As I mentioned in the review of the rather awkwardly named Rock X770 T7800-8800, there are always going to be people that don't see the point of the gaming notebook. In that instance the Rock was the perfect tonic, thanks largely to the GeForce 8800M GTX - the first DX10 mobile solution worth the name. However, today I'm looking at a notebook that would doubtless confirm to those sceptics that they were right all along.
On paper, at least, the Dell XPS M1730 ought to be a great gaming machine. As standard it comes equipped with two 256MB GeForce 8700M GTs running in SLI as well as the "World's First" mobile Ageia PhysX chip, which is intended to provide independent physics acceleration for gaming. It has a 17in, 1,920 x 1,200 display, is available in a variety of colours and a bit like a Christmas tree, or the front of a house (depending on your locale), it's adorned with various bits of colourful lighting. So, what's the problem?
Well, to set the ball rolling it doesn't help that various quarters have hyped the machine to a level that's completely unwarranted. Claims such as the ability to play a game like Crysis at "full resolution" and "with ease" aren't so much ridiculous, but laugh out loud hilarious when you consider that even far more powerful desktop systems struggle. Throw in a few arbitrary numbers from 3DMark06 and it's a recipe for a lot of misleading headlines, which does nobody any good at all.
Before I get into why this is, however, let's take a closer look at the specification and layout of the XPS M1730. Our sample is based on the entry level specification, though this isn't to say it's any slouch - not at all. For just over £1,500 you get a very capable Intel Core 2 Duo T7500, which runs at 2.2GHz with an 800MHz Front Side Bus and 4MB L2 Cache. This is supplemented by 2GB of 667MHz DDR2 RAM, configured as two 1GB modules for dual-channel support. For storage you get a moderately capacious 200GB hard drive, which spins at 7200rpm for faster access times and generally enhanced performance.
There are also lots of configuration options. For CPUs you can also opt for the 2.4GHz T7700 or the super expensive Core 2 Extreme X7900, which has a standard clock of 2.8GHz but can be overclocked to well over 3.0GHz. There's also quite an extensive selection of hard disk options, including 320GB, 400GB and 500GB RAID 0 configurations for those that want improved performance and 250GB RAID 1 if data security is of greater interest.
For those with exceedingly deep pockets there's also an option for a 64GB Solid State Disk and Blu-ray drive, though as I'll reveal later on the screen on the XPS M1730 isn't anywhere near as good as it needs to be to make the best of any high-definition video.