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Dell fires up physics-friendly gaming laptop

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Dell's latest gaming laptop has blasted off to the sound of the manufacturer's yells that the XPS M1730 is the first notebook with an integrated physics processing chip.

The PPU in question is Ageia's PhysX 100M, a co-processor designed to handle complex maths that might otherwise slow down the host CPU. Working out the movement of hundreds of objects simultaneously is its forté, for instance.

Dell XPS M1730
Dell's XPS M1730: physics processor on board

The M1730 also incorporates a pair of Nvidia GeForce 8700M GT graphics chips, each with 256MB of video memory and operating co-operatively in SLI mode and driving the laptop's 17in, 1920 x 1200 screen - which also features a two-megapixel webcam.

The notebook's processor is a 2.2GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7500, but buyers can elect to upgrade to a four-core Core 2 Extreme X7900 running at 2.8GHz, Dell said - just pay £670 ($1355) more. The base-level M1730 comes with 2GB of 667MHz DDR 2 memory in dual-channel configuration, and a 7200rpm 200GB hard drive.

Dell XPS M1730
Dell's XPS M1730: pricey upgrades available

The laptop also has a DVD±R/RW optical unit. Again, it's upgradeable, this time to a Blu-ray Disc drive for an extra £388 ($785). A 64GB solid-state drive is also an option - but at £458 ($927) it's not a cheap one.

Wireless connectivity comes a standard: Bluetooth 2.0 and 802.11a/b/g Wi-Fi, with 3G HSDPA or EvDO cellular adaptors available as optional extras in certain territories.

A neat touch: the M1730 comes with a remote control that docks into the laptop's ExpressCard slot.

US prices start at $2999, while UK buyers will pay at least £1799. It's available in a selection of colours: blue, red, white and black.

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