Dell XPS M1730 First Look

by Reads (102,837)

The Dell XPS M1730 has been officially announced by Dell, though that’s somewhat anti-climatic after months of leaks of pictures, specs and the fact it showed up on two days ago. All the same, here’s a look at the latest high-end XPS notebook gaming system from Dell that features dual-Nvidia 8700 graphics cards and a dedicated physics processor.

Dell XPS M1730 gaming notebook, "The Beast" (view large image)

The M1730 will be available in four different colors: Sapphire Blue, Smoke Grey, Crimson Red and Bone White. The notebook seen in the images here is the Smoke Grey coloration option. The XPS M1730 can of course be configured on to your liking and price preference, but at the high end the specs are the following:

  • Intel Core 2 Extreme X7900 (2.8GHz/800MHz FSB, 4MB Cache)
  • 4GB DDR2 SDRAM @ 667MHz
  • 2 x 200GB 7200RPM disks with RAID support (64GB SSD available)
  • Two Nvidia Geforce 8700M-GT 256MB GDDR3 cards in SLI config
  • AGEIA PhysX physics accelerator map
  • 17 " WUXGA display (1920 x of 1200)
  • Blu-Ray with DVD Burner Optical drive
  • Wireless: Intel 802.11n, Bluetooth, IR
  • Ports: Media card reader, DVI, S-Video, 4 USB 2.0 ports, FireWire IEEE1394, ExpressCard 54, microphone-in, 2 headphone-out ports, SPDIF, Ethernet
  • Web camera
  • 9-Cell battery

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The look of the case is very interesting, it reminds me a lof the Acer Ferrari model line with the weave "rubber tire" look. It’s certainly striking, and while in the images it may appear to simply have zebra like stripes running across the laptop, in person the effect is different as the look changes when you shift perspectives and lighting changes. The build is rock solid, and as you can imagine, translates to a heavy weight that will surely give you back issues if carried along with heavy text books in a backpack. Think desktop replacement all-in-one gaming system, and not a notebook to be taken to class for note taking.

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You can of course configure the speakers to have different effects and colors, just like the XPS M1710 supported. The keyboard is backlit for those times you’re gaming late into the night and don’t want lights on that will cause screen reflection.

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A heads up LED display right above the keyboard serves several functions. It can be used to control volume, media playback and effects. It also serves as a nice area to give system information such as processor utilization, and if you have FRAPS running you can display FPS numbers here. This is definitely a thoughtful touch put in by Dell.

Above the keyboard is an LED display with system info readout, it’s displaying an XPS graphic in this shot (view large image)

Graphics wise this thing is a beast, as Dell has taken to calling it. Equipped with dual Nvidia 8700M-GT 256MB cards, your total graphics memory comes to 512MB. To help things out, Dell tossed in a dedicated AGEIA PhysX processor so that some of the physics calculations can be done faster by this specialized processor. Essentially this means you can support more stuff flying through the air after an explosion (think splinters) and at a more realistic arc of gravitational descent., a German website, did a nice job of illustrating the benefit of the PhysX with this video showing better support of shrapnel flying through the air with PhysX turned on:

And should the 8700 card become obsolete, as it eventually will, Dell promises support for upgrading to the next graphics processor. Whenever Nvidia gets around to releasing a mobile version of the 8800 card Dell will I’m sure be taken up on that offer and put to the test. Even with the dual 8700 cards, current benchmarks show that the XPS M170 will achieve above 8,000 3DMarks on 3DMark2006, that’s excellent but still doesn’t top the Sager NP9260 we saw earlier in the year — though that did use a desktop chipset platform so you could call it a somewhat unfair comparison:

3DMark06 Results and Comparison:

Notebook 3D Mark 06 Results
Dell XPS M1730 (Intel Core 2 Duo T7700 2.4GHz, 2x Nvidia 8700M-GT 512MB graphics card) 8,019
Toshiba Satellite X205 (Intel Core 2 Duo T7100 1.80GHz, Nvidia 8700M-GT graphics card) 4,734
Alienware M9750 (Intel Core 2 Duo T7600 2.33GHz, Nvidia go 7950 GTX video cards with 512MB) 7,308
Sager NP9260 (2.66GHz Core 2 Duo E6700, 2x Nvidia GeForce Go 7950GTX video cards with 512MB DDR3) 9,097
Alienware m5790 (1.83 GHz Core 2 Duo, ATI X1800 256MB) 2,625
WidowPC Sting D517D (Core 2 Duo 2.33GHz, Nvidia 7900GTX 512MB) 4,833
Apple MacBook Pro (2.00GHz Core Duo, ATI Mobility Radeon X1600 128MB) 1,528
Alienware Area 51 m5550 (2.33GHz Core 2 Duo, nVidia GeForce Go 7600 256MB) 2,183
ASUS A8Ja (1.66GHz Core Duo, ATI Mobility Radeon X1600 512MB) 1,973
Dell XPS M1710 (2.16GHz Core Duo, nVidia GeForce Go 7900 GTX 512MB) 4,744


In terms of ports, you get hi-def output in the form of DVI and then four USB ports, FireWire, MediaCard reader, Ethernet, S-Video,ExpressCard 54 with remote inside, two headphone ports, a microphone port and then a web camera option.

Price is always an issue when you’re talking high-end notebooks. If you get a really nice configuration it’s going to run you about $4,000 and up for the M1730 notebook. Starting is at $2,499 though. If you insist on the latest and greatest, that’s the price you pay though.

We’ll have a full review in the coming weeks with loads of benchmarks. Make sure to visit our Dell forums and ask around for any questions on the XPS M1730 and we’ll see what people think when they start to take delivery of this "Beast".

Left side view (view large image)

Right side view of XPS M1730 (view large image)

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Back view of the XPS M1730 (view large image)

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Underneath of the XPS M1730 (view large image)




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