"Big and Bad"on by DSRoyall
Pros Yes, it's fast enough to scare little children, appears well-built, ACPI actually works
Cons Will stretch the arm carrying it, poor placement of multimedia controls on outside front
Summary First, I should mention that I have a rather unusual use for my laptops; I use them to talk for me. I'm phyically disabled with Cerebral Palsy. I can only speak via computer using custom software I developed. The laptops are Velcro'd to a folding aluminum table mounted on my wheelchair. Power is supplied from the chair's batteries to the laptop's automotive-type adapter through a commercial 24-to-12 volt converter. The nature of this solution is that whatever is my current laptop gets almost continuous use in a central role as part of my everyday life. It is responsible for my banking, software development, shopping, communicating, and even entertainment. Such varied-but-central casting clearly stretches any laptop and its underlying service agreement to their utmost limits.
In all honesty, I must note that the jury is still officially out on the XPS Gen 2, because I've had mine for under a month. However, that's long enough to reach some initial impressions.
Indeed, the XPS line is fast, and the Gen 2 holds up its end admirably. This isn't news though, as the XPS is marketted as game machines. Games are the most difficult and demanding applications of all. Therefore, it logically follows that a good game computer can probably do whatever else you assign it to do while still half-asleep. The XPS Gen 2 accomplishes this in spades, leaving my Dimension 4600 (3.02 GHz) relegated to server duty. No doubt the Gen 2 is even more impressive with a full gigabyte of RAM, but that's a luxury that must wait until my Dell Preferred Account cools down some. Even at 512 MB of memory, my Gen 2 is laughing at CPU-hogs like GTR.
Speaking of being hot, I had expected the Gen 2 to have overheating issues. My previous laptop, an Inspiron 8200, developed that annoying habit after its last service call. I had anticipated the Velcro giving the hot-natured Gen 2 fits, but I'm relieved to say that isn't the case. I've used it out in 95-degree heat, and, while even the keyboard gets toasty, the internal fans keep the XPS Gen 2 purring.
Anything as powerful as the Gen 2 will be power-hungry. That's so much a given that I don't bother listing it as a con. Still, my Gen 2 can cheerfully draw my wheelchair batteries down to where the chair can't move in about eight hours. Factoring out the efficiency limits of the voltage conversion steps, that's still roughly 720-930 watts expended. Count your blessings if the Gen 2 gives you two hours on its internal battery. Fortunately, the laptop is the first I've encountered with ACPI functions that work reliably. That means that going to stand by and waking up are actually events you can count on happening. That makes the laptop a much more benign energy consumer.
The XPS Gen 2 does have a quirk I found annoying at first. It comes with multi-colored LEDs in the speaker, fan, and display panel areas. You can select from a menu of colors in the BIOS. These LEDs, like the 17" screen, are extras that I had no interest in. I don't buy laptops as fashion statements. Yet, after a while, I set the LEDs to a dull emerald green, giving the Gen 2 a pleasant "otherworldly" motiff. I still refer to the LEDs as "mood lights," however.
In short, the Gen 2 is a laptop with capacity to spare. Considering that it is available with a four-year service agreement, that's probably a very good thing.
Pros Looks, performance, weight, battery life and thermal effeciency
Cons Price and thats really about it.
Summary The XPS Gen 2 is a stellar machine and one I've opted to order. Simply put, it offers the best gaming laptop in the industry. It features light weight, 2+ hr battery life, low heat production and top notch gaming performance. Others may come here and try to defend their respective brands (e.g. Alienware/Sager/Hypersonic) but those DTRs all lack in gaming performance when put up against XPS 2. Not only that, they are hot as an oven, barely have 40 mins of battery life on a throttled cpu and weigh 12 lb+. So in essence, they aren't really laptops, but rather SFF PC's with an lcd attached.
