Basic Features

We've already stated that this laptop comes equipped with some of the most powerful mobile components on the market. Even within the high-end mobile gaming segment, though, there are still options for customizing performance. Dell allows the end user to select parts for their M1710 from a variety of components in all the key areas. The basic platform -- motherboard, keyboard, chassis, and display -- is standardized, but the processor, GPU, memory, hard drive, optical drive, and some networking features can be tweaked to fit your needs.

Dell XPS M1710 Specifications
Processor Intel Core Duo T2400/T2500/T2600 (1.83/2.00/2.16 GHz)
Chipset Intel 945PM 64-bit Dual-Channel
FSB Speeds Up to 667 MHz
Memory Speeds DDR2-400, DDR2-533, DDR2-667
Memory Slots (2) x SO-DIMM, max. 4GB, DDR2, Dual Channel supported
Graphics NVIDIA GeForce Go 7900 256MB or 7900 GTX 512MB GDDR3
Display 17" WUXGA (1920x1200) UltraSharp with TrueLife
Expansion Slots One ExpressCard 54mm slot supporting 1.5V and 3.3V, ExpressCard/34 and ExpressCard/54, 26 pins
Hard Drive 80/100/120GB 5400 RPM or 60/80/100 7200 RPM
Optical Drive DVD-ROM/CD-RW or DVD+/-RW with Dual-Layer DVD+R Write Support
USB2.0 (6) USB2.0 ports (four rear ports, two ports on left)
Networking/Communications Integrated 10/100/1000 PCIe Gigabit Ethernet and 56K Modem
(Optional) Dell Wireless 1390 802.11g Mini Card
(Optional) Dell Wireless 1490 802.11a/g Mini Card
(Optional) Intel Pro/Wireless 3945 802.11a/b/g Mini Card
Audio 24-bit High Definition Audio with 2.1 Speakers
Firewire 4-pin Unpowered IEEE 1394A (right side)
Back I/O Ports 1 x RJ45 LAN
4 x USB 2.0
1 x RJ11 Modem
1 x DVI-D
1 x VGA
1 x S-VIDEO Out
Keyboard 87 Key QWERTY (US)
Battery 9-Cell 80WHr "Smart" Lithium Ion
Dimensions 1.7"x15.5"x11.3" (HxWxD)
8.8 lbs. (Display, 9-Cell battery, DVD-Combo drive)
Power Adapter 130W 1.42"x2.56"x6.67" (HxWxD), 1.68 lbs. with cables
Chassis Metallic Black Dell XPS M1710 or
Special Edition Formula Red Dell XPS M1710
Other Features 5-in-1 Flash Reader (MS, MS Pro, SSD/SDIO, MMC, xD
Headphone/Speakers and Microphone connectors
XPS 16 Color Configurable Accent Lighting
Trackpad with scroll bars


Starting with the standard features, the laptop comes with everything most people will need. About the only things that could be added are CompactFlash support and a 6-pin powered FireWire connection, neither of which are really required. Counting the power adapter, the entire system weighs in at just over 10 pounds, and while that's a bit heavy for someone that's carrying their computer around a lot, it's far less bulky than any SFF + LCD + keyboard + mouse setup (let alone a typical desktop computer). If you're looking for a high-powered system that you can easily take to LAN parties, or perhaps a mobile workstation you can take to and from work, this laptop should fit the bill.

Click to enlarge


The minimum configuration starts at $2600, and comes with the black chassis, 80GB 5400 RPM hard drive, Core Duo T2400, GeForce Go 7900 256MB graphics chip, and 1GB of RAM. (There's absolutely no sense in thinking about building a system with a 256MB GPU coupled and only 512MB of system memory, and we're glad to see that's not an option.) The Special Edition Ferrari Red has a higher base configuration and starts at $3400. The minimum components are upgraded to a Core Duo T2500, GeForce Go 7900 GTX 512MB, and an 80GB 7200 RPM hard drive. While the price difference is pretty sizable, the relative performance increase is also noticeable, and it's doubtful that anyone seriously considering such a high-powered laptop is going to be ultra concerned about price. These are luxury laptops, and they have the performance and features to match the price. Naturally, a $3500 desktop system should easily smoke a $3500 laptop in performance, but miniaturization is a costly process.

Index Features, Continued
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  • JarredWalton - Thursday, April 20, 2006 - link

    I received the following email, and thought the response would be useful for others:

    -----------
    Thank you for the informative article on the Dell Gaming system. I was curious on if you know how this Laptop: http://www.sagernotebook.com/pages/go_np5950.html">http://www.sagernotebook.com/pages/go_np5950.html would stack up to the Dell system. I am thinking of purchasing a gaming laptop and would like to know if you have had any experience with the sager systems vs. the Dell systems. Would the SLI in the sager give me twice the performance of the Dell?
    -----------

    I haven't used the Sager system, but let me just provide the few comments looking at the specs.

    First, SLI pretty much never gives you twice the performance, and on that system it has the older 7800 GTX cards instead of the new 7900 GTX card. That means that the cards are clocked slower. Going along with that, 7800 cards are built using a 110 nm process, while the 7900 is built using a 90 nm process. The smaller process results in lower power requirements and thus lower heat out. The end result is that I'm sure the Sager system will be hotter, and while it might be a bit faster I'm not sure it's worth it. There are other issues I see as well.

    Dual core Athlon 64 processors compete very well with Intel's Core Duo processors. AMD Turion processors are at present only single core. That may not matter a whole lot right now, but I would again give the advantage to the M1710.

