Review Dell XPS M1730 Gaming-Notebook

IMPRESSIVE. The Dell XPS M1730 convinces especially with its case and the impressive LED illumination. But this gaming notebook from Dell is good in other areas as well. These areas are the high-resolution WUXGA display, the great performance of the used hardware (Geforce 8700M GT SLI graphic) and surprisingly the sound emissions of the notebook: hardly audible in the idle operation and even under load still quiet. 

Test Dell XPS M1730 Logo

Case

According to the notebook supplier a good gaming console needs, next to efficient hardware above all an attractive design with additional lighting effects. The notebook deserved in this respect a full score. Even without enabled LED illumination the case of the Dell XPS M1730 is impressive and looks great with its shiny surface that looks like carbon.  

If the LED illumination of the display cover, speakers, touchpad and keyboard is activated in dimmed light  the most users will be quite impressed.   

But there is still more.  By means of the Dell Quickset Software tools the colors of the LEDs can be adjusted to suit the taste of the proud owner. For light jockeys and other disco fans the option of pulsing and other dynamic lighting effects is available. Apart from the color of the illumination also the color of the display cover can be chosen.  It is possible to choose between four colors upon purchase of the console.

Also the shape is rather good.  The compact case has a base unit with smooth curves and an eye-catching designed display cover, which reminds of the known alien structure. Like already mentioned the XPS M1730 has a very brilliant surface, which is prone to fingerprints but is also easy to clean. One wipe with the supplied cloth and the notebook shines like on the first day. But it is strongly recommended to care well for this beautiful console, because scratches can occur as fast as the mentioned fingerprints.

In respect to the workmanship the notebook is pretty good, but the big slit measures around the molding do not fit the high-class image of the XPS M1730.

The case of the Dell XPS showed in the test a good torsion-resistance. But because the height of the base unit amounts 40mm and a lot of aluminum is used nothing else was expected. Even at selective pressure the case doesn’t show any weak point, only the keyboard is an issue but about this later. The display cover creaks slightly at strong pressure, but it is very torsion-resistant. 

The hinges of the display make a solid impression and hold the display in its position. The angle at which the display can be positioned is limited by the hinges. The display disposes of a double hook lock system but for a less mobile console such as the XPS M1730  it is not really necessary.

The provided ports of the gaming console are nearly all located on the back end of the sides. Provided are four USB 2.0 Ports, Firewire, S-Video (with S/PDIF support through dongle) and a Dual-Link DVI-D-I Port which allows the connection of a monitor via analog signals (with suitable dongle) and also supports 30 inch displays (for example QXGA, max.2560x1600 pixel).

Moreover a LAN port (10/100/1000 - Gigabit) is provided, 8in1 Cardreader, a ExpressCard slot (54mm) and a Consumer IR port to control the notebook with the provided remote control. Furthermore 2 head phone ports and a micro port as well as 5.1 audio support (6 channels) are provided. Hidden close to the battery the Sim-Card slot of the UMTS/HSDPA Module is located, which can be ordered optional for the Dell XPS M1730. As a whole the Dell XPS M1730 has suitable equipment for gaming purposes.

Left side: DVI-D-I, S-Video Out, USB, Firewire, Cardreader, DVD, Audio Ports
Left side: DVI-D-I, S-Video Out, USB, Firewire, Cardreader, DVD, Audio Ports
Right side: ExpressCard, WLAN switch, 2x USB, Kensington Lock
Right side: ExpressCard, WLAN switch, 2x USB, Kensington Lock
Front: no ports
Front: no ports
Back: fan, power supply line, USB, LAN
Back: fan, power supply line, USB, LAN

Input Devices

The keyboard of the test console is light-grey, clear in contrast to the rather dark case. The keyboard is clear and the layout has an arrangement in groups of single key groups. Moreover the keyboard provides a separate number block. The size of the keys is a standard size.

Typing for long periods on the Dell XPS M1730 can be tiring because the keyboard requires an unfamiliar position of the hands. But the hand rests have a pleasant form and give typing comfort.

When hitting individual keys we noted a clear deflection of the keyboard. Especially in the central area when hitting G, H,.. at strong pressure ugly deformations appeared. In respect to the typing feeling we have no criticism. The keys provide a clear action point with a pleasant resistance and also the typing sounds are quite pleasant.

A nice feauture is the provided Logitech Game Panel wich shows additional useful information. This can be the date and time, information about various games or the performance at the application of the tool FRAPS. Moreover, the frame rate in various games can be seen. Current games which support the game panel are Battlefield 2142, World of Warcraft and many more. A complete list is available here.

