Dell XPS M1730 Notebook Review - Intel Core 2 Duo X9000 Powered
Hardware Overview Evaluation
Reading through the XPS system’s hardware configuration is similar to reading a gamer’s Christmas wish list. In nearly every category, the absolute fastest hardware is present. The latest Intel Penryn-based processor is along for the ride and brings a hefty 6MB of cache for good measure. On the graphics front, the system’s two 512MB GeForce 8800M GTX modules are the fastest mobile GPUs money can buy today and provide enough power to fuel the gorgeous 17” WUXGA panel and its hefty 1920x1200 native resolution. With games like Crysis taxing systems today and upcoming titles certain to require additional horsepower, the ability to have SLI enabled on a notebook is certainly a welcome addition. One wildcard of sorts for the XPS notebook would be the inclusion of an AGEIA PhysX PPU. This discrete physics processing card is largely ignored by most PC games as it is not fully supported. However, with the launch of 3DMark Vantage we are beginning to see some tangible benefits for the card today. Given NVIDIA’s recent
acquisition of AGEIA and the push to bring PhysX to GPU’s, it is likely we’ll see a stark increase in game developer support for this API as well.
Although we are looking at the latest version of the Dell XPS M1730, the overall aesthetic is the same today as it was when the platform launched in October 2007. Equipped with a bolder and more aggressive appearance than the XPS M1710, the look of the XPS M1730 might be a bit too loud for some. Fortunately, Dell offers the system in four different accent colors including Sapphire Blue, Crimson Red, Bone White, and Smoke Grey. The Smoke Grey sample we received for testing is far more understated than some of the brighter colors and will likely be the color option of choice for those looking for a more classic aesthetic. However, for those gamers who are fans of World of Warcraft and aren’t afraid to show it, Dell has created a limited edition version of their XPS notebook. The XPS M1730 – World of Warcraft Edition comes with original Honor Badge designs as well as customized WOW art on the back of the LCD panel and hinge covers.
Looking at the left of the system, we find a numbers of various features and connection ports. Moving from the front of the system backwards we see three audio ports, optical drive, media card reader, Firewire port, USB port, S-Video port, and DVI port.
The back of the system is surprisingly bare with only a single USB port, Ethernet port, and AC power port present on the rear panel. The remainder of the real estate on the back of the system is delegated to ventilation with the massive radiators of the internal heatsink assemblies peering through the slotted openings in the chassis.
The right of the system is also somewhat desolate with 2 USB ports, Kensington lock port, Expresscard slot, and a WIFI button and switch occupying the entire side. The large switch is simply a means to enable to disable the internal WIFI card to aid in conserving battery life. However, the small radio button is actually a means of launching an interesting “WIFI Catcher” utility that allows the user to browse all available WIFI networks within the immediate area and see their signal strength.
One additional feature Dell has included is a cool multimedia remote control which is designed to fit into the Expresscard slot if it is not being used. Given the small size of the remote, it is a great feature being able to always have the remote around without having to remember it or possibly misplace it.
Turning the notebook over and looking at the bottom of the system, we find three main bays and a wealth of ventilation. Once again, we can see the meaty heatsink assemblies and looming through the slots in the chassis. Here, we can clearly see the system relies upon three fans to keep the system’s temperature under control. Unscrewing the centermost bay cover, we find two SO-DIMM slots which can accommodate up to 4GB in total. The medium-sized bay to the side houses the two SATA hard drives which are stacked on top of each other. Lastly, the 9-cell battery can be removed by sliding the appropriate button and pulling up on a small ridge on the housing.
Nestled on the front of the system, we have a collection of multimedia control buttons. Hidden underneath these buttons lies an IR port to allow for additional control buttons.
Opening the lid of the system, we find a surprisingly clean and classic aesthetic. Here, a matte silver keyboard with white LED backlighting is surrounded by the same faux-carbon finish on the outside of the system. However, the LCD is adorned with a glossy-black finish which nicely offsets the chrome Dell logo. Somewhat hidden at the top of the LCD panel is a webcam with an impressive 2.0MP resolution.