ATI have had a great history with mobility graphics cards and today ill be looking at their newest model recently released, the Mobility Radeon 9800 GPU. Currently DELL are supplying this card with their Inspiron series of laptops with more manufacturers to follow.
Thanks to ATI and Dell the machine in question today is the Inspiron 9100 which is (not suprisingly) marketed as a desktop replacement. As some of you already know the Dell configuration tool on their website allows you to build the machine according to your needs and pocket. This model was supplied by ATI Munich and as such has a German Windows XP operating system installed, ths proved a little awkward at times during testing but being an experienced XP user I could "feel my way" around the menus and interface options.
Everything about this laptop is as to be expected for a model in the £1800-2200+ price range (around $2500-3000), with plenty of scope for connectivity across the board. The ATI mobility 9800 has also external connections for additional monitors if you dont find the 1900x1200 ultra crisp TFT to be giving you enough deskspace.
After reviewing and playing with a great diversity of hardware over the last year i'm not easily impressed but I have to say the word "wow" comes to mind when you take a good look at the quality of the screen Dell are supplying with this Inspiron, its simply breathtaking and certainly a wonderful testing bed for ATIs new top of the range mobility processor. The only problem is after using this for several days my Ilyama 22inchCRT (Pro 514) looks somewhat blurry :¬(. As you can see from the picture (above right) The keyboard layout is also german (QWERTZ) with the Y and Z key transposed, it would of course be supplied as the standard QWERTY for english language countries.
The laptop is certainly not what I would call "portable" by any stretch of the imagination, this particular range from Dell is marketed as a desktop replacement so its going to need more internal space to cool the high end and hot running components. I had concerns seeing a Prescott processor on the hardware list after spending some time with this range in the desktop sector i'm well aware just how hot they can run. My first course of action before testing was to run some 100% intensive tasks to see how things held up. As expected everything started heating up really soon and then the internal cooling system kicked into action, ill be honest this unit is far from quiet and considerable amounts of hot air are pumped from vents at the rear, so a steady flat surface is a must. For those of you like myself who love having a laptop on their lap when gaming or leave theirs laying on a bed when in use, this isnt for you. This needs significant space to cool and i'll lay most of the blame on the Prescott and Intel. In fairness to Dell they have ensured this laptop is up to the task of cooling the CPU and GFX under any condition (and ive tested it extensively under extreme load conditions) but as you can see from the image (above right), its very thick indeed.
Build quality of the DELL is very high, from port placements, to the finish and designer surface (one of many options above left). Apart from the massive bulk of this laptop I never ran into a problem during my testing with any instabilities caused by overheating issues or poor workmanship.
Primary Battery :
More technical specifications are available on the Dell website
Here are a selection of some bios screens.
Next: Setup continued