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Initial really picky review of the Dell XPS 17 9700 (and why I'm keeping this one) edit: pics added

chrisk

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Hello all;
This is a followup review to my G7 review I posted here:

This is so much better than the G7, even for the extra cash. The G7 felt like it was going to fall apart, and I appreciate that the XPS does not give me shocks (see my G7 review for more info).

Needless to say, I hated the G7. Perhaps my distain for it is greater because I was so hyped for it. That said, Dell's return policies are so good and easy, I decided to give them another try. I waffled back and forth between the Inspiron 17 (that has a tablet/tent mode) and the XPS 17. I decided to spend a fair bit more than I should and got the XPS 17.

Imp Specs:
- 17in 16:10 touch screen, 3840x2400, 500nits
= i7-1087H
- 500GB nvme
- rtx 2060 (no, I'm not stripping out the GPU to sell thks ;p)
- 16GB
- paid just shy of $3k, including 3 year warranty and 3 year accident (toddler tax).

I chose this laptop because I wanted a 17 in screen, an i7 CPU, dedicated GPU, and I wanted something bright that I can take outside, plus had a touch screen. That requirement in particular is tough, as usually touch means glare. I read a fair bit about the vapor chamber cooling as well which sounded good. I also liked the idea of top-firing speakers. The reviews were positive, including the HWC review. I am really picky about the screen and keyboard, and this seemed good on this unit.

After 4 days, here is what I have to say:

The good:
Screen
- screen is very clear and bright.
- The taller 16:10 ratio vs regular wide screen 17in screens is appreciated
- No backlight bleed, uniform display, no dead pixels.
- Bright outside, but still some glare. But its a touchscreen, and the glare is manageable due to the coating they have on this (I guess) and the brightness.
- The screen is still a bit too 'warm' for my tastes, but the Dell Premier Color made it easy to get a profile setup I liked.

Keyboard
- I suck at typing and look at the keyboard way too often. The backlight on this keyboard is great, and there is little bleeding of the light around the keys, and the keyboard is easy to read at any angle (on a table, on your lap, at weird angles, etc)
- keys are ok to press. A bit firmer than I am used to, but its ok.
1619793061493.png

1619793107308.png


Performance
- I have not run any benches on this, but the bit of Camtasia work I have done has been a breeze. Laptop is very responsive, with no weird crashes, etc.

Ergonomics
- this is hit and miss, but the good is that there is room on the palm-rest for my Logitech trackball mouse to sit while I type. See other comments below.

1619793149244.png

Power connector
- love the USB C power connector. Allows to plug in and charge on both sides of the laptop.

Size and Build quality
- this thing feels like a 15in laptop. My wife asked why I got a smaller screen at first. This is very portable for a 17in laptop and fits in my 15in laptop bag no problem. Takes up a lot less space than my old Dell 17in Inspiron.

Here is a pic of the XPS 17 9700 vs the Inspiron 17 7777

1619793219117.png

- feels solid and very premium. Metal on the outside, a rubberized texture on the palmrest and keyboard. It shows smudges a bit on the easy side, no issue for me.

- my trackpad came with no wobble or issues. Apparently this is an issue with this model, where the trackpad gets loose (or is shipped loose). Mine is good so far, but TBH I tend to use my trackball mouse. Just a warning to check if you buy this laptop.

- sound. These speakers are the best laptop speakers I have used. I'm not an audiophile, but the speakers fill up my living room, and fire up, instead of down. Very impressed with the speakers.

1619793280570.png

- bluetooth connection seems solid with my mouse. No lag, mouse responds right away after opening the laptop lid, etc.

- return policy: I easily returned my G7 to Dell, no questions asked. Was really painless, if you follow the clear instructions.

The Bad (most of which were no surprise)

- ordering from Dell. I placed the order, and then it sat in processing for days. They ended up canceling and creating a new order, which screwed up a discount I had. Had to work with a rep to get the price I agreed to when I ordered. Shipped later than promised, but with the parts shortage I guess I have to give them some slack.

- No USB A ports, not even one. I knew this before I bought it, but on a 17in laptop I really don't understand why they don't include even one. Thankfully they ship an adapter (USB A and HDMI combo), and my trackball mouse has bluetooth. I have adapters in the mail for my headset and usb drives.

- sharp edges. Like, really sharp. Holding this thing on my lap, I find the edges dig into my arm and chest. This is very particular to my use scenario, but if you are thinking of using this on your lap, etc. just keep it in mind. I have made some adjustments to how I use it. Reviewers mentioned it, but its sharper than I realized.

