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Unique Dell XPS M1710 Review 122

Posted by Zonk
from the review-with-actual-info dept.
Searching4Sasquatch writes "Hot Hardware has just posted a unique review of Dell's flagship XPS M1710 notebook. They stumbled across some very interesting information within the BIOS which seems to indicate Dell is working on a docking station with its own discrete graphics. 'The user is given the option of using either the integrated GeForce Go 7900 GTX GPU found within the system or the extremely interesting option of using the graphics card found within a docking station. Could Dell be planning on releasing an enthusiast dock that features a high-end GPU that could not otherwise be crammed into the confinements of the notebook chassis? Perhaps an upgrade to allow for standard or even Quad-SLI would be possible with such a dock.'"
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Unique Dell XPS M1710 Review

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  • by Jhon (241832) * on Friday June 30, 2006 @12:25PM (#15637029) Homepage Journal
    Well it looks nice. But will it explode [techeblog.com]?
  • insert 'they probably are running their website on it' joke here
  • And if true, it would be the first time that I can recall that I am actually somewhat impressed by Dell.
    • dont worry the dock will have some custom software that bogs it down to being unusable per Dell SOP.
    • This is probably not the place, and I don't mean to flame, but why is it that almost every Dell I've worked on has been so irreparably slow? Laptop and desktop alike, for the specifications of the machines I've worked on, the computers have always been much slower than they should. I remember a P4 2Ghz with 1GB Ram and a fresh install of Windows XP, and the thing chugged along. Again, I'm not trying to dog on Dell, just posting my observations. Any ideas on why this might be?
      • I don't know whether your fresh install was of a naked OS or a restore from Dell's original image. Most Dells ship with an image so full of junk that it makes them nearly unusable.

        I have a Dell 3.2GHz P4 with 1GB RAM at work, with their special (and actually quite well-put-together) Windows XP image, and it flies. It's as much of a pleasure to use as a Windows box can be, if you ignore the gawdawful Dell keyboard with its tumescent space bar.

      • I've noticed this on alot of the consumer-level Dells, but not so much on corporate hardware like the Latitudes. A client of mine bought a dirt-cheap $500 Dell desktop with 512mb of ram, P4 3.x, etc. and it is dog slow. Even after upgrading the memory to a full 1gb it still chugs along slowly. Maybe it's got a terrible bus speed or just a poor motherboard, or maybe some junk 5400rpm hard drive. For now it's a mystery.
      • Re:Interesting (Score:3, Informative)

        by Molochi (555357)
        The main reasons oem (not just dell but sony, hp etc...) tend to be much slower than one might expect.

        1) Integrated graphics chips that share memory bandwidth with the system. Many (possibly MOST, I haven't checked the sales figures) Dells were sold in the last 5 years that had no AGP slot, just 3 PCI slots. Buying any cheap ( $50) PCI Videocard usually solves this... If you aren't already using the slots and if the bios allows you to disable the integrated graphics. There are a few integrated options that
  • How is this new? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Thauma (35771) on Friday June 30, 2006 @12:29PM (#15637062)
    There have always been expansion docks for laptops that allow PCI and even ISA bus access. Hell there have even been carbus based graphics adapters for notebooks. All this is a bridge to PCI Express bus. There is nothing new to see here... move along.
    • Re:How is this new? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Erwos (553607) on Friday June 30, 2006 @12:34PM (#15637111)
      Absolutely correct. Indeed, it seems like the recent trend has been to move away from docking stations with real PCI/PCIe slots, and instead have these awful USB docks. That's a real shame, because I think it would appeal to a lot of folks to have a 12" laptop with good CPU, lots of memory, and a very low-power GPU plug into a docking station with a PCIe x16 slot and maybe a couple of PCIe x1 or PCI slots. Your 12" laptop doubles as a full-blown desktop, but doesn't sacrifice on either end - that's a nice selling point.

      -Erwos
      • Re:How is this new? (Score:3, Informative)

        by sk8dork (842313)
        if you want a Dell notebook that has a docking station connection on the bottom of the system so you don't have to use USB docks, then get a Latitude. *pets Latitude D620*

        Latitudes have always had docking connectors. well, except for certain models like the X1 that doesn't have room for vents much less a docking connection.

