Review Dell XPS M1330 Notebook

Power-Sub. If Dell launches a subnotebook which belongs to the XPS series, you should already know what you can expect. Right, first-class performance. Although the aesthetically pleasing case is not spacious, Dell was able to put a powerful T7300 CPU and a Geforce 8400M GS video card in. Combined with a 13.3" LED display this notebook is attractive.

Dell XPS M1330 Logo

Case

Dell added a notebook with completely new design to its product range, the XPS M1330. In contrast to many other Dell notebooks, the XPS M1330 scores points by an elegant form. Also the tapered front edge looks beautiful. However, the design of the hinges and the notebook's back side are crucial for the overall appearance of the notebook.

Regarding colors, the XPS M1330 has a black finished trough made of aluminum, roughened aluminum palm rest areas, and a black display with silver molding. The used materials and the slightly roughened surfaces contribute to the notebook's comfortable and high-quality haptics.  The display cover is designed in the same way, but, very sensible to fingerprints and hard to clean.

Besides the design also the stability of the case convinces. The base unit is very flexural rigid and also very resistant against applied forces. Regarding this aspect, we could detect some smaller weaknesses above the keyboard, where especially the cover of the speakers can partly be easily pushed in. The same is true, for the complete part with the XPS logo, which even wobbles a little bit. Although the flexural rigidity is generally alright, also the display clearly yields under pressure.

The hinges of the Dell M1330 do not only look good, they also convince in use. The position of the display can be precisely adjusted, whereas no see-saw is noticeable.

A transport hook, i.e. a single or multiple hooks to secure the display in closed state, are missing. Instead a closing mechanism of the hinges, keeps the notebook closed. To prevent the risk of object penetration between display and base unit, Dell provides a notebook bag for the XPS M1330 instead. As long as you do not travel with big luggage, it is very useful. There even isn't enough space for the power adapter in this elegant cover. Fortunately, the XPS M1330 fits even with the clearly bigger 9-cell battery in.

As a supplement, you'll find stereo cable bound headphones and bluetooth headphones, which allow enjoying music without cable possible, in the package. The sound of both of these devices is acceptable.

Although it seems that the XPS M1330 provides only few interfaces at first, they are adequate considering it is a subnotebook. Besides the standard ports, i.e., LAN, modem, VGA, USB, also audio ports, a firewire port and a HDMI port are provided. Perhaps, you'll miss the docking port, which would be a very reasonable supplement for compact and mobile notebooks.
We think that this is maybe Dell's way to differentiate between consumer and business notebooks.

Front Side: Audio Ports, Cardreader
Dell XPS M1330 Interfaces
Left Side: Power Connector, VGA, LAN, USB, HDMI, Firewire
Dell XPS M1330 Interfaces
Back Side: Battery, Fan - No Ports
Dell XPS M1330 interfaces
Right Side: ExpressCrad, DVD (Slot-In) Drive, USB
Dell XPS M1330 interfaces

Input Devices

The keyboard of the Dell XPS M1330 nearly takes up the whole width of the case. So, the keyboard unit looks spacious. But, even at a closer look the keys are of good size and the layout is reasonable.

Typing with M1330 feels comfortable. It is possible to type a number of text pages without bigger problems. It is easy to hit the right keys, and also the point of pressure convinces. The key travel is short, but, yet adequate, typing feels soft and the point of pressure is somewhat less definitive. The keyboard is attached tightly. This is most obvious, because of the relatively hard stop at the end of the typing process.
Typing is not too loud. Even, if you type forcefully, the noise level stays acceptable all the time.

The touchpad has, typical for Dell, positive qualities. These are a user-friendly surface, optically marked scroll zones, and two touchpad buttons which are soft in use.

The molding with hotkeys is right above the keyboard and nicely designed by blue LEDs. When switching the notebook on, these are illuminated one after each other and show a 'KITT' effect, which got famous for its red running light in TV history.

Touchpad
Dell XPS M1330 Touchpad
Keyboard
Dell XPS M1330 Keyboard

Display

color diagram
display measurement

At the time of writing there are 2 different display versions available for the XPS M1330. First of all, a 13.3" panel which utilizes CCFL technology and comes with a resolution of 1280x800 pixels, and an equally big WXGA display with LED technology which costs about 190.- Euro more. Both display versions are called „TrueLife“, which stands for a reflecting surface.
The resolution of 1280x800 pixels fits well to the 13.3" display and provides an acceptable desktop size and at the same time a good font size. We felt that the display was subjectively rich in contrast and good regarding color representation.

