DATE : July 24, 2005.
Well, let me start by saying that I was *this* close to buying the Hypersonic Aviator AX7. A sweet machine with the AMD64 chip. BUT, DELL won me over with their really MASSIVE discounts and offers that I couldn't refuse and also I wasn't getting the GPU I wanted on the AMD64.
So, the wait has begun. Agonizing pain during night time, antisipation of changes during the day time. What else can I say, I am just another technology drooler.
For starters I will give a brief of what I have ordered and why I went for the DELL...
DELL Inspiron 9300 Configuration :
Now about the price. The total price including taxes, S&H BEFORE discount is $3254.21 and the price after discount is $2018.41 (including taxes, S&H). Now do you see the first reason I went with the DELL.
Intel Pentium M 760 (2 GHz / 2 MB Cache / 533 MHz FSB)
17" UltraSharp Wide Screen UXGA Display with TrueLife (1900 x 1200 MAX)
256 MB DDR2 SDRAM at 533MHz 1 SODIMM (Hold it, I know your concern...)
256 MB NVidia GeForce Go 6800
60 GB 7200rpm Hard Drive
Microsoft Windows XP Professional with SP2
Integrated 10/100 Network Card and Modem
8x CD/DVD Burner (DVD+/-RW) with double-layer write capability
Intel PRO 2200 and Dell 350 Bluetooth Internal Wireless Cards
9-cell Lithium Ion Primary Battery (80 WHr)
3Yr Ltd Warranty, At-Home Service, and Tech Support plus Nights & Weekends
Microsoft Windows XP Professional Backup CD
Targus Messenger Carrying Case
The second reason is the 256 MB video card. Now, I couldn't find it anywhere else for the AMD at all, and I am a huge fan of AMD. If there was a 256MB card for the AMD laptop and it was more than this machine, I would still have gone with that.
Now, the third reason is I didn't get the WUXGA for the AMD, and the forth is AMD has only 400 MHz DDR for the memory (max speed). That is pretty much useless considering the AMD64 chip has a wopping 1600MHz as the FSB for the processor, double than any of the pentiums.
Its not all nice always. The downside, in the Hypersonic Aviator AX7 (I didn't mention just AMD, becuase this feature I found only in the aviator), I could get a 100 GB SATA 7200rpm w/NCQ for an additional $150 from the 60 GB 7200rpm. And that is so pathetic that DELL doesn't offer any of the SATA hard drives.
Now, why did I just choose 256 MB for the RAM?? Well, I got a 1GB RAM for $110/- shipped and so I will have 1.2GB of RAM for less.
And, DELL keeps changing their minds every friday. I had preconfigured the inspiron 9300 with an wireless a/b/g + bluetooth and they removed that configuration as an option. Man, that sucks. Anway, it doesn't matter now. The majestic is on its way.
Now about the process. I will give my experience as I go through each stage. Now it is just in production stage (at least thats what it says.).
Sales & Ordering
I ordered this machine on the 23rd, i.e., yesterday. And it said an estimated shipping date is on or before August 1st.
Today, it said the laptop has shipped. That is a fast build process from 23rd to 27th, considering two days of holidays in between. So a total of 4 days of build and testing.
Estimated arrival on 1st August, which is a Monday. Can't wait to get my hands on this baby.
Well, lets wait and see whats it store.
I received my laptop yesterday, i.e., 2nd. The UPS got me real mad with their delays. Actually, the delay was 80% mine. The UPS guy was here on friday but I was out of town. Man the delays. Anyway, finally he came on tuesday and gave it. I was thanking the Lord and kissing the floor. (Metaphorically of course).. .
The whole packaging was pretty good and sturdy. I felt safe when I saw the package that nothing would have gone wrong while shipping. Pretty well done DELL.
Once the box was opened, my first impression was "GOOD GOD.. THIS IS HUGE..". Well, that is because my old laptop is a Gateway Solo 9550 15.4" screen. The height is comparably the same but it is more wider (what else would you expect with a 17") and the thickness is also comparable to the old laptop. (Sorry guys, I don't have anything else to compare it to). The build is pretty solid and sleek. I give it a 8/10. I will explain why.
Everything is good.. BUT...
The keyboard could have been improved a lot more as there is a lot of space on the left and right side of the keyboard. On the outer shell, the INSPIRON letters seem like a sticker that could peel off any minute. Also, the touchpad is a little towards the left below the keyboard. This is not much of a problem as much as its a getting used to thing.
All this is fine, as its a process of getting used to. Yet my biggest issue with this machine is there is no PS/2 port at all. I like to use an external keyboard when gaming but this one doesn't have any.
Pros : 6 USB 2.0 ports (2 on left side and 4 on the back), DVI port, Battery life (9-Cell battery - an estimated 4 hours, low work).
Cons : No PS/2 port and no inbuilt mike.
As I fired it up, I was getting more and more excited. Started it up and the setup was a breeze. For those non-geeky people, there are a lot of JUNK DELL software in there that you can get rid of using the Add/Remove programs. Thats the simpler way of-course. Hey, wait a minute. I got the 1Gig RAM that I didn't put it in... Ok.. lets do that then. BUT, I have to go through the full setup process before I shutdown. So, I went through it and it took around 5 min to complete everything and set it up fully and shutdown.
Now the memory. I got the Transcend 1GB 533 MHz DDRII RAM from newegg.com and that just fit in beautifully. No hassles. And the locations are all marked (M - Memory, B - Battery, H - Hard disk, etc...), so no problems tracing it also.
I fired it up again and this time the machine booted up real fast. The difference - 256 MB V/s 1.25 GB of RAM.
Oh... Again I forgot something, the A/C adapter wire. So, all this while I was working off of the battery. I ran around an hour and it showed 2 1/2 hours remaining in the battery life. Good DELL, they charge the battery FULLY before they ship it. Nice. All this while I was wondering why the screen was so dim. After the A/C it became real bright. Lets move on to the peripherals.
As I was looking at the bright screen I noticed somebody... Oh thats me. Well, a glossy screen and that too a beautiful one. As it blacked out though, there was a lot of light at the bottom. Then I realized thats what they call light leakage. Well DELL you get 9/10 for the screen cause of that. The light leakage doesnt bother as long as you are not staring at a black screen for five minutes (which I doubt is highly, really highly unlikely).
I noticed that the fonts were not looking that good. Messed around and found that DELL has increased the DPI to 120% (Display Properties -> Settings -> Advanced...) AND the cleartype was off. As I changed the two, the beauty came alive.
The fonts are a little smaller to see (if you are sitting 2 feet away), But then who is. I changed the screen resolution to a lower one and it didnt look good. So, if you want to sit away and play then get an external monitor (I got the 2005FPW from DELL for 400 bucks.. sweeeeeet).
I fired up half-life 2 with all settings high and the machine slowed down to 20 FPS. But just reduced the resolution to one (1680x1050) and it breezed. That is sweet... And you know what the machine is adicting, before I knew I was spending 2 hours playing.
Lets continue when I finish with some benchmarking tests and then onto reinstallation and optimizations...
(To Be Continued ...)