Dell releases notebooks that pack graphics punch

Adding some graphics kick to its notebook lineup, Dell is introducing the Inspiron 8000, a notebook line with high-end models that run on Intel's latest mobile Pentium III processors and support up to a whopping 32MB of video memory. Available today the 8000 is intended to stir interest among consumers who usually stick to desktops for performance reasons, says Timothy Boyd, technical performance marketing manager. Even high-end gamers given a preview are excited by the unit's graphic capabilities, he says. You can configure the 8000 to your liking or choose among several featured selections. For example, for around £2,600 you get a notebook with an 850MHz Pentium III, 128MB of memory, 32MB of video memory, a 32GB hard drive, an 8X/24X DVD-ROM drive, an integrated V.90 modem, a 10/100 Ethernet port, and a 15-inch display. To bring desktop-like graphics performance to its new 8000, Dell turned to a desktop technology: Intel's 815E chip set. Designed for regular desktop PCs, Dell used the 815E in the 8000 because it supports the 4X Accelerated Graphics Port. The 4X AGP support lets Dell incorporate ATI's Mobility M4 video graphics, Boyd says. The 815E chip set also lets Dell plan for the future, because it supports the ATA100 hard drive standard. When ATA100 hard drives for notebooks appear, the 8000 will be ready, he says. Because the 815E was designed for desktops, not notebooks, it isn't optimized for Intel's SpeedStep battery-saving technology, Boyd says. SpeedStep runs a notebook at its highest speed when plugged into a power outlet, and drops it to a lower speed when running on battery. For example, the 850MHz PIII drops to 600MHz. ( To compensate, Dell made changes to the BIOS on 8000 systems with SpeedStep-ready PIII chips, Boyd says. The change lets the processor speed-shift the same way, but Dell can't call it SpeedStep. Despite its revved-up graphics and other high-tech insides, the 8000 is actually thinner and lighter than the Inspiron 7500 – the notebook it will replace. That product tipped the scales at about 8.4 pounds; the 8000 weighs just over 7 pounds. Its dimensions are 13-x-10.8-x-1.75-inches. To compliment the 8000's slimmer look, Dell adorns it with storm-grey palm-rest inserts. Optional inserts come in Tahoe blue, golden yellow, and royal purple.

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