Many of you are familiar with the Dell XPS laptop series, the XPS 13, 15, and 17, where the company typically releases the newest, best technology. With a few surprises this year, Dell unveiled refreshed prototypes for both the XPS 13 and 15 (usually leap-frog years) and reintroduced the Dell XPS 17 laptop after a 10-year absence. It will help if you read this blog on this year’s entire XPS line about all of the latest improvements and changes. However, for the sake of this article, we will concentrate on the Dell XPS 17-the most OK non-gaming laptop I have ever used, honestly.
I like to focus on many tasks simultaneously, from writing to uploading images to video editing (for the Moor Insights & Strategy G2 on 5G podcast) with my colleague Will Townsend). When I’m not travelling, I’m still mainly a laptop user, with a 49 ” Samsung Odyssey G9 curved 5K gaming display as my main display and a 27 ” as my secondary side display (because 49 ” is not enough for my multitasking). As you can expect, I can attach this to a pretty powerful desktop PC with an AMD Ryzen 5950X and an RTX 3080 GPU. To highlight how important efficiency and screen size are to me as a measure for my sharing laptops.
Dell XPS 17 laptop Specs As Tested
On paper, the Dell XPS 17 laptop is a powerhouse. The model sent to me by Dell includes an Intel Core i7-10875H 10th Gen CPU, 32 GB of RAM (impressive for any computer, but expected for anything intended for picture and video editing), and 1 TB of SSD (which I would recommend for any Windows-based system today, especially for content creation). The XPS 17 comes in models with 64GB of RAM and 2TB of SSD with a Core i9-10885H CPU.
On this laptop, the actual output kicker is the 6GB NVIDIA RTX 2060 inside a notebook that weighs 4.65 lbs and is just 0.77″ wide. While these specifications are not a surprise for many 15 notebooks, it took Dell a substantial amount of engineering to fit such a powerful CPU and GPU into such a small notebook.
There is absolutely no reason to get the Dell XPS 17 laptop with anything less than a 4K display with NVIDIA’s RTX 2060 within it, especially given that a 17-inch 1080P display is not a particularly great experience. Integrated graphics come with the less costly $1,399 configuration, while the $1,899 package comes with a 4GB NVIDIA GTX 1650 Ti.
My laptop sells for $2,999 on Dell.com, as installed, more than twice the $1,399 configuration cost. If you are trying to spend that kind of cash on a laptop, I suggest something smaller, like an XPS 13 or 15. If you buy the XPS 17, I would recommend going for the $2,999 version, which is the configuration that helps it to shine. In applications such as Photoshop and Premiere Pro, two popular Adobe apps for content development, the NVIDIA RTX 2060 enables substantial GPU acceleration.
Check out: Dell is Reintroducing XPS 17 and XPS 15
The Dell XPS 17 day-to-day experience
I want the efficiency and experience to be as similar to a desktop as possible for laptops. The Alienware Area-51m gaming laptop, the first laptop I’ve ever used, was recently tested and didn’t sound like a compromise coming from my desktop. That said, it was still a 17″ laptop with a 1080P screen, also with its 144 Hz G-Sync display. The 4K display of the Dell XPS 17 laptop is gorgeous, and it’s the first 17 ” laptop I’ve seen that has an ‘infinity display from edge to edge. This small bezel display helps Dell to place the XPS 17 of several 15.6″ laptops in the same form factor.” This makes it possible for the XPS 17 to fit seamlessly into most laptop backpacks and bags, usually designed for 15-inch notebooks. My XPS 17 slips conveniently into my MacBook 15-inch Wandrd PRVKE 31L camera case.
While travelling, I loved using the Dell XPS 17 as my daily laptop, mainly for unloading and quickly editing photos from my camera. I have used the Dell Mobile Adapter Speakerphone for video calls. When I wish or am required to attach a keyboard and mouse as the Mobile Adapter, Speakerphone uses one Thunderbolt USB Type-C connector and doubles as a hub with two USB Type-C connectors, an HDMI connector, and another Type-C connector.
