Although overclocking is finally beginning to become a more mainstream effort on the desktop front, the last place many would expect to see overclocking tests would be in a notebook review. There are countless hurdles to be overcome when overclocking a mobile platform, with heat dissipation and power consumption being the most notable. However, given the sheer size of the heatsink assembly within the XPS M1710 it should be up to the challenge.
Accessible through the Performance section of the BIOS, users will find an option for "CPU Overclock Support". Here, we are given the ability to take advantage of the Intel Core 2 Duo T7600G's unlocked multiplier to effectively raise the CPU operating frequency up form the stock 2.33GHz all the way up to a healthy 3.16GHz. Unfortunately, we do not have any ability to raise core voltages to aid in the success of our overclocking attempts. However, it is still a welcomed sight to see any overclocking options at all appearing in a mobile system's BIOS.
Within the confinements of our lab, we were able to successfully overclock the Dell XPS M1710 to 3GHz with no adverse effects upon stability or performance. To ensure we were dealing with a stable system, 3DMark06 was configured to loop for six hours before we deemed the configuration acceptable. Unfortunately, our attempts to operate at the highest 3.16GHz option were met with some lackluster results as performance was actually lower and the system's behavior was flaky at best. Curious whether the system's heatsink assembly was beyond the breaking point and limiting our potential, we brought the notebook outside and introduced it to the balmy -9*F weather of New Hampshire. Even with such painfully cold temperatures, we could not obtain a stable system when operating at 3.16GHz despite being able to boot into Windows without error. We suspect the CPU throttling or was in need of a bit more voltage,although with no options in the BIOS to adjust this setting we'll never truly know.
Although 3DMark06 isn't known for huge leaps in scores when CPUs are overclocked, we still are able to see more than a 200 point increase over the stock configuration. If nothing else, this limits the chances of the CPU being the performance bottleneck for the system and allows the 512MB GeForce Go 7950 GTX to truly flex its muscles.
When running Quake4 at 1024x768, we witnessed some very impressive performance gains thanks to our overclocking attempts. Here, the jump up to 3GHz provided us with a significant 12fps boost over our stock configuration. Considering the fact that this change took less than five minutes and did not cost us a single cent, we you can't help but like that kind of result.