Dell – XPS M1210 review

ultra-portable Core 2 Duo laptop for gamers
Photo of Dell – XPS M1210
£1,413.75 (and delivery, as reviewed)

When you think of Dell’s XPS family you automatically think of big, powerful desktops or equally big gaming laptops, but the XPS M1210 bucks this trend by being a small, seemingly ultra-portable machine.

But it’s a bulky little devil weighing in at 2.65kg, so not quite the ultra-portable it appears, but then again that’s with the 9-cell battery (you can opt for the smaller, lighter, 6-cell battery option) and the AC adapter.

Stylishly finished in silver and black, with apparently good build quality, the XPS M1210 looks unlike any other Dell laptop currently available, certainly not as brash as its big brother, the XPS M1710. In keeping with the XPS range, you just have to have some funky lights; in this case the media buttons along the front of the chassis are back-lit blue, as is the power button.

Although it’s a fairly recent addition to the XPS family, Dell has already updated it to take advantage of Intel’s Core 2 Duo CPU and it was one of these updated M1210 units that we were sent for review.

Our review sample had the faster Core 2 Duo that Dell offers, a T7200 which is clocked at 2GHz, but Dell being Dell other options are available. Backing this up is 1GB of 533MHz DDR2 memory, and if you have deep pockets the XPS M1210 supports a maximum of 4GB. The performance is outstanding; a SYSmark score of 228 puts it amongst many of the desktops we have recently tested.

Powering the graphics is an Nvidia GeForce Go 7400 Turbocache card, but if for some bizarre reason you just want the integrated Intel graphics you can choose this option and save some yourself over £220. The Go 7400 comes with 64MB of graphics memory but can use up to 192MB of system memory to give a maximum graphics memory of 256MB.

Tested with FarCry at a 1,024 by 768 resolution and with all the details set to maximum, it gave an almost playable 40fps, so dropping the detail settings should push it past the 50fps mark – well playable.

Whichever option you choose, the output feeds a good looking 12.1-inch WXGA screen with a native resolution of 1,280 by 800 pixels. Being a transreflective glossy screen makes it ideal for watching DVD movies and photo editing. Built into the top of the screen lid is a 1.3-megapixel Web-cam.

When it comes to storage Dell hasn’t skimped, the M1210 coming with a 120GB, 5,400rpm Western Digital drive. And to help you keep lots of this lovely space free there’s an 8x DVD burner to back-up files. Built into the chassis under the optical drive is a 5-in-1 card reader and you also get an Express PC card slot.

Connectivity covers all the bases; 10/100Mbps LAN, 56Kbps modem and 802.11a/b/g Wireless. Bluetooth isn’t available as standard but for an extra £30 you can choose a module to be built into your M1210, but a more exciting option for around £146 is for the Dell mobile broadband mini-card, using Vodafone’s mobile broadband service.

As standard the M1210 comes with XP Home, with XP Professional available as an option (£58.75) although our version came with XP Media Centre Edition installed, which doesn’t appear to be an option offered on Dell’s site at the time of writing this review. Whichever operating system you choose there is a free upgrade to Windows Vista whenever that deigns to appear.

Battery life is impressive, at just over four hours running a mix of normal office apps, but this was without fiddling about with power settings, so being miserly with these settings should see around five hours of battery life.

To make you feel a bit special for splashing out on an XPS system, you get a special XPS warranty which includes 24 x 7 phone support for any problems (including gaming queries) from a dedicated XPS team, and on-site support should your XPS pack up. As standard the M1210 comes with three years worth of this cosseted looking after.

Company: Dell

Contact: 0870 907 5818

Although the XPS M1210 isn't as svelte as most of the 12.1-inch screen notebooks on the market, it is one of the most powerful and useable, if a little pricey.