The microphone was not as good, but the speakerphone was much louder than the built-in speakers on the XPS 17. The built-in speakers on the XPS 17 are very nice but pop at times (mostly at boot). The keyboard is a decent size, and the keys are appropriate, but I would like to be more tactile and move more with the key. However, I usually type on mechanical keyboards and have clicky keys with a lot more travel than any laptop could offer.
Connectivity: The Dell XPS 17 Laptop
Before you purchase, one thing to remember about the Dell XPS 17 laptop is that it has four USB Type-C ports, DisplayPort video, and Thunderbolt 3 compatibility for power transmission. Although this could be a deal-breaker for specific users, it is arguably the perfect configuration for users who require optimum connectivity and expandability.
I think Dell made the right decision to add these ports with the industry heading toward Type-C being the mainstream USB connector. Not only do they make the laptop very future-proof, but they make the slim form factor of the laptop feasible and allow it to support nearly limitless expandability. That said, it’s always necessary to have other port forms.
Check out: The 6 Best Gaming Laptops to Buy in 2021
Along with this laptop, Dell sent me a new Handheld Connector Speakerphone for video calls, which adds two USB Type-A ports, an HDMI port, and one more Type-C port to the configuration of the XPS 17. The speakerphone has very decent audio quality, but I agree that the laptop’s built-in mics are probably better. I think the Handheld Adapter Speakerphone is a workable choice for those who are hesitant to be confined to the four built-in USB Type-C ports of the XPS.
A killer, Intel Wi-Fi 6 AX1650 with Bluetooth 5.1 modem, features the Dell XPS 17 laptop, making it the newest and latest Wi-Fi 6 with Bluetooth capabilities. I noticed that the Wi-Fi signal and speeds were excellent. I never had problems with signal quality or link reliability. This is the same chipset on my Area-51m gaming laptop, so I was already comfortable with its excellent latency and overall throughput.
It’s hard to say the difference between Wi-Fi 6 and wired results, for that matter. Although this is not a gaming rig, it is still necessary to have a good Wi-Fi network to upload and share easily. I recently upgraded my Wi-Fi to an Intel-based AC router from a top-of-the-line AX router, and I still get 2 ms ping, 500 Mbps download, and 200 Mbps upload Speedtest.net, impeccable laptop results.
I was interested to see how the memory card worked. I’ve always considered this a challenge with laptops, and I don’t particularly appreciate bringing memory card adapters around (never mind the risks of forgetting or losing them). Many computers do not have readers for memory cards, while some do not have enough readers and are much slower than USB-based memory card adapters.
I do much photography and usually take between 500 and 1,000 pictures at a time. I fire with a Sony A7iii and normally run a Sony 128GB SDXC-II card with a 260 MB/s maximum read speed. I was able to reach a peak speed of 260 MB/s, much to my surprise. I maxed out at 265 MB/s using Sony’s best SDXC-II card, the 300 MB/s Tough Series G Master. These transmission rates are much higher than anything I have ever seen on a notebook, and the need for an external card reader is practically negated.
However, I fear that the laptop memory card reader might wear too quickly and become troublesome in the long term. It would be hard to tell without thousands of insertions, but I think Dell has already checked the laptop for tension and knows it will pass muster. Usually, until the reader can read the cards, the pins of the memory cards will wear off, though, in my experience, memory card readers malfunction less frequently than the cables do.
Displaying and touching
The touch panel is perfect on the Dell XPS 17 laptop, so good that I don’t think I’ll be able to live on a laptop again without it. Although the touchpad is massive on the Dell XPS 17, I have always had mixed experiences running as expected. Although this only occurs occasionally, the feeling is somewhat unpleasant when it does. I like to use a mouse and a mechanical keyboard, so this is not a big deal. The touchscreen, on the other hand, functioned well.
