Unfortunately my last laptop a LG P300 died. I was really happy with the machine, it was really lightweight (1.6 kg) and had enough performance (Nvidia 8600 GS graphics chip and a Core 2 Duo CPU). I read news that some of the mobile Nvidia 8x series had faults and died soon when getting hot. Well 2.5 yeas later the graphics chip started to cause blue screens followed by funky lines on the screen during the next boot. In November I could not even boot into Windows, because as soon as the Nvidia driver loaded i got a blue screen.
I needed a replacement. Unfortunately there is no 13 inch successor for the P300. There is the Acer Aspire TimelineX 3820TG but it has no fast connectivity ports like USB 3.0, eSata or a PCI Express Slot. Moreover I need a Nvidia graphics chip with at leas 1 gig of Ram and 96 shader cores to unlock the hardware acceleration of Adobe Premiere Pro CS5. I was only left with options in the 15 inch size category. The Apple MacBook Pro did not make it again, because of its old graphics chip, lack of USB 3.0, and way too high prices. I considered an Asus N53JF and X5MJ but then I saw the new Dell XPS 15 line. Dell had the better display and a 3 year warranty for a reasonable price. I found my best price/value winner.
Nearly one month after the LG broke, I am now working on the new Dell. If it wasn’t for a very impolite and incompetent Dell phone operator, who messed up two phone orders, I would have had the machine earlier (final online order on November 24th and delivery on December 10th). I decided for the dual core i5 560 processor because the quad cores are still lacking an Intel integrated graphics chip to save power when the Nvidia chip is not needed (the rest of my configuration: Bluray Reader, Bluetooth 3.0, Intel 6200, installed my old SDD 128 Gb, installed 8Gb Ram, HD Display). Moreover the 560 has AES acceleration, TrueCrypt really flies with 875 MB/s (5mb Buffer)
Unfortunately my first tests to get the hardware acceleration in Adobe Premiere CS5 up and running were not successful. After adding the line “GeForce GT 420M” to the file cuda_supported_cards.txt in the Premiere install folder, I got past the GPUsniffer tool test but the acceleration option in Premiere was greyed out. I had the Dell provided Nvidia drivers, that were not up to date, under suspicion. Unfortunately the drivers from the Nvidia website cannot be installed, as they do not accept the Dell 420m hardware id. But good news, I managed to install some drivers with the a modified inf file from laptopvide2go.
I do not reccomend to install the modfied drivers from above anymore. They are not signed correctly. You get around the windows driver protection but it leads to strange software hangups e.g. Hugin does not find the correct program paths and windows live writer just hangs on start. Yes this does not sound plausible, but it is the only thing I found to solve those problems. Fortunately there are new Nvidia Beta drivers that work flawlessly.
Optimus seems to work at least that’s what the gpu activity monitor tells me. The Adobe Premiere CS5 mercury engine uses the Nvidia 420m successfully, and hd audio bitstreaming to my Onkyo SR 608 works too.
I cannot tell anything about the 3dvision part, as I do not have a capable 3d display.
I can hear the clicking noise of the subwoofer, that was reported in some forums, too. It is connected to the sound card turning on/off the power saving mode . My old LG P300 had this too, but it was not that audible, because there was no subwoofer build in. You can turn powersaving off in the dell audio menu or turn off all the windows status sounds, they are annoying anyway. By that the sound chip is only turned on when you start an audio track, where the clicking is not that obvious.
The cooling fan kicks in during surfing but not constantly and i do not think it is loud or disturbing. There is no CPU whine, that could be found in the old core2 XPS series.
Overall i am quite satisfied with the laptop even though I do not like the inner design (keyboard/display) that much. The outer design is nice. I wish there would be a 13 inch version, but the high resolution 15 inch display is great.