If you have any passing interest in PC gaming then you’ll have found it impossible to ignore Dell’s XPS gaming range, as it’s the most powerful brand out there.
There is still a great deal of controversy on whether a gaming notebook is a logical purchase, after all it’s simply not as upgradeable as a desktop. Then again, with the power on offer with the Dell XPS M1730 it’s easy to see those arguments start to fade.
The design is big and brash and Dell has continued to include lights on the front of the case. The keyboard is large enough to include a numeric keypad and there is a secondary screen above it that tells you important information, such as you’ve email, or handles other popups that can normally annoy or distract you when you’re playing online.
Dell has been calling this machine "The Beast" and it’s easy to see why: this is a 17-inch notebook that weighs in at 5kg, so isn’t a machine for carrying around too often. It is a hefty and well-built design - Dell has used carbon fibre, which helps keep the weight down while at the same time making it most robust and better at dealing with heat.
And heat is something this machine could potentially create a lot of. Our review unit was the top-end Intel 2.2GHz Core 2 Duo T7500 processor, which is rather pedestrian when you consider the M1730 can support the new Exreme game chip that allows overclocking and tweaking of the core frequencies. The main specification is rounded out by 2048MB of memory, a 250GB hard drive and you’ll find Windows Vista Home Premium installed as standard.
The 17-inch Super-TFT screen is stunning, proving bright and clear allowing you to play at resolutions up to 1920 x 1200 pixels. This is all fine but the main grunt of this machine comes from the two Nvidia GeForce 8700M GT cards that have been fitted. They use an Nvidia SLI connector so act as a single card with stunning results – you won’t find another notebook out there at the moment that can offer this sort of gaming prowess. Games, yes even Crysis, can be handled in full resolution and run with ease.
If the screen isn’t big enough, there is a DVI-out port allowing you to connect to a larger monitor or projector. When it comes to ports, there are the standard feature set.
This is the first notebook we’ve seen to use the Ageia PhysX processor, which is a secondary chip that simply put, handles the polygon count in every frame of the game. This helps take pressure of the CPU and GPU so games run smoother. It’s a great addition and expect to see other vendors following suit.
If there is an argument that serious gamers shouldn’t opt for a notebook, as it isn’t as versatile as a desktop PC, then the Dell XPS M1730 all but dismisses this line.
It’s as powerful as you need a gaming machine to be. This is a great machine that handles exceedingly well and is a genuine pleasure to use – just a little to heavy to use on your lap.