Dell XPS M1210

Upgraded to Windows Vista, the Dell XPS M1210 is a pricey but powerful system for those who want a smaller laptop with few compromises.

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High-end components and performance are generally restricted to midsize and larger laptops, so it's always nice to see a smaller system aimed at power users. The $2875 Dell XPS M1210 (configurations start at AU$1,799) makes the move to Windows Vista, combining power and portability in a package that lives on the outskirts of the ultraportable category. While it's not for hard-core gamers, those who need above-average performance in a compact system won't mind paying a premium for this unique road-worthy hybrid.

The 12.1-inch wide-screen display leads us to call the M1210 an ultraportable laptop, but its 2.2kg weight (2.35kg with the AC adapter) is closer to a laptop in the thin-and-light category, such as the Sony VAIO C15GP. Measuring 29.7 centimetres by 22 centimetres wide by 3 centimetres high, it's slightly bulkier than your average ultraportable, but still well suited for a daily commute.

The XPS M1210 features a bright 12.1-inch display that's fine for surfing the Web and watching media files, although a slightly larger 13.3-inch screen as found on the Asus W7J is the smallest display we'd want to use on an everyday basis. The crisp 1,280x800 native resolution strikes a fine balance between legible text and icons and screen real estate. Sitting above the display is a 1.3-megapixel Webcam; the camera rotates 180 degrees, as if on a rotisserie spit, so you can grab images from both the front and rear of the laptop.

The full-size keyboard on the XPS M1210 makes typing comfortable for even extended periods. The touch pad and mouse buttons are small but functional, with both horizontal and vertical scroll zones. A set of illuminated buttons sit along the front edge, including volume and media transport controls. They're handy when watching DVDs or listening to music, but they're far too easy to accidentally hit when typing, especially if the laptop is actually sitting on your lap.

The M1210 includes a decent set of ports and connections for such a small system. You get four USB 2.0 ports, four-pin FireWire, VGA, and S-Video-out ports, two headphone jacks (a welcome extra) and a mic jack; there's also an ExpressCard slot and a media card reader. Networking options include modem, Ethernet, and 802.11a/b/g Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and WWAN.

Typical for Dell systems, the XPS M1210 is highly configurable to suit a wide range of budgets and needs. Our review unit arrived fairly tricked out, including a 2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7200 CPU, 2GB of DDR2 RAM, a 120GB hard drive running at 5,400rpm, a Nvidia GeForce Go 7400 GPU, and Windows Vista Ultimate Edition. Compared to the XP version of the M1210 we looked back in June 2006, this model costs about the same, trades up to a Core 2 Duo CPU from a Core Duo, and doubles the RAM.

To cut the $2,879 price by a third, you could go with the default configuration, which trades down to a 1.83GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T5600 CPU, 1GB of RAM, an 80GB hard drive, integrated graphics, and Windows Vista Home Premium. That's still a decent set of specs, if you're more interested in the M1210's size and features than in pure performance.

With the upgrades on our review unit, the Dell XPS M1210 is one of the fastest Windows Vista laptops we've seen so far, easily beating two laptops with 1.6GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T5500 CPUs, the Toshiba Satellite U205-S5057 and the Asus W7J (a Windows XP system we upgraded to Vista) in CNET Labs' Multitasking test. It was also slightly faster than another T7200-based Dell, the Inspiron E1505.

The M1210's gaming prowess, however, was disappointing, even with the graphics upgrade. In Quake IV, at 1,024x768 resolution, we only got 16.2 frames per second (fps), although not-yet-perfected Windows Vista drivers are most likely to blame. Quake IV uses the Open GL framework, and not the more widely used Direct X, and at the time of writing neither Vista nor the beta NVIDIA driver fully supports Open GL. Turning off some high-end geometry and physics options, we were able to get more than 60fps at the same resolution out of FEAR, another popular first-person shooter.

One area where the M1210 excelled was in battery life. In our DVD battery drain test, we got 3 hours, 49 minutes out of the included nine-cell battery. That's excellent, especially for an ultraportable system, even though the nine-cell battery extends from the back of the system slightly. A smaller six-cell battery is also available. Vista laptops have a very flexible set of battery and power management options available via the operating system, but we haven't seen an overall improvement in battery life when compared to XP systems and in some cases, we've seen declines.

Though Dell has moved to a 90-day standard warranty on its less expensive models, the company covered this XPS M1210 with the optional three year standard mobile support plan, which includes one year of next business day onsite warranty, which provides free parts and labor. You can get help through Dell's 24 hours a day, seven days a week, toll-free telephone line for as long as you own the laptop. The company also has a support Web site with downloads, FAQs, and hardware-specific user forums.

Note: Products in this test are for comparative purposes only and are not necessarily available in the Australian market.

