I tested Starfield on a Dell XPS 8960 desktop and here’s my big discovery

I’m ready to embrace PC gaming all over again.

All it took was a trip to New Atlantis.

I have a long history of playing video games, starting years ago on video game systems that don’t even exist anymore. I’ve also kept up on the more recent game systems, but in the back of my mind, I’ve always felt like my true allegiance is to the big monster computer rigs of old.

There’s a reason for that, and it’s configuration. I recently tested the Dell XPS 8960 desktop, which is not exactly intended for gaming, but found that, with the right configuration, it’s a total powerhouse. Sure, it looks like something you’d use to write Word documents or take Zoom calls. Yet, inside the black enclosure with subtle accents (it’s business-oriented especially compared to one that glows and has a see-through case) there’s a beefy Intel Core i7 processor, a capable graphics card, and loads of RAM.

To be more specific, the Dell XPS I tested has a Core i7-13700K processor (that’s right, the one with liquid cooling), 32GB-DDR5 of RAM running at 4800MHz, a GeForce RTX 4080 graphics card, and a speedy 1TB NVMe SSD. That’s a monster machine hiding in a subtle case.

An important point to make here is that, when you buy a video game console like the Sony PS5, you don’t have a ton of options. You can buy the “digital” version, for example, for $399 or the standard model for $499. You are essentially stuck with the configuration. Of course, the advantage is that developers then fine-tune the game to work with that exact hardware.

That said, when you buy the Dell XPS 8960, you can adjust all of the specs to match what you want to do. I wanted to play Starfield, a new open world game that reminds me of the glory days when PC gaming was the only option available. To play the game, you need at least the NVIDIA GeForce 1070 Ti GPU card, an Intel Core i7-6800K CPU, 16GB of RAM, and a 125GB SSD. 

So what’s it like? My big surprise discovery is that the game feels nimble and light, almost as though it was made for this desktop. I never had any slowdowns or problems. The game loaded quickly, looked stunning, and captured my attention from the opening cutscene. By the time I arrived at New Atlantis, I was thoroughly impressed with that extra RAM and the speed.

The desktop has plenty of ports right in the font of the desktop, including a memory card slot, three normal USB ports, and one USB-C port. That USB-C port cam in handy for a webcam I’m also testing, and I was able to plug in an Xbox controller and a charge cable for my phone.

For those familiar with the XPS line, the 8960 provides some nice config options. With the two DIMM slots, you can use two 32GB cards for 64GB of RAM total at 4800MT. The PSU is also upgradeable to 1000W. Dell normally includes the MS116 mouse and KB216 keyboard with this model, but I also tested the more pro-level KM7321W mouse and keyboard combo.

All of these upgrades, the subtle design, speedy operation — and primarily the fact that Starfield ran like a dream — made me think this is a desktop that can handle tough chores for work but will also be a great system for Starfield and other new titles, like Baldur’s Gate 3. I’m excited to get back into PC gaming when I’m not working on those Word docs.

Note: Our reviews are always 100% independent but Gearadical receives a small affiliate amount if you purchase the product on Amazon.