But my biggest concern by far is the amount of heat and noise that the Inspiron 9100 produces. Even something as simple as typing this review made the underside too hot to keep on my lap, and no, I wasn’t wearing shorts. The noise issue is there all the time, although you might not notice this in an office or at a LAN party with a lot of other PCs around while you’re in Windows. You will however, notice the noise as soon as you start playing a game. There are two exhaust fans that blow most of the hot air out the back through two vents which in turn produce an extremely loud whooshing noise.
Then there is the small issue of the weight, since the Inspiron 9100 weighs no less than 4.38kg fully kitted out, which is about twice that of your average Centrino notebook. But then again, the Inspiron 9100 is not targeting the mobile office worker and we have seen both larger and heavier machines before, but I still wouldn’t want to carry it for too long in my backpack.
You might wonder why I haven’t mentioned the battery life, well, that’s because I couldn’t test it as such, since it was too short for Mobilemark 2002 to be able to finish one run. You should be able to get about an hour of Windows use out of it, but forget about playing games unless it’s plugged in.
Well, I mentioned that the Inspiron 9100 was fast, and it really is fast, with an overall score of 306 in SYSmark 2002 it’s very close to the performance of a desktop system. But it’s in the 3D benchmarks that this little beauty really shines. Fire up a game and the Mobility Radeon 9800 will run pretty close to a Radeon 9800XT desktop part and have no problem beating a GeForce FX 5900XT card. It is amazing to see a laptop that is so quick in the 3D benchmarks, with most games playable at 1,280 x 1,024, as long as you don’t apply too many filters.
But if the 3D performance is amazing, the price is truly staggering. At £1,643.83 including VAT but excluding delivery, the Inspiron 9100 is an absolute bargain considering what you get for your money. Personally I’m a little put off by the noise pollution and the fairly average built quality – this is a real shame as this is one powerful machine. Nonetheless, my reservations aside, if you want a mobile gaming PC, this is definitely the one to go for. It may not quite have the brute CPU power of the Rock Xtreme!, but when pushing 3D polygons around, the Dell leaves even the Rock for dead.
The Inspiron 9100 is the most powerful notebook I have so far encountered with super fast graphics, a good range of features and an excellent display. It’s a shame that the build quality doesn’t match the rest of the specification and that it produces so much noise, but you are getting a hell of a lot for your money.
If you are interested in purchasing the Dell Inspiron 9100 please enter the following e-value code on the Dell UK website - PPUK5 - N0899R