The fan noise is really just the db level of the fan. The fact that it comes on is good, it just is exceptionally loud when it does come on.
As far as performance, I always run 1680x1050 native. In COD4 I see stuttering about once per 15 minute round. I've seen this running at home (AT&T DSL), my girlfriend's place (Comcast Cable), and at a local gaming cafe. I don't play with AA so this was very odd to me. It isn't too bad but sometimes I'm running from behind wall X to wall Y and it gets annoying. Doesn't seem to be a packet loss thing and does happen when there is a lot of stuff popping on screen.
Supreme Commander I was playing against a guy from work sitting on the other side of the table from me (he was on my desktop) and was getting about 27fps per fraps, not recording just showing the counter overlay. That is pretty disappointing but still playable.
World of Warcraft is generally good. I arena on 2x 2k+ rating teams and one 1900 rating team so fairly competitive, and the frame rates are fine. On this week's Illidan kill, I did notice some slowdown when the two flames came out that forced me to abruptly camera angle to the floor in order to preserve framerate by excluding the flames and most of the other character models. WoW was released what? 3 years ago? Given this is the end boss fight in TBC until patch 2.4, but it is pretty disappointing to say the least.
I haven't loaded Crysis or Bioshock yet, but I'm wondering if it is even worth it.
I have uninstalled all virus scanning software and have been running it offline (of course since it's too exposed) just to see if performance picks up.
Now, for comparison, my desktop is a Q6600 3.69ghz, 4gb, vista ultimate x64, 8800 GTS 512MB @ 740/1850. On one hand, yea, I expect it to be way faster than the notebook. On the other hand, it plays COD4, at 1920x1200 while transcoding one fraps movie and encoding another at seemingly better or equal performance levels.
Speakers are a significant downgrade to the Dell 9300 which was a 17" from 3 years ago. Not really sure why this is the case but it was noticeable.
Also, the webcam I don't think is capturing video at 30fps, or anywhere near that.
I think the CPU performance is fine, as the 6mb of cache seems to be pretty nice, and the notebook does run fairly cool.
My big complaint is that for $2600+, I'd want simple things, like integrated speakers/ webcam to just work decently. I use headphones normally, and I have a standalone webcam, but it's a bummer that the standard ones are close to unusable. When that one noisy fan spins up, it really kills any chance of using onboard speakers.
Another issue here is the keyboard. I use a lenovo Z61 at work, have used a Dell 9300 for years, and also a logitech G15 on my main desktop and a MSFT wireless keyboard for my media center PC. The 5792/3 keyboard has really nice keys. The tactile feel is great and feels like heavy duty plastic. On the other hand, you need to use a lot of pressure to depress the key and have it register, and it feels like the "click" point where the key gives the physical feedback of being depressed, and the registration point where the depression is sent electronically to the system is different. This has been VERY noticeable as it means characters that I think I'm typing are not being registered in the application. I've seen it consistently in both games and typing text and it's annoying. On one hand I could understand a durability argument as I did break an "e" key on my last dell 9300. On the other hand, it was a $15 or so replacement part that was taken care of by warranty. I'd rather spend $15 and 5 minutes replacing a keyboard every 18 months and have a keyboard that registers electronically and tactilely at the same time, rather than have a primary interface tool be bad. I use 4 different keyboards, at minimum, on any given day, and this is something I don't like, and I'm having trouble adjusting to.
The second complaint is that the 8800M GTX is just not that fast. $500 "upgrade" in a notebook and it is slower to today's $249 desktop 8800GT. As the 8800GT moves to the 9600 GT soon that performance point is $200 or so. That doesn't make too much sense and its a bad trend since newer games are going to be harder not easier on today's hardware. If the 8800M GTX had no stutters in games like COD4, that would be one thing. If I saw stuttering due to antivirus, network packet loss, or other open applications, that wouldn't bother me. When I see stuttering in a DX9 title with no AA, I get at minimum worried.
Overall, I'm not overly happy. Some things are great (T9300/trackpad), some are medium (8800M GTX / 667mhz ram), and some are, well disappointing (webacam/speakers/keyboard). I'll probably do a full review Sunday/Monday, because I think a lot of reviews are focused on the fact that the 8800M GTX is better than any 8600/8700/ or 7xxx solution available. It is amazing on one hand, on the other, I really think someone needs to highlight the pros and cons of the notebook so there is a counterpoint to glowing reviews about the relative notebook performance.
If the Dell 17" xps had 45nm chips, and SLI drivers that worked well in Vista 64, there's a good chance I'd have one of those on order right now.