    In terms of size, that Sager system is a real beast. 15 pounds with a battery pack means it's about 50% heavier than the Dell. That may not matter much to you, but I certainly wouldn't want to have to carry that laptop around a lot. Periodically toting it between two locations would be fine, but hauling that thing around a trade show or university campus wouldn't be my idea of a good time.

    Finally, the Sager system has a larger display (19 inch widescreen) but a lower resolution. The Dell system can run practically any game (*NOT* FEAR and Oblivion struggles at times with maximum detail setttings) at native resolution with a single 7900 GTX card. If you're going to have a 15 pound "laptop" then you might as well have a 1920x1200 resolution as well. It also ships default with 1 GB of RAM and a smaller, slightly slower hard drive.

    When I look at all the aspects together, as well as the final price, that particular system doesn't look like a great deal -- and besides, it's still in preorder status. I'm sure there will be 7900 SLI laptops available shortly, so if you really want the added heat and add performance of SLI, that's what I would wait for. I would also insist on some form of dual core processor, but that's personal preference.

    Regards,
    Jarred Walton
    Hardware Editor
    AnandTech.com
    Reply
  • Anemone - Sunday, April 23, 2006 - link

    Further comparison thoughts vs the SLI system:

    I will reinforce that dual core is going to be more and more useful in the coming year, even in games. If you online game, which can run other comm processes in the background it is already useful to have dual cores.

    64 bit dual core by dropping in Merom is going to add 20-30% to your 1710's ability. Expensive yes, but damn nice to know.

    This laptop series from the Gen2 to the M170 and now this, have a decent track record of at least one gpu upgrade, sometimes two. It is entirely likely (watch the news as it comes if I'm wrong I apologize) that you'll see the current Gen2/170 series be able to go to the 7900GTX. It is not illogical to think that the 1710 should be able to go to the G80. There aren't enough details yet to say what the G80 will give you, but the ability to add Merom and the likely ability to go one next generation GPU up is a fantastic (albeit expensive) ability to have in a gaming laptop.

    4gb of memory limit. The SLI machine has only 2 as the limit. Even then it may well drop timings at 2gb to 2T (unsure). Even if it does not, when Vista comes out 2gb is going to feel like cramped. The Vista OS can eat as much as 800mb of your memory for the OS alone, and we haven't even seen the memory footprint of DX10/WGF 2.x. For a regular user, this is a liveable issue and thus most machines at 2gb limit will be ok. But for a gamer, the experience could be very frustrating, as hardrive memory extension in the laptop arena is sloooowwwwwww. So 4gb is another reason to go with the 1710, not for right now, but for later.

    Heat kills. Dual SLI is going to be pretty toasty. Ask anyone who has a P4 based notebook and they can tell you that over time, the extra heat eventually kills parts of the machine. There is a long time user satisfaction reason that Dell and others have gone the way of Centrino coupled with a single high end GPU like the 7800/7900. The heat can be controlled and keeps it from getting nasty with other components. This has the effect of allowing the entire system to live longer, especially since gamers are rarely the type to pick up their laptop and use it for 20 min then shut it down, lol. Long use, upping the heat levels and long term durability/reliability are good partners with low heat production, another pick that says the 1710 is better than the SLI machine.

    $.02
    Reply
  • Anemone - Sunday, April 23, 2006 - link

    I'm sorry for some of the bad wording above. I didn't reread carefully enough. :(
    Reply
  • RichUK - Wednesday, April 19, 2006 - link

    Is this supposed to be a mobile platform, lol...

    Also, those lights need to be stripped out straight away!!
    Reply
  • timmiser - Thursday, April 20, 2006 - link

    Nah, keep the lights. The lights are my favorite part! This is a gaming laptop so if you're looking for something a bit more formal and energy effecient, don't look at this baby.

    Reply
  • coster - Wednesday, April 19, 2006 - link

    You guys have a Dell 3007wfp 30" in the house you can test on the unit to see if it Dual link video card? The 7900 GO's plzzz :) Reply
  • JarredWalton - Wednesday, April 19, 2006 - link

    No. :( ASAIK, it is single-link only, but I'm trying to get confirmation from Dell for Pt. 2. Reply
  • spinportal - Wednesday, April 19, 2006 - link

    Can someone explain or point me to web references on which is faster and why?

    DDR2-533 @ 4-4-4-12 timings
    vs.
    DDR2-667 @ 5-5-5-15 timings

    I would think the DDR2-533 would be better, but I need a proof.
    Reply
  • spinportal - Wednesday, April 19, 2006 - link

    The reason I state this is simple; the author failed to produce timing specs for the DDR2-667 for the M1710. Come on, its 5-5-5-15, put it up as its labeled on the SODIMM or CPU-Z reports it as. Reply
  • JarredWalton - Wednesday, April 19, 2006 - link

    The installed DDR2 is actually rated at:

    3-3-3-9 DDR2-400
    4-4-4-12 DDR2-533
    5-5-5-15 DDR2-667

    It is running at 5-5-5-15 at present (not sure if the BIOS will allow me to change that). However, think in terms of latency.

    200 MHz base speed with 3 cycle latency = 15 ns
    266 MHz base speed with 4 cycle latency = 15 ns
    333 MHz base speed with 5 cycle latency = 15 ns

    Given that latencies are the same in all three cases, the added bandwidth ought to offer a slight performance increase. I would guess the difference is at best 2%, though, and often less than even that.
    Reply

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