The fact, that Dell’s XPS laptops are amongst the toughest and powerful of most laptops in the company’s arsenal, has further been affirmed by the new and refreshed Studio XPS 16 laptops. Ever since, they’ve been updated with Intel’s new Core series of CPUs, build quality is not the only thing they’re bragging about.
Design and experience
Despite the fact that these machines are made of plastic, they’re quite rugged and surely complement the desktop replacement segment. We have the Dell Studio XPS 1645 as our test unit and it looks really neat. The screen is quite stable, thanks to the strong hinges, and the viewing angle is good too. Infact, the screen is what impressed us big time. With full HD quality, seamless movie playback and very good sound, what more can you ask for? Speaking of which, the speakers, although small in size, are loud and clear, and there’s no blaring at high volume levels.
What goes without saying is that, this machine is a desktop replacement and you can’t expect it to be truly portable. It has a 16-ich form factor and weighs close to 3 kg, so carrying it around is something you don’t want to do anyway. This doesn’t mean that it looks too bulky or cumbersome. On the contrary, the machine looks stylish, especially with the all-black body with satin chrome hinges and rim around the chassis, not to mention the overly glossy surface. All-black looks really smart, but, the glossy body is what can potentially make the machine look ugly, right after you’ve handled it with oily or even slightly sweaty hands. This is why we think, it’s about time that the XPSs have a design refresh too, even it means to only change the gloss to matte or better yet, metal!
Ergonomically, there’s almost nothing to complain about. The flat, full-seized and back-lit keyboard, the slightly textured touchpad, the spacious wrist rest and the well-spaced keys make typing quite convenient. It’s like am typing on a regular desktop keyboard right now. Overall, it’s a very good desktop replacement to work on and to enjoy movies too.
Hardware is obviously the main distinguishing factor—if not the only one—when it comes to features. Powered by a Core i7-720 QM quad-core CPU, with an ATI Radeon HD 4670, 4 GB RAM and a 500 GB hard drive, this machine is an excellent desktop replacement in the literal sense. So, from watching HD movies, to gaming at medium settings, and from working spreadsheets to encoding audio/video files, this laptop will crack almost everything you throw at it. A 15.6-inch crisp and vibrant screen, like this one, makes entertainment on the go truly enjoyable. However, the ‘on the go’ part can’t be taken too seriously because the laptop offers about 3 hours 35 minutes runtime under medium load. We’re not complaining only because it’s a desktop replacement, but battery life is clearly not a strong point in this laptop.
The entire unit is quite sober in terms of looks, and the placement of buttons and ports. Apart from the power button at the top left of the keyboard, the touch-sensitive media control buttons add that oomph to the machine. The on/off switch for wireless, the eject buttons and the dedicated volume controls are part of the touch buttons. To the left-hand side are two USB ports, HDMI, VGA, Display port, three audio jacks and an Ethernet Jack, and a Kensington lock slot. To the right, you’ll find a slot-loading DVD-writer, USB/eSATA combo port, FireWire, a PC card slot and a memory card reader. Finally, this particular machine comes preloaded with Windows 7 Professional (64-bit). So as you can see, there’s practically everything that substitutes a home PC or an office PC.
As opposed to what the previous XPS 16 laptops offered (the Core 2 Duo CPUs), this particular one is built around an Intel PM55 chipset and powered by one of the most powerful CPUs in Intel’s new Core series. Now, after having a word with Dell, they confirmed that the test unit they sent us (Studio XPS 1645) has a different processor and GPU from what is listed on the website. Our test unit has a Core i7-720 QM and an ATI Radeon HD 4670, and is priced at Rs 73,900.
However, it’s been around 10 days since dell has replaced this model with a new configuration, so, though this particular model is available in the market, the one on website has a Core i7-740 QM CPU (higher clock speed), an ATI Radeon HD 5730 (better GPU), and the rest of the hardware is same, in the same price.
In any case, when the performance of this machine is so good with this configuration, the one listed on the site will be even better.
With a CPU having four physical cores running at 1.6 GHz simultaneously, backed by Hyper Threading technology and ample RAM, there’s enough muscle to tackle the greediest applications out there. Design suites will run seamless, video editing can be done without having to wait forever and even light gaming (we ran them at native resolution) and watching movies is fun. So there’s nothing to complain about in terms of performance, and that too at Rs 74,000, definitely not.
The only reason I’ve compared this laptop with the other two in the table, is to show that this one offers a good price-performance ratio. Otherwise, the two other machines have their own reasons (and good ones) for being slightly over priced. This machine doesn’t look as stylish and slick, there’s not much metal in construction and it is quite far from being truly portable. So clearly, aesthetics and build quality have a lot to do when it comes to laptops. And if one brand has a larger fan following than another, then it’s a different ball game altogether.
The bottom line is that, if you want a powerful desktop replacement, with top notch build quality, and excellent price-performance ratio, grab the new XPS1645.
- Chipset: Intel PM55
- Processor: Intel Core i7-720QM, 1.6GHz, 6 MB L3
- RAM: 4 GB DDR3
- Graphics: ATI Radeon HD 4670
- Network: Gigabit Ethernet, Wi-Fi N and
- HDD: 500 GB
- Screen: 15.6-inch glossy (1920 x 1080)
- Battery Life: 3 Hours 35 minutes
Published Date: Aug 12, 2010 05:12 pm | Updated Date: Aug 12, 2010 05:12 pm