Review Dell XPS M1730 with 8800M GTX SLI

Double Core.

The XPS M1730 is now also available with two GeForce 8800M GTX SLI video cards for a surcharge of 490,- respectively 780,- Euro. Hence, Dell upgrades its signature gaming notebook with the newest and at the time of writing fastest video technology. This review uncovers, how these new video cards impact on performance and emissions and whether they are worth the surcharge.

Review Dell XPS M1730 Logo

Case

Dell didn't modify the big case of the XPS M1730 in any way since the upgrade with 8800M GTX SLI video card. Features like LED backlight, additional display for gaming, and striking design are the same. Also the robust workmanship did not change. So, we refer to the review of the XPS M1730 with 8700M GT SLI for a detailed discussing of these aspects.

Input Devices

Dell also didn't modify the good input devices too, so we'd like to refer to the former review regarding this aspect too. Typing with the illuminated keyboard is user-friendly. However, you can fatigue when typing for a long time. The touch pad once again proved to work precisely.

>> Description of the input devices of the former Dell XPS M1730 review

Display

This test sample was also equipped with 1920x1200 pixels 17" WUXGA panel with reflecting surface. The average brightness of 220 cd/m²  is similarly good than the one of the former M1730 (compare with 213cd/m² of the former review). However, when displaying a black picture, a visible uneven illumination got obvious at once.

Despite its good brightness the display reflects heavily in bright environments (rising sun in the office). So, it is to our opinion not fit for daily work. However, because of its good maximum contrast of above 640:1, it's a nice computer for gaming sessions or watching motion pictures in the evening.

A detailed discussing of the viewing angles (including video), colour representation, and speed of reaction is available in the former review of the XPS M1730.

190
cd/m²
257
cd/m²
227
cd/m²
185
cd/m²
250
cd/m²
222
cd/m²
202
cd/m²
232
cd/m²
225
cd/m²
Distribution of brightness
Information
Maximum: 257 cd/m²
Average: 221.1 cd/m²
Brightness Distribution: 72 %
Black: 0.4 cd/m²
Contrast: 625:1

Performance

Finally we come to the most important innovation, the performance of the two built-in Nvidia GeForce 8800M GTX connected by SLI bridge. At the time of our review this video solution was supported by an "old" Core 2 Duo T7700, because the new Penryn Core 2 Duo CPUs weren't built-in at that time. Now, the M1730 is only available with Penryn CPU.

Compared with the 8700M GT SLI solution the 8800M video card is really better. Actually its performance is up to 109% higher (Lightsmark 2004), in average it is about 44%  higher, so, this is a clear improvement. Only the performance of Doom3 with ultra details is 13% worse (however, 122 fps are still very good) compared with the 8700M GT. This might be due to the clearly higher clock rate of the 8700M GT (obviously the bigger number of pipelines is not crucial for Doom 3).

Compared to only a single 8800M GTX video card (if you deactivate SLI by the Nvidia system control), the artificial benchmarks of Futuremark only display a clear performance increase. The performance impact of deactivating SLI on games heavily depends on their support of SLI. World in Conflict, Crysis, and Company of Heroes profit from the second video card. Their performance is increased by 9%, 8%, and 4%  (all of them with highest level of details). There was hardly any difference when running F.E.A.R. and Supreme Commander. And Doom3 was even slower with second video card.

The rest of the equipment is also better than the one of the former M1730, so this also slightly improves the overall performance. Two Seagate hard disks in RAID 0 connection, 4GB RAM (only 3.2 GB are accessible in Vista 32 Bit) and a  T7700 processor  (the former M1730 was equipped with a T7500) also contribute to the improved performance.

The performance for applications is, similar to the M1730 which was equipped with 8700M, excellent. Furthermore, the new Penryn processor should even improve it (see also our comprehensive Penryn comparison review).

Benchmark Comparison Artificial Benchmarks
Benchmark Comparison Artificial Benchmarks
Benchmark Comparison Games - Part 1
Benchmark Comparison Games - Part 1
Benchmark Comparison Games - Part 2
Benchmark Comparison Games - Part 2
3D Mark
3DMark 2001SE30794 points
3DMark 0345520 points
3DMark 0515615 points
3DMark 06
 1280x1024
10824 points
Help
3DMark 06 in comparison
Asus Eee PC 1101HA (min)
 Z520, Graphics Media Accelerator (GMA) 500
68
   ...
HP Pavilion dv6-6008eg
 2630QM, Radeon HD 6770M
10762
Asus N55SL-S1016V
 2450M, GeForce GT 635M
10818
Dell XPS M1730
 T7700, GeForce 8800M GTX SLI
10824
Acer Aspire M5-581TG-53314G52Mass
 3317U, GeForce GT 640M
10911
Acer Aspire V3-571G-53238G1TMaii
 3230M, GeForce GT 730M
10917
   ...
Clevo Clevo P157SM (max)
 4930MX, GeForce GTX 880M
29955

World in Conflict

The integrated benchmark of World in Conflict shows a complex fight and should be an upper limit. We reviewed with the following settings: 1024x768 - high - DirectX 10 with an average of 31 fps. You can run this game smoothly at best with these settings.