The show itself is impressive, with 100% Adobe RGB colors that are amazingly precise. Also, the Dell XPS 17 laptop has a 94% DCI-P3 16:10 row, which translates to a resolution of 3840 x 2400 (as opposed to the 3840 x 2160 resolution with 16:9). The extra vertical pixels display more workspace and upright rows when operating on spreadsheets, web pages, or even reading papers.
I appreciate the return to aspect ratios of 16:10, 4:3, and 3:2, as they lend more to efficiency usage cases and still endorse 16:9 with limited black bars when required. DisplayHDR 500 is also certified for the show on the Dell XPS 17, which means that it has a 500-nit brightness and supports HDR. According to Dell, this display is not only stunning, but its four-sided thin bezels offer the laptop a footprint smaller than 34% of 15″ notebooks.
I assume Dell makes this argument if you account for the many older 15-inch laptops with giant bezels and more enormous footprints on the market. I find one spot on the whole display, although it is challenging to notice if you have a dark screen at full brightness. There is minimal backlight bleed.
Thermals and performance
There is no need to research games on this device because the Dell XPS 17 is a creator’s laptop (though it does have an RTX 2060 GPU onboard). For my regular performance benchmarks, I ran 3DMark and Cinebench, so there is a vast body of data available for comparison.
I selected 3DMark for raw GPU performance and Cinebench for CPU rendering capabilities. I also ran the latest Procyon benchmark from UL Benchmarks, which measures photography and video editing workflows.
In 3DMark’s Time Spy DX12 test, the Dell XPS 17 scored 5655, almost in line with other notebooks with the same RTX 2060 GPU. The Intel Core-i7 10875H with Cinebench scored 7598 on Multi-Core. It’s perfect, but it doesn’t tell the whole story. Multiple benchmarks such as UL’s Procyon, which uses existing software and workflows, need to be operated (Adobe Photoshop, Lightroom, and Premiere).
The 5970 Photography score considers both image retouching and batch processing practices that demonstrate the use of real-world applications. There are not many outcomes to compare against as this benchmark is so recent. That said, my NVIDIA RTX 3080 16-Core Ryzen 5950X system is just about 50% faster than this laptop. It could be much quicker than this laptop, provided that it has a 400W combined Processor and GPU TDP, more than four times the 92W integrated CPU and GPU output of the laptop. When you remember the fact that the laptop has a liquid-cooled CPU, this is a fantastic achievement.
During benchmarks, thermals got into the 90s on the CPU, but only for a moment. For the most part, they hovered under load in the 70s. Like other laptop fans, the ventilator was audible but not deafening. The laptop idles typically in the 1950s in regular day-to-day use and makes no noise whatsoever. That said, if you are carrying out heavier workloads, by setting it up on a stand, I would consider giving it more airflow.
The Dell XPS 17 Laptop Build and Design
In the months of everyday use, all the notebook materials have kept up. Not exposing the corners to scratching, the laptop edges are both clean and well-chamfered[WP7]. When tapping on the keyboard, the hinge on the XPS 17 is sturdy and does not rattle. In comparison, the hinge has an excellent movement range that requires adequate force to move. That said, I would enjoy the option to use a single finger to open the laptop. I loved the feeling of the material made of carbon fibre that makes up the wrist rest. That said, the material and touchpad will quickly gather oils and do so. If you’ve got sweaty hands like mine, they might require occasional washing.
The Dell XPS 17 is the culmination of Dell’s potential for engineering and architecture. Although it is not the most powerful, thinnest, or lightest laptop, it is the best compromise I can imagine between performance, display, and design. 13′ notebooks and their less powerful CPUs, smaller and lower resolution displays, and less RAM always make me feel limited.
On the other hand, the XPS 17 balances a handheld power user’s desires in one way or the other without having too many sacrifices. This laptop comes close to desktops inefficiency, as the numbers suggest. It is also notable that a 4K display, an eight-core CPU, and 32 GB of RAM suit Dell into a 4.6 lbs., one-inch thick form factor. A 17′ notebook that can masquerade as a thin 15′ notebook without sacrificing results, the XPS 17 is a wonder of engineering.