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Dell XPS M1730 - Dell XPS M1730

This lack of software and driver support is also an important factor when it comes to new games, such as the ever demanding Crysis. Despite the fact that you can now play Crysis with SLI enabled using desktop graphics cards, you cannot do so with the M1730 because the drivers have yet to be updated. Even the enhanced community drivers have no such facility as of yet and as a result the performance in Crysis is barely mediocre.

Consequently playing Crysis on this machine, at the moment at least, is an absolute no-no. At 1,920 x 1,200 at medium settings it is nowhere near playable, while at higher settings it is nothing short of a slideshow - in fact I've seen slideshows that move faster. Switching down to 1,280 x 800 did improve things to a degree, though even then at medium settings it still isn't playable.

And this says much about the M1730 as a gaming machine. Though there are driver issues with single card solutions they aren't anywhere near as fundamental as on this machine, whose performance lives and dies on software support for SLI. Ultimately this makes it a deeply flawed product, with performance that can't be relied upon and must be supplemented by constant updating and community support. To recommend it purely based on the promise of future updates and support is a dangerous and foolhardy approach, which will leave many a consumer unsatisfied.

Much the same can be said of the inclusion of the mobile PhysX chip, which is supposed to accelerate physics calculations in games. A great song and dance was made about this feature, however to call it a useless expense would be a gross understatement.

Unlike a graphics card it isn't inherently required to play any game, but must actually be specifically programmed for to be utilised. Unfortunately, the list of games that do so is pitifully short and even those that do are restricted to "special" levels that don't play any part in main body of the game, relegating the on-board physics acceleration to a needless spectator 99.9 per cent of the time.

This is the abiding memory of the XPS M1730. Though the chassis and general design is solid enough with some touches of flair there too, performance just isn't good enough while many of the features, especially the display, are a distinct disappointment. Were Dell to update the model with new components it may fare better, but until it does so there are better options available.

Verdict

Having promised much the Dell XPS M1730 largely disappoints, with a lack of up-to-date drivers resulting in inconsistent performance. Its mobile physics processor is largely useless, while the display is particularly underwhelming. Some thorough configuration options may attract some, but only if they're willing to be very patient as software support is expanded.

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