Dell XPS M1730: SLI, Penryn, and Overclocking

by Jarred Walton on 2/28/2008 10:00 AM EST
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  • hyperealism - Monday, May 19, 2008 - link

    Are there any stats available showing how much power is saved by using the single video card compared to the SLI? I am buying one and I want to know if its worth getting the SLI version. It would be nice if you could disable one in the bios.

    Thanks in advance!
    Tye
    Reply
  • xantha - Monday, March 17, 2008 - link

    Just in case there are any Aussie readers that aren't aware but a gaming notebook can be more affordable than you think.

    You can get the XPS 1730 nicely specced for around AU$4300 (includes bluray, tv tuner, dual 8800, T9300, 4G) If you have the ability to salary sacrifice then that $4k+ starts dropping - lots :D

    First you don't pay GST so its now AU$3900. Then its taken out in pre-tax dollars so depending on what you are earning thats another 30-40% off. Making the XPS only AU$2340-$2730 effective cost. And its like 12mth interest free cause the payments are spaced out over the FBT year.

    Thanks Mr Taxman for a half price gaming notebook every year :D
    Reply
  • docjon - Monday, March 03, 2008 - link

    I'm just curious, With the new drivers is there still a large performance difference between Vista and XP? Reply
  • JarredWalton - Monday, March 03, 2008 - link

    The short summary is that I found no reason to even want to run XP on this system. It works great as is. Time constraints do not permit me to test every option, unfortunately.

    As you can imagine, given the number of tests run, all of the testing was done with the system as shipped (after uninstalling any Internet Security Suite of course - PUKE!) It is possible to order certain models of the M1730 with XP, but at this point I see little reason to buy a DX10 SLI setup only to run XP. I believe that the focus on driver optimizations for 8800M SLI has been primarily on Vista as well.

    I'm sure there are instances where XP is still slightly faster (and likewise others where Vista is faster), but the last time we took a close look at XP and Vista graphics performance those situations were very rare and generally not a serious concern. I mean, if we're talking about 30 FPS vs. 40 FPS that would be a serious issue, but when it's 180 vs. 190 I'm not too worried.
    Reply
  • Scottyboy99 - Tuesday, March 04, 2008 - link

    Am a bit gutted reading the article. I have dell xps m1730 (Core 2 duo 2.4 ghz, 8800m gtx sli & 4 gig ram - Vista Home Premium) & my 3d mark 06 are nowhere near the scores shown. I have 3d mark 06 basic demo version (I can only run half the tests & stuck at resolution 1280*1024) and my single gpu score is 8700 whilst my sli enabled score is 10750 ish. So I am 2000 points at least shy of the systems tested here. My drivers are dell stock 167.55. I did try out 174.16 from laptop2go & my scores went down by a few hundred so went back to 167.55.

    What am I doing wrong?

    Thanks
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Tuesday, March 04, 2008 - link

    Well, outside of overclocking, at stock speeds with the official 176.55 drivers I got 12859. My guess is that you might have a bunch of other software still installed that is affecting performance. I clean out all the stuff I don't want (i.e. McAfee Internet Security Suite or whatever it's called - Norton/Symantec is just as bad - and various other programs; I shut of Dell QuickSet as well as most other system tray icons/utilities), so that might be the problem you're having.

    The CPU score is going to be a factor, of course. I tested with Penryn 2.8GHz and got the following:

    2.8GHz 3DMark06 Scores:
    3DMarks: 12859.000000000
    SM2.0 Score: 5971.000000000
    SM3.0 Score: 6559.000000000
    CPU Score: 2554.000000000

    Bumping up the CPU speed to 3.2GHz (the same 400MHz gap that your system has relative to the test system) yielded:

    3.2GHz 3DMark06 Scores:
    3DMarks: 13920.000000000
    SM2.0 Score: 6337.000000000
    SM3.0 Score: 6969.000000000
    CPU Score: 2893.000000000

    So that's ~1000 points right there, and potentially I have a 6MB cache chip vs. your 4MB chip (T7700?). That could account for another ~1000 points or so. Also, the 174.20 drivers dropped Futuremark performance, but they dramatically improve gaming performance.
    Reply
  • Scottyboy99 - Tuesday, March 04, 2008 - link

    Ok thanks mate. Yes mine is T7700 cpu. You are probably right in that I should shut a whole bunch of stuff off. I do have the McAfee security suite running so maybe I should re-bench without that on (if I can work out how to close it down without disabling it at start up!!!). Based on what you have said I lose 1000 based on my cpu & the cache might be almost another 1000 so perhaps my score isn't so bad after all. Having said that I expect I should be able to eek some more performance out of my rig and maybe go past 11,000 marks. Will post if I get any joy.