If you want a gaming laptop that you can carry with you that looks great, light weight, won't burn you and has top-of-the-line gaming performance, the XPS 2 is the only choice.Updated
Dell right now has an ongoing problem with their LCD units. The 9200's suffered from a "sparkle" effect that created disortions when viewing a white or green colored background. This problem has now unfortunately appeared in the 9300 WUXGA 17" Truelife screens as well. It seems Dell uses two brands of LCDs, Samsung and Philips-LG. The latter are the ones that are causing most of the problems so it comes down to luck of the draw for the user which shouldn't be the case.
There is a chance Dell may be shipping perfect XPS 2 test units to reviewers to garner better ratings, but since nobody besides a handful of reviewers have seen the machine, its possible Dell may use a better display for their top of the line machine. Then again they may just stick LG displays on it and all of them will sparkle. For now I gave it a 10 rating based on specs alone but I will be sure to come back here and update my opinion if my unit has the infamous LG screen with sparkles. If that turns out to be the case, I'll definitely advise everyone to AVOID dell at all costs.Updated
I received the XPS 2 on 3/31 and have had sometime to play with it now. I'll quickly list some pros/cons and then final thoughts and overall rating:
-It's fast, VERY fast. Best 3DMark05 score I got so far was 5394 and another person at notebookforums.com has managed to score 6000 (albeit with an OC'd card).
-Sound: Fantastic, I'm not audiophile but this is definitely the best sounding laptop I've had the pleasure of using. Everything is crisp and the subwoofer is a nice touch.
-Keyboard: Nice and sturdy with no flex.
-Fans: Are rarely active and when they are, they are very quiet even under heavy gaming use.
-Battery life: I've managed over 2 hrs while having the brightness level at 6/8 and having a dvd playing, not bad at all!
-And finally the LCD: I ended up with an LG and it turned out to have fantastic colors.
-LCD: I listed it as a pro but it also has a downside. As I mentioned in my previous comment, Dell had an ongoing issue with their lcd units in regards to sparkling. The unit I have fortunately does not have much of a problem with "sparkling" but it does suffer from a little bit of light "leakage" at the top and bottom of the screen which is somewhat disappointing.
-Dell's overclock restrictions: I'm really irritated over the fact that Dell decided to lockout the 6800 Go Ultra's bios so that end users cannot overclock it. The only known method thus far is to use the auto overclock feature built into the nvidia drivers but it is far from reliable. I'm also irritated by the fact that they purposely use PLL's that prohibit overclocking of the CPU. The video card's GPU runs between 52C-63C during gaming so there's no reason mild overclocking should not be allowed, especially since nvidia has built-in clock throttling to prevent damage to the GPU.
Overall Score: 8.2, it could've been a perfect system but the lack of overclocking and ongoing problems with the display bring down its overall score.
Pros Screaming performance. Fastest GPU ever put in a laptop. Quiet. Thermally efficient. Excellent battery life for a DTR. Surprisingly light. Screen looks stunning when gaming.
Cons Some screen 'sparkle' with white backgrounds (bothers some; not me). 6800go Ultra isn't overclockable... so far.
Summary I received my XPS Gen 2 one week ago, so this is a first hand review. I'd been on the verge of ordering a Sager 9860 when the XPS Gen 2 was announced and placed my order in late Feb. My system features a Pentium M 2.0 GHz, 1 GB DDR2 RAM, 7200 RPM 60 GB HDD, Nvidia 6800go Ultra with 256MB DDR3 RAM, Intel 2915 wireless 'Centrino' chipset, 17" 1920x1200 UXGA 'Truelife' Glossy widescreen, 8x DVD-RW, Bluetooth, Microsoft XP Mediacenter, Microsoft Office Basic, 3 year onsite repair warranty, etc. The price came in at just over $2900 with discounts at the time I ordered.
This is the most remarkable gaming laptop ever built. It's the fastest by any important measure (3dMark05, FPS in gaming tests). It is much thinner, lighter and cooler than it's closest competition (Clevo 900 series, i.e.: Alienware 7700, Sager 9860, Hypersonic, Falcon NW, Voodoo, etc.) while outperforming them by a fairly large margin. It has the highest resolution screen, the fastest video card (Nvidia 6800go Ultra), and the longest battery life.