Resolution Settings min. med max
800x600 very low, DX 9 69 120 249
1024x768 medium, DX 9 21 52 134
1024x768 high, DX 10 15 31 90
1024x768 very high, DX 10 10 25 57
1920x1200 very high, DX 10 4 14 32

Call of Duty 4

This up-to-date shooter, proved to be playable in full HD resolution, i.e., 1920x1200 with an average of 88 fps. The minimum frame rate (Level 1) was 60 fps. So, you can enjoy this game without flickering - even on-line matches are possible.

Company of Heroes (1.7)

This real-time strategy game was according to its built-in benchmark only playable with a resolution of 1024x768 and high details (min:15, med:36, max 60 fps). A short test with a resolution of 1920x1200 displayed only 3 fps at a  skirmish (with graphical errors), so, it is unplayable. Maybe improvements (by Nvidia) of the video driver could help here.

Unreal Tournament 3

This fast multi-player shooter had an excellent performance. It was, maybe due to the supported PhysX card, with a resolution of 1920x1200 and maximum details absolutely playable (30-60 fps, in average: 53 fps).

Age of Empires 3 - Asian Dynasties

The relatively demanding real-time strategy game by Microsoft demands especially for multi-player games much from CPU and video card. The review proved that the XPS M1730 is ready to cope with these demands.  The game was well playable (20-60 fps) with the native resolution of 1920x1200 and all setting on high (except from the footprints). However, sometimes there were short interrupts (0 fps).

Doom 3

This shooter, which is based on OpenGL, is a classical scary shooter. It can be played with highest resolution and highest number of details.

Doom 3
 ResolutionSettingsValue
 1024x768Ultra, 0xAA, 0xAF116.3 fps
 800x600High, 0xAA, 0xAF121.5 fps
 640x480Medium, 0xAA, 0xAF125.1 fps
 640x480Low, 0xAA, 0xAF125.2 fps

Quake 4

The same was true for Quake 4, which is based on Doom 3's engine. Even with the detail level 'ultra' it was possible to play smoothly with an average of 60 fps.

F.E.A.R.

Fear, another scary shooter, supports only DirectX 9. Even at a resolution of 1600x1200 and highest detail level it was possible to play Fear with an average of 56 fps.

F.E.A.R.
 ResolutionSettingsValue
 1024x768GPU: max, CPU: max, 0xAA, 0xAF76 fps
 800x600GPU medium, CPU medium, 0xAA, 0xAF84 fps
 640x480GPU min, CPU min, 0xAA, 0xAF117 fps

Supreme Commander

The test of the CPU demanding Supreme Commander uncovered that the performance diminishes, the higher the number of players and the bigger the maps. In single-player mode and with small maps it was possible to enjoy playing Supreme Commander with a resolution of 1920x1200 and high number of details. However, with big multi-player maps, the game mostly flickers. The Core 2 Duo was clearly not sufficiently powerful.

Crysis

Today's most hardware demanding game, Crysis, was even a heavy load for the two 8800M GTX in SLI connection. The game was with a high detail level only reasonably playable with XGA resolution (in between it flickered time and again). You'll need to try different settings to find one which is most convenient for this game.

Crysis - GPU Benchmark
 ResolutionSettingsValue
 1024x768High36.5 fps

Application performance

Due to two 200GB hard disks combined in a RAID 0 array the performance is very good for applications. This way the two 200 GB hard disk have a performance which is as good as the one of the currently fastest 3.5'' desktop hard disks, however, at the greater risk of data loss, and less capacity. So, the XPS should also be sufficiently powerful for demanding applications like video editing, image processing, and software development. If the intended field of operation is CAD or 3D rendering you should maybe prefer a notebook of the Precision series, which is equipped with certified video cards.

