With the Dell XPS series, Dell has succeeded in creating a consistent and powerful alternative to the Macbook Pro Year in, year out. While users who value portability as much as performance gravitate towards the smaller models, the Dell XPS 17 ″ are there for those who need all of the screen real estate and performance they can get to handle their productivity workloads.
And the XPS 17 (2021) remains true to this tradition. Take our test model – it’s about as powerful as a Windows laptop you can currently find on the market. It comes with components that can compete with powerful desktop computers like the 11th Gen Intel Core i7. Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 GPU. What’s even more impressive is that at just 0.77 inches thick, it’s incredibly slim for such a powerhouse.
However, all of this performance is not cheap. The model we tested costs $ 2,949 (about £ 2,130, AU $ 4,020) and is likely not the right setup for many people. You can find other portable devices that will cost much less and will suit you better, especially if graphic design or extensive video editing is not part of your normal workload. Even if you’re looking for something specific to gaming, you can find one that is cheaper like this razor blade with similar specifications.
The Dell XPS 17 is for the creative professional on the go who is looking for an extremely powerful and versatile PC that is stylish and looks great in an office. Its thinness becomes a bit of its bane in this regard, however, as the port selection isn’t quite what you might want to see.
Price and availability
Here is the one Dell XPS 17 (2021) Configuration sent to Ditching for review:
Central processor: Intel Core i7-11800H (8-core, 24 MB Intel Smart Cache, up to 4.6 GHz with Turbo Boost)
graphic: Intel Iris Plus; Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060
R.A.M.: 32 GB DDR4 (3,200 MHz)
screen: 17-inch UHD touchscreen (3840 x 2400)
warehouse: 1 TB SSD (PCIe, NVMe, M.2)
Ports: 4 x Thunderbolt 4, SD card reader, combined audio jack
Connectivity: Killer-Wi-Fi 6 AX1650, 2 x 2, Bluetooth 5.0
camera: 720p IR webcam
Weight: 5.34 lb (2.42 kg)
Measure: 14.74 x 9.76 x 0.77 in. (374.45 x 248.05 x 19.05 mm; W x D x H)
The Dell XPS 17 2021 starts at $ 1,549 (£ 1,649, about AU $ 2,110). With this configuration, you get an 11th generation Intel Core i5-11400H, 8 GB of RAM, a 512 GB SSD, and a 17-inch 1200p display.
Of course, you can always upgrade any part to a more powerful version, and we definitely recommend that. These basics are enough for day-to-day computing, but there’s no reason to pay extra for a 17-inch laptop if you’re not going to use it for heavy-duty work.
You can lift it all the way up to $ 3,749 (£ 3,899, AU $ 6,998) which gets you the Intel Core i7-11800H, 32GB of RAM, a 4TB SSD, an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060, and a 4K touchscreen. However, in the UK and Australia, SSD storage is limited to 2TB instead of 4TB.
It’s a sturdy laptop. The configuration listed on the right is a bit more accessible and costs $ 2,949. This full-maximum version of this 4TB SSD might be nice, but it’s really not worth the extra $ 800 that is added to the price – especially since you can upgrade the SSD later.
For most people, we recommend cutting the RAM down to 16GB and the screen down to the FHD option on the model we tested. Unless you do intensive video editing, you won’t really notice the difference in performance. These two changes bring the price down to $ 2,399 (around £ 1,730, AU $ 3,270), which is much more competitive on laptops with similar specs.
Probably not very surprising, but the Dell XPS 17 is a nice laptop. All silver with a Dell logo on the back of the screen, it looks like the MacBook Pro competitor. And unlike the MacBook, it has that soft finish on the laptop deck that makes working with the laptop a lot more comfortable.
Of course, the 17-inch format also gives the XPS 17 a lot more keyboard space, and it’s surprising how Dell has used it here. Instead of building in a full keyboard with a number pad as is the case with many laptops in this class, Dell uses a standard laptop keyboard and instead surrounds it with speakers.
That means the Dell XPS 17 is very similar in design to the MacBook Pro in this regard, and we absolutely love it. There are definitely people out there who want a full keyboard, but the speakers Dell was able to put here sound fantastic.
Even with super bass-heavy music like Kittie’s “What I Always Wanted”, the speakers are clear and can keep up with the crisp guitars and screams.
Still no better than a pair of PC speakers or headphones for listening to music, but at least your music isn’t butchered like some other Dell laptops – when you look at your Dell XPS 13.
The display is just amazing too. Dell sent us the 4K touch version, and while the Dell XPS 13 OLED is still better – it is OLED after all – it’s still one of the best laptop screens we’ve used.
The screen achieves an average brightness of 464 cd / m² and covers more than 100% of the sRGB color spectrum. This makes the screen ideal for media work, although it still does not meet the 99% DCI-P3 color space that would make it a truly professional screen.