The LED display of the reviewed Dell XPS M1330 scored points in our measurements. Its maximum brightness was 224.3 cd/m² in the lower left area. But the brightness diminishes to about 170 cd/m² at the top edge. So, the illuminaation is 76.6%, which is rather below-average. Similar to the Apple MacBook Pro the main advantages of the LED technology are low power consumption and a longer lifespan of the backlight. 

184.6
cd/m²
186.6
cd/m²
171.9
cd/m²
203.3
cd/m²
197.8
cd/m²
189.5
cd/m²
224.3
cd/m²
221.6
cd/m²
208.6
cd/m²
Distribution of brightness
Information
Maximum: 224.3 cd/m²
Average: 198.7 cd/m²
Brightness Distribution: 77 %
Black: 0.4 cd/m²
Contrast: 495:1

The measured black value, this is the minimum representable brightness, was very low. The excellent 0.4 cd/m² lead together with the maximum brightness to a brilliant maximum contrast ratio of 561:1. This should be the biggest advantage of the LED version.

Dell XPS M1330 Outdoor
Dell XPS M1330 Outdoor

Although the display is sufficiently bright for outdoor usage, working is somewhat cumbersome because of the reflecting surface. Depending on the brightness of the environment, you'll face more or less heavy reflections, which limit the legibility of the displayed content.

The viewing angles of the reviewed panel are rather average. Vertically, when looking from top down, you'll quickly face a loss of contrast and a darkening of the display. If you fold the display to the back, you'll face a similar phenomenon. Additionally, we need to mention that the opening angle is limited to 140°.
Horizontally, you'll too face a loss of contrast and also clear reflections, if the angle gets acuter.

Dell XPS M1330 Blickwinkelstabilität
Dell XPS M1330 Blickwinkelstabilität
Dell XPS M1330 Blickwinkelstabilität
Dell XPS M1330 Blickwinkelstabilität
Dell XPS M1330 Blickwinkelstabilität
Dell XPS M1330 Blickwinkelstabilität
Dell XPS M1330 Blickwinkelstabilität
Dell XPS M1330 Blickwinkelstabilität



Video of Display's Viewing Angles

Performance

If Dell labels a notebook with XPS, nobody will expect to find a limited ULV (Ultra Low Voltage) or even a Core Solo processor in it. The same is completely true for the XPS M1330. Equipped with a Core 2 Duo T7300 CPU with 2.0 GHz and a NVIDIA Geforce 8400M GS video card with 128MB video memory it clearly outperforms a number of competitor subnotebooks.

Here you might legitimately question whether so much power is reasonable for a compact notebook. Be this as it may, obviously, there is a demand for notebooks which are configured alike the M1330, which should not be under- estimated. Additionally, there are still  not too much competitor notebooks of this kind available nowadays.

You can be sure to be at the absolutely safe side even through the coming years, at least regarding office and multimedia applications. This might be an important aspect, which might influence your buying decision.

The benchmark tests showed good results for 3DMark and acceptable results for PCMark. We felt that the access time of the built-in 160GB harddisk was somewhat too low, and presumably also impeded a higher PCMark result.

Despite of a good performance, something has to be clear: Good multimedia performance does not mean that games can be played without limitations. This is also true for the Dell XPS M1330. Doom 3 and Fear run fine with low resolution and details, however, if you increase them, the built-in video card is quickly at its limit. Especially with new computer games, the XPS quickly reaches its performance limits.

