Dell XPS 630 and LightFX

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Dell XPS 630 and LightFX

The Dell Gaming team includes a large contingent of gamers and nothing delights us more than being able to bring systems like the XPS 630 to thousands of our closest friends. We always hear a lot from our gamer customers… they tend to be some of the most active community participants at the Forum, on Direct2Dell and IdeaStorm. A lot of the feedback on our XPS 630 has been positive, but not all of it has.

There are lots of questions and some confusion around LightFX support. To clear the air, I want to have an honest discussion about what exactly LightFX technology is, what features of LightFX technology the XPS 630 and XPS 730 systems support today and what our plans are to improve the LightFX graphics user interface (GUI) going forward.

For context, let’s start with a brief history of LightFX:

  • LightFX was introduced on our early gaming notebooks – about three generations ago. At its introduction, LightFX was limited to choosing the color of the LED zones via a BIOS interface. Our customers thought the feature was a cool way to customize their system, but the interface was cumbersome.
  • The natural evolution of LightFX was to give the user a GUI to change their LED colors in a run-time environment. The most elegant solution at the time was to add this functionality to the existing Dell’s Quickset application; a utility application used to fine tune and customize our notebooks.
  • About the same time we were plugging LightFX into Quickset, some smart developers here at Dell were also defining a slick programming interface that allowed software developers (especially game and multimedia developers) the ability to fade, flash and control the LEDs zones of our XPS notebooks. Internally this was known as LightFX 1.0.

To help demonstrate how the LED zone control could be used, plug-ins were developed for popular media playback tools like iTunes and Windows Media Player. Using these plug-ins, the LEDs on the system could be made to ‘dance’ in time with music and videos. Take a look at the end of Patrick’s vlog for an idea what I’m talking about. Again, we were pretty happy with the results and as we released new notebooks and desktops we even created a special desktop version of Quickset for the XPS 720.

  • Fast forward to 2007: Developing a new round of gaming desktops, the XPS 630 and 730, offered us the opportunity to, once again, improve LightFX technology. This time the design of these next-gen systems provided us with a dedicated microcontroller that improved LED related performance (off loading the overhead of changing states etc. from the system CPU). To take advantage of this we also updated our gaming API; bumping the revision to LightFX 2.0.

Along with these improvements, however, we had to make a change. The new hardware architecture and implementation meant that we couldn’t continue to use the Quickset application as our GUI control. As a result, this functionality was moved to NVidia Control Panel, under the Chassis section of the Performance tab. The good news is that the user can still customize the LED zones and colors. The bad news is the final look and feel of this GUI was not quite on par with what we have delivered in the past and we could no longer support the media player plug-ins.

This brings us to today. The XPS 630 and 730 platforms both support some elements of LightFX technology. Users still have the ability to individually control and set the color of their LED zones. We still support the LightFX gaming API. What we don’t have today is the user-friendly GUI.

To solve this case of the missing GUI we’ve turned to our team members at Alienware. As the trendsetters of the gaming industry, Alienware offers AlienFX which is a customizable lighting effects program allowing the user to set visual colors and unique effects. It made perfect sense to leverage something so well done for our XPS systems.

So in the coming months XPS 630 and 730 users will be able to download a new, customized version of the AlienFX application that is compatible with LightFX technology. This unique version , called AlienFX: Lite, will provide Basic Mode support for setting LED zone colors, meaning that, for each of the LED zones (four for the XPS 630, and five for the XPS 730), users will be able to choose from the 16 preset colors made popular on the XPS 7xx series and XPS M17xx series platforms. Unfortunately, due to technical reasons, AlienFX Advanced Mode features like defining and saving Themes and Events will not be supported by the XPS compatible version.

Keep your eye on the download section of support.dell.com because, in the same time frame, we’ll also be posting the updated LightFX gaming API for our customers to download as well; and you can be sure that soon after their release we’ll be installing the AlienFX and API elements on our XPS 630 and 730 systems as they’re built in the factory. This will ensure that our customers are able to enjoy them right out of the box.