        Dell moved away from true docking connections on Inspirons some time ago. and yeah, XPS is now some generic word for Inspiron or Dimension pretty much now. XPS used to be THE high pow

        • My Inspiron 300m has the same docking connector as the lattitude x300. Maybe that only applies to the little guy...
        • My Inspiron 8600 (and parents 8500) both have the same docking ports (and same dock, for that matter) as my Latitude D600 . They are pretty much identical to the Latitude D800, other than not having gigabit ethernet, no smart card slot and having a choice of graphics card.
          • my appologies, the 8000 series and the 300m are older models. they stopped putting docking connections on Inspirons.
            • Even then, they weren't always even. I've got an Inspiron 8100 (equiv to a Latitude C810) that I flashed to the Latitude firmware so that it could use the Docking Station (with PCI slots) instead of just the Port Replicator (I also had to remove a small piece of metal from the case so that it would fit).
        • Inspiron series always has as well. The M1710 is an inspiron series Dell. Now before you all flame me saying I dont know what I'm talking about, I have one sitting on my desk at home. My fiance has a new inspiron as well, If you look on the underside there is a connector for a docking station, however for some reason you cant really find them. I was really disappointed when I ordered a docking station for my fiance so she could with one motion reconnect all the cables and leave it at that instead it do
    • On my Dell laptop. The dock has a dual card with two monitors.
      I use one for the program, one for the debugger, and the laptop screen for email.
      I've ONLY had this setup for 4 years!
      • No, what you have is just 2 connectors to the laptop's internal video card... they're talking about having a desktop video card in the docking station so you can combine workstation-class graphics with laptop-class portability (just not at the same time!)
    • If I were in the Dell marketing department....

      I'd recommend adding these menu entries in the BIOS so people would buy the laptops in hope for such a docking station. When we've sold enough laptops building those docking stations would be feasible. Then we can sell THOSE at a high price.

      In short, I wouldnt believe it until I saw the docking stations and the benchmarks.
    • So, let me get this straight, you say that, though there has never been a PCI Express dock, because other docks exist, this isn't new. Well then, I think we should get rid of all discussions of Vista, IE7, various Linux distros or kernel revisions because all of them have been done before. Oh, and there are mergers on the front page, since those companies existed before, and mergers are nothing new, then there is nothing to see there either. In fact, I think there is almost nothing that is completely ind
    • Had this on my old Compaq Armada with Docking station Circa 1999 or so.
  • Their (very popular) D600 has the same option in the BIOS.

    This is nothing new, please move along.
    • yup, and the Inspiron 8600 I use at work.... The bigger dock that they do (can't remember the naming, sorry) has a slot for a slim CDrom etc, just pop one straight out of one laptop and into the dock, and space for an extra harddrive, not to mention various ports round the back. quite nice really, handy in an office with various slaes people coming and going, which is what we use them for.
    • Of course, the article is very well /.ed, so I can't read the article, but from the description, this is different. I am sitting on my D600 right now, with dual-monitor support, but the secondary video is NOT being generated by a video card in the docking port. The docking port has a VGA monitor connector that behaves as a secondary display, but it is still hooked up to the same video card and sharing the same video memory as the built-in LCD panel.
  • This isn't new... (Score:4, Informative)

    by SilentJ_PDX (559136) on Friday June 30, 2006 @12:31PM (#15637080) Homepage
    My IBM Thinkpad has had the same option in the BIOS for ages. Seeing how 'boring' IBM is, I'm guessing there are lots of notebooks with similar options in the BIOS.
  • not a bad idea... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Andrew Nagy (985144)
    Mobile Gaming is becoming somewhat of a buzzword, but I think this idea has some potential to it in a slightly different way. For those of us who don't necessarily enjoy lugging around a 12 lb notebook just for the occasional gaming opportunity, Dell or whoever could create a very portable notebook that docked into a more sophisticated machine, thereby allowing for a small family to go back to one PC. Of course, it's probably not in the best interest of the manufacturer, since they want us all to have as
    • If your small family is going to go back to one computer (which is a good idea, why exactly?) wouldn't it make sense for that computer to not leave the house?
  • by gasmonso (929871) on Friday June 30, 2006 @12:33PM (#15637105) Homepage

    I wonder if this project has anything to do with their recent purchase of Alienware.

    http://religiousfreaks.com/ [religiousfreaks.com]
  • I've got a number of older C/Dock models that came with Pentium 133Mhz Latitudes. They have a PCI slot and the option in the BIOS to select which is Primary video. I'm not sure, but I think there might even be a list somewhere on Dell of supported video cards. Heck my D800 has the BIOS option, too, and it defaults to "Dock Video Card".
  • A high bandwidth device like a graphics card going through the I/O bus problably isn't goignt o be a good idea. You'd have both a much higher latency and it's flood the i/o bus.
    • Re:Latency/bandiwdth (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Who say it has to be an I/O bus or limited to 1 bus on an expansion connector?