The use of FRAPS

The nice touchpad with XPS logo can be operated very well and the keys convince with a pleasant travel – typical Dell.

Also the typical Dell additional keys for the control of the Media player are available at the XPS M1730. Moreover, keys for the volume control are available.

On the right side of the console a hardware switch for the WLAN function and a key to enable the WiFi-Catcher tool are located. This shows all wireless networks in the area.

Another nice feature is of course the illumination of the keyboard. With the Apple MacBook Pro notebooks the brightness changes automatically, but with the Dell XPS M1730 this needs to be done manually. FN+Cursor is here the correct combination.

Touchpad
Dell XPS M1730 Touchpad
Keyboard
Dell XPS M1730 Keyboard

Display

Color diagram
Dsplay measure

The 17“ WUXGA Display with a resolution of 1920x1200 Pixel provides excellent overview and a great focus and convinces with its good indicators.

The maximum value of the brightness is 242.8 cd/m². A brightness drop on the edges and corner areas of the display is an average brightness of a good 213.1 cd/m². The illumination is 76.9%.

 

186.8
cd/m²
231.8
cd/m²
186.6
cd/m²
183.0
cd/m²
222.3
cd/m²
187.6
cd/m²
242.8
cd/m²
229.2
cd/m²
237.4
cd/m²
Distribution of brightness
Information
Maximum: 242.8 cd/m²
Average: 211.9 cd/m²
Brightness Distribution: 75 %
Black: 0.3 cd/m²
Contrast: 741:1

High class is the maximal contrast value of the WUXGA display. The minimal brightness is 0.3 cd/m², together with the maximal brightness it results in great 809:1.
The speed of reaction is first class 7 milliseconds. Also in the practical game test we didn’t find any negative aspects.

As you can see in the video about the viewing angle the weak point of the display is its reflecting surface. Even with moderate surrounding brightness and a rather dark display disruptive reflections in inner rooms occur. So it is recommended to check the position of the notebook to the source of light. The usage outside is bad because of the strongly reflecting surface.

In respect to the vantage point stability the used WUXGA display shows a sufficiently big stable working area, in the horizontal and vertical area. With a greater viewing angle a darkening or lightening of the display can appear in the vertical direction, in the horizontal direction reflections can appear.

Dell XPS M1730 Vantage point stability
Dell XPS M1730 Vantage point stability
Dell XPS M1730 Vantage point stability
Dell XPS M1730 Vantage point stability
Dell XPS M1730 Vantage point stability
Dell XPS M1730 Vantage point stability
Dell XPS M1730 Vantage point stability
Dell XPS M1730 Vantage point stability



viewing angle video of the display

Performance

Expectations of a gaming notebook are of course high. With the provided hardware the Dell XPS M1730 is quite good. The test console provided an Intel Core 2 Duo T7500 processor, with a clock of 2.2 GHz (4 MB L2 Cache, 800 MHz FSB, VT, DAT - 35 watt) this means good performance.

Alternatively, in the online configuration Dell offers currently a T7700 CPU (2.4 GHz) and a Core 2 Extreme X7900 CPU with believe it or not 2.8 GHz. But this costs just a mere 990.- euro extra. Cheaper would be theT7700 CPU which cost „only" 100.- Euro (70 dollar/50 pound) more.

The graphic provide two nVIDIA Geforce 8700M GT video cards (SLI) with in total 512MB memory. This should provide the console first class graphic performance but who thinks 2x1=2, is mistaken. By means of the benchmark tests could be found only a moderate difference (+/- 10 to 20%) between enabled and deactivated SLI function.

Benchmark comparison PC Mark 2005
Benchmark comparison PC Mark 2005
Performance comparison Doom3
Performance comparison Doom3

The SLI system can only score if this function is provided by the software. It remains to be seen how useful this technology will be at the upcoming new games. But there is still one question: Will be the Dell XPS M1730 be available with the presented nVIDIA Geforce 8800M GTS/8800 GTX ?

There are already possible rivals: Alienware with the models mx17x and mx15x or the SR17 of Cyber-System. First benchmark tests showed that the 8800M GTX provides high class performance at current games like Crysis and allows fluid playing on the notebook, even with high resolutions.

But now back again to the provided hardware of the XPS M1730. Apart from T7500 CPU and 8700MGT Graphic there is another piece of hardware which is supposed to raise the performance of the XPS. A PhysiX-accelerating card of AGEIA. Like the name lets assume this PCI card is only intended to calculate the physical processes like explosions or the movements of detailed surfaces like water or grass.

Besides this the CPU discharged is and more details are possible in the game. But often the support of the game is necessary (current: Gears of War, Gothic 3, Ghost Recon,… - More about this on the official homepage of AGEIA.)