Benchmark Comparison 3DMark
Benchmark Comparison 3DMark
Benchmark Comparison PCMark
Benchmark Comparison PCMark
3D Mark
3DMark 2001SE13585 points
3DMark 053168 points
3DMark 06
 1280x800
1447 points
Help
3DMark 06 in comparison
Asus N10E (min)
 N270, Graphics Media Accelerator (GMA) 950
91
   ...
Samsung X22-Pro Boyar
 T7500, Mobility Radeon HD 2400
1367
HP Compaq 6735s NA853ES
 RM-72, Radeon HD 3200
1374
Dell XPS M1330
 T7300, GeForce 8400M GS
1447
Acer Aspire 7520G-602G40
 TL-64, GeForce 8400M G
1545
Dell Studio 15
 T8300, Mobility Radeon HD 3450
1823
   ...
Samsung Serie 7 700Z3C-S01 (max)
 3210M, GeForce GT 630M
9346
PC Mark
PCMark 053941 points
Help
PCMark 05 in comparison
Acer Aspire One 751 (min)
 Z520, Graphics Media Accelerator (GMA) 500
692
   ...
Acer TravelMate 5740Z-P602G25N
 P6000, Graphics Media Accelerator (GMA) HD Graphics
3929
Acer Aspire 1830T-52U4G32n
 520UM, Graphics Media Accelerator (GMA) HD Graphics
3940
Dell XPS M1330
 T7300, GeForce 8400M GS
3941
Apple MacBook Pro 17"
 T2600, Mobility Radeon X1600
3971
Dell XPS M1210
 T7200, GeForce Go 7400
3973
   ...
Fujitsu Celsius H710 WXP11DE (max)
 2820QM, Quadro 1000M
13842
160 GB - 5400 rpm
Transfer Rate Minimum: 21.1 MB/s
Transfer Rate Maximum: 48.3 MB/s
Transfer Rate Average: 35.8 MB/s
Access Time: 21.2 ms
Burst Rate: 47.2 MB/s
CPU Usage: 9.2 %
Doom 3
 ResolutionSettingsValue
 1024x768Ultra, 0xAA, 0xAF36.5 fps
 800x600High, 0xAA, 0xAF59.8 fps
 640x480Medium, 0xAA, 0xAF100.3 fps
 640x480Low, 0xAA, 0xAF98.3 fps
F.E.A.R.
 ResolutionSettingsValue
 1024x768GPU: max, CPU: max, 0xAA, 0xAF15 fps
 800x600GPU medium, CPU medium, 0xAA, 0xAF55 fps
 640x480GPU min, CPU min, 0xAA, 0xAF300 fps
Quake 3 Arena - Timedemo
 ResolutionSettingsValue
 1024x768highest, 0xAA, 0xAF199.1 fps

Emissions

Loudness

Despite the fan runs permanently even in idle mode, we felt that the XPS is relatively quiet. This is mainly because of the low-frequency noise, which is rather decent, despite of a noise level of 35.4 dB with office applications. Sometimes, the fan runs even in idle mode at higher revolutions, which lets the notebook appear a little louder, but, in total the noise is acceptable.

Sometimes a high-frequency cheeping can be heard in idle mode, but, only if the environment is absolutely quiet and when listening very carefully. Furthermore, we, would not call it annoying.
A clicking noise is sometimes emitted by the hard disk, especially during the boot process.

Under load the fan runs clearly faster, and a noise level of about 42.9 dB is reached. Sometimes we also measured annoying maximum values of 47.2 dB. During standard usage, it is not very likely that this noise level is reached. But, if it was, we have to mention, that the fan immediately decelerates, if the performance demand falls. So, the noise level will be acceptable again soon.

Noise Level

Idle / 35.4 / dB(A)
HDD 36.4 dB(A)
DVD 38.9 / dB(A)
Load 42.9 / 47.2 dB(A)
 
    30 dB
silent
40 dB
audible
50 dB
loud
 
min: , med: , max:     (15 cm distance)

Temperature

Our test uncovered that the surface temperature in idle mode were nearly above the ones under load. Especially the temperature of the palm rest areas, made of aluminum, was comfortable, because it did not exceed 32.8°C. The maximum of the top side was measured in touchpad region and amounted to 35.5°C.

The surface temperature of the bottom side was somewhat higher than at the top side. We measured a maximum of up to 38.2°C, which is also acceptable and allows a use at the top of the lap.

Apropos use at the lap: The suction hole of the fan is at the back left side of the bottom side and you should take care not to cover it with anything, especially when demanding high performance at the same time. Still, also mobile use on soft surfaces was trouble-free.

Max. Load
 32.7 °C31.3 °C30.2 °C 
 31.7 °C32.9 °C30.3 °C 
 32.4 °C35.5 °C32.8 °C 
Maximum: 35.5 °C
Average: 32.2 °C
33.4 °C34.5 °C36.5 °C
34.7 °C36.8 °C38.3 °C
36.2 °C38.2 °C37.1 °C
Maximum: 38.3 °C
Average: 36.2 °C
Room Temperature 22.0 °C

Speakers

The sound of the two speakers, located beneath a perforated cover above the keyboard, is average. Especially the basses are not so good. The maximum volume is also only moderate.

Sound output via the 3.5mm stereo plug is without any anomalies or disturbing ambient noise. Digital sound is available via the provided HDMI port with proper adapter.

