CrossMark, we saw a fantastic score for responsiveness and productivity. Procyon performed where we expected, with a slightly higher score in Office, though Photo was just a little behind. We did do limited game testing on the XPS, Time Spy showing a score of 11374, which ended up slightly above average for the components.
As with all pre-built systems, it is always hard to justify pricing because "you can build it cheaper." On that note, we attempted just that, using Newegg.com to build a system as close as possible to the unit sent to us from Dell. We saved about $100 overall by choosing a Z690 motherboard from ASRock, the 12600K, a 3060 Ti from MSI, and Sabrent DDR5. Storage was the 980 Pro in the 2TB configuration, and we found a decent Corsair 750W PSU. The total came in at $1649.
On the flip, the XPS 8950 is coming at you around $1700, a $50 premium, but that does include support and a one-year warranty. If anything goes wrong with the system, you do not get that when you build your own machine.
The Bottom Line
With its available configurations, the Dell XPS 8950 is a good platform for any gamer, streamer, or creative professional to get their start.