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Dell XPS M1730 17in gaming laptop

The machine Dell calls 'The Beast'...

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The lack PhysX support apart, the M1730’s 3D capabilities are quite frankly astonishing. The previous range-topping XPS offered good performance for a laptop, but it was always its all-round abilities that helped it to impress. In this case, the Dell comes as close to bridging the gap between desktop and laptop as we’ve seen to date.

3DMark06 Results

Dell XPS M1730 - 3DMark06 Results

Longer bars are better

The M1730’s 3DMark06 score of 12,106 is considerably more than we’ve experienced from any other laptop, and highlights just how much quicker the GeForce 8800M GTX is when compared to its predecessor, the GeForce Go 7950GTX.

Crysis Results

Dell XPS M1730 - Crysis Results

Performance in frames per second
Longer bars are better

That said, there’s still some way to go before the laptop can match a desktop rig for sheer power. Running Crysis at 1024 x 768 saw a respectable average frame rate of 55f/s, but one we upped the resolution to a more detailed 1680 x 1050, it dropped to around 17f/s. In its native 1920 x 1200 resolution, the Dell really struggled, the frame rate flickering between 12 and 13f/s.

As with the Alienware Area 51 ALX CrossFireX desktop PC we reviewed recently, there’s no way of playing Crysis with anti-aliasing activated, with frame rates dropping to an unplayable 4f/s when we turned it on. Keep your expectations realistic, however, and it’s still possible to play at a decent resolution without any major trouble. We also found a host of other games worked in anti-aliased mode without trouble.

Our review machine was fitted with a high-end Intel Core 2 Duo T9300 processor running at 2.5GHz. Performance was further enhanced by the inclusion of 4GB of memory, and the two 160GB hard drives spin at a rapid 7,200rpm. You can also opt for a 64GB SSD although, at a whopping £470, it’s not likely to appeal to the masses. With the standard drive in place, the Dell has no trouble running multiple applications, and makes an excellent choice for those looking to replace their desktop PC.

This was backed up by an overall PCMark05 score of 6183 – again, one of the highest we’ve seen from a laptop, but still a way off the 7039 yielded by Rock's Xtreme 770, also equipped with a pair of GeForce 8800M GTX chips but a Core 2 Extreme CPU.

Windows Vista rates the Dell with a score of 5.1: 5.4 for the CPU, 5.1 for the memory, 5.9 for the graphics, 5.8 for gaming graphics and 5.9 for the hard drive.

Verdict

With the basic spec starting off at around £1399/$1999 and rising to over £2600/$3800, the XPS M1730 is not a cheap machine. But its impressive specification and sturdy build help to make it reasonable value for money. A similarly configured Alienware laptop costs considerably more, despite the use of a generic Clevo chassis on 17in models and, in the UK at least, there are few manufacturers who can compete on price or quality. If you’re in the market for a gaming machine and size isn’t a factor, it’s difficult to recommend anything else.

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Dell XPS M1730 17in gaming laptop

It's not cheap, but it is reliable and sports some impressive specs.
Price: £1399-2643 / $1999-3819 RRP

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