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  • So let me get this straight. LightFX 1.0 had all kinds of features implemented for it. Nice GUI, programmable events, etc etc. Now in the software/application world, the next generation of a product normally provides improvements and enhancements to the previous version. Not in the case for LightFX 2.0 though. That next generation of the application had all the funtionality removed, basically leaving an LED on/off switch as the application. But we won't tell anybody that. As a matter of fact, we will claim in our advertising and Online Vlogs it dances and flashes and does things it doesn't.......  OOPS, they caught us! dang it! Ok so now in order to cover ourselves we will tell everyone that we are making a unique version of this application ( oh wait... it's not really an application any more. Now LightFX is just a "concept" ). This new unique version is great! We will rename it to something else, and STILL not give them any of the functionality that we claim it had before. We know you will LOVE it.... when it's done.... No ETA.

    You know I'm sorry, but that is just not ok. I know LightFX is not a big deal. Its not a make or break issue. But its something I wanted, and it was a factor I took into account when I bought this machine. Your response of , "  Opps, oh well " is just not a satifactory resolution to this issue.

  • So we dont get what was advertised for these Machines , but we get a half baked solution..

  • Thanks for the update.  When I found this page I thought "Finally I can turn those LEDs down and change their color to something other than white!"

    I opened NVidia control panel, clicked on Performance, accepted the agreement, and behold! a 'Chassis' tab and sliders to change the colors of the 4 zones.

    I made all the zones a dim red.  Woohoo!  Progress.

    I go back to whatever I was doing.  Next thing I know, all the LEDs are white again.  When I open NVidia control panel and go to the Performance section, the 'Chassis' tab is no longer there!

    So, how do I get the Chassis tab back?  Does Dell have a 'plug-in' installer for the NVidia control panel somewhere?

    I'd really like to be able to use at least those limited controls until you release the other software...

    BTW, please make sure that standalone app works independent of the graphics cards.  If 2-3 years from now I decide to upgrade my cards, I will still want to have control over those LEDs...

    Thanks.

  • codemonkey2010, i had the exact same problem as u... after multiple uninstalls and reinstalls of the performance tab and nvidia control panel itself... i got it to a point where it doesnt dissappear.. its not much good though.. somehow the lights on my xps 630 went off and everytime i set them to a color i want they turn on but then when i close the control panel, they go off again.

    this utility is very glitchy and not good at all... i can't wait till the new one is made available to us.. for now i'll have to be happy with no lights at all...

  • Oh man this is a fun topic!

    OK so here is my story. I picked up a 730 h2c in the middle of May (08). It had an overclocked 3.8 QX9770, I'll tell you why this is relevant in a bit. 

    With the lack of LightFx, I discovered I can change chassis colors nVidia's ESA program. Thinking "OK this will work for now," I started playing around with the chassis lights.

    After having some fun by changing the colors to red, blue, and green (WEEEEE!!), I was over it and started checking out other parts of my spanking new computer.

    I clicked "Defaults" in the ESA program and it went back to all LED's "ON" (aka: white) like it is supposed to do. When I closed ESA, it went back to green. So I tried again, opened ESA clicked default, it stayed green. I reset the computer, stayed green. I turned the computer off then on, it stayed green. I turned off the computer then unplugged it for bout an hour, still green. tried resetting ESA one more time, green.

    Three days into ownership, I was like dang, I need to email support. They said to try everything that I already did, my chassis was green like the Hulk. I said "What about ESA drivers on dell.com and newer ESA drivers on nVidia's site. should I try them?". Dell Support said try our drivers and if that doesn't work try theirs. I installed Dell's ESA drivers, stayed green. Installed nVidia drivers, the computer was green and the four day old computer crashed and would not turn off, restart, or boot into vista.

    Yay I was having fun now. 

    Once I unplugged it and started it up, i quickly got it to boot into Dell Image Restore. I ran that fun and exciting program only to find out it returns the computer to fresh out the factory defaults except the chassis color (ESA Program). It was still green. At this point I had to do what I didn't want to do, call India, err, I mean Dell support.

