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Dell Inspiron 17R Special Edition review

Verdict

Dell's desktop replacement delivers high performance and a sterling screen, but the build quality disappoints

Review Date: 30 Aug 2012

Reviewed By: Sasha Muller

Price when reviewed: £799 (£959 inc VAT)

Overall Rating
5 stars out of 6

Features & Design
4 stars out of 6

Value for Money
5 stars out of 6

Performance
5 stars out of 6

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.

Dell Inspiron 17R Special Edition

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.

Dell Inspiron 17R Special Edition

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.

Author: Sasha Muller

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User comments

£959 (inc VAT) is "low-cost"?

By stormN on 31 Aug 2012

It is compared to the £1500 Sony Vaio I bought 18 months ago for a similar spec.

Whether it is up to the same quality of the Sony Vaio I don't know, but that's why I chose Sony, rather than Dell, well.. That and the amount of SPAM that I kept getting from Dell's crap publicity/mailing department.

By SKINHEAD1967 on 1 Sep 2012

New Inspiron 17R's launched

I work with Dell and just want to let everyone know new Inspiron 17's have launched http://www.dell.com/uk/p/inspiron-17r-5720/pd

By mcm1973 on 11 Sep 2012

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