Now that everything is said and done, let us summarize the notebook. Since in this review we have not actually compared this notebook to a reference system, it is hard to say much of anything on the performance of the notebook. We did however compare it with itself using two different operating systems. Based on the benchmarks the video drivers need some work in Windows Vista to get close to the performance under Windows XP.
Looking at the Dell website and comparing the D820 to what you can order now compared to this earlier model, we can safely say that performance will increase, giving you more bang for your buck. Specifications have changed since we first got hold of the D820 a few months ago, for instance now you pop in a newer Core 2 Duo processor which sees better performance and more cache (4MB vs. 2MB with the T7xx series) compared to the old Core Duo CPU.
Dell has built this notebook for stability and wants to target the business sector with it. That in itself does not mean it cannot have any perks. The video card onboard is based on the Nvidia GeForce 7-series and that is quite good but as we showed in our benchmarks, it definitely is not a notebook you would use for high-end gaming. Right away this is the problem that we can spot with this notebook. The GPU needs good drivers to be able to perform. In here there is an Nvidia Quadro NVS which is an OEM-based card. Nvidia does not supply driver support for notebooks, so you are dependant on Dell to release updates and notebook companies do not tend to release new VGA drivers anywhere as much as Nvidia, ATI and so on. Sadly that does not happen often, especially not for this model.
Some of you might say that you can download Nvidia ForceWare drivers and use a modified inf-file to be able to install the latest drivers. This is true, but when benchmarking the system (and doing that), some benchmarks were unable to use the video card properly. So yeah it is possible but for a price, which we do not think business users are going to be happy with.
Everything else performs like a charm. The fast hard disk is remarkable, it really goes and you would expect it from a Serial ATA based 7,200-rpm drive. Combine that with the memory and processor and you will be fairly pleased. Like we said before the specifications are upgraded even more when you order this system now, so it will be even better. It's not the cheapest notebook on the market but at the same time the price is quite reasonable, too. You will need to customize the notebook a little and spend a little more cash to get the extras such as 7,200-rpm hard drive, 4MB cache Core 2 Duo, 2GB DDR-2 (which you should do if you intend on using Windows Vista). A configuration like this will end up costing you a little over US$2,000 - by no means cheap but this fit out makes it one of the more powerful notebooks available.
You have seen the pictures yourself, the notebook looks great too. It is stylish and sleek, without it being too over the top. The 15.4-inch display is nice and big at 1920 x 1200 resolution if you choose the Ultra Sharp WUXGA, making it ready for big spreadsheets option, Windows Vista and high-definition video. Taking the newer models into account, this notebook is ready for the future and business users should end up being quite impressed with what it has offer in terms of performance and features. It's not small nor is it light but with rapid battery charging, finger print sensor, long battery life and so on, it leaves us quite happy with what we see.
Keep in mind the new Intel Santa Rosa mobile platform is just around the corner, so it might be worth waiting and checking out upcoming notebooks to see what they have to offer before investing in the Dell D820 business notebook.
Heavy duty equipment for a notebook (CPU, video card, hard disk)
Widescreen and 1920 x 1200 resolution
Mobile connectivity through not only Wi-Fi, but 3G or UMTS (SMS mobile) network
Great battery life and fast charging
Our test model specs outdated (newer models no problems)
Size and weight
Not for gamers
Rating - 7.5 out of 10 (current models 8.5 out of 10)