Dell Inspiron 17R Special Edition review
Dell's desktop replacement delivers high performance and a sterling screen, but the build quality disappoints
With a huge 17.3in Full HD display, a powerful quad-core processor and speedy Nvidia graphics, Dell’s Inspiron 17R Special Edition stands out as a low-cost powerhouse. And from a distance it looks smart too.
Get up close, though, and the budget heritage is plain to see. The 3.34kg Inspiron is entirely constructed from plastic, the hollow-feeling body and patterned finish feel cheap, and the keyboard or the touchpad’s rattly buttons leaves no doubt as to where Dell has spent its budget.
All the money has been put towards the components inside. The quad-core Intel processor gives the laptop a fine turn of speed – it achieved a result of 0.94 in our benchmarks – and the GeForce GT 650M GPU powered through our Crysis tests. With an average of 28fps with Crysis running at High detail settings in Full HD, the Dell is a capable gamer.
The Dell’s screen is superb and makes the most of Crysis’ lush jungle scenes. The 17.3in panel is a Full HD unit, and while colour reproduction is a touch cold, it’s bright and the contrast ratio is superb at 664:1.
Despite the plasticky chassis, there are redeeming factors. Tap away on the keyboard and the Scrabble-tile keys fall nicely under your fingers. The touchpad is effective, with discrete physical buttons that work more reliably than the integrated buttons on other laptops in this Labs.
The Dell’s tiny 4,000mAh battery is a disappointment, surviving only 3hrs 48mins in our light-use test. We were also frustrated to find that Dell had skimped on the Inspiron’s networking capabilities – 10/100 Ethernet and single-band 802.11n wireless are stingy at this price.
The cheap feel is our biggest bugbear with Dell’s super-sized laptop, though. The single year of on-site warranty might be enough for many people, but with the Asus N56VM trading all-out speed for better build and more assured ergonomics, we’d think long and hard before splashing out on the Inspiron.
|Price ex VAT||£799|
|Price inc VAT||£959|
|Features & Design||4|
|Value for Money||5|
|Dimensions||417 x 276 x 38mm (WDH)|
Processor and memory
|Processor||Intel Core i7-3610QM|
Screen and video
|Resolution screen horizontal||1,920|
|Resolution screen vertical||1,080|
|Resolution||1920 x 1080|
|Graphics chipset||Nvidia GeForce GT 650M|
|VGA (D-SUB) outputs||1|
|Hard disk usable capacity||931GB|
|Optical disc technology||DVD writer|
|Replacement battery price inc VAT||£0|
|Wired adapter speed||100Mbits/sec|
|802.11 draft-n support||yes|
|Integrated 3G adapter||no|
|Wireless hardware on/off switch||no|
|Wireless key-combination switch||yes|
|PC Card slots||0|
|PS/2 mouse port||no|
|9-pin serial ports||0|
|Optical S/PDIF audio output ports||0|
|Electrical S/PDIF audio ports||0|
|3.5mm audio jacks||2|
|SD card reader||yes|
|Memory Stick reader||yes|
|MMC (multimedia card) reader||yes|
|Smart Media reader||no|
|Compact Flash reader||no|
|Pointing device type||Touchpad|
|Hardware volume control?||no|
|Camera megapixel rating||1.0mp|
Battery and performance tests
|Battery life, light use||3hr 48min|
|3D performance (crysis) low settings||28fps|
|3D performance setting||High|
|Overall Real World Benchmark score||0.94|
Operating system and software
|Operating system||Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit|
|OS family||Windows 7|