Dell – Inspiron 8000 1000UT review

1GHz notebook with serious 3D graphics
Photo of Dell – Inspiron 8000 1000UT
£1,950 + VAT

Never thought you could play serious games on a notebook? Think again. The latest offering from Dell in its Inspiron notebook range, the 8000 1000UT, goes way beyond the capabilities of the normal notebook to deliver near desktop PC performance – a true replacement for the desktop PC.

From the outside, the 1000UT looks like any other 8000 in the Inspiron range, but internally it’s a different story. Powering the 1000UT is Intel’s new 1GHz Mobile Pentium III SpeedStep processor (which clocks down to 700MHz under battery power to save energy), backed up by 128MB of SDRAM. Then there is the screen – a massive 15-inch, 1600 x 1200 pixel TFT unit.

However, most important of all, the 1000UT features the new Nvidia GeForce2 Go graphics chipset. Based upon Nvidia’s GeForce2 PC boards, the Geforce2 Go is the first mobile GPU (Graphics Processing Unit) and it takes notebook graphics to a new level. With 32MB of DDR (Double Data Rate) memory installed and AGP 4X support, it is claimed to deliver up to three times the 3D performance of the standard ATI Mobility M4 found in the previous range of Inspiron 8000 models.

One of the other features of the three-spindle 1000UT is its support for two optical drives, so you can record from optical disk to optical disk without using the hard drive. The factory configured optical bay has a Toshiba 8-speed DVD-ROM installed, while the modular drive bay on the front of the unit can support a CD-RW (the review system had a Sony 8x/4x/24x supplied which is an extra £250 + VAT), a floppy drive (supplied), a second hard drive, a Zip 100 unit or a second battery unit.

An IBM 32GB ATA/66 hard drive provides storage, so there’s plenty of room for all your applications (and, of course, games). A second bay in the front of the unit houses the battery, in this case a 3,800mAh unit, which gives the 1000UT a battery life of around two and a half hours. Not great, but then with a system weighing in at 3.8kg it doesn’t lend itself to being carried around, so much of its life would be spent on a desk connected to the mains anyway.

Both LAN and modem sockets are provided by the 3Com combination mini PCI card. An alternative option is replace this card with Dell’s TrueMobile 1150 802.11b wireless network setup, making wireless LAN configuration relatively painless.

The keyboard is well built and responsive, as are the trackpad and the mouse buttons. Above the keyboard are four AccessDirect buttons to allow rapid access to the Web and applications, and these also double up as controls for the DVD or CD player.

Along with the CPU and powerful graphics subsystem, what adds to the DVD playback experience is the ESS Maestro 3 audio system, which outputs to a good set of built in Harmon/Kardon Odyssey II Speakers. A good design feature is that these are side mounted in the chassis, so they are not obstructed when typing.

Dell provided the reviewed 1000UT with Windows ME as the operating system (although Windows 2000 is available as an option) and bundles Worksuite 2000 as the software package. Software for the optical devices comes in the form of Intervideo WinDVD and Adaptec Easy CD Creator 4. The 1000UT comes with a year’s Europe-wide collect and return warranty as standard.

Company: Dell

Contact: 0870 152 4644


Verdict
The Dell Inspiron 8000 1000UT is a powerful and well-equipped desktop replacement notebook. Although the CPU's performance is not much better than an 850MHz Mobile Pentium III, and its battery life is a little disappointing, the stunning graphics performance will make up for that, especially for the increasingly large number of business users who enjoy a little fragging in their spare time.