Apart from first class results of the 3D benchmark tests the Dell XPS M1730 reached good results also in the game tests. Doom 3 provides at ultra still excellent 141.5 fps and even FEAR could reach with maximal GPU and CPU configuration very good 55 fps.

Benchmark comparison 3DMark05
Benchmark comparison 3DMark05
Benchmark comparison 3DMark06
Benchmark comparison 3DMark06

In the Crysis benchmark test with a resolution of 1280x800 with medium detail the limit was reached. An average of 19.13 fps and therefore unsuited to play. With lower resolution and details better results could be reached but really beautiful graphics? No.

Apart from all benchmark tests we have the following conclusion: The provided hardware masters older games easily and gives first class performance but has its problems with the coming standards.

Also in respect to the hard disc many options are available. These are fast 200GB hard discs with 7200r.p.m.s., a 320GB hard disc with 5400r.p.m.s. or RAID solutions with 2x160GB/7200 r.p.m.s., 2x200GB/7200 r.p.m.s. and 2x250GB/5400 r.p.m.s. With these good performance or maximal capacity is possible.

3D Mark
3DMark 2001SE26572 points
3DMark 0326254 points
3DMark 0512835 points
3DMark 06
 1280x1024
7773 points
Help
3DMark 06 in comparison
Asus Eee PC 1101HA (min)
 Z520, Graphics Media Accelerator (GMA) 500
68
   ...
Dell Precision M4500 Core i7-940XM
 940XM, Quadro FX 1800M
7729
Lenovo IdeaPad U430 Touch 59372369
 4200U, GeForce GT 730M
7754
Dell XPS M1730
 T7500, GeForce 8700M GT SLI
7773
Packard Bell EasyNote LS11HR-167GE
 2450M, Radeon HD 7670M
7802
Packard Bell EasyNote NX69-HR-127GE
 2410M, GeForce GT 540M
7806
   ...
Clevo Clevo P157SM (max)
 4930MX, GeForce GTX 880M
29955
PC Mark
PCMark 055017 points
Help
PCMark 05 in comparison
Acer Aspire One 751 (min)
 Z520, Graphics Media Accelerator (GMA) 500
692
   ...
Dell M90
 T7200, Quadro FX 1500M
5006
Lenovo Thinkpad T400
 P8600, Graphics Media Accelerator (GMA) 4500MHD
5013
Dell XPS M1730
 T7500, GeForce 8700M GT SLI
5017
Asus U6S
 T8300, GeForce 9300M G
5037
Toshiba Satellite Pro L670-170
 350M, Graphics Media Accelerator (GMA) HD Graphics
5042
   ...
Fujitsu Celsius H710 WXP11DE (max)
 2820QM, Quadro 1000M
13842
250 GB - 5400 rpm
Transfer Rate Minimum: 27.7 MB/s
Transfer Rate Maximum: 37.8 MB/s
Transfer Rate Average: 35.9 MB/s
Access Time: 20.2 ms
Burst Rate: 47.1 MB/s
CPU Usage: 18.6 %
Doom 3
 ResolutionSettingsValue
 1024x768Ultra, 0xAA, 0xAF141.5 fps
 800x600High, 0xAA, 0xAF146.8 fps
 640x480Medium, 0xAA, 0xAF148.9 fps
 640x480Low, 0xAA, 0xAF152.4 fps
F.E.A.R.
 ResolutionSettingsValue
 1024x768GPU: max, CPU: max, 0xAA, 0xAF55 fps
 800x600GPU medium, CPU medium, 0xAA, 0xAF82 fps
 640x480GPU min, CPU min, 0xAA, 0xAF357 fps
Crysis - GPU Benchmark
 ResolutionSettingsValue
 1440x900High, 0AA, 0AF14 fps
 1280x800High17 fps
 1024x768High20 fps
 800x600High23 fps
Lightsmark
 ResolutionSettingsValue
 1920x120073.9 fps
 1680x105086.4 fps
 1440x900101.1 fps
 1280x102499.5 fps

Loudness

Especially on this point Dell amazes, and the same goes for the XPS M1730. Although the tested notebook uses up to date and efficient technology the case temperatures and the sound emissions are quite good.

At the idle operation the fan was mostly deactivated and the notebook ran quiet (31.2 dB) and hardly audible. Even at some office actions and/or internet surfing the fan remained silent. When under load the fan starts and emits warm air on the back side.

Even after some hours of gaming action the fan was quite quiet and we were sure: 37.7 dB under load is the maximum of the Dell XPS. Other office notebooks are louder even at the idle operation than the XPS after some hours of gaming action. Dell did a fantastic job here.

