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Dell Inspiron XPS Gen 2 gaming notebook

Phew, what a scorcher!

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Dell has pulled all the stops out on the graphics, however. The Nvidia GeForce 6800 Ultra Go is a lightning-fast mobile graphics solution, with a core running at 450MHz. The 256MB of GDDR 3 memory is clocked at 532MHZ (1064MHz effective). The results are nothing short of staggering.

Dell Inspiron XPS Gen 2 Half-Life 2

Look at Half-Life 2, which is traditionally strong for ATI rather than Nvidia chipsets, and you'll see just how good the XPS is. At 1024 x 768 with no features on, the XPS turned in a score of 94.1fps. Even if you crank Half-Life 2 up to 1600 x 1200, you'll still get 64.9fps out of the XPS without any FSAA or AF enabled.

Dell Inspiron XPS Gen 2 Doom 3

Turning to Doom 3, which is home ground for Nvidia chipsets, and things look even better. The XPS turned in a score of just under 100fps at 1024 x 768. Turning on 4x FSAA does drop the score down to 67.8fps, but that's still very playable. Don't pay too much attention to the Rock Xtreme XT's scores with FSAA, since it's clear that FSAA was not actually being enabled, even when it was set.

Dell Inspiron XPS Gen 2 PCMark

Of course, with a TFT screen, you really want to run at the native resolution, but when the native resolution is 1920 x 1200, that's a lot to ask of any graphics chipset, especially a mobile one. That said, I fired up Counter Strike: Source and gave it a go. Obviously I left FSAA and AF off, but when you're running at that kind of resolution, you're not going to see too many jaggies anyway. So how was it? Amazing - as smooth as silk for the most part, with only the occasional frame glitch here and there. I had to keep reminding myself that I was playing on a notebook.

But the XPS doesn't just excel in raw gaming power, it's also a viable mobile computer as well. Whereas the Pentium 4-based gaming notebooks flatly refused to run MobileMark - basically they didn't have enough battery life to even complete one productivity run on MobileMark, so it couldn't produce a result. The XPS on the other hand, had no problem turning in a MobileMark score, and although two hours' battery life isn't outstanding, it's pretty impressive for a machine of this type.

There's no denying that the XPS Gen 2 is one of the most impressive mobile gaming systems I've ever seen, if not the most impressive. However, as is always the case in situations like this, you get what you pay for, and this machine is far from cheap. Speccing this system up on the Dell website brings back a price of £2561, although this does at least include VAT and shipping.

Although the name Dell may not carry the same gaming kudos as Voodoo or Alienware, you should try to look past that. If you have the cash, and can live with the mainstream branding, you can have the best gaming notebook around.

Verdict

Dell has got everything right with the XPS Gen 2 - it looks great, has blistering pace and is stacked full of features. Nice touches like the programmable lights separate the XPS from Dell's more staid product lines, while the Centrino foundation means that you could use it on the move if you had to. The price may be very high, but I have to recommend the XPS Gen 2.

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Dell Inspiron XPS Gen 2
 
Rating 90%
 
Price £2561
 
More info The Dell site

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