We use cookies to provide you with a better experience. If you continue to use this site, we'll assume you're happy with this. Alternatively, click here to find out how to manage these cookies

hide cookie message
 
Mid-range laptops Reviews
15,103 Reviews

Dell XPS 17 3D review

£2,115 inc VAT as specified (add £109 for 3D glasses)

Manufacturer: Dell

Our Rating: We rate this 4.5 out of 5

It seems like only yesterday that a Dell XPS 17 laptop last passed through the Test Centre, yet here in the Dell XPS 17 3D we have another one. That always seems to happen when a new CPU generation launches. Toss a capable GPU and 3D stereoscopic capability into the new model, and you have a feature-rich desktop replacement laptop.

It seems like only yesterday that a Dell XPS 17 laptop last passed through the Test Centre, yet here in the Dell XPS 17 3D we have another one. That always seems to happen when a new CPU generation launches. Toss a capable GPU and 3D stereoscopic capability into the new model, and you have a feature-rich desktop replacement laptop.

The Dell XPS 17 3D reviewed here ships with an Intel Core i7 2820QM clocking in at 2.30GHz but capable of pushing to a full 3.4GHz in Turbo Boost mode. This is one of Intel's latest quad-core processors built on the new Sandy Bridge architecture's 32nm manufacturing process. It's a major improvement over past Intel quad-core mobile CPUs, offering faster clocks, more robust power management, and overall better performance.

The display provides the 120Hz refresh rate and IR emitter necessary for stereoscopic 3D. We used it with an aftermarket set of Nvidia's 3DVision glasses, and everything works quite well. Driving the display is an Nvidia GeForce GT 555M mobile GPU. Dell has beefed up the resolution of the Dell XPS 17 3D's display to true 1080p.

Most of the other features are comparable to those of the earlier XPS 17, including dual hard drives, four USB ports (the two on the rear are USB 3.0 capable), 802.11n, a Blu-ray drive, and both HDMI and mini-DisplayPort digital video output connectors.

Our test system's performance in standard desktop apps was stellar, producing one of the highest scores we've seen from a laptop on WorldBench 6, an impressive mark of 151. The new Intel CPU, coupled with a staggering 16GB of main memory, were no doubt major factors. You'll pay for this power, however: The Dell XPS 17 3D starts at £648, and the configuration we reviewed will run you to £898 inc VAT.

The Nvidia GT 555M is newer than the 445M that Dell used in the last-generation XPS 17 L701X. Since the screen is now true 1080p, however, the 555M needs to drive 44 percent more pixels than the older laptop's 1600 by 900 display had. That means lower frame rates in games, so you may want to dial down the resolution a bit if you're playing current-generation titles. The performance of the GT 555M seems only slightly better, as in 3D Mark 2011 this laptop garnered a score of 1307 versus the mark of 1286 from the older XPS 17.

Laptop Advisor

At 1080p, the Dell XPS 17 3D ran Far Cry 2 at 49.93 frames per second, while in the racing title F1 2010 it managed just 18 fps in DirectX11 mode. In Just Cause 2, a graphics-intensive DX10 title, it eked out 18 fps as well. On the other hand, in Metro 2033 it reached 25 fps, only a little slower than the older XPS 17, which was running at a lower resolution. We disabled antialiasing in all game tests.

The change in screen resolution also means that stereoscopic 3D gaming, while theoretically capable, will be performance limited. If you want to take advantage of 3DVision for games, you'll need to reduce the resolution considerably, possibly as low as 1280 by 720.

Playing 3D Blu-ray movies, though, works very well aside from the substantial reduction in brightness and contrast. The effect is particularly startling in the IMAX 3D Blu-ray title Deep Sea 3D. We also viewed standard Blu-ray high-def movies, and those looked great. In all cases, you really want to sit in the sweet spot, as the color shift and brightness drop-off are both very noticeable as viewing angles change.

