Probably one of the most impressive notebooks we ever tested was the Dell XPS M1330. Now we're taking a look at Dell's 15in version of this beast-machine, the Dell M1530 and we're equally impressed.
- Strong build, nice design, powerful components and quick start MediaDirect functionality, Digital/Analogue TV tuner, HDMI
- No e-SATA
If you want some power under the hood but still need mobility this XPS from Dell is a great option. We're keen on the design and build as well as the features in tow.
Price$ 2,199.00 (AUD)
The XPS M1530 offers some of the best performance currently achievable with a notebook, scoring an impressive 104 in WorldBench 6. It looks sleek with its brushed metal finish and feels about as sturdy as they come. The screen is sharp and clear, the media controls are stylish and easy to use, and it includes an Express card digital TV tuner for good measure.
On a hardware level the XPS M1530 we tested includes some of the most up-to-date components around. Be aware that Dell's notebooks are built to order, so our review model may not be identical to other models you see.
The M1530 is built on an Intel Centrino platform, and includes one of Intel's latest and more powerful CPUs, the T9300 2.5GHz Core 2 Duo. This CPU is built using the latest 45nm (nanometre) technology, has an 800MHz front side bus and offers a large 6MB L2 cache. A full 4GB of RAM has been installed, though Windows registers only 3582MB on this 32-bit Vista Ultimate operating system.
The move from 65nm to 45nm has not so much improved battery life, but seems to have improved performance without impacting heavily on the battery life. In our DVD rundown test the XPS M1530 lasted 80min. Most 15in notebooks last between 80min and 100min, but most don't perform quite so well. The CPUs performance is exemplified by our MP3 encoding test, in which we encode 53min worth of WAV files to 192Kbps MP3 files. Using iTunes to do the conversion took just 68sec, one of the fastest results we've seen from a notebook.
For graphics and gaming the XPS M1530 has an NVIDIA GeForce 8600M GT with 512MB of GDDR3 memory at its disposal. It's not the top-dog in terms of notebook gaming performance, but it does handle games quite well. In 3DMark 2006 the XPS M1530 scored 4311. It's going to run high-end DirectX 10 games in full quality, but will play them in lower settings.
Aesthetically the Dell XPS M1530 is a gem. Our sample has a red lid, though there are a number of available colours. Lift the lid and you're presented with a clean black and silver interior. The silver has a brushed metal finish and the black above the keyboard houses a series of touch sensitive media controls.
Also found with the media controls is a MediaDirect button. This starts up Dell's media centre-style application, but fills a better role, too. Pressing the MediaDirect button when the machine is off runs the media centre application without having to start Windows. Put simply, you can have a movie, some music or some photos up on screen without having to boot right into Windows first. In our tests the XPS M1530 booted to MediaDirect from an off state in just 15sec.
The included hybrid digital/analogue TV tuner works very well. The drivers are pre-installed, so all you have to do is insert it into the Express card slot. We tried it out with the included aerial and were able to pick up all mainstream TV stations, as well as their digital and high-definition options. This tuner allows you to watch, as well as record, TV stations. With 320GB of hard drive space to play with, the XPS M1530 should be able to store a range of digital media for your entertainment.
Using the M1530 as a media centre is made even easier with the inclusion of an HDMI port, a handy addition. In fact, with the media card reader, USB, S-Video, D-Sub, FireWire and HDMI, the only port really missing is an e-SATA port.
It's not an ultraportable unit by any means, weighing 2.65kg, but it's still quite mobile. If you are on the road frequently you'll appreciate the loud speakers for movie breaks and you may also find the built-in webcam and microphone handy for video calls with friends and family.
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