Very few non-gaming laptops can see you through arduous tasks like 4K video rendering and gaming while still looking good doing so, but the Dell XPS 17 9710 is certainly setting a high standard for them. In our Dell XPS 17 9710 review, we'll see if it does enough to compete with high-end offerings from competitors like Apple.
• Processor: 11th-gen Intel Core i7-11800H (8 cores)
• Operating system: Windows 11 Home
• Graphics card: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3060
• Display: 17.0" UHD+ (3840 x 2400)
• Memory: 32GB
• Hard drive: 1TB M.2 PCIe NVMe solid state drive
• Ports: 4x Thunderbolt 4, 1x audio jack, 1x SD slot, 1 wedge-shaped lock slot
• Dimensions: 19.05 mm x 374.45 x 248.05 mm
• Weight: 2.21 kg
There’s a lot of power in this release from Dell, sporting much-lauded Tiger Lake chips and Nvidia RTX 3000 graphics while keeping things so slim and luxurious design-wise you’d hardly believe you’re getting such robust performance. And that’s without mentioning all the fancy features it’s boasting, like a dazzling borderless touch display, secure yet convenient login technology, and a keyboard that’s a pleasure to use.
Still, we now live in a world where a notebook can be compact and be breathtakingly powerful at the same time. And so, rather than considering the Dell XPS 17 9710 for what it can offer, there’s the temptation to just compare it to what else is out there that is more powerful. That’s somewhat fair; after all, if you’re already spending more than $2,000/£2,000/AU$2,000 on a laptop, you might as well spend a bit more to have your cake and eat it too.
However, it all still boils down to preference, and the Dell XPS 17 9710 is just the right choice for many creatives. If you’re looking for a powerful laptop with plenty of screen real estate and a whole lot of charisma, you might just be one such creative.
Whether this will be one of the best laptops for graphic design, or the best laptops for programming, remains to be seen. Let's dig in and find out more.
Dell XPS 17 9710 review: Price
As you’ve probably already guessed, the Dell XPS 17 9710 is nothing to joke about, price-wise. Our review unit, which comes with an 11th-gen i7 CPU, an RTX 3060 GPU, 1TB of storage space, and a whopping 32GB memory, will set you back a hefty $2,499 / £2,824. That certainly puts it out of most people’s budgets, and situates it firmly in the creative professional realm.
If you’re a creative pro who’s just starting out, this configuration might also be out of your reach. Luckily, the base configuration in the US is around $1,000 less: $1,449 will get you an 11th-gen i5, Intel UHD graphics, 8GB RAM, and 512GB SSD. You’re getting a lot less power, but it should see you through photo editing and some light video editing, if you’re not too worried about getting things done in a flash.
This configuration isn’t available in the UK, however. In the UK, the cheapest you’d get the Dell XPS 17 9710 is £2,099, and that’s for an 11th-gen i7, RTX 3050, 16GB configuration with the same amount of storage.
Want to go all in? You’re looking at more or less $4,000 / £4,000, although again, the highest configuration varies by region and doesn’t necessarily come with the highest specs on hand. In the US, for example, you are not able to get the 11th-gen i6, RTX 3060, 64GB configuration with the highest amount of storage on hand (8TB). In Australia, the same combination of specs won’t be able to accommodate a 4K display, strange enough.
Dell XPS 17 9710: Power and performance
Although the Dell XPS 17 9710’s 11th-gen Intel Core i7-11800H chip and Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 graphics card are powerful in their own right, with the i7-11800H touting 8 cores, 16 threads, and a 2.3GHz base clock and the RTX 3060 already proving its graphics prowess, there isn’t any doubt that its performance is made even better by the oodles of RAM inside.
The 64GB of memory, which is what our review model has, has been proven to improve timeline performance as well as rendering speed during 4K video editing over something with 16GB or even 32GB of RAM. While the difference might not often be as drastic in every workload, especially when compared to a 32GB model, it should be beneficial in the long run, saving you time and giving you smoother performance.
Naturally, the Dell XPS 17 9710 is able to handle processor-intensive tasks like having 20+ tabs open all at once on Google Chrome, some of which are streaming 4K videos, without showing signs of lag or slowdown. We’ve also been able to game with it, playing new titles like Sable and Valheim at high settings and enjoying an impeccably smooth experience. That’s even while functioning as the server during a multiplayer session in Valheim.
It’s also impressive when performing graphically-intensive tasks like photo and video editing. During our tests, it took just under three minutes to export 100 high-resolution images with basic editing from RAW to JPEG in Lightroom and less than 17 seconds when keeping the same RAW format. That’s mighty impressive considering that every single one of those images was at 240 DPI and had pixel dimensions of 7952 x 4472.
You can expect the same level of robust performance when rendering video. Rendering a 10-minute and 32-second 4K video in HEVC (H.265) on Premiere Pro was snappy, and only took around 4 minutes and 30 seconds. Rendering the same video in 1080p was even faster, taking just 1 minute and 56 seconds. While none of that is scientific (and we hadn’t added any color grading and other effects to the videos), it still kind of gives you an idea of what the laptop is capable of.