But while Dell didn’t quite upgrade the keyboard to the level of the Dell XPS 15, it’s still a well-spaced and comfortable keyboard. Travel is nice and deep and all buttons are easy to reach.
The only thing annoying are the smaller up and down arrow keys, but they only affect you if you spend a lot of time in Excel or Google Sheets.
For a 17-inch laptop, the Dell XPS 17 is incredibly small. It’s only 0.77 inches thick and weighs just 5.34 lbs (2.42 kg), so you can easily pack it in your backpack and take it with you to work – something that is definitely a nice thing to do when you’re on the go. considered the high performance of this laptop.
The XPS 17’s thinness has one drawback, however, and that’s the ports. All you get are four Thunderbolt 4 ports, an audio jack, and an SD card slot: the laptop stand isn’t thick enough to place anything else on top of the case.
While we’d prefer if there was at least one USB-A or HDMI port, we fully understand why Dell was unable to install these ports on the Dell XPS 17.
You can also upgrade the Dell XPS 17, which will save you some savings upfront. To open it, all you have to do is remove 8 hexagonal screws on the bottom of the laptop and unscrew the bottom of the case.
It’s a bit tricky the first time, but sooner or later you should get into the laptop. Once there, upgrading your RAM and system storage is easy, and the Dell XPS 17 supports up to 64GB of RAM.
That’s how it’s done Dell XPS 17 (2021) performed in our series of benchmark tests:
Cinebench R23 CPU: 9,923 points
3DMark time spy: 7,049; Fire attack: 15,643; Night robbery: 24,830
Geek Bank 5: 1,574 (single core); 8,994 (multi-core)
PCMark 10: 6,558
PCMark 10 battery: 7h 10m
Battery Life (TechRadar Movie Test): 6h 26m
Metro Exodus (1080p, low): 144 fps (1080p, ultra): 52 fps
Total War: Three Kingdoms (1080p, low): 192 fps (1080p ultra): 57 fps
Mixer (classroom) (seconds): 162.24
Blender (fishy_cat) (seconds): 96.43
Handbrake: 42.05 fps
Adobe Premiere (Puget Bench): 697 points
Adobe Photoshop (Puget Bench): 913 points
Since the Dell XPS 17 is equipped with an 11th Gen Intel Core processor.
The dedicated GPU here allows it to hold its own in games and averages around 52 fps in Metro Exodus at 1080p with everything on Ultra. Turn down a few settings and you’ll be able to get a solid 60 fps experience even in the most demanding games at 1080p. But that’s not really what the Dell XPS 17 is designed for.
Instead, this laptop really shines on creative workloads where the 4K display can really shine. Whether you’re working in Adobe Premiere, Photoshop, or Blender, this laptop will save you more time than the latest MacBook Pro, largely thanks to the CUDA cores in the RTX 3060 here.
Combine the powerful discrete graphics card with the RAM and the powerful high-performance H-series processor and this is a laptop that allows you to edit videos in 4K on the go without it becoming a total exercise of frustration.
With the amount of powerful hardware and 4K display, it’s probably no surprise that the Dell XPS 17 doesn’t win any accolades for battery life.
In the PCMark 10 battery life test, which simulates various real-world applications, this laptop was able to achieve just over 7 hours. That’s not a bad thing at all, but it’s pretty common these days to find a laptop that can get you through a full 8-hour work day on a single charge.
But we don’t think that’s so important here. It’s not that the Dell XPS 17 will die in a couple of hours, and this is certainly a laptop that most people will likely use while it’s still attached to a wall.
Camera and microphone
Even though we all work more and more from home and have to use our laptops for more and more video conferences, the Dell XPS 17 unfortunately only has a 720p webcam. It’s certainly not the worst we’ve ever used, and when you’re in a well-lit room you can still get a lot of detail out of the camera.
It basically does the job, but you might want to invest in a webcam if you’re using this laptop while plugged into a monitor.
Fortunately, the built-in microphone does a much better job. Our voice comes across nice and clear, and we didn’t have to reach for a standalone microphone during one of the many meetings we held with the Dell XPS 17.
Software and functions
Since this is a Dell, it is packed with software. Most of it stays away and is only needed when you need to update or connect your phone. However, it also comes with a trial version of McAfee that we had to uninstall as we kept getting pop-ups asking us to buy a subscription.
But once you take that out and replace it with one of the best antivirus software around, the laptop is pretty good at just letting you do your thing.
The Dell XPS 17 also has Windows Hello via a webcam and fingerprint scanner, so you can use whatever type of biometric login you are most comfortable with.
In our experience, both are extremely quick to unlock, and the fingerprint scanner is the same button that turns the laptop on, so you don’t have to move your hand too much to use the laptop.