After an extended hiatus, the Dell XPS range is back on the Australian market in the form of the M1710 notebook. For the unacquainted, the XPS brand is Dell's foray into the hardcore gaming space, and while its success to date in the US market has been questionable, Dell hopes to turn things around Down Under.
Dell's recent acquisition of Alienware highlights the company's piqued interest in the gaming market, and the fact that Dell continues to update the XPS range despite said acquisition indicates that the two companies will remain operationally separate for the time being. This is possibly to keep Dell's corporate image from detracting from the Alienware "cool factor", but regardless, the M1710 looks to be a suitable notebook for those looking to purchase a pre-built gaming powerhouse.
The first thing you'll notice about the M1710, aside from its desktop replacement heft, is its sleek design. Looking more like something out of an over-the-top hacking movie (Swordfish, anyone?) the notebook boasts an illuminated touch pad, as well as adjustable 16-colour perimeter lighting. This means it can be personalised to suit your mood/style preference, and will certainly turn heads at the next LAN party you attend.
Speaking of LAN parties, if you're a gamer -- and you should be if you're considering this product -- one of the main benefits of purchasing a high-end notebook is that it can be transported from venue-to-venue with relative ease and setup within minutes. Recognising this, Dell has equipped the M1710 with its "RoadReady" magnesium-alloy chassis, which includes hard drive shock absorbers and sturdier latches/hinges. The sturdy design and notebook form factor come together to create a solution that's well-suited to mobile gamers.
At the heart of the system is an extremely powerful set of components, which rival that of an ultra-high-end desktop. Dell has adopted a blistering Intel Core Duo T2600 (2.16GHz) processor and behemoth Nvidia GeForce Go 7900 GTX 512MB graphics chip combo. It also offers up to 4GB of memory, as well as up to 120GB of hard disk space.
Once processed by the video card, pixels are pushed to a 17-inch widescreen UXGA display. The screen uses Dell's "TrueLife" technology, which the company promises increases brightness by 30 percent and contrast by 10 percent.
Multimedia content can be accessed without booting into Windows thanks to Dell's MediaDirect instant-on functionality. Other multimedia functions include a 5-in-1 memory card reader, an array of front-mounted multimedia buttons, dual stereo speakers and DVI/S-Video/VGA outputs.
XPS users are also privy to a dedicated, 24/7 personalised technical support system. This system recognises the fact that gamers are often extremely tech savvy, and have far more in-depth support requests (e.g. information on how to tweak their systems for maximum performance). Dell assures us that XPS support staff will be able to answer these types of questions with ease, and without the patronisation that is often required to communicate with more inexperienced, mainstream users. Further, Dell says that another advantage of this support system is shorter call queues.
As with all high-end notebooks, the M1710's price is fairly prohibitive. It starts from AU$4299, which buys you a Core Duo T2500 processor, 1GB DDR2 memory, 100GB of hard disk space and a 256MB GeForce Go 7900 GS graphics chip. Obviously, beefing the notebook up further can be done at an additional cost.
Also unsurprising is the fact that the notebook is extremely heavy at 3.98kg, with dimensions of 287 by 394 by 42.4mm. Of course, it's designed with minimal transportation in mind and certainly isn't adequate for use on the road.
With the most powerful components yet seen in a notebook, the Dell XPS M1710 is a suitable companion for the hardcore gamer.