It keeps things generally cool under pressure. Even when it’s rendering a 10-minute 4K video, the Dell XPS 17 9710 remains chill. The middle top part of the keyboard does warm up a little, but not enough to bother any user. Underneath, it stays impressively cool, even though you do feel the fans going. This laptop can get pretty loud, however. Not too loud to overwhelm your TV, even with the volume below 50%, but definitely loud enough to be annoying in a silent room.
Finally, the battery is much better than we expected. Squeezing out 5 hours and 45 minutes on the PCMark 10 Battery Test might not be anything to write home about (Dell rates it at 5 hours and 59 minutes), especially in this day and age, but considering the laptop’s 4K screen and RTX 3060 graphics, that’s not a bad run. Depending on your workload, you might get a bit more or much less (any video editing or gaming will cut that down considerably).
Dell XPS 17 9710: Display
The 17-inch 3840 x 2400 InfinityEdge touch display, with anti-reflective coating and 500 nits of brightness, is a pleasure to use. Having 4K resolution on a screen of that size definitely gives users a bit more screen real estate, which is a boon to creative professionals. It might not be as good as a dedicated monitor in terms of size, but there’s definitely a small improvement over a 14-inch or 16-inch display, especially with those impossibly thin bezels on all sides.
For the benefit of creative professionals, there are 100% Adobe RGB and 94% DCI-P3 color gamuts on hand for excellent color coverage and reproduction, as well as a decent 1600:1 contrast ratio. That 500-nit brightness is wonderful too, while the Eyesafe technology ensures that your eyes are safe even over long hours of editing.
We wish we could say that the 0.65% anti-reflective coating is enough to allow you to work on this laptop outdoors in broad daylight, but this isn’t the case. While you can see enough to get by, it’s not comfortable to use, in our opinion. However, it’s definitely enough to minimize reflections in a bright office with fluorescent lighting.
The display does have impeccable picture quality, delivering sharp details and vibrant colors. The HDR (which you can toggle on and off) and Dolby Vision features are pretty effective as well. Dell isn’t quite clear as to what HDR rating this laptop has, but it not only brightens dark scenes in content like The Eternals on Disney+ and Ozark on Netflix, but it recovers a lot of the lost details as well. We only wish that the contrast was better; unfortunately, with HDR on, the blacks aren’t as deep.
Elsewhere, the touch feature is a pleasure to use. It’s not only very responsive and intuitive, but the screen itself just feels pleasant to the touch.
Dell XPS 17 9710: Features
A premium laptop like this deserves premium features, and Dell certainly doesn’t disappoint. Aside from that stunner of a screen, you’re also getting a great set of speakers, two convenient and secure login options, and an excellent keyboard.
The two 2.5W stereo speakers have a lot of volume to them. Sadly, the sound quality is disappointing. There’s no real low end here, only a little bit of mid-bass boost to simulate all of that missing low end, and it just ends up sounding thin. The mids are also recessed, so the audio sounds hollow. And, while there is some high end, enough of it is missing that it sounds muffled and lacks detail.
The 720p 30fps camera performs well, delivering crisp and clear video quality without a lot of artifacts, even in low light. However, with many high-end laptops now touting 1080p webcams, we had hoped that Dell would upgrade this in the 2022 model.
The keyboard and trackpad are premium, of course – extremely comfortable to use, responsive, and very accurate. The trackpad is also sizable and centered, which is a plus. However, it might feel a bit too big for those with smaller hands.
There are four Thunderbolt 4 ports on offer, alongside a 3.5mm audio jack, a wedge-shaped lock slot, and, thankfully, an SD card slot. On top of that, there is an included USB adapter, which gives you an HDMI and a USB port. You will be losing one of the Thunderbolt 4 ports if you use the adapter, but at least you’re getting a variety of options.
The Dell XPS 17 9710 offers two convenient login options that will have you forgetting your password in no time: fingerprint recognition and facial recognition. You don’t often see both in one laptop, so having both here is a real treat. Even more so because they work so well, reading your face or fingerprint in a fraction of a second and logging you on seamlessly. What’s more, they’re incredibly easy to set up.
Dell XPS 17 9710: Should I buy it?
With Apple’s M1 chips, even something like the MacBook Air can be small and thin and lightweight, and still see creative professionals through their editing and design needs. Need even more power? The M1 Pro/Max-powered MacBook Pro 14-inch delivers just that while having much smaller dimensions than the Dell XPS 17 9710. Heck, even the all-powerful MacBook Pro 16-inch can afford to cut down its footprint, with a display that’s barely an inch smaller if you’re looking for more screen real estate.
That means that the Dell XPS 17 9710 certainly has its work cut out for it, and it’s going to have to be pretty impressive to stay ahead of the game.
Luckily, it’s powerful in its own right, whether it’s tackling graphically demanding and processor-intensive tasks or basic productivity workloads – and staying cool, too. It’s also a darn good looking laptop, with that signature Dell XPS design, a beautiful display, and a thin (if not exactly light) chassis that would be easy to slip into a backpack or a weekender bag.
Finally, it comes with most of the vital and non-vital trimmings that make it worth your money, from Dolby Vision, which makes every viewing experience all the more immersive, to fingerprint and facial recognition sign-in options, which make logging in a smooth and seamless experience.
Yes, it’s got some pretty tough rivals, but the Dell XPS 17 9710 more than holds its own.
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