Audio quality seems quite good, with acceptable speaker distortion and with the overall tonal quality tending toward neutral. Bass is limited, as you'd expect. The volume level during music playback didn't seem particularly loud, but audio during games could get quite ear-piercing.

The keyboard seems to be a slight step backward. The keys offer a gentle sculpting, making it easy to settle fingertips into them, but the surface seems slippery - it's too easy for fingers to slide to another key and mistype while touch typing. The arrow keys and PageDn/Ins cluster keys are way too small, as well.

Overall, the Dell XPS 17 3D offers superb performance in standard desktop apps. Gaming performance is pretty good, too, though you'll want to scale back the resolution a bit and dial down the graphics features for best results, particularly in newer games. The new display looks very good, and stereoscopic Blu-ray movies are spectacular, if you're into them. Performance on stereoscopic 3D games is still too limited, however.

Next page: Our expert verdict >>

See also:

Laptops: Expert buying advice

Laptop reviews

Group test: what's the best laptop for under £1,000?

Group test: what's the best budget laptop?

Dell XPS 17 3D Expert Verdict »
Intel Core i7 2820QM (2.3GHz/8MB cache)
Genuine Windows 7 Ultimate 64-Bit
16,384MB 1333MHz Dual Channel DDR3 SDRAM
3072 (MB) nVidia GT555M GeForce
17.3in display (1920x1080)
JBL 2.1 Designed & Certified Speakers +Waves MaxxAudio
640GB SATA hard drive (2 x 320GB, 7200RPM, up to 1TB available)
8x DVD+/-RW (standard), Blu-ray Disc mcombo (reads Blu-ray Disc & writes to CD/DVD) Blu-ray Disc Triple Writer (reads and writes CDs, DVDs, BDs)
9-in-1 media card reader
9-cell LI (2.8Ah 90Whr)
2.0MP HD camera with single digital mic (H.264)
802.11 b/g/n
2x USB 3.0, 2x total USB 2.0, 10/100/1000 LAN (RJ45), HDMI 1.4, AC adapter connector, headphone, Mic-in
414.9x32.8/38.5x287.3mm
3.36kg
  • Overall: We give this item 9 of 10 overall

Weighing 3.36kg with the power brick, and measuring nearly 40mm thick in places, this is no HP Envy 17. Still, if you're looking for a capable, premium desktop replacement that can do everything, the Dell XPS 17 3D fits the bill.

There are currently no price comparisons for this product.
  • Dell XPS 17 L702X review

    Dell XPS 17 L702X

    The XPS has a 3D capable screen and comes with a single pair of 3D glasses. You can also hook the XPS up to a 3D-capable TV set via its HDMI port and let the nVidia GeForce GT 555M (with no less than 3GB memory) do its work.

  • Dell XPS 17 review

    Dell XPS 17

    Dell's latest version of its long-running premium XPS 17 notebook features a revamped look, a quad-core CPU, and discrete nVidia mobile graphics. The net result is a laptop that offers average performance in WorldBench 6, but surprisingly good gaming performance.

  • Asus G75VW review

    Asus G75VW

    The Asus G75VW is an impressive gaming laptop that really goes gung-ho for 3D action. Read our Asus G75VW review to find out more.

  • Dell Studio 17 review

    Dell Studio 17

    A large screen and terrific performance highlight the Dell Studio 17 desktop-replacement laptop.

  • Dell Inspiron XPS M1710

    Dell Inspiron XPS M1710

    We've seen Dell's Inspiron XPS laptops before and they've been impressive. The latest, the M1710, really is something else.


IDG UK Sites

Samsung Galaxy Note 4 release date, price and specs 2014

IDG UK Sites

iOS 8 features wishlist: the changes iPhone and iPad users want in Apple's iOS 8

IDG UK Sites

25 Years of the World Wide Web: Happy Birthday, Intenet

IDG UK Sites

Developers get access to more Sony camera features