Battery Runtime

The Dell XPS M1330 notebook is available with three batteries of different capacity. Besides the 4- and 6-cells batteries, which fit entirely into the notebook, also a clearly bigger 9-cells battery, which clearly protrude the case  and also increase the weight by about 170g compared to the 6 cells version, is available.
For mobility you should definitely at least choose the 56Wh 6 cells version. The runtime was also measured with a battery of this kind.

The 4 cell versions is only for those who like very light notebooks, if weight is the most important aspect. For those who travel a lot the 9-cells 85Wh battery might be interesting too. Its runtime should be about 50% longer than the one of the 56Wh battery. The cost of 47,60.- EUR, at the time of writing, should also be alright.

If you use the Dell XPS M1330 with the bigger 9-cells battery the notebook will stand gently inclined. Interestingly, this also improves the typing comfort.

The runtime of the 56Wh Akkus ranged from a minimum of somewhat about one hour to a maximum of a little above 5 hours. During DVD playback the runtime of the XPS was 150 minutes, which should be sufficient for most movies. Even the runtime during WLAN usage, in energy saving mode, brightness at level 6 (one below maximum, display still good legible) of about 3 hours is rather passable.
You can estimate the runtime of the other battery solutions, by subtracting 50% (4 cells, 37Wh), respectively adding 50% (9 cells, 85Wh).

Power Consumption

Idle 14.5 / 18.4 / 23.0 Watt
Load 48.3 / 53.6 Watt
 
Key: min: , med: , max:         
Battery Runtime
Idle (without WLAN, min brightness)
5h 10min
WiFi Surfing
2h 30min
DVD
3h 05min
Load (maximum brightness)
1h 30min

Verdict

Dell XPS M1330
Dell XPS M1330

Overall the Dell XPS M1330 can be called a special notebook which provides nearly everything one might expect from a subnotebook, without having considered the necessity of these demands in advance.

Sure, a small stylish notebook with brilliant display which is fit for games and at the same time quiet and provides a long battery runtime, would be fantastic. Moreover, it should also be completely fit for outdoor usage. Still desires? Of course, the price should not exceed 1000,- Euro. Clearly, these demands are far away from reality, but, the Dell XPS is yet very close to this desired configuration.

The case of the M1330 is beautifully designed and convinces also by high quality materials with user-friendly haptics. The stability is, besides of the relatively thin and pressure sensitive display, also good.

The input devices, i.e., keyboard and touchpad are user-friendly and fit for intensive use. The Dell XPS M1330 can also be well used without mouse or external keyboard, which would completely use up the two available USB ports. In turn, this notebook provides an HDMI port, so, its better off than some of the possible competitors of the business notebook class. Apropos business, a docking port might have been a reasonable supplement for the compact XPS.

Dell XPS M1330

The display, a 13.3 inch LED Panel is good and provides good brightness and brilliant contrast. Unfortunately the XPS is only available with reflecting panels, so, outdoor usage is limited.

The performance of the XPS M1330 is compared to competitor notebooks of the subnotebook class really excellent. Even, if you only utilize a small portion of the available performance, it's good to know, that there are sufficient reserve capacities. However, the provided equipment is still somewhat too weak for demanding games.

The emissions are especially during office mode acceptable and hardly annoying. Although the fan has to speed up under load in order to provides the powerful hardware with sufficient air, the noise emissions are in total still alright.

Even the battery runtime of the Dell XPS M1330 is, despite powerful hardware equipment, alright. The 6 cells battery provides a good runtime of up to 5 hours. Equipped with the bigger and heavier 9-cells battery, the expected  runtime is even higher.

For fans of XPS, also accessories like different bags and headsets are available. Furthermore, the notebook is equipped with a web cam, with either 0.3 or 2.0 Megapixel resolution (depending on the chosen display version), and a fingerprint reader.

Addendum

During the first test the notebook got noticeable hot and the fan stayed turned off. We tried to solve the problem by reinstalling Windows Vista. But, this installation did not complete successfully, because the notebook shutdown by itself. At an on-site service (which ran smoothly) where main board and the whole cooling solution were exchanged, we could get some insights of the Dell XPS M1330. Here are some pictures of it.