The key to the XPS Gen 2's efficiency and small (for a DTR/Gaming machine) form factor is the use of the Pentium M 'Dothan' processor. It uses drastically less power than the Pentium 4s used in the competition and generates much less heat (which also allows it to run MUCH quieter as it can use smaller fans running at lower speeds to keep it cool). The reviewers that have attacked this processor as a weakness betray their ignorance. The 2.0 GHz Dothan is equivilant to a 3.4 GHz Pentium 4 for gaming (at a fraction of the power usage)... but don't rely on me, check out Anandtech or one of the other hardcore tech sites that have tested these chips head to head. The ONLY reason to get a Pentium 4 system is if you do a lot of intense floating point operations... which doesn't apply to most users.
The key to the XPS Gen 2's stellar gaming performance is the 6800go Ultra, the fastest graphics card ever put in a laptop. It's a Dell exclusive... for now (I believe it's being tested in Clevo 900 clones, like those mentioned above, but not in production yet). This graphics solution is so fast that it's being compared to desktop gaming systems because there aren't any laptops that come close (see articles at Anandtech and Tom's Hardware).
The build quality of my machine is excellent. Esthetically it's one of the most attractive and distinctive laptops I've ever seen. The machined metal cover is beautiful... pictures don't do it justice. The LEDs on the front, sides and cover are actually quite fun. they can be any of 16 colors, brightness is adjustable and they can be turned off. Ergonomically, it's a typical laptop with a very nice keyboard and average touchpad (no pointer). It has all the necessary connections including six USB ports (that's gotta be a laptop record), DVI out, firewire, s-video, and a gigabit LAN.
The screen is big, beautiful and glossy with incredibly deep rich colors. It looks stunning when playing games. there is some visible 'sparkle' with plain white or light green backgrounds; if you don't look for it you probably won't notice it, but it drives some people crazy. My screen has no dead or stuck pixels and a tiny amount of light leakage (around 2mm) on the bottom edge; again excellent. I'm very happy with this screen.
Performance is stellar. 3dMark05 of 5132 at 1024x768. Doom3 is smooth at 1600x1200 high quality. It gets warm, but not hot, on the right rear corner where the Ultra is located.
The XPS Gen 2 isn't cheap, but represents a very good value for your gaming dollar. Configuring an Alienware 7700 as close as possible to my system (but with a lower resolution screen and slower video card, using a 3.4 P4 processor), the 7700 came in $400 more AFTER the current $500 off promotion they're having. They also have an amusing comparison to the XPS Gen 2 on their website... see if you can spot all the errors, omissions and untruths! If you are interested in a Clevo clone, look at the Sager 9860... same laptop for less.
There's no such thing as a perfect machine, but for mobile gaming nothing comes close to the XPS Gen 2.
Pros Performance, Looks (gamers)
Cons Weight, Size, Looks (everybody else)
Summary YES I own one, and NO I am not a Dell employee (nor an employee of any other computer company).
Lets start with the looks. This computer is designed to catch eyes, with light coming out of it here and there. (You can of course turn them off). To my personal taste this computer is a bit to much "Hey look at me!". But if you spend $3000 (which I did) on it maby you want it to light up like a Vegas sign.
The construction feels rigid. No creeking corners or such. I havent tried dropping it to see if it can take it . It is heavy though (8lb or 4kg). But when it replaces my desktop computer (in performance) I simply don't care.
All right, lets open this baby up... The first thing you see is the screen. And my god what a sceen it is.. Its BIG and bright. And let's not forget the resolution! 1920 x 1200 will even make your teenage kids jealous. --The reflective screen coating is very anoying in bright sunlight though. You constantly end up seeing yourself in the reflection. But indoors (not near a bright window) you won't notice it. --Maby it just luck but my screen hasn't shown any signs of malfunctioning whatsoever (as mentioned by other reviewers). Maby they have switched screens in the newer orders. (I got mine the 14:th of may)
The keyboard is very rigid, compared to my dell insp 8500 which feels like a plastic toy. (although I was expecting the numerical pad to be included on a 17 inch computer as it is on HP computers, now the keyboard looks too small for the computer)
The speakers on this system are surprisingly good. And the subwoofer (not really worth the name) is actually reproducing some of the low frequency sound in my music.