      New high speed serial busses like PCI Express takes up very few pins. They could have reserved some of those for the video card alone.
      • Most current video cards use 16 PCIe lanes. That's 4 GB/s. By comparison, that's 10 Firewire 400 ports, or 4 Ethernet ports. Bandwidth to the outside of the case is harder to get by a mile than bandwidth inside the case. You'd need a Fibre Channel connection (like the ones used for huge RAID cases). This sort of bandwidth would equal just about every other connector on the M1710.
        • There's nothing preventing them from putting 16 PCIe lanes on a properly designed external connector, just like classic docking stations had a full blown PCI bus.

          The new HyperTransport 3.0 spec also allows for external HT links, not useful for Dell at the moment since they don't have AMD-based systems, but it might be interesting for someone making Turion based laptops. So far every Turion-based laptop I've seen has been rather low end. :(
  • The ideal use of this configuration I think would be to take your notebook to school/work/etc., bring it home and dock it in for more power.

    The only flaw in this is that the "desktop replacement" itself has too much mass for it to be portable. If they could combine this type of dock with a smaller, more mobile system, it'd be the best of both worlds.

    Most likely this is going to appeal to the hardcore power users in the notebook crowd.
    • The only flaw in this is that the "desktop replacement" itself has too much mass for it to be portable.

      Amen to that. I bought an HP8800 series with the 17" display last year as a 'desktop replacement' and it is a real bear to travel with. It is technically portable, but really a pain in the neck (quite literally) when travelling much further than to and from the car. The thing weighs in at around 12 pounds with the a/c adapter and other junk I carry with it. Next time I need a case, I'll definitely get

  • "Perhaps an upgrade to allow for standard or even Quad-SLI would be possible with such a dock."

    Ok, so they're doing little more than speculating about what Dell might be doing with its dock. Fine. Then they jump and start speculating about SLI or Quad-SLI? Considering that there are few mainboards that do either one of those functions, they're realllly reaching in even hoping for that kind of functionality. 4x AGP would be a good enough start for a new concept like this.

  • The Powerbook Duo was a helluva machine. Sub-notebook and a desktop. It was nice to be able to do page-layout with dual monitors at work, and take the Duo home to do copywriting and the like. Expensive, though.

    As for this, I can see the benefit to a few people, but 1) people who need workstation-level graphics will also need more RAM and faster processors than are available in laptops, and 2) people who would like to game with their laptops like to game on their laptops away from their desk, which is why

  • Could Dell be planning on releasing an enthusiast dock that features a high-end GPU that could not otherwise be crammed into the confinements of the notebook chassis?

    Maybe the option is something cheap instead of something that performs well. Why only ask a question on one side of the coin? Of course it would be nice if there was some great innovation, but considering how much goes into graphics cards from a company focused entirely on that concept, I really doubt Dell has the resources to come up with
  • It doesn't have to be a conspiracy theory guys, it can be something simple.
  • It is well known that some of the Latitudes and Inspirons and Precisions are identical units except for casing and bios changes especially throughout the C Series. In some models you can pull the Quadro card out of the Precision and install it in a Latitude or Inspiron. Dell might be planning on offering this as a Precision model with some kind of Quadro card in the dock.
  • by Doc Ruby (173196) on Friday June 30, 2006 @01:00PM (#15637317) Homepage Journal
    Why don't monitors include graphics cards tweaked for exactly their performance specs? Self-powered speakers offer better performance and flexibility for upgrading the "processor" and "UI" components that drive them. Notebooks would include LCD cards, but not have to drive external monitors/projectors directly. That would make the notebooks smaller, lighter, cooler, cheaper, and the external display higher quality.

