The XPS M1730 uses a proprietary BIOS that will be familiar to Dell owners. The collapsible menu, complete with scroll bar, is easily recognizable and visually sets it apart from the Award and Phoenix derived BIOS commonly seen on OEM products.
We are a big fan of the proprietary Dell BIOSes used in their XPS machines. They all share the same basic layout and superb navigation scheme. The BIOS features a collapsible menu system and is completely self-documented. The BIOS is very approachable and user friendly, avoiding use of jargon and abbreviations. Each page also contains an explanation of the options available on the page and what they do. While the built-in documentation isn't too detailed, it actually beats the user manuals of many OEM motherboards we have seen in the past, and of course the M1730's user manual contains more information should you need it.
The BIOS screen is formated into three separated areas. The bottom of the screen contains a listing of the currently available controls while the left side is dominated by the collapsible menu. The main content appears in the center. We found the menu to be easy to use and well organized. It never took more than a few seconds to figure out where a particular option was. Overall, most of the standard options are there, such as hard drive adjustment, system information, power management options, onboard device management and boot order selection. As is typical for XPS machines, the BIOS contains more advanced options than those seen in other Dell systems.
There are nine sub-menus in the collapsible menu system; System, Onboard Devices, Video, Security, Performance, Power Management, Maintenance, POST Behavior, Wireless. The System menu contains eight pages all related to providing system information. The time, date and boot sequence settings are also found here. The Video menu has two pages which let you set the brightness of the LCD monitor when under battery power and when AC power is connected. The Maintenance menu displays your system's Service Tag and it also contains the Load Defaults option.
Of particular interest is the Performance menu which contains five pages of advanced options. The most interesting page, is titled CPU Overclock Support. This page allows you to overclock the processor by increasing the clock multiplier. We were allowed four different clock speeds to choose from, the processor's default clock speed of 2.8Ghz, and overclocked speeds of 3.0GHz, 3.2Ghz, and 3.4Ghz. Our review system is equipped with a Core 2 Extreme X7900 processor which features an unlocked multiplier. Note that M1730's equipped with a T7500 or T7700 (the other two processor options) may not have the overclocking option available since their clock multiplier is locked. Front side bus overclocking is, not surprisingly, unavailable.
The Onboard Devices menu contains a large number of options for disabling and controlling the built-in devices like the integrated LAN controller. LED options are also found in this menu. Many of the same LED options offered by the Dell Quickset utility we described on an earlier page are available here such as LED colors and intensity. Another interesting option, called Auto Power On, can be found in the Power Management menu. This option allows you to configure the system to automatically turn on at a specific time every day, or only on week days. The actual time when the system is supposed to automatically power on is adjusted on a separate page in the same menu.
The Security menu contains all of the options related to admin password and the system password. When set, the M1730 will prompt for the system password it is powered on, restarted or when it resumes from S3 standby. The admin password prohibits changes to the BIOS settings and it can also be used as a substitute for the system password. There are also several password bypass options that can be set to cause the system to bypass password prompts on warm boots (restart), and resume on standby. Lastly, the Wireless menu allows you to individually toggle Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and Cellular devices if they are installed. You can also select which wireless devices the hardware wireless switch located on the right side of the laptop toggles.