Taking a step back and looking at the Dell XPS M1710, it is easy to see why this system should be considered one of the most exceptional notebooks available on the market today. Equipped with the fastest mobile components money can buy, the XPS notebook offers unbelievable performance in nearly any benchmark. Somewhat surprisingly, the advanced efficiency features of that hardware results in very respectable battery life for a notebook of this caliber. Add to that the unique customizable aesthetic and relatively low ~8lb weight and you have what could be the ideal combination of size, speed, and performance for a power user notebook.
At the end of the day, nearly every aspect of the XPS M1710 has been tailored around the hardcore gaming community. The wild appearance and ability to customize the color of the various LEDs beaming from within the system lets casual bystanders know they are not looking at a standard notebook. Taking into consideration the flagship Intel Core Duo processor and 512MB NVIDIA GeForce Go 7900 GTX graphics card and we realize "standard" is the last word which should be used to describe this system. When combined with a hefty 2GB of DDR2 memory and a stunning 17" WUXGA LCD panel running at 1920x1200, nearly any game on the market can be played at high resolutions with enhanced image quality settings with absolutely butter-smooth framerates. Chances are, if the XPS notebook was brought to a LAN party it would likely be faster than the vast majority of desktop systems there. Having the ability to pack the notebook and a mouse and be on your way with no sacrifice over performance is certainly a compelling reason for LAN addicts to give their attention to the XPS M1710 for their next system purchase.
As is evident by the non-gaming benchmarks within this review, the XPS M1710 is also more than capable of handling taxing applications besides the latest and greatest games. Here, the level of hardware within the system gives ample performance headroom to please even the most discerning power user. In this respect, the Dell notebook is extremely versatile as it can literally be used for any application with no compromises compared to using a desktop. Users will certainly appreciate the real estate afforded by the 17" widescreen LCD's 1920x1200 resolution and will be pleasantly surprised by the quality of sound coming from the notebook's 2.1 sound system.
Were we to try to find fault anywhere with the system, our only issues would focus around the accessibility and ability to upgrade the core components. Although an act only a handful of owners would ever undertake, accessing the CPU and GPU are anything but trivial. Although removing the keyboard teases users with a glimpse of the hardware, there are several more involved steps which must be taken to have complete access. Somewhat ironically, Dell has minimized this issue as there are no GPU upgrade options available for the system, at least at the moment. Although unfair to blame Dell directly, it is frustrating to know that notebook vendors have all the tools to create a clear upgrade path for GPU modules thanks to NVIDIA's MXM format. For one reason or another, however, consumers have yet to see any such upgrade path come to fruition. After spending upwards of $3000 on a system, it would certainly be a welcomed addition to know you could upgrade to the latest and greatest graphics card down the road once it became available. Here, we realize that the lack of SLI functionality on the XPS system further hurts this upgrade path as users cannot purchase a second GPU to increase performance either.
In the most economical configuration, the XPS M1710 can be purchased for a reasonable $2400, relatively speaking. However, to purchase the same configuration we've tested today one would be looking at a hefty $3880. With that said, it is important to realize that for $3880, consumers are buying what is arguably the fastest notebook on the planet today. Obviously, there are a wide range of configuration and cost options in between these two extremes which allow the user to truly tailor the system around their needs. Although the notebook certainly won't be considered "cheap" by any means, buyers do get the comfort of Dell's service, warranty, and reputation.
In short, the Dell XPS M1710 is an ideal solution for anyone looking to have desktop-class power and functionality within a notebook. Whether you're an avid gamer, power user, or multimedia junky the XPS system is certainly aimed to please. Although we've tested other high-end notebooks here in the past, no system to date has been able to provide the sheer level of performance and versatility we have seen in testing the XPS M1710. When factoring in the warranty, service, aesthetics, and performance of the system, it is hard to find a more desirable notebook than the XPS system. Though we would love to have seen the obscene numbers the XPS would have achieved were it offered with an SLI configuration, we were still nothing short of blown away by the system's overall performance. With this in mind, we have no choice but to award the Dell XPS M1710 a rating of 9 on the Hot Hardware Heat Meter and are giving it an Editor's Choice away. We thoroughly recommend this system to anyone in the market for a new DTR notebook.
._Dual-Core CPU Support
._512MB Flagship GPU
._Surprisingly capable 2.1 speaker configuration
._Unique customizable aesthetics
._Strong support and backing by Dell
._Relatively light and easy to carry for a DTR
._Currently no SLI Option
._Difficult to directly access CPU or GPU