    Give me an optical digital display output instead of VGA.

    I could put that display output into a breakout box to any number of different displays, including multihead where I have them, without and extra HW. The differences could be entirely in software. Outputting OpenGL for display would let even simple HW and relatively simple SW exploit practically any display environment. Including the long-anticipated immersive goggles, or better.

    Dell's BIOS seems to go a single step in the right direction. When will we sprint down the path?
    • Um, a monitor may last you many years (I've had a nice 19" CRT for 4 years now) but a graphics card technology is made redundant so quickly that you'd be swapping the graphics card in and out of your monitor pretty often. Also, getting graphics information to the monitor would be an expensive pain in the ass, probably requiring a ribbon cable about the width of a PCI-E slot.
      • Why couldn't you upgrade a plugin monitor graphics card the way you upgrade a PC card? And what's wrong with the digital optical out I mentioned?
        • Because it's extemely difficult to get 4 GB/s of data down a small cable, and that's just PCI-Express speeds. A graphics card needs direct access to the RAM of a computer in order to do it's job; you can't do it efficiently 2 meters away from the machine without some serious communications, and even if you could get fast enough comms, then a card on the board will still always be faster.
          • Where are you getting your certainty about your design principles?

            The computer doesn't send 4GB:s to the graphics card, it sends high-level instructions. Especially in the case of the OpenGL I mentioned, the bandwidth to the GPU can be very small. Digital optics have more than enough bandwidth, even for 4GB:s if that were actually necessary. There is no need of the GPU to have high bandwidth access to main memory.

            In fact, all your complaints are a bigger problem with the GPU sitting across a cable from the
            • If graphics cards didn't need direct, high bandwidth, low latency access to the processor and system memory, we'd all still be using PCI graphics. AGP was specifically developed because newer, faster graphics cards needed direct, high bandwidth access to system memory... Textures don't magically appear in video memory, you know.
            • Do you know how fast PCI-Express is? Now explain why that standard even exists if PCI or ISA would do the job. Hint: I think you're forgetting about textures.

              Besides that, I have dual screens on my desk. At $300, I'm quite glad I also don't have to buy dual video cards (although, that is of course an option with SLI). And, to be quite honest, I simply don't see what advantage there would be to putting the rendering hardware in the display. Why do it? Similarly, there is very little advantage (none in most c
              • Actually, both the video and audio compartmentaliztion you mention are mainly the result of momentum and evolutionary design, defined by backwards compatibility. People don't spend much money on speakers, even though that's where the sound value lies, either in stereo equipment or PC audio. Onboard audio electronics are cheap because their development cost has been amortized, including the cost of designing them into new PCs. Likewise with displays.

                But displays do have enthusiasts, so there is a bigger nich
                • Why carry something that can drive a display much heavier-duty than the onboard LCD?
                  Why not? It adds nothing to the cost, in comparitive terms.

                  If you've got dual monitors, you're using a dual monitor card, which isn't necessary for the much more common single monitor, and therefore much more expensive in small production quantities
                  Except that dual head cards are now entirely standard (virtually all cards over $30 are dual head capable) and so we're not talking small production quantities we're talking huge
    • Sounds like you're used to the infinitely reconfigurable world of software.

      Video cards need high bandwidth low latency connections. High bandwidth/low latency connections are difficult to extend to the back of your case, let alone up to the top of your desk. And you definitely cannot daily-chain them to multiple monitors.

      And why would you use optical? Wire is all you need for short distances. The bandwidth of twisted pair is very large, the capacity of a coax is enormous. Optical would just add cost.
      • I've designed for custom HW for over a decade. HW isn't as stuck in the mud as you imply.

        Optical is high bandwidth, low latency, and low power. That's one reason it's long been considered for interchip buses, and even for buses across a chip. Interconnecting whole boxes actually reaches the economic scales where optical is better, as demonstrated by consumer/pro electronics that use it.
        • A single coaxial cable carries the same data as that optical (TOSLink) cable. Some say it carries it better. But either way, it doesn't carry it worse, and an RCA connector is cheaper than an optical one. Pro electronics usually use coax instead (ADAT being the biggest exception).