Noise Level

Idle 31.2 / 31.2 / 37.7 dB(A)
HDD 31.2 dB(A)
DVD 35.9 / dB(A)
Load 34.7 / 37.7 dB(A)
 
    30 dB
silent
40 dB
audible
50 dB
loud
 
min: , med: , max:     (15 cm distance)

Temperature

The surface temperature is like the sound emissions of the notebook. On the top side only slight heating is noticeable. First on the rearward area where the CPU and video chip are located in the case increases the temperature few, but stays at a good 41.1°C.

Temperatures on the bottom are similar to the top side. With maximal 40.6°C in the rearward area the temperature is even better than on the top side.

Max. Load
 39.1 °C41.1 °C39.3 °C 
 31.6 °C32.4 °C32.2 °C 
 29.8 °C31.2 °C28.8 °C 
Maximum: 41.1 °C
Average: 33.9 °C
40.6 °C40.0 °C35.4 °C
35.8 °C36.2 °C34.7 °C
30.1 °C31.7 °C32.8 °C
Maximum: 40.6 °C
Average: 35.3 °C
Room Temperature 21.5 °C

Speakers

The Dell XPS has two 18mm Speaker per speaker case. So the XPS has two speakers on every side, in total four speakers. 

The provided sound is quite good, but varies with the kind of music. Basses are there but they don’t reach the level of notebooks with separate subwoofer. The maximal loudness is ok, but could be somewhat higher for music and DVD. 

 

Battery Runtime

Of course, the Dell XPS M1730 has a battery, but in practical use it will only rarely be used. The battery located on the bottom side with a capacity of 85Wh is in spite of its strong current consumption still capable to provide the XPS with power for some time.

Under load the runtime is only about 60 minutes.  At maximal energy saving configuration (min. brightness, WLAN deactivated, energy saving profile,..) can the runtime increase up to 110 minutes.   

In total the Dell XPS is not a very mobile console, but with this performance the runtime is still ok. Short WLAN sessions are possible with this console. 

 

Power Consumption

Idle 61.7 / 65.9 / 69.5 Watt
Load 125.5 / 138.6 Watt
 
Key: min: , med: , max:         
Battery Runtime
Idle (without WLAN, min brightness)
1h 50min
DVD
1h 20min
Load (maximum brightness)
1h 00min

Verdict

Dell XPS M1730 Gaming-Notebook
Dell XPS M1730 Gaming-Notebook

The Dell XPS M1730 could score with more than only its appearance. The highlights of the gaming console are especially the attractive case, the bright display the good performance and the low sound and temperature emissions.

Except for some ugly big parts and slits the nearly five kilo console still looks compact. The design of the case is very nice, especially the LED illumination.

The keyboard is for a gaming console ok. The possible deflection point was somewhat too big, but in total this shouldn’t be a problem for a notebook which is not intended for long texts. The same goes for the unusual position of the keys because of the big case.
We also liked the additional features like the gaming display or the impressive keyboard illumination.

The display in the WUXGA format provides a good resolution and passable brightness. Very good was the maximum contrast because of the low black level. Also the vantage point stability is very good, as long as the ambient brightness is not so high to avoid reflections on the display.

In respect to the performance the Dell XPS M1730 provides a good performance which was recently still the limit in notebooks. Two nVIDIA Geforce 8700M GT video chips and strong Core 2 Duo CPUs from Intel provide a good game performance. But at new DX10 titles like Crysis the performance is rather low. Better is the new Geforce 8800M GTX, which has only recently started to be used in the notebooks.

The very low emissions of the gaming notebook are quite impressive. In the idle operation the XPS M1730 is nearly silent and also under load is the fan quiet. Moreover the surface temperature is quite low.

Secondary is the battery runtime of the XPS M1730. With runtimes between one and two hours the XPS is not really a mobile console.