1619793335113.png

- warm and noisy. Again, I tend to use this on my lap and the vents get covered. Never had that issue on my old Inspiron, but the fans are always ramping up on this, even while web-surfing. If laid on a table its fine.

Here are the vents:

1619793419156.png

- expensive. They are giving this thing away, but with how picky I am I was asking for it.

- small, tiny bezels means if you grab your screen you will end up touching the screen. Add in touch-input and you get accidental touches. Exactly what I ordered, but I still keep doing it. Keep this in mind if you plan to hold this thing a lot.

- lid is tricky to grab. There is no place in the lip of the lid to easily allow you to grab the lid to open. That said, once you get your thumb or finger in there the lid opens easily with no creaks, wobble, etc.

1619793373039.png

- webcam sucks. Like, horrible. My old Inspiron had a better webcam. Low-ish light is horrible. You won't enjoy using this for Zoom meetings. I knew this was a weak point before ordering, just was a bit worse than I imagined.

- bloatware. But its a Dell, so what did I expect?


Other useful info for potential buyers:

- reviews online say this thing is hard to take apart to upgrade. Dell fitted the bottom panel very tight, which is great for build and feel, and reviewers say its tough to get it off. I believe it. I have not tried yet though.

- wifi card is not upgradeable. Keep that in mind as its soldered in. It is wifi 6, but it's a Killer card...no issues yet

- ram runs at 2933mhz jedec. No XMP profiles supported, so if you want to upgrade your ram yourself, make sure the jedec spec supports it, and don't rely on XMP. Lost of laptops have this limitation, just FYI. I have not found modules I want to buy yet (I plan to upgrade to 32GB at some point soon). Installed ram is not soldered, etc.

- nvme runs at PCI-E v 3. You get an extra port that looks easy to use.

- again something I knew before I bought, but with the screen resolution I bought, keep in mind that if you start messing with Windows scaling to get the text bigger, you are going to get weird scaling issues in some apps. Get the lower resolution screen if this will bother you. I would have, if I could have gotten touch screen at that resolution.

- no NUM pad

- has the fancy Windows Hello camera function I don't use. Maybe I will later

Verdict: 4.5 Guinness out of 5.

I'll keep this one for sure. I don't think I'll get better for my pickiness and use scenario, and half the issue I have with it is more due to how much I loved my old Inspiron and I'm just not used to this one yet. I'm still floored at the size of the laptop...so small for a 17in laptop. This is really beautiful engineering. The screen is top-notch. Nicest I have ever used on a laptop. The issues I have I knew about before jumping in, but are still there so I have to address them.
 
Last edited:

chrisk

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Great review! I know theres pics out on the interwebs, but a couple inserted would be a nice addition.
Yep, I might pop some in later but this was more of a quick followup.

I did catch that spelling mistake before you replied, and I fixed it lol. I am still adjusting to the keyboard, but yeah, I'm such a sucky typist.
 

chrisk

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Some pics added that might not be apparent in some other reviews that helps with some things I pointed out. Saggy was right the review needed some.
 

sswilson

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I'm surprised at the lack of USB "A" and that the "taller rather than wider" 17" screen resulted in a keyboard without a num pad.

As far as "fit and finish goes".... yeah it's almost always really obvious in how solid a laptop feels when you pay the extra $1K (or so) to get something out of a premium line as opposed to the budget and/or basic consumer lines.

Glad to hear you like it, and thanks for taking the time to post the review.
 
Last edited:

chrisk

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I'm surprised at the lack of USB "A" and that the "taller rather than wider" 17" screen resulted in a keyboard without a num pad.

As far as "fit and finish goes".... yeah it's almost always really obvious in how solid a laptop feels when you pay the extra $1K (or so) to get something out of a premium line as opposed to the budget and/or basic consumer lines.

Glad to year you like it, and thanks for taking the time to post the review.

I suspect the NUM pad being removed was done to facilitate the large speakers and placement. They could have possibly moved the speakers above the keyboard, but that's where the fancy vapor chamber is.

But yes, you do get what you pay for.
 

FreeKnight

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Jul 8, 2009
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Location
Edmonton, AB
- webcam sucks. Like, horrible. My old Inspiron had a better webcam. Low-ish light is horrible. You won't enjoy using this for Zoom meetings. I knew this was a weak point before ordering, just was a bit worse than I imagined.
Well so much for your planned onlyfans account Chris....
 
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