DVD battery drain test
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Dell XPS M1210
Dell XPS M1710
Dell Inspiron E1505
Toshiba Satellite U205-S5057

3D gaming performance (Quake 4 1,024x768, 4xAA 8xAF)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Dell XPS M1710
Asus W7J
Dell XPS M1210

System configurations:

Dell XPS M1710 Windows XP Media Center 2005 SP2; 2.33GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7600; 2,048MB DDR2 SDRAM 667MHz; 512MB nVidia GeForce Go 7950 GTX; 100GB Hitachi 7,200rpm SATA/150

Toshiba Satellite U205-S5057 Windows Vista Home Premium Edition; 1.66GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T5500; 1,024MB DDR2 SDRAM 528MHz; 224MB Mobile Intel 945GM Express; 160GB Hitachi 5,400rpm SATA/150

Asus W7J Windows XP Professional SP2; 1.66 Intel Core 2 Duo T5500; 1,024MB DDR2 SDRAM 528MHz; 512MB Nvidia GeForce Go 7400; 100GB Fujitsu 5,400rpm SATA/150

Dell Inspiron E1505 Windows Vista Home Premium; 2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7200; 2,048MB DDR2 SDRAM 667MHz; 256MB ATI Mobility Radeon x1400; 100GB Hitachi 7,200rpm SATA/150

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ChrisR10 posted a comment   

The Dell T5600 has impressive benchmark scores :


metro posted a review   

The Good:very powerful for its size

The Bad:sounds like a jet aircraft taking off in the hot summer weather.

it's done pretty well for the 4 years i've had it, last year i got a really bad virus and had to re-install windows, still works as good as when i first got it and i've dropped it from 1m onto a solid concrete floor with only a small dent in the casing. I'm probably going to replace it soon though and get something more powerful, Dell has been a pretty good brand, my last desktop from them worked very well from 2002-2006. The only thing that has stopped working is the battery, having a battery that lasts 4 years is pretty good i think.


tim posted a comment   

The Good:good machine

The Bad:died just after warranty

i had no problems with this machine for three years 2 months after the extended warranty ran out i had the motherboard fail - horrible experience with thech support no local agents idiots manning the phones incredibly expensive to fix. i will never buy a dell again


efire74 posted a comment   

The Good:At first great computer ran whatever I wanted heck ran WOW great

The Bad:Everything right after the warrenty Ran out

Tis computer was reat at first ran what ever i wanted it to but then the warrenty ran out and BOOM so did the XPS 1210 first the Video card then the monitor it self I never had a issue with the heat it ws just Dell and thier custormer service and after looking it up on the internet most people had the same problems. This was a great little laptop at the beginning just no support from Dell makes it one of the worst buys I have ever made.


Ando posted a comment   

The Good:Attractive, light weight, powerful,

The Bad:designed to fail after warranty expires, expensive to repair, locked into service from dell.

Bought for son for school work. Great machine untill 2 weeks out of warranty. Graphics failed. Sent away back quick and got extended warranty. Again 1 month out of warranty mother board has failed. The machine would of done 15 hours work in that 12 months. Gonna cost $900 to fix - so dell says. may as well buy another machine - not dell though.


Mo posted a comment   

The Good:GOOD LOOKING but is a piece o' SH*T

The Bad:its NOTHING but trouble n' WRECK your LIFE

Where can i start....

That was the last DELL for me


Ariel posted a review   

The Good:It's portable and great

The Bad:Dust Bunnie beward!

If you're overheating I know exactly whats wrong. There is this little area inside the machine where the fan is where A HUGE LUMP OF DUST collects. You're going to have to take it apart to get to the area. An trust me when the dust comes out, it looks like a giant cat hairball thats in there. This will fix the overheating issue for sure. Anything else email me at and I'll answer any questions people may have.


Danni posted a review   

The Good:Good while it lasted

The Bad:it overheats after 1 year just when warranty finished

bad as it overheats to 90C and after that it crashes


season posted a comment   

i'll give 6.5 out of 10

the thing thata satisfy me the most is with the battery life. turn off the wireless and bluetooth, as well as webcam, it can push the computer up to 8 hours of continuest performance


season posted a comment   

The Good:long battery life, good keyboard for 12"

The Bad:moniter gone right after the first month when warranty expired, poor cooling system, heavy, bolky, prizy

beside all the negative points about this laptop, it is still a pretty thing. have been using it for a bit more than 2 years now. had issue with the hardware. first moniter gone, under warranty, Dell can't test the problem, and replace a new moniter and a mother board in the very first 6 months. then, the moniter problem continued, didn't fix, and there's no ware for any one to determine the problem.
next, harddrive gone in about 18months in to its duty.
now, after 25months of usage, it start to making noise, truely from the cooling system.
its certainly one of the top model in year 2007 and one of the prisy laptop with good specs, good performance, but not a laptop that will last forever. i'm doubting if mine will last to 3 years old, considering its recent performance.
this is my second laptop. there's two brands that i'll avoid in the future. Compaq, and Dell. the first ever laptop and the last laptop from Compaq that i'll board had overheating problem right after the warranty period, pretty much last only for about 15months, and poor customer support. although, i must say, Dell after sale support is much better than Compaq, as long as you're under warranty

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User Reviews / Comments  Dell XPS M1210

  • ChrisR10


    "The Dell T5600 has impressive benchmark scores :"

  • metro



    "it's done pretty well for the 4 years i've had it, last year i got a really bad virus and had to re-install windows, still works as good as when i first got it and i've dropped it from 1m onto a so..."

  • tim


    "i had no problems with this machine for three years 2 months after the extended warranty ran out i had the motherboard fail - horrible experience with thech support no local agents idiots manning t..."

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