    Going through the fantastic phone hand off routine, I got to one guy that said he could help me. After telling him what the problem was and what I have done so far, he told me to go into LightFX. I informed the support guy that LightFX wasn't on the 730 or the 630. HA HA. he said "Oh..." Then he said try updating Quickset. I said its the same story, its not on this computer, its different than the 720. After explaining what the ESA program is and what it is supposed to do, I asked if they had any 730s around so I can point out what I was talking about. He said well I have a 720? Sorry buddy different computer.

    He then told me to try resetting the BIOS, he was thinks its connected. I reset the BIOS and reset the computer, The lights were as green like Havasu Lake at high noon and my overclock was gone. Ticked off, I told him I would call back after I ran the Dell Image Restore program again to get back the overclock.

    Did the Image Restore and my computer was still green and my overclock was still gone. It wasn't just gone, it was GONE.

    I called the "support guy" back and he said "did YOU overclock it? no, OK so it came like that? OK well its easy overclock, I'll walk you through it." I said sure buddy lets do it.

    I don't know that much about overclocking but I could tell this guy was doing it wrong. when I got the computer it was overclocked to 3.8 from 3.0, with the multiplier at 8x. His idea was to change it to 9x. This put it to 3.6 and he had no idea how "I" got it (dell factory) to 3.8.

    Yadda yadda yadda. I was done playing this game and I told him to send me another computer because I shouldn't be this pissed off with a 4 day old computer. So here I am waiting for UPS to pick up the 730 with Hulk syndrome and expecting the new 730 at the beginning of July (by the way I got the new 730 with the 9800gx2 GPU. BOO on the ATI 3870x2. From the little time I used it, it wasn't all that great.)

    So in short, the computer was pretty friggin awesome before it had that simple issue. Me being anal about things supposed to work, I needed the 730 to go back to default and it didn't. So take these tips with you:

    1. Dell Image Restore does NOT return the computer to factory defaults (BIOS and ESA don't reset to factory)

    2. Wait a while before calling tech support concerning your 730. Wait until they get a couple 730's to study so they are not just pulling answers out of their ass.

    3. Don't mess with ESA lighting until they come out with a new program or something.

    4. The little I was able to use it, the 730 is an awesome computer minus the ATI 3870x2. Hopefully the 9800 gx2 will be better.

    My main concern was that I didn't know what other settings were affected besides the lights. The voltage, frequency, fans, and other settings could have changed along with the color.

    Damn that was fun.

    -Danno

  • Oh man this is a fun topic!

    OK so here is my story. I picked up a 730 h2c in the middle of May (08). It had an overclocked 3.8 QX9770, I'll tell you why this is relevant in a bit. 

    With the lack of LightFx, I discovered I can change chassis colors nVidia's ESA program. Thinking "OK this will work for now," I started playing around with the chassis lights.

    After having some fun by changing the colors to red, blue, and green (WEEEEE!!), I was over it and started checking out other parts of my spanking new computer.

    I clicked "Defaults" in the ESA program and it went back to all LED's "ON" (aka: white) like it is supposed to do. When I closed ESA, it went back to green. So I tried again, opened ESA clicked default, it stayed green. I reset the computer, stayed green. I turned the computer off then on, it stayed green. I turned off the computer then unplugged it for bout an hour, still green. tried resetting ESA one more time, green.

    Three days into ownership, I was like dang, I need to email support. They said to try everything that I already did, my chassis was green like the Hulk. I said "What about ESA drivers on dell.com and newer ESA drivers on nVidia's site. should I try them?". Dell Support said try our drivers and if that doesn't work try theirs. I installed Dell's ESA drivers, stayed green. Installed nVidia drivers, the computer was green and the four day old computer crashed and would not turn off, restart, or boot into vista.

    Yay I was having fun now. 

