It wasn't too long ago that a desktop was the only form factor that could deliver on high-end gaming. While desktop replacement laptops have been around for ages, they always lagged behind desktops in terms of technology, performance and price. The situation today is quite different. While a laptop still cannot compete with a desktop in terms of price and performance, the technology and performance gaps have closed considerably. The XPS M1730 is an excellent case in point.
On offer are Intel Core 2 processors, plenty of RAM, surround sound, DirectX 10 graphics processing in SLI configurations, and hardware accelerated physics. All of this performance can be enjoyed on a wide screen monitor with a resolution of 1920x1200 and a full keyboard with a numpad. While none of that would sound particularly noteworthy had we been talking about a desktop, we are actually referring to the XPS M1730. Perhaps most surprising is that everything we just listed comes as standard equipment.
Intel Core 2 Extreme Processor X7900 (2.80GHz,4M L2 Cache,800MHz FSB)
Genuine Windows Vista Ultimate
2GB Samsung Dual Channel DDR2 SDRAM @ 667MHz - two 1 GB modules
17" UltraSharp Wide Screen WUXGA (1920x1200) display with TrueLife
2 X 256MB NVIDIA GeForce 8700M GT - SLI Enabled
Support NVIDIA SLI graphics cards
AGEIA PhysX 100M Physics Accelerator
Gigabit LAN Controller
Intel 4965 Next-Gen Wireless-N
Integrated 2.0 MP camera
2.0 Speakers with two 18mm transducers per speaker - 10 Watt Total Output Power
Sigmatel 9228 Audio Controller
Support for 5.1 channel audio output
Premium Digital Array microphones
2 x 200GB 7200 RPM SATAII hard drives (RAID0)
Toshiba TS-L632 8x DVD±RW Notebook Drive
9-cell 85WHr Li-Ion Battery
230 Watt AC Adapter
Smoke Grey with White LED Backlights
|Weight & Dimensions|
Width: 16.0" (406 mm)
Height: <2.00" (50.7 mm)
Depth: 11.9" (302.6 mm)
Weight: 10.6 lbs (4.81 kg) - includes 9-cell battery
1 x IEEE 1394a port
4 x USB 2.0 ports
1 x DVI-I port
1 x S-video Port
1 x RJ45 Ethernet (10/100/1000) port
1 x S/P DIF out (optical)
1 x 8-in-1 card reader
1 x ExpressCard 54mm slot
2 x headphone ports
1 x stereo line-in (microphone) port
Included Accessories and Extras
DVI to VGA Adapter
DVI to HDMI Adapter
Norton Internet Security 2006 Edition (15-months)
Microsoft Works 8.0
DataSafe Online Backup 10GB for 1 year
FREE Creative EP-630 Noise-Isolation Earbuds
FREE Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter 2 game
FREE Leather XPS branded binder
Warranty And Support
1 Year Return to Depot Service, Complete Care, Technical Support with Lojack (standard)
3-4 year warranty and service options available
Price: $3,824.00 USD (as configured here)
The XPS M1730 is the first laptop to incorporate a physics accelerator. Dell is offering an AGEIA PhysX 100M Physics Accelerator as standard equipment on all XPS M1730 laptops. We received this news with mixed feelings. On one hand, hardware accelerated physics is pretty neat and we've seen that it can have positive effects in games that support it. On the other hand, very few games support hardware accelerated physics and not everyone will be too thrilled that a physics accelerator with questionable benefits is mandatory. After all, "standard equipment" is not a synonym for "free equipment". We explore this subject a bit more in later pages.
Physics accelerator aside, the components available for the XPS M1730 cover just about everything you would want on a high performance gaming laptop. The base model often doesn't buy you much, but we were pleasantly surprised with how well equipped the base model M1730 is. At the very least, a M1730 will have a Core 2 Duo T7500 (2.2GHz) processor, 2GB of memory, a 120GB hard drive, DVD burner, the aforementioned physics accelerator and dual GeForce 8700M GTs in SLI. That is plenty of power for most of your mobile gaming needs.
As with any Dell system, there is a plethora of hardware options available via the online configurator if the base configuration doesn't strike your fancy. There are four color options, three processor options, three optical drive options (including Blu-ray), mobile broadband, countless hard drive configurations and plenty of accessories. Our review system priced out to $3,824 but the base model can be yours for $2,699. While not cheap, we think the price is reasonable for what you get.
Since the M1730 is billed as a gaming laptop, possibly the most important component is the video card. The XPS M1730 has that covered since they are all equipped with two GeForce 8700M GTs in SLI. The GeForce 8700M GT is a decent graphics card and it should provide sufficient power to drive the latest games, especially when paired in SLI, it's a bit disappointing that the current fastest mobile graphics card, the GeForce 8800M GTX, is not an option currently. However, we have it straight from Dell that a GeForce 8800M GTX option will be made available at some point and existing M1730 owners will be offered the option to upgrade for a fee.
Included with every XPS M1730 is Dell's standard one year warranty with in-home service, upgradeable up to four years. Also standard with every M1730 is a one year subscription to LoJack Laptop Theft Protection and a one year subscription to Dell's DataSafe Online Backup with 10GB of online storage space. Other standard Dell options like accidental damage coverage and home installation are also available, for a price. An additional benefit is exclusively offered to XPS customers in the form of access to the XPS support team. The XPS Team is made up of a group of Dell support personnel who are experienced gamers, that were hand-picked by managers and specifically trained to support XPS systems.