PC Mark
PCMark 056458 points
Help
PCMark 05 in comparison
Acer Aspire One 751 (min)
 Z520, Graphics Media Accelerator (GMA) 500
692
   ...
Apple Macbook Pro 17 inch 2009-03
 T9550, GeForce 9600M GT
6414
Dell Studio XPS 16
 T9400, Mobility Radeon HD 3670
6449
Dell XPS M1730
 T7700, GeForce 8800M GTX SLI
6458
Dell Latitude E4310
 560M, Graphics Media Accelerator (GMA) HD Graphics
6475
MSI Megabook GT627
 P8600, GeForce 9800M GS
6481
   ...
Fujitsu Celsius H710 WXP11DE (max)
 2820QM, Quadro 1000M
13842
2x Seagate Momentus 7200.2 ST9200420ASG (RAID 0)
Transfer Rate Minimum: 62.3 MB/s
Transfer Rate Maximum: 97.1 MB/s
Transfer Rate Average: 83.8 MB/s
Access Time: 14.9 ms
Burst Rate: 87.1 MB/s
CPU Usage: 6.6 %

Emissions

Loudness

The impact of the new high-performance video cards on fan control is most obvious. Overall all measured values are higher than of the (nearly silent)  M1730 with  8700M GT video card. Even if idle, the noise level of the fan is at least 34 dB (compare with the hardly audible 31.2 dB of the former review). This is about the level of other well-known DTR notebooks.

The maximum noise level of 45 dB also clearly exceed the 37.7 dB of the 8700M GT version. Despite being relatively loud, we didn't feel that the noise is obtrusive.

Noise Level

Idle 34.2 / 35.8 / 40.5 dB(A)
HDD 36.2 dB(A)
Load 40.5 / 45.2 dB(A)
 
    30 dB
silent
40 dB
audible
50 dB
loud
 
min: , med: , max:     (15 cm distance)

Temperature

The temperature emissions are very similar to the ones of the 8700M SLI Version. The fan, which runs more frequently and faster, compensates for the higher temperature emissions of the 8800M video cards, Therefore, the maximum surface temperature is 41.4°C, which is alright. The palm rest areas stay comfortably cool too, so, there is no impairment of serviceability caused by heat.

Max. Load
 41.4 °C41.3 °C36.0 °C 
 31.5 °C32.5 °C30.1 °C 
 31.9 °C32.7 °C26.9 °C 
Maximum: 41.4 °C
Average: 33.8 °C
37.1 °C39.7 °C38.4 °C
31.9 °C34.4 °C33.4 °C
29.7 °C32.3 °C33.1 °C
Maximum: 39.7 °C
Average: 34.4 °C
Room Temperature 22 °C

Speakers

There was also no difference regarding speakers compared with the former review. The sound of the four speakers is clear and good. Basses are audible, but, not as good as of notebooks with extra subwoofer. Overall the maximum volume is alright, however, it could be better for music or DVD playback.

Battery Runtime

As expected the battery runtime is indeed very short. During our review it ranges from 60 to nearly 90 minutes. In comparison with the 8700 GT SLI model, the maximum runtime, measured when idling with minimum brightness, and without wireless communication modules, fell from 110 to 86 minutes in our test.

Because the XPS is also very heavy and, therefore, not really mobile, the short battery runtime is not really crucial.

Power Consumption

Idle 73 / 86 / 88 Watt
Load 145 / 194 Watt
 
Key: min: , med: , max:         
Battery Runtime
Idle (without WLAN, min brightness)
1h 27min
Load (maximum brightness)
1h 01min

Verdict

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

To summarize the Dell XPS M1730 does well. In our review all current games ran smoothly, most of them at highest detail level. The difference to the predecessor M1730 with 8700M GT SLI video solution is obvious at once. The improved performance causes higher noise emissions and costs essentially more.

Compared with a single 8800M GTX video card the performance increase is only small. Here you can only hope that the video driver will be improved (or that Dell also offers a model with only a single 8800M GTX video card besides one with a single 8700M GT. At the time of writing it is not reasonable to prefer the SLI solution compared to a single video card (however, you do not have the choice yet).

All other aspects of the XPS M1730 are the same as in our previous review, so, more details are available there. These are among others a good quality of the case, good input devices, and a reflecting display.

Summarizing the above the XPS M1730 is to be recommended for gamers, who focus on performance and less on price. Due to LED effects it will also attract attention on LAN parties.

