Large and lovely — initial impressions. Never before have we seen such components under the hood of a mere notebook. And what a notebook it is; at 17-inches with a large bezel, this monster weighs in at just under five kilograms. Its aimed at LAN party freaks and gamers who want limited portability; certainly nobody who wants to cart his notebook around everyday ever will. If you want compact; skip this review now! We’d call it a desktop replacement but its clearly oriented towards the gaming fraternity; which makes it somewhat of a rarity.
Its colossal bulk aside, the XPS 1730 is quite a looker. With a solid body that has a mock carbon fibre finish and solid build quality all round you can be sure of a long lasting product. The screen is very crisp and has great viewing angles, while the resolution of 1920 x 1200 pixels may be considered to be too high for a 17-inch screen; we respect the fact that this was a necessity for what is essentially a gaming notebook. The keypad is also very well laid out although this isn’t apparent immediately, but becomes more evident once you spend some time using it. Keypad feedback is right on; as is the ergonomics and we have absolutely no complaints. There are also large and blue backlit, chromed multimedia buttons on the front of the notebook which work well and are usable in the dark. Bluetooth and WiFi can be switched on and off with a well positioned switch; very thoughtful. Four USB ports will be enough for almost all usage scenarios. The palm rest is nice and large. The recessed but sensitive trackpad works well.
There’s a little monochrome LCD display below the right hinge that works like a small status display showing the time, CPU and memory utilisation among other parameters. Powered by an X9000 Core 2 Extreme Edition CPU that runs at 2.8 GHz, the XPS 1730 has enough processing grunt to handle nearly anything you can throw at it. The price of this CPU alone is in the region of Rs 60,000 so be prepared to an unpleasant surprise when you read this behemoths price. The configuration we received also had 4 GB of DDR 2 667 MHz memory and two NVIDIA GeForce 8800 GTX graphics cards in SLI (Yes! You read that last part right). You can also upgrade to a 500 GB x 2 RAID 0 hard drive solution; and Dell offers an 80 GB SSD solution too, although this is prohibitively expensive at the moment.
With such components we expected performance to be shattering; while not on par with the fastest desktops around, the fact that Dell was able to get two of the fastest mobile graphics solutions under this things hood itself speaks volumes about their design. Obviously this notebook dissipates a lot of heat and the rear portion gets very hot; but through the vents large fins are visible which evidently do a good job; as the palm rest does not heat up at all.
We tested the mighty XPS 1730 with a plethora of benchmarks and here’s what we got:
The XPS 1730 scores more than the average gaming PC; with a mighty 12735 in 3D Mark 2006. Its hard drive index of 50 MB/s is also better than the average notebook; their scores usually do not exceed 40 MB/s. It does very well at gaming; its bread and butter and is easily the fastest gaming notebook out there. Battery life is a measly one hour 15 minutes with SLI on and one and a half hours with SLI off; gaming without mains power means your battery will run out in 35 minutes; well its better than your gaming rig and UPS!