You may remember my last post on Direct2Dell, where I had announced the imminent arrival of the GeForce Dual 8800M GTX upgrade kit for existing XPS M1730 customers. In fact, we’ve been talking about this for quite some time. Back in January, Lionel blogged that Dell was offering the 8800M GTX to new customers. Last month, he said we’d be offering this upgrade to existing customers. For customers in the United States, that day has finally arrived!
The card can now be purchased from our Dell.com, either as a stand-alone part for the slightly more adventurous, or with an installation service for folks that don’t want to do it themselves. I would recommend seeing what is involved in changing your video card before deciding which option is best for you. The service manual for the XPS M1730 can be found here, and we’ll soon post a vlog with Louis Bruno that walks you through the installation process.
Update: Below is the vlog for customers who will install the 8800M GTX card themselves. If you would like to see a larger version, click on the links to download or view the Windows Media Video file or this version for QuickTime/ iPods and the iPhone.
Update 2 from Lionel: Like John mentioned in this comment, we have heard from several customers that the links to the upgrade offers on Dell.com were not working reliably. Our teams have worked to fix the issues that caused the breakage. We apologize for the inconvenience. Here’s the link for the standalone card, and here’s the link for the standalone card with installation service.
Also, if you are a customer who has ordered the upgrade, but are having problems through the support process, please share your details via a comment in this thread. I won’t publish any personal iformation like e-mail addresses or service tag numbers. What I will do is connect you with someone who can help. As a reminder, this upgrade offer is for customers in the United States.
For those of you who opt to buy the installation service, here is what you should expect. After you place your order, a work order will be sent to a service provider in your area, who should contact you within 48 hours after you place the order to set up a service appointment for the installation. When the day of the service appointment arrives, your service technician should once again contact you to make sure you’ve received the parts from Dell, after which the technician will arrive at the appointed time to do the installation. After the work is complete, the technician will leave you to enjoy your new video card.
Also of note, M1730 customers with version 3.3 of MediaDirect will have to install version 3.5 for MediaDirect to work with this new card. The catch? The MediaDirect partition has to be enlarged for the new installation to work, requiring that users repartition their hard drives, and then reformat their Operating System partition and reinstall Windows, drivers, software, and Dell QuickSet. MediaDirect 3.5 will be included with the upgrade kit for this purpose. If you opt for the installation service, the MediaDirect reinstallation will not be done by the service technician. If you want MediaDirect functionality, you’ll have to do the MediaDirect 3.5 installation yourself.
Despite the complications in bringing this to you, this beast of a video card boosts performance over the older Dual 8700M GT cards by up to an astonishing 49%, and is capable of up to a 13,496 3DMark ‘06 score. Since I’m not a benchmark junky myself, I have to ask, what does this mean for real performance?
The answer is astounding. Dell Labs noted an average of 43 frames per second in Crysis as opposed to 30 frames per second on an identically configured XPS M1730 with a Dual 8700M GT, and 21 frames per second on an XPS M1730 with the single 8700M GT. The answer, simply put, is that the difference this card should make is DRASTIC.
So, all of you hardcore gamers out there that jumped on the M1730 when it launched, now you can upgrade your video card and make your machine truly worthy of the nickname “Beast”.