Just the other day, we mentioned in our XPS 14z review how the standard XPS 15 offers more value and flexibility, in terms of configuring the notebook. Well, today we’ll be taking a closer look at its elder brother, the XPS 17 or the XPS L702X to be precise. Modelled along the same lines as the other XPS 15 notebooks, the 17-incher offers more screen real estate and is better equipped, all for a price tag that’s slightly higher than the XPS 14z.

 

On video: Dell XPS 17

Design and Build
The XPS 17 is a chunky notebook, but we wouldn’t call it ugly. All around, you’ll find swooping curves with a mix of plastic and aluminium giving it a very premium and classy look. The full matte finish over the lid keeps fingerprints away and is extremely smooth to touch. The backlit ‘XPS’ logo and activity lights reside just behind the hinge. The lid has some amount of flex, but nothing that causes the panel to distort. It’s tough and applying pressure from the back doesn’t cause any smearing of pixels on the screen.

Superb build quality

Superb build quality

The connectivity ports are spread across the sides and rear of the notebook. On the sides, we have dual headphone jacks, microphone jack, ESATA/USB 2.0 combo, Blu-ray combo drive, USB 2.0 and a multi-card reader. The exhaust vents are placed on the side, away from your lap. Not that you’ll be using this on your lap often as it weighs around 3.5kg. Rest of the connectors are placed at the back, which includes a Gigabit Ethernet jack, HDMI, DisplayPort (which we don’t often see) and finally two USB 3.0 ports.

Great design

Great design

This being a large desktop replacement, you get plenty of room for your palms to comfortably rest as well as a giant multi-touch trackpad, which works well. You get a full-sized backlit keyboard as standard, which is extremely comfortable to use even for long durations. The speakers are done by JBL and you get two satellites on the palm rest, while a ‘subwoofer’ is placed underneath. Don’t expect thunderous bass from this, but the sound quality is a lot better than most notebooks in the market. Built right into the hinge is Nvidia’s 3DVision transceiver. This a similar setup to what Asus use in their gaming series notebooks. Users can easily swap out the RAM or hard drive by just unscrewing a single screw from the bottom.

Features
This being the flagship of the XPS series, you get plenty of kit as part of the standard configuration. For starters, we have an Intel Core i7-2670QM, a quad-core multi-threaded CPU running at 2.2GHz and Turbo speed up to 3.1GHz. We would like to point out that our review unit actually had an i7-2630QM, but the current models have the former CPU as standard, which is slightly better. Complementing this is 4GB of RAM running at 1333MHz, 500GB hard drive and an Nvidia GT 555M with 3GB of dedicated memory. This is a higher end mainstream card, which should be able to handle games in 3D decently.

Great for work or play

Great for work or play

The 17-inch screen sports a full HD resolution, which makes everything appear crisp and sharp. The panel also has a very good colour reproduction and high brightness level, which is needed for 3DVision. Dell also bundles some programs by default like Dell DataSafe and Roxio Creator Starter edition. Overall, the XPS 17 is packed to the brim with features and as far as desktop replacements go, definitely one of the best we’ve come across.

Performance
All that horse power underneath the hood translates into some really good real-world performance. Up against the similarly priced Dell XPS 14z, it completely thrashes it where video encoding and gaming is concerned. Remember, the gaming tests were run at 1920 x 1080, whereas we were limited to 1366 x 768. Despite this, the XPS 17 is still a lot faster.

Very good performance for the price

Very good performance for the price

In 3D mode, the frame rates take a bit of a dip as the GT 555M isn’t able to handle the load too well. There’s no shame in this, since, if you remember, the Asus G74SX also struggled a bit in 3D and that had more a potent card from the ‘GTX’ series. Long story short, if you're going to be gaming in 3D, just remember to tone down the settings to about 1600 x 900 and go easy on the Anti-Aliasing.

Comfortable backlit keyboard

Comfortable backlit keyboard

It’s only when gaming or whenthe GPU kicks in, does it get hot and this only happens on the left side, since that’s where the exhaust is. The huge high-resolution screen is great for work as well as leisure. Movies look really good, especially HD and this is doubly enjoyable due to the excellent set of speakers. Made by JBL, they produce warm, rich sound with good spatial dispersion, so you can comfortably watch a movie with your friends or family without having to miss any dialogues. The subwoofer may not look like much, but it lends a small hand in giving the audio a bit of oomph.

Battery Life
Our unit was fitted with the 9-cell battery, which is rated at 93Wh. Despite this, we got quite a poor reading of just 1hr and 10min in Battery Eater Pro and this only due to the fact that the notebook didn’t have Optimus. This could be just our model, but there’s also no mention of it on Dell’s site, which is quite a bummer. If you don’t do anything graphically intensive, then you should be able to squeeze 3- 3.5hrs out of it.

Verdict
At Rs. 85,800, the Dell XPS 17 offers good value for money, despite its minor shortcomings. It’s designed to be a desktop replacement and it does a brilliant job at that. It also just happens to be one of the most feature rich notebooks in the market, currently. If you were out shopping for a desktop replacement notebook, then the Dell XPS 17 should be high on your list. Remember though, that this is not exactly a portable solution and the battery life is not the best, since it does not have Nvidia’s Optimus technology so you’ll have to compromise on these a bit.

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