The Dell XPS 17 is a powerhouse of a laptop with a 17-inch display, a quad-core Intel Core i7 740QM CPU, 6GB of RAM and a discrete Nvidia graphics card with 3GB of video memory. While rather on the pricey side, you do get a lot, including a Blu-ray drive and two 500GB hard drives for lots of storage.
The XPS 17 from Dell is quite large and bulky, but the design of the body does give it a thinner look than it really is. In total, it measures 16.3 x 1.5 x 11.3-inches (whd) and weighs just over 8 pounds, which means you don't want to be lugging this around with you wherever you go. That's why the XPS 17 model is designed to be a desktop replacement notebook where you'd be primarily be using it at a desk in a semi-permanent location. The chassis is a dark-gray color and it looks fairly decent, but it's definitely nothing we'd call "sexy".
The keyboard is very good and the keys offer some nice tactile feedback with each press and the mouse trackpad is a good, large size too. However, we noticed the sensitivity of the trackpad on its default setting is too high and any brush with your palms while typing will cause it to move.
The 17.3-inch display has a maximum resolution of 1600 x 900-pixels, which falls short of 1080p full high-definition resolution. This is a disappointment, especially because of its higher-than-average price tag. Another gripe about the screen is poor viewing angles that are actually so bad that if you aren't looking straight at the screen, you get visible color shifting and brightness. If you are looking at it directly from the front, however, the screen gives you a really good-quality image. But don't expect a crowd of 2 or 3 to join around it and watch a movie because of the poor viewing angles.
Dell certainly made us proud of the port selection they included on the XPS 17, which includes two USB 3.0 ports, one USB 2.0 and a USB 2.0/eSATA combo port. There is also an HDMI and mini-DisplayPort for video output and gigabit Ethernet. You also get 802.11b/g/n wireless networking and an SD/MMC memory card reader too.
The specifications of this particular Dell XPS 17 include a quad-core Intel Core i7 740QM (1.73GHz; turboboost 2.93GHz), 6GB of memory, 1TB of storage (two 500GB drives) and an Nvidia GeForce GT 445M discrete graphics card with 3GB of its own dedicated memory. There's also a Blu-ray optical drive combined with DVD+/-RW read/writing too.
These impressive specifications on the Dell XPS 17 give you not only fantastic performance with everyday computing tasks, but also with things like 3D gaming and video encoding. Because of the 6GB of RAM, you can rest assured that you'll never run out of system memory when multitasking and the discrete Nvidia graphics card lets you play today's 3D games without a hitch.
Battery life is also decent, especially for a meaty desktop replacement laptop. With the included 6-cell battery, expect to get about 4 hours of battery life and with an optional 9-cell battery, Dell says you can get 7.5 hours of life. We did notice that when running on battery power, the laptop does get very hot and the fans turn up to a very loud speed, so make sure to keep it well-ventilated at all times to prevent overheating.