A few months ago, I reviewed the Dell XPS 15 9500, where I said Dell’s best keeps getting better. I still believe that headline to be true because Dell has made some great improvements to the entire XPS lineup. The improvements aren’t limited to the XPS 13 and XPS 15. Dell has revived and resurrected the mighty Dell XPS 17. Why? Because 17 is greater than 15. The company sent their new Dell XPS 17 9700 to me for review shortly after my XPS 15 review was wrapped up.
Now, I will be honest here. I wasn’t really sure how to do a full review of the Dell XPS 17 9700, considering it’s not that far off from the XPS 15 9500. There are a few more ports, the GPU is a bit more powerful, there is more RAM, and of course, the display is bigger.
This review might be shorter than my XPS 15 review. So much of what I’m going to say here I probably covered in my XPS 15 review, and some of it will be repeated, but with some minor add-ins for the higher specs. Let’s find out why 17 is greater than 15 in our Dell XPS 17 9700 review.
The Dell XPS 17 2020 has the following features and specifications:
What’s In The Box
One of Dell’s marketing bits for the Dell XPS 17 9700 says the XPS 17 has a fresh yet familiar design, and that just about encapsulates it. Both the XPS 15 and XPS 17 feel very familiar, and it is easy to get used to them. Yet, they offer up a sleek, minimal, and clean updated design language.
The first thing that surprised me is the weight. Like the XPS 15, this Dell XPS 17 9700 is pretty heavy. But, with a larger screen, larger battery, and better specifications, it’s only 1lb heavier than the XPS 15. Our example weighed in at 5.53 lbs, and that’s pretty hefty. It’s right on the edge of being too heavy, and some users may not like that. We think the plethora of positives outweigh the minuses here, and most users will be okay with the weight.
Flipping the 2020 Dell XPS 17 9700 on its top reveals the bottom where you will find 8 screws that give you access to the internals. There are also two vent ports on the right and left for airflow. There is a larger slatted vent along the bottom that is also for cooling and airflow. The long rubber strips along the bottom serve as feet to help push the hot air out. The XPS logo is also displayed on the bottom.
Flipping the 2020 Dell XPS 17 9700 back upright, the lid only has the familiar Dell logo on the front. If you look at the laptop’s front lip, you’ll notice an LED light bar that indicates charging. The back hinge of the laptop is also attractive and really well built.
Looking along the laptop’s right side, we find two USB-C/Thunderbolt 3 ports, an SD card slot, and a headphone jack. Looking along the laptop’s left side, you will find 2 more USB-C/Thunderbolt 3 ports and a Kensington lock. The XPS 17 has one more USB-C/Thunderbolt 3 than the XPS 15.
Opening the 2020 Dell XPS 17 9700 up reveals that carbon fiber deck and the display, keyboard, and ample trackpad. The webcam is located at the top and is pinhole-sized. The display’s bezels are nearly invisible, and all of the materials used here are top-notch.
Overall, the 2020 Dell XPS 17 9700 has an amazing, minimal, robust, and clean design. This is basically a bigger XPS 15 in terms of looks and build.
Dell calls the display on the XPS lineup its InfiityEdge display. These are very familiar to us as they’ve been using them for several years now. Still, it never ceases to impress me just how sleek these displays look. The bezels around the entire display are pretty much razor-thin and again, basically a larger XPS 15.
The display on the 2020 XPS 17 9700 is the best 17″ display I’ve seen on a Windows laptop. Our review unit came with the top of the line 4K, 500-nit, touch-enabled version, and it is fantastic. I’m especially a fan of the 500-nit brightness. This allows you to use this laptop outside with very little issues from sunlight. Even working outdoors, this display is clearly visible and does not get washed out.
Colors are vibrant and punchy, while blacks are deep and inky. Whites are clean and crisp, making text pop off the display. While we do have the 4K version on our review unit, I think, if you’re looking to save a bit of cash, you could get the FHD display, and you’d be just fine.
