Dell XPS 17 review

Dell XPS 17 9710 review (2021)

The new Dell XPS 17 9710 is Dell’s latest and greatest Creator laptop that’s designed for designers… and office types who want something better than the riff raff has. It hasn’t changed much on the outside for a few years now, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. What does raise eyebrows is the eye-watering price. But, is it worth it? 

Key specs of the Dell XPS 17 9710 

17-inch, glossy, 3840 x 2400, OLED, 60Hz display; 2.3-4.6GHz Intel Core i7-11800H CPU; 32GB RAM; 1TB NVMe HDD; Nvidia RTX 3060; 97Wh battery; 2.42KG. SKU: smhnx971004aus, Full specs here

Design and Handling 

The chassis is as solid as it is stylish. The milled aluminium shell looks great in any situation while the carbon fibre wrist wrest and keyboard-surround oozes quality. The white, backlit keyboard is very comfortable and accurate to use for long periods of time. However, there’s no number pad and we have a pet hatred of the half-height arrow keys. The trackpad beneath it is massive but perhaps a bit too big – while it’s smooth and comfortable to use, the stretching involved when left-clicking and right-clicking is a bit much. 

The bezel around the screen is very thin. At the top is an HD webcam with infra-red sidekick which makes it Windows Hello compatible. The power key (at the top right of the keyboard) doubles as a fingerprint reader and is also Windows Hello Compatible. 

Dell XPS 17 9710 front
There are overclocking options on the Dell XPS 17 9710 but they’re not very aggressive.

The screen itself is mostly amazing. The OLED technology means colours are very vibrant while contrast is near infinite. It’s also got a very high, UHD, 3840 x 2400 resolution which designers, especially, will love. The high, 500-nit rating testifies to how bright it is too. There can be some stepped gradients in colourful and monochromatic transitions but generally they’re impressive.  

However, it’s worth noting that the screen’s lowly, 60Hz refresh rate rears its head when it comes to gaming… fast moving objects get blurry quickly so don’t buy this expecting to enjoy fast-and-frantic shooters and racing games. 

Dell describes its speakers as having, “Studio quality tuning with Waves MaxxAudio Pro and Waves Nx 3D audio Quad-speaker design with 2.5W x2 woofers and 1.5W x2 tweeters = 8W total peak output” That’s quite an unpunctuated mouthful, but if you get the sense they should sound impressive, you’d be happy to know that they’re absolutely right. The speakers sound amazing (for a laptop) with decent bass, a well-rounded audio fidelity and decent treble. They get reasonably loud too. 

Performance 

The Dell XPS 17 9710 uses a 2.3-4.6GHz 11th Gen. Intel Core i7-11800H processor, 32GB of DDR4-3200 RAM and a 1TB NVMe hard drive. Together, these scored 6342 in PCMark 10. This is a smidge low compared to some rivals with the same CPU – even though it was achieved with Dell’s Thermal Performance setting activated.  

In the CPU-intensive Cinebench rendering tests, it scored 1941 in R15 and 9661 in the longer R23. These too aren’t quite as high as overclocked rivals but we were impressed that it performed consistently and stably with only a mild whoosh while doing so. All in all it’s about average for 2D performance when compared to other high performance laptops we’ve tested. 

The Nvidia RTX 3060 GPU kicked in in the 3D tests. It managed 6444 in 3DMark Time Spy (an average of 41fps) and 7889 (average 36fps) in Fire Strike Extreme. These are a little low compared to other 3060-sporting rivals. However, it struggled a bit more noticeably in the difficult, ray-tracing Port Royal test where it scored 4021 (average 18.62fps). Other 3060-sporting lappies score around 20fps while Acer’s latest Predator Helios 300 scored 50% more. So, we feel the Dell XPS 17 9710 is a bit underpowered or downclocked to avoid overheating. 

Connectivity of the Dell XPS 17 9710

On the right are two, USB-C 3.2 Gen 2. Thunderbolt 4 ports (with DisplayPort and PowerDelivery) plus a 3.5mm audio jack and an SD card reader (v6.0). 
On the left are another two USB-C 3.2 Gen 2. Thunderbolt 4 ports (with DisplayPort and PowerDelivery). 

We normally don’t like laptops that only have USB-C ports, but if they do, they may as well support all the best transfer technologies. Dell also supplies a dongle which goes from USB-C to USB-A and HDMI 2.0 which helps a little. Inside there’s Wi-Fi 6 and BlueTooth 5.1. 

Portability 

The Dell XPS 17 9710 weighs just 2.42 KG despite being just 2cm thick and built like a tank. The 97Wh battery also lasted a very impressive 9hrs 28mins which is a full day of office work while out of the office. Impressive. 

The power brick adds a modest 460g to the overall weight.

Should I buy the Dell XPS 17 9710? 

The ridonculous $6299 price tag obliterates the value proposition: if you want similar performance for less, it’s easy to find. However, the Dell XPS 17 9710 is largely about ergonomics which will appeal to various design professionals and corporate high flyers. It’s also likely that many purchasers will be getting massive discounts when buying (or leasing) in bulk via company equipment suppliers. However, this means that the XPS 17 is primarily a viable choice for those who don’t need to worry about money and care more about ergonomics than bang for buck. If you aren’t bothered about performance check out the Dell XPS 15 9510 as the ergonomics are similar but it’s cheaper (but measures 15.6-inches).

Dell XPS 17 results
  • 2D Performance
  • 3D Performance
  • Ergonomics & Features
  • Stability
  • Portability
  • Value
3.9

Summary

An impressively built Creator-cum-corporate laptop that costs a bomb (and underperforms a bit).

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