          There's nothing lower latency about optical compared to a digital coax. Both are too slow. The speed of propagation in a fiber or wire is only so fast. It would make computer busses a lot more complex to have to soak up 1.5m of lat
          • Optical has much higher bandwidth - consider the telco backbones, for example. Its latency is the lowest, at the speed of light (minus small delays at the codecs), compared to the low electron velocity at low voltages (low acceleration). Buses don't use 1.5m fibers, but interchip distances are more and more often talked about as targets for optical interconnects. 1.5m makes optical look even better.

            Optical has been overkill for audio electronics, but just barely. Its widespread deployment was forward lookin
            • Low electron velocity at low voltages?

              Electron velocity is not determined by voltage. Electrons have a fixed charge, higher voltage only changes the number of them, not the speed of them. I don't think you even understand you are talking about.

              I stole this sheet from the internet, showing the propagation speeds in various wires and fiber:

              Medium Propagation Speed
              ------ -----------------
              Thick Coax .77c (231,000 km/sec)
              Thin Coax .65c (195,000 km/sec)
              Twisted Pair .59c (177,000 km/sec)
              Fiber .66c (198,000 km/sec)
    • This sounds like window forwarding, except in 3D.
  • I say just get it right in the first place... inside the laptop. Video cards get obsolete so fast anyways, by the time a new technology actually gets to the market, the miniature (and laptop-compatable) version is available within months. Until monitors have wireless interfaces, I really doubt this kind of technology will take off.
  • How hot do these things get under full cpu load?

    It would be nice if reviewers rated heat which is becoming a big issue. Especially after the macbook pro problem and anything running on a duo.

    I bought my compaq based on price and heat issues. I want a "laptop" and not a "notebook". Yes, my laptop never gets hot and I can comfortably place it on my lap. A cool CPU is also a longer lasting unit. My gf's Vio on the underhand, needs a special USB powered cooling unit pad below it to prevent if from overheating.
    • It would be nice if reviewers rated heat which is becoming a big issue. Especially after the macbook pro problem and anything running on a duo.

      According to the wiki entry Intel's duo core has an outstanding "performance per watt" ratio [wikipedia.org].

      The only reason I plan on buying an HP instead of a Dell is for (AMD turion) 64-bit support which the duo core apparently does not have (expected in core 2). The wiki entry also mentions a duo core high memory latency due to the lack of on-die memory controller (further
    • I bought an XPS 1710 over 6 weeks ago and I am thoroughly impressed by it. The most important benefit is that fact that it is SILENT and COOL. I can literally play games on my lap. How Dell managed to get the 7900 GTX to run so cool is beyond me. Why is this astounding fact is missing from that review? This is the review that made me buy it in the first place: http://www.notebookreview.com/default.asp?newsID=2 887&review=Dell+XPS+M1710 [notebookreview.com] Even running the latest games with all gfx features on and at 1900x1
  • The Dell C/DockII, which is about 5 or 6 years old now, supported two PCI slots, one of which could be used for graphics.

    So technically, anyone with a C series laptop should be able to get up to around an nVidia 6200 for their "docked" video solution.

    (Now I have to go try this...) :-)
    • I was doing this for a couple of years. Unfortunately the C/Dock II only supports PCI, which limits your graphics card choices considerably, but you can get modern low-end PCI cards still, and they're loads better than what my (reflashed) Inspiron 4100 came with (16Mb Radeon M6). Before I ended up replacing the machine altogether, I was using a Radeon 256MB 9250 card, which even gave me usable DX8-class grafix.

      My current Acer laptop's eZDock is PCIe based (and even has an expresscard slot) so there's no i
  • by LaughingCoder (914424) on Friday June 30, 2006 @01:10PM (#15637400)
    I never quite understood why someone would buy these really pricey gaming laptops. For my boys I built microATX cubes that have every bit as much performance as these high end laptops, for about 1/4th the price -- and they are easily and cheaply upgradeable down the road. When they go to a friend's house for a LANparty they just grab the cube by its handle and throw their keyboard/mouse into a bag. Monitors are not a problem -- most people have monitors leftover in their basement/attic from when they upgraded to LCD, so they just connect to the surplus monitor, plug into their network and off they go. Seriously, you can build a nice cube gaming box for about $550 (DVD writer, Athlon 64 3500+, 1GB DDR400, 300GB SATA HD, Windows XP license, box w/420W supply, motherboard) plus whatever graphics floats your boat (I find the $99 NVidia 6 series PCIe boards are more than adequate, though I have also found that many games are actually quite playable using just the embedded graphics like the NVidia 6150). Sure, you may be 10 or 20 fps slower than your buddies, with a little less detail in the shadows, but who cares (especially when most LCD monitors top out at 60Hz refresh rate anyhow ;-).
    • For my boys I built microATX cubes....for about 1/4th the price....Sure, you may be 10 or 20 fps slower than your buddies, with a little less detail in the shadows, but who cares (especially when most LCD monitors top out at 60Hz refresh rate anyhow ;-).

