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Dell Inspiron 17 review

Kat Orphanides
12 May 2013
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
449
inc VAT

This sturdy desktop replacement provides plenty of power and a 17.3in screen at a very low price

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The Dell Inspiron 17 is big enough and powerful enough to make a very credible desktop replacement system. Windows 8 looks great on the 17.3in screen's 1,600x900 resolution, and it's good to see a reasonably powerful Core i5 processor in a laptop which costs just £450.

The processor is a 1.8GHz Intel Core i5-3337U, which produced an overall score of 45 in our benchmark tests. It's a long way from being the most powerful i5 mobile processor around, but this dual-core model is easily up to the requirements of most users and the laptop's 8GB of memory is useful for image and video editing enthusiasts. Bear in mind that having a dual- rather than quad-core processor will significantly impact how long it will take to render output files from a video-editing package.

Dell Inspiron 17

The laptop is one of the few models in this price range that has a dedicated graphics chipset rather than relying on the processor's integrated graphics. The laptop's dedicated AMD Radeon 7670M put in a decent rather than spectacular performance in our 3D gaming tests, producing a frame rate of 28.4fps in Dirt Showdown at 1,280x720, 4x AA and high quality. Dropping the quality settings to medium produced a smoother frame rate of 32.9fps. This laptop will struggle with Crysis 3, but you'll be able to have some fun with less-demanding titles such as the excellent XCOM: Enemy Unknown.

The laptop's a hefty thing by any standard, measuring 30x413x273mm. Considering it's a 17in model it's reasonably light, though, at 2.6kg. It's easy enough to move around the home or office, but few people will want to stick it in a bag and carry it far. The large display has a somewhat reflective gloss finish, but colours are vivid and accurate and the screen is certainly bright.

The keyboard is a standard-issue Chiclet-style affair, with a full numeric keypad at the right, well separated from the main keyboard. The extra space given to the keypad means the touchpad - which is sensibly positioned beneath the space bar - is offset from the centre of the wrist rest. This can take a bit of getting used to but we didn't find ourselves accidentally brushing the pad or the buttons beneath it when typing, so didn’t have to worry about our cursor jumping about the place. The keyboard's keys feel a little loose, and the keyboard is slightly uncomfortable to use if you like to hit the keys hard when typing, but the large and well-spaced keys make accurate typing nevertheless pretty easy.

Dell Inspiron 17

The wrist rest, like the rest of the interior and exterior of the laptop, has a matt black finish consisting of a textured mesh of tiny triangles. The finish doesn't pick up fingerprints easily and we found it comfortable to rest our wrists on. The laptop has four USB ports, which is more than the three we're generally used to seeing, but unfortunately none of them are USB3 so you won't be able to take advantage of super-fast external disks or USB drives. There's also a 3.5mm headset port which can also stake a standard stereo jack plug, a Gigabit Ethernet port and an HDMI output so you can connect the laptop to an external display. The laptop has 802.11n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0 support, too, for wireless headsets, input devices or even for connecting to wireless speaker systems.

Dell Inspiron 17

That's not the end of the goodies on offer, as there's also a DVD-RW drive and a card reader which can handle SDXC and Memory Stick Pro storage media. The laptop has a massive 1TB hard disk, too, making it a handy choice if you like to store a lot of media files. The laptop's integrated speaker is a bit harsh and tinny but is still surprisingly loud with a clear mid-range.

If you're after a home laptop with a large screen and don't plan on taking it around with you, the Dell Inspiron 17 is a good buy for £450. It's fairly fast, can play some modern games and even has surprisingly good battery life, lasting seven hours and 19 minutes in our tests. However, if you’re after gaming power in a smaller package, the Toshiba Satellite L955D-104 has more gaming power in a smaller package.

Basic Specifications

Rating****
ProcessorIntel Core i5-3337U
Processor clock speed1.8GHz
Memory8.00GB
Memory slots2
Memory slots free0
Maximum memory8GB
Size30x413x273mm
Weight2.6kg
SoundRealtek HD Audio
Pointing devicetouchpad

Display

Viewable size17.3 in
Native resolution1,600x1,200
Graphics ProcessorAMD Radeon 7670M
Graphics/video portsHDMI
Graphics Memory1,024MB

Storage

Total storage capacity1,024GB
Optical drive typeDVD+/-RW +/-DL

Ports and Expansion

USB ports4
Bluetoothyes
Wired network ports1x 10/100/1000
Wireless networking support802.11n
PC Card slotsnone
Supported memory cardsSDXC, MMC, Memory Stick Pro
Other ports3.5mm headset port

Miscellaneous

Carrying caseNo
Operating systemWindows 8
Operating system restore optionrestore partition
Software includednone
Optional extrasnone

Buying Information

Warrantyone year onsite
Price£449
Detailswww.dell.co.uk

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