February 25, 2013
- Good-looking exterior
- Comfortable keyboard
- Solid performance
- Display quality could be better
- Mediocre viewing angles
In a rather strange twist, Dell has taken a normal-sized 17-inch laptop and fitted it with an Ultrabook processor and and discrete graphics. The Dell Inspiron 17R-5721 features a new exterior, a comfortable keyboard and solid performance.
The exterior of the Dell Inspiron 17R sports at matte blue and brushed aluminum-finish, which is different from previous models that had replaceable color covers. We like the new exterior because it doesn't show fingerprints and also looks good too. The 17R measures 16.2 x 10.6 x 1.1-inches (wdh) and weighs just over 6-pounds, so it's definitely on the heavier side.
The chiclet-style, matte black keyboard was very comfortable to use and provided good feedback. The keys were well-sized and adequately spaced, even with a full numeric keypad on the right side of the keyboard.
Dell continued the blue color onto the touchpad's surface so it looks really sleek. The touchpad is also quite large, so there's plenty of space to navigate and perform Windows 8 multitouch gestures. The two discrete mouse buttons at the pad's bottom did not offer as much feedback as we would have wanted them to.
The Dell Inspiron 17R-5721 has a 17.3-inch TN-display with a native resolution of 1600 x 900-pixels. The panel is quite glossy, so there's some issue with reflections. Color quality was a little disappointing as some colors seemed slightly washed out but the brightness of the display was good. Viewing angles were limited, which is typical of TN-based displays.
For ports, the Dell 17R offers two USB 3.0 ports, two USB 2.0 ports, HDMI-out, Gigabit Ethernet, a combined headphone/microphone jack and a tray-loading DVD+/-RW optical drive. Wireless connectivity includes 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi.
The Dell Inspiron 17R-5721 has an Intel Core i5-3317U (1.7GHz) processor, 8GB of RAM, a 750GB hard drive, integrated Intel HD 4000 graphics and discrete AMD Radeon HD 8730M graphics with 1GB of dedicated video memory. This Intel CPU is a low-voltage version that is typically found in Ultrabooks and more portable laptops. However, in a PCMark 7 synthetic benchmark it earned a score of 2,345 points which is actually about the high-average for the category. In real-world tests, we found this system to be very speedy and had no performance glitches while streaming HD video and doing heavy multitasking.
The dual-graphics setup features AMD Enduro technology to switch between the integrated and discrete graphics depending on your current demand. We found that playing 3D games is possible with this laptop, but not at high graphics quality. Typically the low and medium settings allowed for the best playable result.
Battery life clocked in at around 4-hours, which is on par with other similar laptops.
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