Dell’s popular XPS laptop lineup spans the XPS 13, 15-inch and 17-inch models, with options including UHD + (3840 x 2400) displays and integrated or discrete graphics. Even at entry level, however, the XPS 17 large screen is an expensive laptop, starting at £ 1,649 (VAT included) or $ 1,599.99. Go for it all and you can cross the £ 4,000 mark in the UK; Meanwhile, the very high-end model in the US, with 8TB of storage, costs Princely $ 5,399.99.
The Dell XPS 17 9710 (2021) is a monster laptop, both in terms of size and specs. It will weigh any bag or backpack by at least 2.21 kg (4.87 lb), and this will increase to 2.42 kg (5.34 lb) if the touchscreen option is selected. The power pack is also bulky, and as our battery test suggests, this may need to be factored into the shipping weight. On the desktop, this laptop takes up space measuring 374.45mm wide by 248.05mm deep, and it measures 19.5mm high (14.74in x 9.76in x 0.77in) .
The weight and size are not due to an excess of chassis. With Dell’s InfinityEdge display resulting in a claimed 93.7% screen-to-body ratio (we calculated it at 90.3%), the company has worked hard to keep the XPS 17 9710 as thin as possible. It’s just tall, but the aluminum frame means the cover and base are both very sturdy. As always with aluminum, there is a risk of scratches, and these will be evident on the silver cover, so a protective sleeve might be a good idea for both storage and transport.
As the screen-to-body ratio suggests, the screen sits in exceptionally narrow bezels all around. Stretching the screen height to achieve a 16:10 aspect ratio means knowledge workers can see a bit more of their documents, although the video is letterboxed with large black borders. up and down. There is room in the upper frame for the 720p webcam and the infrared camera for Windows Hello facial recognition. Those who prefer authentication via fingerprint recognition will find a reader hidden in the power button.
The display on my review unit was stunning, with flawless tactile responsiveness. Visual details are superb thanks to UHD + resolution (3840 x 2400) and color rendering is excellent thanks to DolbyVision support and wide color gamut coverage (100% Adobe RGB, 94% DCI-P3). The screen’s maximum brightness of 500 nits is adequate, and viewing angles are very good both vertically and horizontally. An ambient light sensor controls the brightness, although I’m happy with that a notch or two, which also helps preserve battery life.
A good screen must be complemented by good speakers, and here we have the first Waves Nx 3D audio output, a combination of four speakers with two 2.5W woofers and two 1.5W tweeters delivering a maximum output of 8W, which Dell says is “tuned by multi-Grammy Award-winning producer, Jack Joseph Puig”. Okay, but how do they sound? There are very large grilles on either side of the keyboard, and these push the sound up and out. The audio quality is fantastic, with a rich tonality rare on a laptop, delivering plenty of bass and well-articulated highs.
Those wide speaker grilles mean the keyboard doesn’t have a separate number pad. This is not a problem for me – in fact, it meant that I didn’t have to negotiate the learning curve of too much reach for the Enter key. Overall, I prefer the high-quality speakers to deliver the sound to a separate number pad. Others – especially those whose workload involves a lot of data entry – may disagree, of course.
The keyboard is large and well-proportioned, with larger Fn keys than on small laptops. This also applies to the arrow keys, which makes everything a bit more accessible. There is a definite springy kickback to the action of the key, with a hit resulting in little more than a smooth “thunk” sound. It shouldn’t be irritating to coworkers in a quiet room. I found the 1.3mm key stroke to be comfortable and had no issues with touch input at my usual speed.
The glass touchpad is huge. I couldn’t find any official measurements but by my rule it is 150mm wide, 90mm high and 174mm diagonal. I’ve been known to criticize cramped touchpads; here the large size took a bit of getting used to, but luckily the palm rejection was effective.
There are many configuration options on the Dell UK website. The entry-level spec costs £ 1,649 (including VAT) and comes with an 11th Gen Intel Core i5-11400H processor, integrated Intel UHD graphics, 8GB RAM, 512GB SSD, and FHD + 17 inches (1920 x 1200) non-touch screen. My £ 2,624 review unit (VAT included) takes the stake significantly, with a Core i7-11800H processor, an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050 discrete graphics card with 4GB of dedicated video memory, 32GB of RAM, an SSD of 1 TB and a UHD + (3840 x 2400) touchscreen. In the United States, this configuration costs $ 2,799.99.
The high-end spec in the UK costs £ 4,039 (including VAT), for which you get a Core i9-119800HK processor, a GeForce RTX 3060 graphics card with 6GB of video memory, 64GB of RAM, an SSD of 4 TB and a UHD + touchscreen. As previously stated, you can get 8TB of storage in the US (2x 4TB), which brings the premium price up to $ 5,399.99.
Windows 11 now ships in all units, but my review unit shipped before Windows 11 launched and it was running Windows 10.
Unusually, the XPS 17 9710 has four Thunderbolt 4 ports, two on the left side and two on the right. The right side also has a 3.5mm headphone jack and an SD card slot. Flash memory support is welcome, but it’s a shame there aren’t other ports or connectors. Dell provides an adapter which, when plugged into one of the Thunderbolt ports, provides both USB-A and HDMI. This adapter may not always travel with the laptop and appears to be a compromise. There must be plenty of space inside the chassis to accommodate these ports, and when users spend at least £ 1,649 / $ 1,599.99, integrating them is certainly not too much of a ask.
The XPS 17 9710 has a large 6-cell 97 Wh battery, which should be able to cope with the demands of the processor and the big screen. However, the battery life of my test unit (Core i7 processor, GeForce RTX 3050 GPU, UHD + display) was disappointing. With a full charge, I worked for three hours, writing in web apps, streaming media, and browsing the web. The battery dropped to 46% during this time, suggesting battery life of just 5.5 hours on a linear extrapolation.
Fortunately, the charge is quite fast. On one occasion, with the battery at 33%, I started a charging session. After 15 minutes the battery had risen to 46%, after 30 minutes it was 58%, and after 45 minutes it had charged to 70%.
The Dell XPS 17 9710 (2021) is tall and heavy at 2.42 kg (5.34 lb) – inevitable, one would think, given its 17-inch display, until you consider the LG Gram. 17, which weighs just 1.35 kg (2.98 lb). The UHD + touchscreen is superb, with great viewing angles and a very usable 16:10 aspect ratio. The keyboard is responsive and comfortable to use, and the speakers are superb.
It’s nice to see an SD card slot here, but it would have been helpful if Dell could have found room for the USB-A and HDMI ports on the chassis rather than providing an easily misplaced adapter for these connections. Battery life was low on my review sample, and while lowering the display resolution to FHD + may improve that and lower the price, it will decrease a key feature of this powerful large laptop. screen.
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