    Thanks again
    Reply
  • flatron85 - Saturday, March 01, 2008 - link

    **** - **** - **** - **** - ****
    the last B could be an 8 the rest is readable.
    Reply
  • mark3450 - Friday, February 29, 2008 - link

    In Feburary 2005 Dell released the "Dell XPS/Inspiron Gen 2", which was the equivilant of the one machine reviewed here at the time. I own one.

    The last video driver update for this machine was November 2005. That means that Dell continued to the video drivers for this machine for LESS THAN ONE YEAR after it's release.

    I have attempted to update to various unofficial drivers without success (machine boots and runs but then crashes after a few minuites of use), and have been forced to return to the Dell blessed ones.

    Overall it's a nice piece of hardware, but the lack of driver support that was given too it makes me leery of buying the M1730.
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Friday, February 29, 2008 - link

    Would these by chance help?

    http://www.nvidia.com/object/winxp_notebook_167.51...">http://www.nvidia.com/object/winxp_notebook_167.51...

    I don't see any Vista drivers for those notebooks, unfortunately, but maybe I'm just not putting in the correct search criteria.
    Reply
  • FXi - Friday, February 29, 2008 - link

    If folks are going to be told that a laptop performs extremely well, I think it would be fair to throw at least a single desktop system (mainstream enthusiast level, nothing over the top) into the charts for comparisons. I realize it could stunt the graphs a bit, but folks really need to understand what they are buying into with these machines, and all too often they think they are getting something that is 90% of a desktop's power, and that's rarely the case.

    If it breaks the grapsh too badly, throw a couple of graphs in the end of the article (much like you have a couple of pages dedicated to "overclocking performance") that give the fair comparison. I'm not saying that lappies aren't worth it, just people should be fully aware of what they are paying for.
    Reply
  • 7Enigma - Friday, February 29, 2008 - link

    I would completely agree with you up until the conclusion of the article. I have never owned a laptop, and probably won't for quite some time. Because of this I don't follow the laptop-only parts (CPU/GPU/RAM/etc.) much and so thought, "This is a crazy fast laptop but I wonder how it compares to a Q6600 with 8800GTX".

    The conclusion really put the laptop in perspective for me. Basically its a top of the line desktop system from a year ago. That's all I needed to hear. I think it is quite a feat to have a laptop capable of performance a year behind current tech. Yes it is more desktop in a small form factor, but it is a easily portable computer that behaves like a very capable desktop system.

    With all that said, I can't wait to build my new system after 3 years with my current un-upgraded one. Just waiting on the 45nm quads and the new 9800's to pull the trigger...
    Reply
  • funky24 - Friday, February 29, 2008 - link

    man they got the best job in the whole world do u keep all hardware u test here ,man that is one mean laptop would kill to have it lol Reply
  • PlasmaBomb - Monday, March 03, 2008 - link

    Nope, they have to give it back :( Reply
  • Baked - Thursday, February 28, 2008 - link

    This is totally necessary... You can probably murder somebody w/ the power brick if they try to take the "notebook" from you. Reply
  • PlasmaBomb - Thursday, February 28, 2008 - link

    What size and rating does the power brick on this beast have? Reply
  • JarredWalton - Thursday, February 28, 2008 - link

    It's the biggest power brick I've seen to date, rated at 230W output. So assuming ~80% efficiency, even at the maximum load with overclocking it still has some remaining capacity. Heck, the power brick probably weighs as much as a Mac Air! ;) Reply
  • PlasmaBomb - Saturday, March 01, 2008 - link

    Cheers for the info, any chance of a piccy?
    It must get rather hot, if indeed it's 80% efficient it is dumping 50W when drawing 260W from the plug!
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Sunday, March 02, 2008 - link

    Image added. And it could be less than 80% efficient, but the point is the laptop uses nearly as much power as an entry level desktop with discrete graphics.