The 4K display is great for photographers and videographers who want those pixels for editing. It’s also awesome to watch 4K movies on. If you do a lot of entertainment consumption on your laptop, then the 4K display might make sense for you too.
Because Dell uses that InfnityEdge technology, it allows them to pack an ample size 17″ display into a smaller chassis. Overall, I love this display.
Windows 10 comes pre-installed on the 2020 Dell XPS 17 9700. There’s not a lot to say about Windows 10, it works well, and Microsoft is doing a decent job of keeping it relevant.
Many laptops come with a huge amount of bloatware, but thankfully, the 2020 Dell XPS 17 9700 isn’t too bad. There are a few pre-installed annoyances, and the main annoyance is McAfee. I know that laptop makers always get in bed with the anti-virus makers on lucrative contracts. But I don’t like it. McAfee’s pop-ups are annoying, and we should be past pre-installing this software by now.
Overall, Windows 10 is excellent; there are a few bloatware pieces but not a ton, and McAfee really needs to go. Same with Norton.
The 2020 Dell XPS 17 9700 does differ from the XPS 15 in terms of performance and specifications. The GPU and RAM are the most significant upgrades in our review unit. The XPS 17 outfitted with the 10th Generation Intel Core i7-10875H processor. There is also 32GB of DDR4 RAM and the NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060 6GB GDDR6 with Max-Q for graphics processing.
The XPS 15 was more than powerful enough to handle the basics and this XPS 17 configuration is even more so. This configuration did better with photo and video rendering due to the better GPU and increased RAM.
The keyboard feels very nice with good travel. I love the chiclet keys, and the backlighting is great to have in low light conditions. The trackpad is also top-notch. I’ve always loved Apple’s trackpads and hated Windows PC trackpads, but PC has caught up, and the trackpad here is on par with Apple’s.
There are various ways to configure your 2020 Dell XPS 17 7500, and I always recommend you get at least 16GB of RAM, at least an i7 processor and if you can afford dedicated graphics, then go for that. While sinking money into a 4K display sounds good, you really want to beef up your processing and RAM before you go nuts on the display.
Overall, our configuration performed amazingly well. It breezed through basic computing tasks and did very well in Affinity Photo and DaVinci Resolve. If I had configured this laptop and had the money, I would have bumped RAM to 64GB. But really, 32GB is more than enough for most users and perfect for content and heavy app users.
The speakers on the 2020 Dell XPS 17 9700 are pretty amazing. The speakers are top-mounted, which was an excellent decision. I think all laptops should have top-mounted speakers because that alone drastically improves the sound.
We were able to enjoy streaming movies and YouTube with pretty decent sound for a laptop. The low-end isn’t spectacular, but there is some there. The mids and highs are pretty great, and the overall sound is more than acceptable for just about everything.
There is also a headphone jack on the 2020 Dell XPS 17 9700 which should make video editors happy. Overall, the sound is above average for a laptop and we love the top-mounted speakers.
The integrated 720p webcam on the 2020 Dell XPS 17 9700 is nothing to write home about. Sadly, most laptop cameras aren’t super great. It does the job for Zoom and Skype calls, but I think all laptop webcams need improving.
I had no issue getting a full day of battery from the 2020 Dell XPS 17 9700. This was while doing basic computing stuff, no video or photo editing. There was some streaming from YouTube and Apple Music on the background. Battery life goes down once you start intensifying the workflow. Adding in video and photo editing will drain your battery much faster. Overall, I’m okay with the battery life here; it competes with other laptops on the market.
The Dell XPS 17 9700 starts at US$1371 and can go way up from there. I think there is a lot of value in Dell’s XPS line of laptops, and this is one you should consider.
I was very impressed with the Dell XPS 15, but this XPS 17 is bigger and better. If you can pony up the extra cash for the XPS 17, then I highly suggest it. The display’s extra space is totally worth it, and the better specifications will help those using heavy apps. The 2020 Dell XPS 17 9700 is the king of the hill in the world of 17″ Windows laptops.
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Dell XPS 17 9700
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