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Dell XPS M1730 review

Andy Vandervell

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Dell XPS M1730
  • Dell XPS M1730
  • Dell XPS M1730
  • Dell XPS M1730
  • Dell XPS M1730
  • Dell XPS M1730
  • Dell XPS M1730
  • Dell XPS M1730
  • Dell XPS M1730
  • Dell XPS M1730
  • Dell XPS M1730
  • Dell XPS M1730
  • Dell XPS M1730
  • Dell XPS M1730
  • Dell XPS M1730
  • Dell XPS M1730
  • Dell XPS M1730
  • Dell XPS M1730
  • Dell XPS M1730
  • Dell XPS M1730
  • Dell Inspiron XPS M1730 Laptop

Summary

Our Score:

6

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.

Michael Hall

July 7, 2008, 9:39 pm

I recently purchased a fully loaded Dell M1730 laptop SLI 8800GT graphics cards, 4 gigs of DDR (only 3GB can be used by vista 32bit and Dell do not offer 64 bit edition!) and so on. The laptop for the first few days was perfect, super fast performance and its all bundled into a great looking package however, there were numerous software conflicts etc and what Dell do no tell you is that the great looking dell light FX system and windows vista SP1 have a known conflict and you will get a loud crackling noise through your soundcard whilst changing the lights and at the start of MP3 tracks and other situations ("Its a known conflict" according to Dell tech support, although during the 10+ phone calls I made to them no one had ever heard of this problem!)





Tech support with Dell is pretty awful and that's being very fair, my company currently has 4 Dell workstations and a Dell server and to be fair these machines have never had any issues but after my experience with Dell's tech support and being told there is nothing they can do about the light Fx issue and even if I were to have an exchange I would have the same problem.


I felt let down by Dell considering the machine had set me back over � this didn't seem to matter to Dell and there were other issues but I didn't have the patience to go through the long winded tech support phone calls. Dell's Mediadirect kept crashing without reason and it failed to play Blu Ray discs out of the box (I had to download Powerdvd 8 to get those working!) there were other problems but the list was pretty long. To date and after a vast amount of infuriating phone calls to tech support I have been offered a full refund but I will be taking my business elsewhere in future, I hope this helps potential buyers to make an informed decision on their new Laptop purchase.

Jay 2

July 12, 2008, 6:50 am

"If anything, though, the red lights on the front do stretch the concept a little far, making it look rather like Knight Rider's evil twin and consequently just a little bit silly."





The light on the speakers/touchpad can be set to any of SEVENTEEN 17 different colours.





Dell Quickset is the program you use to change the colour (open quickset -> System (in the left pane) -> Gaming Options (in the right panel))





You can also change the intensity of the top light.





I use Amythest cuz I like purple and its a fuc*ing awesome looking color :D





I got my M1730 as a REPLACEMENT for an Inspiron 9400 I bought from Dell, I was QUITE happy at the upgrade they gave me for free !





PROS of this laptop that I can see:


-8700M ... SLI, gaming graphics on a laptop


-Tonnes of eye candy (top, speaker, touchpad lights)


-Its Not made of cheap silver painted white plastic that all rubs off and makes your laptop look terribly ugly


-Logitech LCD Panel .. which, if your a gamer, you'll understand why this is a great thing


-BACKLIT KEYBOARD !!! OMG finally someone made a fuc*ing backlit laptop keyboard. Maybe its just me, but I think this is essential in a laptop, I use mine in the dark frequently *shrug*


-Probably one of the most powerful, if not THE most powerful laptop on the market at this time (July 08)


-Wireless network finder and the fact I can toggle my wireles (and bluetooth .. which serves me absolutely no purpose anyways lol) on or off by a switch (its helpful in securing my laptop, I just turn the button to off b4 I go somewhere (when im not using it) so no wireless connections can be made PERIOD), switch it back on whenever im using it


-I've always liked the card reader (esp w/ Vista and ReadyBoost), but Dell puts one in most if not all their laptops, so .. nothing special to the M1730


-SOLID - This laptop is by no means flimsy, its built strong, and im sure it could take quite a beating (fortunately ive never tested this ... yet) .. on that note





WEIGHT IS NOT A PRO OR A CON. If you are out to buy a powerful, gaming grade laptop .. it will not be as light as a feather .. the laws of gravity forbid it.


If you want a light laptop, your looking in the wrong class of dell's products, XPS is their high end stuff, designed purely for functionality.


Besides .. its really not THAT bad, unless your all a bunch of pussies (lol jk), its sat on my lap for many hours .. its no more or less confortable then the pared to the inspiron 9400 i had before, sure it weighs more, but its no more or less comfortable then the inspiron I had before.








CONS:


- Playing say ... Age of Conan, on full settings runs HOT !!! It has run so hot that at times my system shuts down. I bought a laptop cooler, and havn't had a problem since, nevertheless ... its a hot laptop.


- Not really a con, but my Inspiron 9400 had 6 USB ports, and the XPS M1730 has only 4 USB ports, it should have 6. A 7 port D-link USB hub fixed that problem though :)


- Tech Support - It sucks hard .. but theres things can be done to make it a bit less painful.


First, the XPS tech support is based out of the US, so believe it or not, its notably better then dells tech support for any of their other products (which is all overseas)





Second, dell does not know its head from its ass .. what do I mean? they keep no record at all (other then short notes and reference numbers) of past service calls. So make sure you get the reps name, and employee reference # b4 you hang up, try and deal with that one tech throughout your entire service call, there are some good guys that do and will help you. Otherwise, if you call back about a claim the tech you talk to will know shi*, and youll spend an hour of various 5 minute hold while they 'look into it'





Third, the technical support manager listens to every call. Ask, right at the


beginning of your call that the manager participate in your call, say you've had many problems with the tech staff because you are educated in PC repair and they won't addres your claims and demands (for some of you I guess this is a bit of a white lie, for the rest like me, its how to stop smashing my head into the wall when the guy tells me to press CTRL F12 FIFTEEN times, telling me i'm 'doing it incorrectly' .. and I explained i'd tried this long before i made the call ... that service call is how i found out about the managers listening in, cuz the manager cut into the tech and asked if I was upset with the techs conduct, to which I promptly stated YES).


The service manager can get things done for you a lot quicker, and they are very helpful, they listen, and know wtf they are talking about.





Fourth, be demanding and defensive .. I know this isn't very good manners, but they don't exactly treat you with the best of manners. if you demand something, they will be forced to actually listen, rather then treat you like someone without a clue as they run through the checklist (when you already know exactly whats wrong with your laptop). I have dealt with tech support before that I know are not qualified to repair computers .. one so bad she didn't understand a word, and put me on hold a dozen times to 'go ask another tech'.





Fifth, know how their policie work, for eg. know that Dell DOES do system exchanges (at the start of my ordeal with my inspiron 9400 I was told by two techs point blank that dell does not do system exchange. Dell has a system exchange DEPARTMENT, and I now have an exchanged system, so I was lied to, had I not reserached, they'd have won.





Sixth, get the email addresses of their exeutive management staff, i won't provide them to you because I don't think its appropriate, but you can find them easily on the internet (google). Email the executive staff directly, and on a friday night. When they see an email Monday morning, trust me, you will get serviced quickly (a very very small fraction of their clients contact the executive staff, 99% call tech support), if your email states your complete dissatisfaction, within 1-2 days it will be resolved, this point i probably the most valuable piece of advice I can give you to deal with dell.





Overall, I give this laptop a SOLID 9/10

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