Graphics upgrade for Dell XPS notebook coming

Dell will offer an Nvidia graphics chip upgrade for its XPS M1730 gaming notebook. But there is a big MediaDirect gotcha.

Brooke Crothers Former CNET contributor
Brooke Crothers writes about mobile computer systems, including laptops, tablets, smartphones: how they define the computing experience and the hardware that makes them tick. He has served as an editor at large at CNET News and a contributing reporter to The New York Times' Bits and Technology sections. His interest in things small began when living in Tokyo in a very small apartment for a very long time.
Brooke Crothers
2 min read

Dell will offer an Nvidia dual graphics chip upgrade for 17-inch XPS M1730 gaming notebook owners--but stepping up won't be a cakewalk for MediaDirect users.

Dell XPS M1730 notebook with Nvdia 8800M GTX
Dell XPS M1730 notebook with Nvdia 8800M GTX Dell

The upgrade from the Nvidia dual 8700M GT to dual 8800M GTX graphics is in the works and will likely be released later this month, according to Dell.

Some users were upset when Dell upgraded the graphics in newer models of the M1730 to the 8800M GTX. The XPS 1730 with the 8800M GTX earned a score of almost 13,500 in 3Dmark06--which is about a 49 percent performance gain over two 8700M GT cards in the same notebook.

"In other words, games like Crysis, BioShock, Far Cry 2 and Age of Conan will scream," Dell said.

There will be two options. One will be done with an "installation package" and the other will be a "do-it-yourself kit."

"Considering the number of screws holding this beast together, most people will probably want the installation," Dell said.

There is one gotcha though. "MediaDirect 3.3 is not compatible with the driver for the (new) Nvida card," Dell said. MediaDirect is a Dell technology that enables a user to watch DVD movies, slideshows, or listen to music without having to boot the complete XP operating system. MediaDirect is installed in a special partition on the hard disk drive. When the computer is off, pressing the MediaDirect button will boot the MediaDirect partition instead of XP.

Dell said that the MediaDirect "incompatibility means that the MediaDirect software needs to be upgraded. Unfortunately, the upgrade will require a reformat and reinstallation. Beyond that, it will also require you to repartition the hard disk to make room for the new version of MediaDirect, which is a bit larger. Data loss has been a major concern for the engineers working on a solution. At this point, it would appear that there's really no way around wiping the drive to make the upgrade work with every feature."