    Direct link to image:
    http://images.anandtech.com/reviews/mobile/2008/de...">One big power brick
    Reply
  • PlasmaBomb - Monday, March 03, 2008 - link

    Cheers for the pics, good job btw :) Reply
  • mark3450 - Thursday, February 28, 2008 - link

    This is a near perfect computer for me. I'm always near a plug at a friends house or traveling for work, and in those places I want my machine to be as powerfule as possible. I bought and still use one of the original XPS laptops, and I've been happy with it. It is however getting near time to upgrade.

    One drawback I see however is that dell won't supply it with Vista64, which is disappointing as I'd defiantely get this beast with 4Gb and want to make full use of it. I've been using Vista64 on my gaming desktop for several months and have been very pleased with it. I'm sure Dell just doesn't want to deal with 2 sets of drivers, but Vista64 is the future and they should support it on a machine like this.
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Thursday, February 28, 2008 - link

    Dell did ship me 2x2GB of RAM for additional testing, but I didn't get time to look at that (yet). 32-bit is still better for a lot of people, and I think the real inflection point is going to be when we start moving to 8GB systems. 64-bit can address all 4GB of memory without the need to split things into application and OS memory spaces, but usually it doesn't *need* it.

    I know Dell is starting to offer 64-bit as an option on some other systems, and I'd imagine down the road they'll have 64-bit for the M1730 (or perhaps the successor). Drivers are just so critical and notebooks don't get updated quite as often, so you really are living on the bleeding edge with SLI and Vista-64 right now. It's possible, of course, and in fact I'm sure you could install Vista-64 on the system on your own; Dell just isn't ready to support that yet.
    Reply
  • mark3450 - Friday, February 29, 2008 - link

    The problem with installing my own Vista64 OS, aside from the cost, is that it's likely impossible to get NVIDIA drivers for it. I currently own an XPS/inspiron Gen2 and anything but the blessed drivers from Dell crash the machine, and it doesn't even have SLI. Reply
  • JarredWalton - Friday, February 29, 2008 - link

    Have you checked with NVIDIA? My understanding is that they now have quarterly driver updates that apply to various gaming notebooks, so even if Dell (or someone else) has abandoned an older model laptop, you might not be totally out of luck. If that does work, let me know as well - I'm certainly curious about it. The last driver release was supposedly just a couple months ago, and it should cover up through 8700M notebooks. (Dell XPS is supposed to be one of the participating vendors, so it's still voluntary, but most of the gaming notebook companies hopefully understand the importance of drivers and agreed to allow "reference" drivers from NVIDIA to work for certain systems.)

    Regarding Vista-64, again the above may offer a solution.
    Reply
  • strafejumper - Thursday, February 28, 2008 - link

    this is what i mean
    i only use desktops my whole life so i don't know much about laptops but - for $3500 i would want to be able to watch a 120 minute dvd, and this thing can only make it through 60 mins... also can only browse the web for 60 mins, justdon't get this.

    maybe i had the idea that the appeal of the laptop was you are free from outlets and wires and etc. but with these even for $3500 you still have to be near a plug to watch a dvd
    Reply
  • 7Enigma - Friday, February 29, 2008 - link

    The purpose is to have the power of a desktop with the portability of a laptop. NOT that you can have a 5 (heck 2) hour portable laptop. As the author mentioned, it really is a niche product. You want to be able to take your screaming desktop pc from home to work or to a friends house, not on the plane/train/automobile that a typical notebook computer is used for. If I had oodles of cash and went to lan parties frequently, this would be the perfect computer. And forget the loud fans, if you are gaming on it and need the overclocked performance, I'd be playing the games with headphones!

    Put simply, this is the 10lb desktop computer.
    Reply
  • IvanAndreevich - Thursday, February 28, 2008 - link

    Hey guys, you might want to blur out the serial number on that COA sticker on the bottom. Reply
  • JarredWalton - Saturday, March 01, 2008 - link

    Ooops... yeah, forgot to do that. :| Reply
  • legoman666 - Thursday, February 28, 2008 - link

    Thanks OP, in for 3! Reply
  • crimson117 - Thursday, February 28, 2008 - link

    Jarred - here's some advice:

    Find a woman who thinks it'd be romantic to buy his and hers M1730's :)
    Reply
  • LoneWolf15 - Thursday, February 28, 2008 - link

    I would like to see nVidia take Notebook SLI, and add the ability to switch one GPU off while on battery if the user chooses. I think this could really make a difference in the system's battery life, and it wouldn't affect non-gaming uses.

    Good article.
    Reply

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