Reviewed: Dell XPS M1330
Dell XPS M1330

Specifications

Dell XPS M1330

:: Processor
:: Mainboard
Intel PM965
:: Memory
2048 MB, DDR2, PC5300, 667MHz, 2x1024MB, max. 4096MB
:: Graphics adapter
NVIDIA GeForce 8400M GS - 128 MB, Core: 400 MHz, Memory: 600 MHz
:: Display
13.3 inch 16:10, 1280x800 pixel, UltraSharp WXGA White-LED Display , glossy: yes
:: Harddisk
160 GB - 5400 rpm, 160 GB 5400 rpm Fujitsu MHW2160BH
:: Soundcard
SigmaTel STAC9228
:: Connections
1 Express Card 54mm, 2 USB 2.0, 1 Firewire, 1 VGA, 1 HDMI, 0 Modem, 1 Kensington Lock, Audio Connections: Headphones, Microphone, Card Reader: 8in1,
:: Networking
10/100 MBit Lan Adapter (10/100MBit), Intel Wireless WiFi Link 4965AGN (a b g n ), 1 Bluetooth
:: Optical drive
Matshita DVD +/-RW UJ-857G
:: Size
height x width x depth (in mm): 34 x 238 x 318
:: Weight
1.94 kg Power Supply: 0.33 kg
:: Battery
56 Wh Lithium-Ion
:: Price
1670 Euro
:: Operating System
Microsoft Windows Vista Home Premium 32 Bit
:: Additional features
Headphones, Notebook Case, Remote Control, 12 Months Warranty, bis zu 48 Monate XPS Garantie möglich

 

The Dell XPS M1330 has an attractive design...
Dell XPS M1330 Image
Keyboard and touchpad are user-friendly.
Dell XPS M1330 Image
Blue LEDs arrestingly illuminate the hot keys.
Dell XPS M1330 Image
The test attested good brightness and contrast to the 13.3" LED display,...
Dell XPS M1330 Image
...however, outdoor usage is limited due to a reflecting surface.
Dell XPS M1330 Image
The performance of the M1330 is due to Core 2 Duo CPU and Geforce video card impressing.
Dell XPS M1330 Image
Still, the noise emissions are at least when running office applications alright.
Dell XPS M1330 Image
The surface temperatures are alright too.
Dell XPS M1330 Image
Although the sound is generally alright, the basses could be better.
Dell XPS M1330 Image
Equipped with 6 cells battery the XPS M1330 weighs about 1.9kg.
Dell XPS M1330 Image
The 9-cells battery is somewhat heavier, but, increases the runtime by about 50%.
Dell XPS M1330 Image
The available 4- and 6 cells batteries fit exactly into the case.
Dell XPS M1330 Image
...whereas we want to specially mention the HDMI port .
Dell XPS M1330 Image
The XPS provides a base equipment of interfaces,...
Dell XPS M1330 Image
...setting new impulses for the Dell product line.
Dell XPS M1330 Image
We liked the innovative design at once...
Dell XPS M1330 Image
...also because, is lets the XPS appear something special regardless of equipment.
Dell XPS M1330 Image
Regarding workmanship the XPS is alright.
Dell XPS M1330 Image
Especially the high-quality materials contribute to its good haptics.
Dell XPS M1330 Image
Finally, also the stability of the base unit is alright.
Dell XPS M1330 Image
Only, the display could be robuster against applied forces.
Dell XPS M1330 Image
Depending on the chosen configuration, a lot of accessories are provided...
Dell XPS M1330 Image
...e.g., proper headsets or a remote control in Expresscard format.
Dell XPS M1330 Image
Additionally the M1330 is equipped with a web cam with either 0.3 or 2.0 Mega pixels.
Dell XPS M1330 Image
Solely the notebook fits into the handy nylon bag.
Dell XPS M1330 Image
In contrary, the 85Wh battery clearly protrudes the notebook and slightly lifts the notebook.
Dell XPS M1330 Image

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Price Comparison

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Dell XPS M1330

Pro

  • Attractive design
  • Due to high-quality materials stable case
  • HDMI port
  • User-friendly input devices
  • Bright and high-contrast display
  • Acceptable temperature and noise emissions
  • Depending on chosen battery good runtime
  • Contra

  • High weight considering it is a subnotebook
  • No docking port
  • Only reflecting display versions available
  • Rating

    Dell XPS M1330
    10/15/2007
    J. Simon Leitner

    Chassis
    86%
    Keyboard
    92%
    Pointing Device
    84%
    Connectivity
    85%
    Weight
    89%
    Battery
    80%
    Display
    88%
    Games Performance
    80%
    Application Performance
    95%
    Temperature
    80%
    Noise
    76%
    Add Points
    92%
    Average
    86%
    86%
    Subnotebook *
    Weighted Average

    > Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > Reviews > Archive of our own reviews > Review Dell XPS M1330 Notebook
    Author: J. Simon Leitner, 2007-11-25 (Update: 2013-05- 8)