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Dell XPS 17 (L701X) review

Ardjuna Seghers

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Reviewed:

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Dell XPS 17 (L701X)
  • Dell XPS 17 (L701X)
  • Dell XPS 17 (L701X)
  • Dell XPS 17 (L701X)
  • Dell XPS 17 (L701X)
  • Dell XPS 17 (L701X)
  • Dell XPS 17 (L701X)
  • Dell XPS 17 (L701X)
  • Dell XPS 17 (L701X)
  • Dell XPS 17 (L701X)
  • Dell XPS 17 (L701X)
  • Dell XPS 17 (L701X)
  • Dell XPS 17 (L701X)
  • Dell XPS 17 (L701X)
  • Dell XPS 17 (L701X)
  • Dell XPS 17 (L701X)

Summary

Our Score:

8

Like Apple with its Macbook range, Dell regularly refreshes its Inspiron and XPS desktops and laptops. We last looked at the mid-range Inspiron 17R and were quite impressed with the stylish refresh. Now it's time to check out Dell's new high-end XPS 17.

Sitting just one step below the company's ultimate Studio XPS line, the 'vanilla' XPS is nevertheless a pretty powerful beast. You can get up to Intel Core i7 quad core processors; dedicated, optimus-enabled graphics with up to 1.5GB of video memory and the ability to output to a 3D display; a whopping 16GB of system memory; up to 1.5TB of hard drive space (or 256GB of solid state storage) and JBL 2.1 audio.

They're also the world's first Skype-certified laptops with HD webcams, so those addicted to 720p video chat should feel right at home. USB 3.0 and DisplayPort are also on board, making for an impressive line-up.

Of course, our review sample (L701X) is specified a little more modestly. Processing duties are handled by a dual core Core i5 460M running at 2.53GHz (up to 2.8GHz turbo-clocked), backed up by 4GB of DDR3 RAM. It's also plenty powerful on the graphics front, supplementing Intel's integrated graphics (which are ideal for conserving battery life) with an Nvidia GeForce 435M with 1GB of RAM for graphics acceleration and light gaming when plugged in. Dell supplies speedy 7,200rpm hard drives across its XPS 17 range, and with this model you get a generous 500GB capacity. This all ensures the surprisingly clean install of Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit runs beautifully.

However, what immediately catches the eye about the 17.3in XPS is its unapologetic bulk. With a starting weight of over 3.4kg and dimensions of 415 x 287.3 x 32.8-38.5mm, this laptop takes its role as a desktop replacement seriously.

Despite this, it's still an attractive machine. The majority of its lid consists of a single sheet of anodized aluminium, which looks and feels great, and doesn't show up fingerprints or grease marks like the glossy finishes found on the lids of most laptops. Like the Asus G73Jh, the lower half protrudes slightly at the back, showing off a white-backlit XPS logo.

Opening the XPS 17 up reveals a matt black screen bezel, which should make quite a few people happy. While the keyboard surround and palm-rest area are constructed from another single sheet of aluminium, this time it's in a brushed black finish matching the rest of the interior. Though fingerprints will be visible here, it's nowhere near as bad as something like Toshiba's Satellite L650, and is a small price to pay for the quality feel and solidity when resting your hands on it.

The laptop's base is plastic, coloured silver to match the lid. The power button, status indicators and touch-sensitive controls – all found in a piano-black strip above the keyboard - are nicely backlit in white. Overall, Dell has done a great job with this simple yet visually engaging look.

Build quality is more of a mixed bag, for though it's mostly superb, there are a few spots along the base where there's more 'give' than we like to see, and one area of the palm-rest where pressing down results in an audible click. Still, these are minor issues in what is, overall, a very well-built machine.

In use the XPS 17 generally stays whisper-quiet, though under load (especially with its dedicated GPU in action) its fans do tend to rev up and it becomes quite audible. We also found the left palm-rest gets very warm to the touch after the laptop has been running at full load for a while.

Andy Vandervell

December 2, 2010, 3:02 pm

Shame Dell don't offer the 1080p screen on the XPS 17, I've got the XPS 15 with the 1080p screen on my desk and it's very nice. :D

Hans Gruber

December 3, 2010, 12:47 am

It's the ghost of Christmas past!





Agreed. Shame about that screen. What's this XPS 15 you're on about? What's this desk you're working from now then? How's it goin'?

Christian Maskey

December 5, 2010, 7:45 pm

I've ordered the Dell XPS 17 but the Christmas rush and a shortage of TV tuners means I may not get it until the 16th January 2011!

TechVegan

December 6, 2010, 7:45 pm

@Christian Maskey:


Ouch! Still, that would be something to look forward to post-Xmas :)

EHTASHAM

December 8, 2010, 2:54 am

I purchased HP envy 17 but It had dead pixel.I returned it to pc world.After that I ordered


dell xps 17 with i7 processor and GT 445M graphic card with GB graphic memory and GB ram.I got the laptop after 2 weeks.I must say for screen and looks HP Envy17 was much better but audio and system performance in gaming and video editing Dell xps 17 is much better.If this laptop had 1080i HD screen it would have been better than Envy 17.Only reason I didn't go for Dell xps 15 because there is no option for 3GB GT445M graphic card for xps15.

Tony McCarthy

December 14, 2010, 8:10 pm

So what do I do? Do I buy it or not. It seems to be the best value in its price range, but I reckon that I'll need more convincing.

EHTASHAM

December 14, 2010, 11:13 pm

I think you should go for this laptop but make sure go for i7 processor and GT445M graphic card.If you want TO buy gaming laptop but want to pay less its only two makes,Dell or MSI.The only issues with both these makes that they are not doing full HD 1080i in 17inch laptops but Dell screens are better.Dell is using 1600*900 LED which is pretty good.If you still fancy full HD image you can connect you laptop with 3d full HD TV and it will play most of 2d games in 3d version and its really incredible.See more features of GT 445M on nvidia web page.

gnelson3

May 3, 2011, 2:55 am

XPS 15 and 17 have major problems with USB 3.0 ports dropping out randomly. They also claim 4 dimm slots, verified by sales, but only ship 4 slots with 3D video and 3GB video memory.

Quimichipilli

December 1, 2016, 12:26 am

this computer is not no 3.43 lbs...more like 7 pounds.

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