Im Test: Dell XPS M1730
Dell XPS M1730

Specifications

Dell XPS M1730

:: Processor
:: Mainboard
Intel PM965
:: Memory
2048 MB, DDR2 PC5300 667Mhz, 2x1024MB, max. 4096MB
:: Graphics adapter
NVIDIA GeForce 8700M GT SLI - 256 MB, Core: 625 MHz, Memory: 800 MHz, GDDR3 VRAM
:: Display
17 inch 16:10, 1920x1200 pixel, UltraSharp TrueLife WUXGA TFT , glossy: yes
:: Harddisk
250 GB - 5400 rpm, 250 GB 5400 rpm SAMSUNG HM250JI ATA Device
:: Soundcard
SigmaTel HD Audio
:: Connections
1 Express Card 54mm, 4 USB 2.0, 1 Firewire, 1 DVI, 1 S-Video, 1 Infrared, 1 Kensington Lock, Audio Connections: 2x Headphones, Microphone , Card Reader: 8in1,
:: Networking
Broadcom NetXtreme BCM5754M PCI-E Gigabit Ethernet (10/100MBit), Intel PRO/Wireless 3945ABG (a b g ), 2.0 Bluetooth
:: Optical drive
TSSTcorp CDDVDW TS-L632H ATA
:: Size
height x width x depth (in mm): 51 x 303 x 406
:: Weight
4.83 kg Power Supply: 1.46 kg
:: Battery
85 Wh Lithium-Ion, 11.1V
:: Price
2500 Euro
:: Operating System
Microsoft Windows Vista Home Premium 32 Bit
:: Additional features
Remote Control, Accessory Bag,..., 12 Months Warranty

 

The Dell XPS M1730 wants one thing: to attract attention.
Dell XPS M1730 Image
Provided is among others a DVI-D-I port for analog and digital monitor connection.
Dell XPS M1730 Image
Moreover the XPS can be ordered with UMTS.
Dell XPS M1730 Image
Standard is a WLAN hardware switch and the WiFi-Catcher to find wireless networks.
Dell XPS M1730 Image
The keyboard contrasts with the case.
Dell XPS M1730 Image
Especially the illumination of the keyboard is impressive.
Dell XPS M1730 Image
A nice feature is the Logitech Gaming Panel for additional information at the gaming.
Dell XPS M1730 Image
The 17 inch WUXGA display with a resolution of 1920x1200 pixels provides great oversight and brightness.
Dell XPS M1730 Image
The weak point of the panel is the strong reflecting surface.
Dell XPS M1730 Image
The hardware provides power: Core 2 Duo (extreme) CPU, Geforce 7800MGT SLI Graphic and PhysiX accelerator.
Dell XPS M1730 Image
Despite the good performance of the notebook the fan never became very loud.
Dell XPS M1730 Image
Also the surface temperature was always ok.
Dell XPS M1730 Image
The ports are located in the rearward area of the chassis.
Dell XPS M1730 Image
...robust construction and the usage of aluminium parts at the base unit.
Dell XPS M1730 Image
The notebook with its thickness of maximal 50mm convinces with its…
Dell XPS M1730 Image
For this reason the gaming notebook has an attractive appearance, like...
Dell XPS M1730 Image
...the attractive glossy paintwork.
Dell XPS M1730 Image
But really impressive is the XPS with dimmed light,...
Dell XPS M1730 Image
...and enabled LED illumination.
Dell XPS M1730 Image
The illumination provides a good range of colors and effects.
Dell XPS M1730 Image
Also the form of the XPS is despite its size,...
Dell XPS M1730 Image
...and weight of nearly 5kg (PSU additional 1.5kg) quite good-looking.
Dell XPS M1730 Image
so the M1730 can be expected to be present at every LAN party.
Dell XPS M1730 Image
But the XPS is not only good-looking,...
Dell XPS M1730 Image
...also the workmanship of the console is ok,...
Dell XPS M1730 Image
...only somewhat too big slits don’t fit the image.
Dell XPS M1730 Image
Only the battery runtime was not so good, but this is for a DTR console less a priority.
Dell XPS M1730 Image

Devices with the same GPU

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» Review Intel Core i7 Processors in Notebooks
GeForce GTX 280M, Core i7 (Desktop) 950
» Review Dell XPS M1730 with 8800M GTX SLI
GeForce 8800M GTX SLI, Core 2 Duo T7700
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» Review Toshiba Qosmio G30
GeForce Go 7600, Core Duo T2600

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» Dell Precision M2800 Notebook Review
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Dell XPS M1730 on Ciao

Pro

+Design
+Individual styling possibilities
+High resolution display
+Good performance
+Low noise emissions
+Good speakers
+Nice goodies, like the illuminated keyboard, WLAN Catcher, Gaming Display
 

Cons

-Weight and dimensions
-Glare type display
-Low battery runtime

Dell XPS M1730
03/08/2008
J. Simon Leitner

Chassis
88%
Keyboard
85%
Pointing Device
86%
Connectivity
88%
Weight
48%
Battery
50%
Display
88%
Games Performance
96%
Application Performance
100%
Temperature
77%
Noise
94%
Add Points
98%
Average
83%
89%
Gaming *
Weighted Average

> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > Reviews > Archive of our own reviews > Review Dell XPS M1730 Gaming-Notebook
Author: J. Simon Leitner, 2007-12-20 (Update: 2012-05-26)