Dell Inspiron 17R review: Dell Inspiron 17R

This $699 configuration is the smartest choice out of the three preconfigured versions available on Dell's Web site, with a current-gen (Ivy Bridge) Intel Core i5 CPU, 6GB of RAM, and a 750GB hard drive. Cut by $100 to $599, and you get a previous-generation (Sandy Bridge) Intel Core i3 CPU and smaller 500GB hard drive. Go the other way, up to $849, and the specs are a current-gen quad-core Core i7 8GB of RAM, and a big 1TB hard drive. For $250 more than that high-end config, the 17R SE we reviewed added an Nvidia GeForce GT 650M graphics card, an additional 32GB SSD, better speakers, and a full 1080p screen.

In our benchmark tests, the included Core i5-3210M CPU performed as expected, with the 17R falling behind faster systems, such as the Core i7 Inspiron 17R SE. Still, for even heavy multitasking and basic multimedia production, this full-voltage Core i5 is more than enough, and exactly the same processor that you'd find in more expensive laptops.

Despite the big screen, the 17R is not going to be your main gaming laptop. With only Intel's HD 4000 graphics, some older games may play fine, especially if you turn the quality settings to low or medium settings. We ran our low-end Street Fighter IV test at the laptop's 1,600x900-pixel native resolution at 22.1 frames per second.

No one expects a desktop-replacement laptop to run for very long on its internal battery, but with this specific model's very mainstream components, asking for 4 hours or so isn't out of the question. The 17R comes very close, clocking in at 3:50 on our video playback battery drain test. That's 1 hour longer than the Core i7 version of the 17R lasted.

Dell's higher-end XPS laptops include extras such as accidental damage protection and LoJack service. The more basic Inspiron plan does include on-site service, which is welcome, but only 90 days of what Dell calls premium phone support, which it claims means shorter wait times. A three-year plan (including the upgraded phone support) is $149.

Much of Dell's 2012 Inspiron line looks sharp and modern, but this is one of the exceptions. It's a thick, bulky throwback, at least in terms of design. But, if you can overlook the lower screen resolution, it's a stay-at-home laptop with decent performance at a budget-friendly price.

Multimedia multitasking test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)

Adobe Photoshop CS5 image-processing test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)

Apple iTunes encoding test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)

Video playback battery drain test (in minutes)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)

Average watts (load test)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)

Find out more about how we test laptops.

System configurations

Dell Inspiron 17R - 5720
Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit) w/ SP1; 2.5GHz Intel Core i5-3210M; 6GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,333MHz; 64MB (Dedicated) Intel HD 4000; 750GB Western Digital 5,400rpm

Dell Inspiron 17R SE - 2051BK (7720)
Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit) w/ SP1; 2.3GHz Intel Core i7-3610QM; 8GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,600MHz; 2GB Nvidia GeForce GT 650M / 64MB (Dedicated) Intel HD 4000; 1TB Western Digital 5,400rpm

Dell Inspiron 15R SE 7520
Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit) w/ SP1; 2.1GHz Intel Core i7-3612QM; 8GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,333MHz; 2GB AMD Radeon HD 7730M / 64MB (Dedicated) Intel HD 4000; 1TB Western Digital 5,400rpm

Dell XPS 15
Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit) w/ SP1; 2.1GHz Intel Core i7-3612QM; 8GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,333MHz; 1GB Nvidia GeForce GT 640M LE / 64MB (Dedicated) Intel HD 4000; 750GB Toshiba 5,400rpm

Dell Inspiron 15R - 5520
Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit) w/ SP1; 2.5GHz Intel Core i5-3210M; 6GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,333MHz; 64MB (Dedicated) Intel HD 4000; 500GB Seagate 5,400rpm

Sony Vaio E15116FXS
Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit) w/ SP1; 2.5GHz Intel Core i5-3210M; 8GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,333MHz; 64MB(Dedicated) Intel HD 4000; 750GB Seagate 5,400rpm

What you'll pay

Pricing is currently unavailable.

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Where to Buy

Dell Inspiron 17R

Part Number: FNCWR26B

MSRP: $699.00

See manufacturer website for availability.

Quick Specifications See All

  • Installed Size 6 GB
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