    Once I unplugged it and started it up, i quickly got it to boot into Dell Image Restore. I ran that fun and exciting program only to find out it returns the computer to fresh out the factory defaults except the chassis color (ESA Program). It was still green. At this point I had to do what I didn't want to do, call India, err, I mean Dell support.

    Going through the fantastic phone hand off routine, I got to one guy that said he could help me. After telling him what the problem was and what I have done so far, he told me to go into LightFX. I informed the support guy that LightFX wasn't on the 730 or the 630. HA HA. he said "Oh..." Then he said try updating Quickset. I said its the same story, its not on this computer, its different than the 720. After explaining what the ESA program is and what it is supposed to do, I asked if they had any 730s around so I can point out what I was talking about. He said well I have a 720? Sorry buddy different computer.

    He then told me to try resetting the BIOS, he was thinks its connected. I reset the BIOS and reset the computer, The lights were as green like Havasu Lake at high noon and my overclock was gone. Ticked off, I told him I would call back after I ran the Dell Image Restore program again to get back the overclock.

    Did the Image Restore and my computer was still green and my overclock was still gone. It wasn't just gone, it was GONE.

    I called the "support guy" back and he said "did YOU overclock it? no, OK so it came like that? OK well its easy overclock, I'll walk you through it." I said sure buddy lets do it.

    I don't know that much about overclocking but I could tell this guy was doing it wrong. when I got the computer it was overclocked to 3.8 from 3.0, with the multiplier at 8x. His idea was to change it to 9x. This put it to 3.6 and he had no idea how "I" got it (dell factory) to 3.8.

    Yadda yadda yadda. I was done playing this game and I told him to send me another computer because I shouldn't be this pissed off with a 4 day old computer. So here I am waiting for UPS to pick up the 730 with Hulk syndrome and expecting the new 730 at the beginning of July (by the way I got the new 730 with the 9800gx2 GPU. BOO on the ATI 3870x2. From the little time I used it, it wasn't all that great.)

    So in short, the computer was pretty friggin awesome before it had that simple issue. Me being anal about things supposed to work, I needed the 730 to go back to default and it didn't. So take these tips with you:

    1. Dell Image Restore does NOT return the computer to factory defaults (BIOS and ESA don't reset to factory)

    2. Wait a while before calling tech support concerning your 730. Wait until they get a couple 730's to study so they are not just pulling answers out of their ass.

    3. Don't mess with ESA lighting until they come out with a new program or something.

    4. The little I was able to use it, the 730 is an awesome computer minus the ATI 3870x2. Hopefully the 9800 gx2 will be better.

    My main concern was that I didn't know what other settings were affected besides the lights. The voltage, frequency, fans, and other settings could have changed along with the color.

    Damn that was fun.

    -Danno

  • I just want to turn the intrusive lights off! Why is this so hard?

  • This message confusion, there were no confusions regarding the people that spent their hard earn money to purchase a machine that was suppose to have this feature right out of the box. How can I get confused if it was posted on the website in clear letters. But of course now it magically disapeared. Then there is the whole whole HDD and fans going to 100%. Please fix your mistake that is all we ask.

  • I think that the only confusion here is for the folks at Dell trying to figure out how to get out of the mess they've gotten themselves into.  I wonder where customers could have ever got the idea about what LightFX 2.0 was able to do....

    What is LightFX?

    XPS 630 Full Throtle Gaming

    Adding to the confusion?

    I guess the confusion for customers was expecting a 2.0 to have more capabilities than a 1.0 version.  So will LightFX 3.0 be an Alpha build software?  Problem with hyping up something so much is it's everywhere.

  • I had the same exact problem as everyone else. I booted up played with the lights and all was good for a few days. The pc went into sleep mode and when it came out the fans sounded light a 747 getting ready for take. After many hours on the phone with Dell's outsourced support and them sending me hardware to change, they finally chased it to the FX control panel. After resetting it's jumper the lights are white only, but the fans aren't spinning a max. rpm. Honestly I wish I would have taken the money and just did another custom build, but I really wanted something out of the box. Live and learn!