The touch pad is flat out lousy. The touch surface has a rough texture that makes my fingers go numb after using it for a while. And let's not forget the buttons, Too big and too noisy. Not at all like the one on my Acer. But if you are a gamer you will use an external mouse anyway.
I bought this computer solely for its gaming performance, and so far I have not been dissapointed. This machine is FAST. On my last computer (Dell Inspiron 8500) i couldn't really enjoy CS Source and Brothers in arms, but now i get 100+ fps (with www.FRAPS.com). I tested 3DMark2001 and ended up with 24'000 points. I ordered 2Gigs of RAM ($600) and I find it to be woth it. You can play Doom 3 and then simply ALT+TAB right out to your MSN or ICQ without any loading time.
YES I know that the CPU isn't the fastest on the market if you count the P4 and AMD cpus but who wants a computer that needs 6 fans constantly working, sounding like a minor tropical storm? Instead this computer is quiet.. When the fans are working (during serious gaming) they never get loud. And when simply working with business applications you almost never hear the fans.
Conclusion: If you are a gamer who demands the latest technology and want to show everybody that you have it and don't really mind the extra weight, this is the computer for you!
This computer is NOT designed for the home user, wanting a fairly good portable laptop to play frecell or solitaire or write your documents on. In that case get yourself an ultra portable such as Acer TravelMate.
Written on an XPS gen 2Updated
I have found the long missing registry file that enables overclocking* of the gpu. This feature was disabled in the dell driver. Use overclocking at your own risk! http://3dgpu.com/files/coolbits2.reg (All credit goes to 3DGPU)
(*)Overclocking is tweaking the hardware to run at faster-than-supposed-to speeds, giving you better performance. The problem is that you hardware will run hotter and this generally reduces the overall lifetime of the hardware.
Pros amazing fps
Cons Can't put a battery in the drive bay.
Summary You just can’t slow the Inspiron XPS Gen 2 down. Well not on AC.
For the number crunchers, here is my XPS Gen 2… 2 GHz Pentium M, 1 GB ram, 60GB 7200rpm hard drive, 256MB NVIDIA GeForce Go 6800 Ultra, XP Pro.
I had (and returned) an Inspiron XPS Gen 1 (3.4 GHz Pentium 4, 1 GB ram, 60GB 7200rpm hard drive, 256MB ATI Radeon 9800, 132WHr battery, XP Pro . It was a so-so machine that ate batteries as finger food. Not that I cared about battery life.
If you look at the numbers the XPS Gen 1 should have been the faster machine. The Pentium 4 being 70% faster with “equal” video cards, ram, hard drive, etc. But it is not so.
I got both laptops to run mostly Flight Simulator 2004. I added 38 meter terrain mesh and “real roads” for my VFR bush flying.
The XPS Gen 1 was all right at about 20fps with all settings at ultra high and 1280x800 no AA/AF. Now that isn’t anything to sneeze at, but this is intended as a cutting edge gaming laptop. And with FS 2006 expected it wasn’t going to cut it for the $ spent.
The new Gen 2 has serious wow factor. With equal settings I’m getting about 60fps!!!
So I thought what the hell, let’s try to bring this machine to a crawl. I turned _everything_ to maximum. If I could make it hard for the computer I did it. And it still came in with 20fps. This is still very flyable. I tried the same on the Gen 1 and got 5fps.
I noticed that the “maximum performance” is a different setting when on battery. So I tried my “crawl” test again on battery. I got 15fps. With more testing I found that the fps are about half of what I get on AC, no matter what the settings.
I’m not getting into all of the other cool things about the Gen 2 because you can find that info elsewhere. Just how fast this laptop is; which you can’t find anywhere.
Being able to fly in the Alaskan bush, priceless.