      Your Children care.

      • For my boys I built microATX cubes....for about 1/4th the price....Sure, you may be 10 or 20 fps slower than your buddies, with a little less detail in the shadows, but who cares (especially when most LCD monitors top out at 60Hz refresh rate anyhow ;-).
        Your Children care.

        Think of the children!

    • Monitors are not a problem -- most people have monitors leftover in their basement/attic from when they upgraded to LCD, so they just connect to the surplus monitor, plug into their network and off they go
      I also like to utilize my S-Video(or normal video) output and plug right into a big screen TV and play my games, if my friends don't have an extra monitor any modern TV will do!
    • in addition to your argument, you could also reccommend to spend 1/3 the price and have a machine equal to or 10 to 20 fps faster than them. I mean, toss a 7600GT or a 7900GT (sorry ATI fans, I don't know ATI's enough to reccommend a competing card ): and that's a more than decent gaming machine.

      Either that or go with 1/5 the price, cut the hdd back a bit, and pirate the XP and that's like $250-$300 savings which is oddly enough, the price of a decent video card.

      Also if one is so inclined they could make a
    • I bought one for work purposes. I do web and graphic design. It allows me to work while waiting for clients and show them graphics at their best. It also allows me to play games when I have nothing else to do.
    • For my boys I built microATX cubes that have every bit as much performance as these high end laptops, for about 1/4th the price -- and they are easily and cheaply upgradeable down the road. When they go to a friend's house for a LANparty they just grab the cube by its handle and throw their keyboard/mouse into a bag. Monitors are not a problem -- most people have monitors leftover in their basement/attic from when they upgraded to LCD, so they just connect to the surplus monitor, plug into their network and
    • Here, allow me to explain to you why someone would purchase one of these gaming laptops (I would think this would be obvious, but what do I know)...

      Say you have a job that requires travel, via plane even. Say you are going on a trip and need to take your computer. Say you have a choice between: 1. SFF cube system, bag with mouse/keyboard, small speaker set, monitor (I guess you could repack it in its box and check it in with the rest of this mountain of luggage)... or 2. 17" widescreen notebook in a carryin
      • Well there is an option 3 ... do you really need top-end gaming power with you at all times while you travel for your job? I suppose if you "live on the road" it makes sense, but otherwise why not just get a "regular" laptop for half the price that is OK at gaming, but is also half the weight, gets twice the battery life, etc ... then put the rest of the money you saved into a nice desktop (cube if you want to take it to a friend's house) gaming system. This covers gaming at home, having light-weight gaming
  • this has been an option in dockable Dells for like... 10 years?
  • I bet that it will cost more than a top-flight graphics card for a desktop. As the thing is already 8lbs even without the dock I'm struggling to see the point of it a little. I guess it might be OK for taking to LAN parties but then again, any gamer that serious won't want to compromise with a laptop.

    Also I bet it runs hot and resting the heel of the left hand on a broiling plate whilst accessing ASDW isn't my idea of gaming heaven.

    I'd rather have a top-notch games box plus a small and light laptop. Probabl
  • as posted
    "Hot Hardware has just posted a unique review of Dell's flagship XPS M1710 notebook. They stumbled across some very interesting information within the BIOS which seems to indicate Dell is working on a docking station with its own discrete graphics. 'The user is given the option of using either the integrated GeForce Go 7900 GTX GPU found within the system or the extremely interesting option of using the graphics card found within a docking station. Could Dell be planning on releasing an enthusiast
  • I'd get one if it was a reasonable add-on. Just knowing that I could squeeze a couple more years of life out of a laptop would be worth it for me. The PCI boxes they sell for laptops today sell for $1000 or so, way too pricey. What I don't understand is why someone hasn't released a cardbus powerVR (like the old Matrox3D). If you don't remember - it was an internal PCI card that worked with the overlay of your existing video card - no cables required. One would just pop the card in, install the drivers
  • Perhaps an upgrade to allow for standard or even Quad-SLI would be possible with such a dock.