  • I purchased a Dell XPS730 but not in the US, and yes it confused me why the LightFX was not mentioned at all in the manuals and then I find this forum, and voila, it is clear other countries selling the Dell XPS 730 are not advertising that they have LightFX available at all. 

    When my PC came out of the box, and I turned it on it wasn't all white...it was green and purple, in the bottom LEDs, and a whitish green for the top set of LEDs...not sure if that's what everyone is getting in the US though.  I do agree  that the fan makes an audible whirl of a sound when I boot it up, although by the time I'm at the login page, it goes a very nice quiet hum at most.  Maybe people complained so much about the white LEDs they defaulted the bottom set of LEDs on the Chassis to Purple.

    I haven't made any changes to the lighting, the purple at least is not glaring at me, and based on what I have read here, I'm glad I haven't touched it yet.  If all the lights were white that would drive me pretty spare though.  Hopefully dell come up with the new LightFX program soon.

    Sure would be nice to be able to turn it off when I'm watching DVDs though.

  • FAN / Lighting issues

    XPS 730 day 1

    Problems on my first day.  After booting the computer and getting Vista up to a usable level my fans have decided to come on and stay on full blast.  The lights on the case are doing strange things.. same problems as everyone else is having.  I was able to get the fans back to a low speed by jumping the switch on the controller board and booting the system in jumped mode, re adjust my settings and reboot again with the jumper in its proper position. 

    I was really looking forward to getting my game on,  the fans do not seem to adjust and vista crashes frequently. 

    Seems pretty sad you can purchase a 4g system and have it faulty out of the box even though people have been talking about these same issues for months now.  I am going to try going back to XP.

    If anyone has insight regarding the "fan and light" issues please let me know.   This is a serious downer.  Pretty sad specially since This box took a month and a half to be delivered.  I really have no desire to play overseas phone tag with "tech support"

     

    - MikE

  • Umm to turn the lights off set all three to 0. 

     

    It was fun for 5-10 minutes to play with the lights.  Now I can save a few bucks on electricity by shutting them off -_-

     

     

  • Okay here we are all the way into September and I for one cannot find LightFX 2.0 or let alone LightFX 3.0! Correct me if I'm wrong but this is WAY off schedule here (as usual I should mention!). Can anyone provide me a link if it has in fact been released unbeknowing to little old me.

    I spent the cold hard cash just like everybody else and I would like it too! If you don't mind me saying, what a lame thing to do anyway, pass it on to Alienware because they're and I quote, "the trendsetters of the gaming industry". Forgive me but I've owned an Alienware Area 51m-7700, I'm sorry my mistake, make that TWO Area 51m-7700's and an MJ12m-7700 (that's 3 OVERPRICED systems in case anyone is counting) and getting rid of the happiest days of my life. If wanted another horrible Alienware experience like I had with those, I would've just bought another one.

    What I wanted was a SUPERIOR SYSTEM and I found that in Dell Computer not Alienware, period. I've have my experiences with Dell and they've ALWAYS been in a class by themselves, First Class that is!

    I'll never go back to Alienware and as far as I'm concerned any one of my XPS's (and I have had a total of sixof them) has been by far BETTER than any system from Alienware - desktop or notebook - or from anywhere else!

    While it was a sound business decision to acquire Alienware on a personal level I think it was/is a mistake.

    As Dell has announced it's clear the reign of an XPS System is something of the past, but why? While Michael Dell has reinvigerated hid baby since his return why can't there still be XPS Gaming Systems that can co-exist with Alienware?

    From the new case designs to everything "under the hood" make an XPS THE system coveted most gamers. Why bury a product line long considered to be the pinnacle of computer gaming while your still churning out top notch systems that have the potential to reign on top for many years to come?

    There's nothing out there by Asus, HP, or Sony that'll sway an XPS Owner away from Dell. I love my XPS's and want the same cool apps that came with them to stick around but why can't they be kept current by updating them rather than just being drop altogether?

    JLG1985

  • Hear hear!