One week with my brand new Dell XPS L702X – Review Part 1, the hardware

Lots of things have changed in my life in the last two months. Most of these are about my computing life and free time avocation. Besides my loose blog maintanance and moderation duties in the greek forum. which is about ethical hacking, security news and the Backtrack Linux distribution, something new has come to my possession.

Those of you who read the article’s title have already guessed what this post is about…

TA-DA!!! A brand new Dell XPS L702X! An Intel Core i7 2670QM based , nVidia GT555M  equiped 3GB dedicated,  loaded with 1 TB dual hard drives and 8 GB of RAM, along with a 17.3″ glossy FullHD LED screen, all of these encased in a top design aluminium based chassi!

All I want to do now is to share with you my current experience with this nice and powerful piece of machine, so that you might consider it as an option for your next purchase, get some ideas, or whatever you might relatively need.

First I would like to show you the specs, so that you can get a taste of the machine and start thinking about it:

  • Maker: Dell
  • Model & type: XPS 17 (L702X)
  • Part Number: DLNBXPS0514
  • CPU: Intel Core i7 – 2670QM (2.20GHz – Turbo Boost 3.10GHz, 6MB Cache, 5 GT/s DMI)
  • RAM: 8192MB (2x4096MB) DDR3 1333MHz, up to 16GB maximum memory (4-Sockets)
  • HDD: 1TB (2x500GB) 7200rpm, up to 1.5TB with dual drives
  • VGA: nVidia GeForce GT 555M 3GB dedicated
  • Monitor: 17.3 WLED Glossy FHD 1080p – 3D Display (1920×1080) Widescreen, with Truelife
  • Optical Disk: Blu-Ray ROM με DVD±R/RW DL Drive
  • Pre-loaded OS: Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit GR/EN
  • Extras: 2x Usb 3.0, 2x Usb 2.0, 1x eSata, LAN 10/100/1000, WiFi Wireless-N 1030, Bluetooth 3.0, 9-in-1 Media Card Reader, 1x Mini DisplayPort, HDMI port 1.4, 2x Headphone audio jacks with SPID/F support, 1x Mic-in, Waves MaxxAudio 3, JBL 2.1 Designed & Certified Speakers, WebCam 2.0Mpixels, TV Tuner, Integrated nVidia 3D TV Play Technology, with a built-in 3D Vision IR emmiter
  • Battery: 9 Cell Li-Ion (90 Wh)
  • Weight: 3.36Kg

Lets assume now the machine is turned off. This is what you will first see:

Chassis is of quality made, aluminum encasement in both the outer shell and around the full with numpad keyboard. The latter itself has keys in an island style and glossy surface between them. Its layout is off-course the popular QWERTY and has a few hotkeys for various functions. Transition was very easy for me from my old Acer laptop and keys don’t need too much force to be typed. On the top, keys are touch activated and illuminated with a white light. Pretty nice if you ask me. No rough edges, no corners. Just like the spirit of the modern design directives. The touchpad is simplistic with two keys and a multitouch surface.

On the side it has the USB ports version 2.0 and at the back it has two USB 3.0 ports. At the back it also has mini display and HDMI port, ethernet port,kensington slot, antenna slot (for DVB-T).

The optical drive is a Blu-Ray Rom DVD super multi combo driver. I have already tested it  with a rented movie from my local DVD store and along with PowerDVD it offered crystal clear movie playback.

On the other side the express slot is seamlessly occupied by a card reader for SD, MMC and other various media (so called removable memory cards).

Inside it has an Intel motherboard with an i7, 4 Cores Processor (2670QM) rated at 2.2 GHz with its “turbo boost” at 3.1 GHz of maximum frequency. Hyper threading is also present so that “cores” reach number 8! It also has quite a lot of RAM with the GB being also 8! Maximum RAM can reach 16 GBs utilizing all 4 slots that are available. As far as I am concerned RAM is quite cheap so I might pretty soon upgrade.

Graphics is managed by an NVidia GeForce GT555M with dedicated memory of 3 GB of available memory. I tested just by pure curiosity the Second Life “game” at its maximum settings and FPS dropped down to 15-20 about at maximum resolution so I am quite satisfied by it. Reduced settings down to a more medium ones; frame rate was improved to a number 40+ about. I say the FPS roughly because I haven’t installed any FPS tool, yet. The graphics card is also capable of utilizing the 3D display and the monitor can reach 120 Hz of vertical refresh rate. The model I got, however, does not have the optimus technology, but I don’t really care about it.

The monitor is very bright and glossy, with diagonal of 17.3 inches. No dead pixels whatsoever and I am pretty happy with it, if I do so remember my Acer days. Native resolution is FullHD 1980×1080, optimized for high definition movies.

Further multimedia capabilities are provided by the intergrated hybrid Avermedia DVB-T/analog television card.

On top of the screen is an embedded camera and microphone for easy video conferencing and chat.

This machine is also nice to play music, speakers are very loud, also with a subwoofer, all  approved by JBL. All thanks to its Maxxaudio technology and Realtek HD.

Connectivity is also to its maximum potential with ethernet, intel wifi, bluetooth and options in other models include 3G connectivity, WiMAX, etc.

Internal storage is provided by dual hard drives with a total 1 TB of capacity.

Battery is a 9-cell, 90 Wh providing 3 hours and 30 minutes of moderate use. However I managed with 20 full recharge cycles to reach capacity of 92 Wh.

And in mAh:

Overall I liked it quite much and I am very happy with it. I wasn’t afraid to order it from the Internet without even touching it or feeling it and I trusted Dell for its offerings. And it worked for me.

My customized desktop (on part 2 the software):

The best:

  • Its monitor. Very bright and colorful. Its LED after all.
  • Audio. Happy to listen to music all the time. Noises and scratches is just a thing of the past.
  • Keyboard. I am comfortable to type on it. Although I could really find useful a few more Fn hotkeys.
  • Good structure and design. Although when playing games temperature and heat can become present, however cooling is sufficient because I haven’t seen any temperatures above 62 degrees Celcius and the battery has a bulge so that air can flow at the bottom.
  • The battery capacity and design allowing the machine to breath fresh air on the bottom, while having a slight tilt to the front to allow easy typing.

The worst:

  • Leds for indicating hard drive usage are behind the monitor! Pretty bad and awkward! I didn’t like it. Was it so difficult to install these elsewhere? Dell, please?
  • The touchpad should have been just a little to the left. Sometimes when I type I accidentally move the cursor. I have to disable the touchpad in order to avoid this!
  • e-SATA/USB 2.0 powershare combo? Is it so difficult to have two separate ports for each one? Dell, please, once again!
  • Its original BIOS being buggy (USB emulation issues). An update however solves the issue.

What’s missing and could easily be included:

  • A pair of 3D, active shutter glasses. Most 3D TVs always bundle at least one pair.
  • A cleaning cloth. My 8 years old Acer laptop had one, why is it missing from the Dell machine?
  • I need more Fn hotkeys! Where the sleep button?
  • Why does it not have Optimus anyway?