Dell XPS M1730 review

£2054
Price when reviewed

Dell’s largest XPS laptop, the M1730, is no shrinking violet. The front of the chassis is dominated by a panel of aggressively slanted media buttons, while bright lights glare from a pair of speaker bays. The lid is covered with gun-metal grey patterns, and a pair of huge lights proudly bear the XPS logo.

Dell XPS M1730 review

While it’s fair to say that the Dell sits at the garish end of the spectrum, a few minutes with the M1730 made us realise just how luxurious it is: behind the strident faade is plenty of solid build quality. Neither the wristrest nor the 17in screen would give at all, despite our best efforts, and this sizeable laptop is one of the sturdiest on test.

The chassis matches its loud exterior with plenty of exciting components. The 2.5GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T9300 is a tremendously capable processor and, paired with a generous 4GB of RAM, it achieved a 2D benchmark score of 1.30. It’s only beaten by a handful of other systems this month.

Games performance is just as impressive as the 2D results. In our medium-quality Crysis test, the Dell hit 46fps – the best result on test.

The stunning games performance comes courtesy of a pair of GeForce 8800M GTX graphics chips running in SLI configuration. It’s the only dual-card system on test this month, and it allows the Dell M1730 to handle almost every modern game at decent quality settings.

For all of this fantastic performance, though, the Dell isn’t without its problems. Battery life is poor: the M1730 lasted 1hr 6mins in our light-use test, and five minutes fewer when tasked with more demanding work. Couple this with the hefty weight and it’s clear that lengthy sessions of Crysis on the train journey home look a mite unrealistic.

As a luxury laptop to keep at home, however, few can beat the Dell. Fantastic benchmark results in 2D and 3D tests make this a gamer’s dream – but only if you can afford the hefty price.

Warranty

Warranty 1yr collect and return

Physical specifications

Dimensions 406 x 301 x 59mm (WDH)
Weight 5.300kg
Travelling weight 6.7kg

Processor and memory

Processor Intel Core 2 Duo T9300
Motherboard chipset Intel PM965
RAM capacity 4.00GB
Memory type DDR2
SODIMM sockets free 0
SODIMM sockets total 2

Screen and video

Screen size 17.0in
Resolution screen horizontal 1,920
Resolution screen vertical 1,200
Resolution 1920 x 1200
Graphics chipset 2 x Nvidia GeForce 8800M GTX
Graphics card RAM 1.00GB
VGA (D-SUB) outputs 0
HDMI outputs 0
S-Video outputs 1
DVI-I outputs 1
DVI-D outputs 0
DisplayPort outputs 0

Drives

Capacity 400GB
Hard disk usable capacity 360GB
Spindle speed 7,200RPM
Internal disk interface SATA/300
Hard disk Seagate ST9200420ASG
Optical disc technology DVD writer
Optical drive Dell HLDS GSA-T21N
Battery capacity 7,600mAh
Replacement battery price ex VAT £75
Replacement battery price inc VAT £86

Networking

Wired adapter speed 1,000Mbits/sec
802.11a support yes
802.11b support yes
802.11g support yes
802.11 draft-n support yes
Integrated 3G adapter no

Other Features

Wireless hardware on/off switch yes
Wireless key-combination switch no
Modem no
USB ports (downstream) 4
FireWire ports 1
PS/2 mouse port no
9-pin serial ports 0
Parallel ports 0
3.5mm audio jacks 3
SD card reader yes
Memory Stick reader yes
MMC (multimedia card) reader yes
Smart Media reader no
Compact Flash reader no
xD-card reader yes
Pointing device type Touchpad
Audio chipset SigmaTel HD Audio
Speaker location Front edge, base
Hardware volume control? yes
Integrated microphone? yes
Integrated webcam? yes

Battery and performance tests

Battery life, light use 1hr 6min
Battery life, heavy use 1hr 1min
Overall application benchmark score 1.30
3D performance (crysis) low settings 87fps
3D performance setting Low

Operating system and software

Operating system Windows Vista Home Premium
OS family Windows Vista
Recovery method Recovery partition
Software supplied Creative Live Cam, Roxio Creator DE 10.1

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