A Little Hidden Surprise

At E3 this week we were able to find a little surprise at the NVIDIA booth. A new XPS-branded system with a Core Architecture processor and new Quad SLI cards are shoved into a brand new case design.

While browsing around the booths at E3, you really never know what you might see.  Sometimes its a game that you haven’t heard anything official on or sometimes it can be a piece of hardware that just stands out.  This particular system at the NVIDIA booth was one such item. 

New Dell XPS System with Conroe and Quad SLI - Systems 5

At first, this seemed like a harmless little case with the XPS logo on it, indicating a future change to the Dell XPS lineup of desktop PCs.  The case itself is a unique design that I have been calling an “hour glass” shape that curves in at the middle.  The side panels are flat aluminum but this particular case had some art of the upcoming X-Men 3 movie on it as you can see.

But upon closer look, this little card was sitting in front of the system:

New Dell XPS System with Conroe and Quad SLI - Systems 6

So this case has more than just a pretty face, it seems to have technologies unannounced in it.  The system was obviously sporting a new, unannounced nForce chipset for the Intel platform and even more impressive, it was doing so with a Conroe processor.  The “Core Architecture Ready” line gives it all away.  If you have seen our little performance preview of the Core architecture known as Conroe, Intel’s upcoming desktop processor, then you understand why seeing Conroe with SLI is going to be very exciting. 

New Dell XPS System with Conroe and Quad SLI - Systems 7

There has been a lot of news floating around the Internet about NVIDIA’s upcoming nForce chipsets for the AM2 launch later this month, but nothing has really surfaced on the Conroe support in the nForce Intel Edition family.  This system is putting out in the open that NVIDIA has the chipset ready for it, and Dell will be among the first to launch with it.

New Dell XPS System with Conroe and Quad SLI - Systems 8

Another interesting note here was found by wedging myself in the back of the display to take this picture.  You can see that there are two video cards in the case, as we would expect with SLI.  However, the card configuration isn’t like anything currently available in retail — the most noteable difference is that the exhaust fan is ABOVE the DVI outputs on both cards.  I think I have seen that design somewhere though…and I am pretty sure we are seeing the upcoming revision to Quad SLI.  Knowing Dell’s reputation with pairing with NVIDIA on these kinds of announcements, it would make sense that we’ll see this system be the showcase for an upcoming NVIDIA Quad SLI debut.

Update: A couple of readers pointed out to me that this is in fact a BTX-based board, as I should have noticed with the blue clips being located on the left of the case.  So, the vents on the cards don’t indicate a Quad SLI setup actually, as the cards are upside down.  However, I did get other verification from NVIDIA that this is in fact a Quad SLI system, and that the cards in the case are the revised versions.  Thanks for the heads up Eric and Mike!

To summarize, by finding this system at the NVIDIA booth at E3, we seem to have discovered a brand new Dell system, the first Conroe retail chips, a new chipset and brand new video card from NVIDIA.  Dell’s upcoming XPS revision will be sporting a new nForce chipset, probably in the 500 series naming scheme, that will have support for Intel’s upcoming “Core 2” Conroe processors.  To go along with it, it appears the newest revision of NVIDIA’s Quad-SLI technology will be included in it as well.  There is no doubt that Dell, Intel and NVIDIA will be creating one of the fastest gaming PCs ever to be built; hopefully we’ll see these for sale, and the components as well, soon!

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