capsule review

Dell XPS M1710

At a Glance
  • Dell XPS M1710

Dell XPS M1710
Photograph: Chris Manners

Dell's XPS M1710 is the notebook for the power desktop user who's ready to go (sort of) mobile. Packed with high-performance hardware, it's one of the fastest notebooks we've tested. But neither its price nor its weight is for the weak of heart.

Our shipping unit--priced at $3860--came with a 2.16-GHz Core Duo T2600 processor, 1GB of RAM, nVidia's top-of-the-line 7900 GTX graphics chip (with 512MB of memory), a 100GB hard drive, and a DVD burner.

That's a solid component list, and the M1710 put all that hardware to good use on our WorldBench 5 tests--its score of 106 tied with that of our previous top-performing power notebook, Alienware's Aurora m7700.

The unit also did well in our Doom 3 and Half Life 2 gaming tests at 1280-by-1024 resolution with antialiasing and anisotropic filtering turned on, posting an impressive 88 and 113 frames per second in those respective games. I also fired up Bethesda's Oblivion to run the system through its paces. This game, known for pushing even high-end desktop systems hard at its highest settings, ran very well on the M1710.

The unit's battery life was less impressive, clocking in at just 2 hours and 33 minutes on one charge and earning only a Fair score compared with the battery life of other power notebooks we've recently tested. It underscores the fact that this 8.9-pound unit (10.6 pounds with its AC adapter) really is a desktop replacement.

One nice thing about a large chassis is the big screen that results, and this Dell's crisp 17-inch display is the feature most likely to sell many users on the notebook. A wide-aspect panel with a whopping 1920-by-1200 resolution, it omits antiglare coating for a particularly sharp (if smudge-prone) picture. Sound, coming from two front-firing speakers and an integrated subwoofer, was good.

I found the keyboard pretty comfortable to use, although Dell should consider adding a separate numeric keypad (there's plenty of real estate for one). The touchpad was responsive, and even lights up so you can see it at a dark LAN party.

The M1710 also won't leave you wanting for ports. Six USB ports are scattered around the unit as well connections for gigabit ethernet, FireWire, headphones, and a mic. The plentiful video outputs include integrated S-video, VGA, and DVI, plus component video and S/PDIF digital-out using the included adapter. There's also a five-in-one media card reader and an ExpressCard slot.

Dell hasn't left much out of the M1710, and its high weight and price reflect that. However, if you're a desktop user who's put off buying a notebook for fear of giving up power, this notebook could be the one for you.

Pricey giant-sized notebook offers processing and graphics power to spare plus a nice screen, but it's not particularly mobile.

Tom Mainelli

At a Glance
  • Giant-sized notebook offers processing and graphics power to spare plus a nice screen, but it's not particularly portable.


    • Fast and powerful
    • Giant-sized display


    • Pricey and barely portable
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