    Hey, and maybe then I can get a docking station for my docking station that has QuadQuad-SLI, and then maybe I can get in a robotic exo-skeleton and become the first Headmaster, and we can finally take the fight directly to Unicron. Is the gaming industry out of its mind? Seriously. I mean, I am not going to buy four graphics cards to put into my computer to play games. Ever. Period. End of story. I'm sorry game developers, but you're just gonna have to make do with the measly bazillion pixels my current stand-alone graphics card can dish out.

    --
    Instead of imagining a beowulf cluster of PS3's, just wait three years and check out the PS4.
  • Docking bays with full size expansion ports were around ages ago (I had one back in '96 for my old 20 MHz Toshiba T1600, IIRC), but they seem to have dissapeared over the past few years. I think they were a casuality of the trend to make notebooks complete standalone desktop replacements, which lead to port replicators replacing docking station, and finally port replicators themselves disapearing. None of my last four laptops have had any kind of docking-type support built in. Silly little USB solutions
    • Agreed, not original. We have several docks here at work for the Compaq M700 series that has internal PCI slots. I haven't checked, but I would imagine in their bios, they pack the same feature, boot from AGP or PCI. Im going to guess that there will be a large Dell docking station that has a PCI Express card slot in it at some point. Not that farfetched, and definatly not newsworthy.

      As for people talking about multi GPU setups with laptops, have you all lost your fucking minds? Once you take the portabil

  • by nick_davison (217681) on Friday June 30, 2006 @03:19PM (#15638545)
    LCD screen... swaps out for the monitor plugged in to the docking station.
    Keyboard... swaps out for the monitor plugged in to the docking station.
    Mousepad... swaps out for the monitor plugged in to the docking station.
    Graphics system... swaps out for the monitor plugged in to the docking system.

    About the only remaining parts that don't swap out are the hard drive, CPU and memory. In exchange for that, you tend to get a clunky docking station that takes up way too much desk space rather than discretely sitting under your desk like a dedicated tower. Given laptop memory and CPUs tend to be underpowered compared to desktop equivalents, replacing them for a typical laptop would run, what, $150 at the outside?

    At what point does it become a much better idea to make your laptop hard drive hot swappable and then have a dedicated tower with all of the better priced components the desktop allows with an open bay in the front to move your data and OS setup over? By the time you have a docking station with a high end graphics card in it, the additional components are pretty trivial.
  • by LoadWB (592248) * on Friday June 30, 2006 @03:48PM (#15638823) Journal
    Unfortunately, I cannot get to the article, so I cannot see exactly what they are talking about.

    But to be short, the D410 and D610 BIOSes I work with have an option to default to the docking station video as well. IIRC, Dell produces docking stations (not just the advanced port replicators we use in the field) which have PCI and AGP slots. It seems only reasonable that they also intend to produce models with PCIe slots (none currently show on the website.)

    So, this may not be anything new or stunning.

    As an aside, I am disappointed that the newer Latitudes do not have docking ports. The USB port replicators are crap, and the drivers constantly crash on at least two models I have in customer sites (not my purchase, mind you.) I believe that the ability to dock could be viewed by home users as a replacement of the desktop. Of course, that would mean that people would not buy a desktop AND a laptop, so lower bottome line, eh? :)
  • As others have already mentioned Dell has had their C-Dock, and D-Dock [dell.com] docking stations with half height PCI slots for years now. I used to have a C610 and used a C-Dock with a nice sound card a few years ago and it worked well. At the time the support for using PCI video cards was available in the BIOS but it never worked very well.

    The M1710 may have a dock connector on it but I doubt it is anything of a quantum leap beyond what they have on their Latitude models. It would make more sense for them to roll
  • I don't see how this review is unique. I can find any number of online or paper magazine articles that fawn over their sponsors latest products.

    BTW, the docking station fotr my 6 year old armada can accomodate a PCI card, and it doesn't even need a special BIOS section.

What ever you want is going to cost a little more than it is worth. -- The Second Law Of Thermodynamics

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