Dell has added a playful side to its laptop line, launching its first notebook computer aimed exclusively at gaming enthusiasts in the US.

Priced starting from US$2,849 (around £1570), the Inspiron XPS system will provide processing power, graphics and sound that gamers crave, Dell said in a statement. It is due to be available from Dell's Web site soon.

The notebook comes with an Pentium 4 or Pentium 4 Extreme Edition processor running at 3.4GHz and ATI's Mobility Radeon 9700 graphics card with 128M bytes of memory. It also features a subwoofer, a 15.4 inch UXGA screen and a DVI port, the company said in a statement.

Customers in the US will be able to buy updated graphics cards as they become available, and a Dell technician will be sent to install the new card on-site, meaning users won't need to mail off their notebooks to Dell, the company said.

To spice things up a bit, Dell is offering a QuickSnap kit that lets customers personalize the laptop with three snap-on covers in Cipher (green and purple), Skullz (black-and-white skull and bones) and Plasma (red and black) colors, the company said. The laptop also ships with an XPS backpack.

The laptop includes a 60G-byte or 80G-byte hard drive, 512M bytes to 2G bytes of DDR RAM running at 400MHz, a DVD-RW drive, four USB 2.0 ports and an IEEE 1394 port. It has an S-Video out port, one PC Card slot and runs on a lithium-ion battery.

It also comes with a Gigabit Ethernet port and a 56Kbps modem. Users have the option to add Wi-Fi and Bluetooth capabilities, the company said. Customers can also buy a second hard disk drive or a floppy disk drive.

Dell isn't the first to offer a specialized gaming laptop. The Inspiron XPS will compete with systems from Alienware, Hypersonic and VoodooPC, which are also trying to lure gamers with high-performing processors and graphics cards.

Laptops are a fast-growing part of Dell's business. The company said earlier Thursday that shipments of its Latitude and Inspiron notebooks increased 40 percent in the fourth quarter of 2003 compared to the same period a year earlier.