Review Update: Dell XPS M1730 with two 8800M GTX video cards connected by SLI
Review Update: Dell XPS M1730 with two 8800M GTX video cards connected by SLI

Specifications

Dell XPS M1730

:: Processor
:: Mainboard
Intel PM965
:: Memory
4096 MB, DDR2 PC2-5300 667Mhz, 2x2048MB, max. 4096MB
:: Graphics adapter
NVIDIA GeForce 8800M GTX SLI - 1024 MB, Core: 500 MHz, Memory: 800 MHz, GDDR3 VRAM 2x512MB RAM 1250 MHz shader clock
:: Display
17 inch 16:10, 1920x1200 pixel, UltraSharp TrueLife WUXGA TFT , glossy: yes
:: Harddisk
2x Seagate Momentus 7200.2 ST9200420ASG (RAID 0), 200 GB 7200 rpm
:: 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 3965ABN (a b n ), 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
2808 Euro
:: Operating System
Microsoft Windows Vista Home Premium 32 Bit
:: Additional features
XPS Accessory Bag, Recovery CD, Drivers, 12 Months Warranty

 

Update of the Dell XPS M1730 review - now equipped with two 8800M GTX SLI video cards.
Update of the Dell XPS M1730 review - now equipped with two 8800M GTX SLI video cards.
The look of the XPS M1730 stayed the same.
The look of the XPS M1730 stayed the same.
The display still reflects heavily and the uneven illumination is highly visible with black pictures.
The display still reflects heavily and the uneven illumination is highly visible with black pictures.
However, the performance improved: Two 8800M GTX video cards connected by SLI clearly outperforms the 8700M GT SLI. Compared with a single 8800M GTX the performance gain is only remarkable when running artificial benchmarks.
However, the performance improved: Two 8800M GTX video cards connected by SLI clearly outperforms the 8700M GT SLI. Compared with a single 8800M GTX the performance gain is only remarkable when running artificial benchmarks.
Unfortunately, the fan control changed because of the more powerful video cards. The noise is no longer silent, but, usual for DTR notebooks.
Unfortunately, the fan control changed because of the more powerful video cards. The noise is no longer silent, but, usual for DTR notebooks.
The surface temperatures stay alright - the palm rest areas stay actually rather cool.
The surface temperatures stay alright - the palm rest areas stay actually rather cool.
The battery runtime, which was already short, is still shorter. However, this is not a crucial aspect for a DTR notebook.
The battery runtime, which was already short, is still shorter. However, this is not a crucial aspect for a DTR notebook.

Devices with the same GPU

» Test Alienware Area-51 m17x Notebook
Core 2 Duo T9500, 17.1", 4.96 kg

Devices with Same Screen Size and/or Weight

» Review Alienware M17x R3 GTX 580M i7-2820QM Notebook
GeForce GTX 580M, Core i7 2820QM
» Review Intel Core i7 Processors in Notebooks
GeForce GTX 280M, Core i7 (Desktop) 975
» Review Intel Core i7 Processors in Notebooks
GeForce GTX 280M, Core i7 (Desktop) 950
» Review Dell XPS M1730 Gaming-Notebook
GeForce 8700M GT SLI, Core 2 Duo T7500
» CeBIT 2007: Review Asus G2P Notebook
Mobility Radeon X1700, Core 2 Duo T7600
» Review Toshiba Qosmio G30
GeForce Go 7600, Core Duo T2600

Devices from the same Manufacturer

» Dell Inspiron 14-7437 FHD Ultrabook Review Update
HD Graphics 4400, Core i7 4510U, 14", 2 kg
» Dell Latitude 12 Rugged Extreme Convertible Review
HD Graphics 4400, Core i5 4300U, 11.6", 2.72 kg
» Dell Latitude 14 Rugged Extreme Notebook Review
HD Graphics 4400, Core i5 4300U, 14.0", 3.69 kg
» Dell Inspiron 17-5748 Notebook Review
HD Graphics 4400, Core i7 4510U, 17.3", 3.19 kg

Price Comparison

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Dell XPS M1730

Pricerunner.de

Pro

+Attractive design
+Individual outlook selectable
+Bright, high-resolution display
+Good performance for games and applications
+Only moderate temperature emissions
+Good sound
+Many useful features like an illuminated keyboard, WLAN, Catcher and gaming display
 

Cons

-High weight, big size
-Display reflects heavily
-Low battery runtime

Rating

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

Chassis
88%
Keyboard
85%
Pointing Device
86%
Connectivity
88%
Weight
48%
Battery
40%
Display
88%
Games Performance
98%
Application Performance
95%
Temperature
80%
Noise
75%
Add Points
90%
Average
80%
87%
Gaming *
Weighted Average

Explanatory note to the rating

The partly lower rating compared with the first XPS M1730 test is due to the later point of time. Especially because of the availability of faster Penryn processors (e.g. the Core 2 Extreme X9000) the top notebooks got also better.

> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > Reviews > Archive of our own reviews > Review Dell XPS M1730 with 8800M GTX SLI
Author: J. Simon Leitner, 2008-03-12 (Update: 2012-05-26)