Dell DTR Laptop Shootout - M1710 vs. E1705by Jarred Walton on May 30, 2006 1:30 PM EST
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Closing ThoughtsWe started with three different systems, and while they all look similar they end up targeting different markets. For the mobile gaming warriors among you, the M1710 is still clearly the best option. Yes, it's very expensive, but your only other choices for getting this level of performance in a laptop will likely cost just as much if not more. The R&D costs associated with creating laptops and laptop components - especially high performance parts - help to account for the higher prices.
The E1705 represents the best value in terms of price and performance. If you want good gaming performance without going all-out crazy, the GeForce Go 7900 GS should provide performance falling roughly in between the 7900 GTX and the 7800 we tested here. It can also be had for substantially less money than the XPS, and if you're willing to wait for one of Dell's Inspiron laptop sales that they have so frequently, you might even be able to get one for less than $2000. You can also find them on eBay frequently, which is where our X1400 equipped laptop was purchased.
So what's the target market for the E1705 with X1400 graphics? It just so happens that a friend was in the market for a new laptop, and this particular model fit his needs exactly. He has no interest in gaming - at all - so the higher powered GPUs are superfluous. He generally works with his laptop plugged in (either to a wall outlet or into his truck's cigarette lighter), and he uses it more as a portable workstation. Because he wants transportable more than thin and light, size and weight aren't a big concern. The ability to do photo editing on the road is important to him, and a dual core processor comes in handy for that sort of work. He also likes to watch DVDs, which is one of the reasons he wanted a 17 inch display.
That last point is important, as it explains why people would want to upgrade from the Intel GMA950 integrated graphics to the X1400. The X1400 fully supports ATI's AVIVO technology, so you get improved DVD playback and some of the decoding work can be offloaded from the CPU. Judging from our battery life results, the X1400 does a great job at providing high-quality video decoding without draining your battery.
We recommended this laptop as fitting his needs, and if you have similar wants, the E1705 with X1400 graphics is a good business/multimedia solution. If you're looking to get more gaming performance at the cost of battery life, upgrading to the 7900 GS graphics card is one option, though truly demanding types will be better off splurging on the XPS with the GeForce Go 7900 GTX.
Not everyone wants a really large laptop, and obviously the E1705/M1710 target those that prefer performance and screen size over portability and weight. If that's what you're after, there's a very good chance that you can configure a model that will meet your specific needs. Hopefully, in the future we can get a DTR laptop from Dell that includes a larger keyboard as well as better audio connections, as those are about the only areas that are truly lacking. Perhaps when the Core Duo 2 laptops launch, we will be able to get such a design.