The Bottom Line
Jan 25 2012 - Dell has come to the realization that many consumers don't necessarily need lots of computing power or fancy graphics but would rather have a system with a large screen and long running times. That is the driving design behind the Inspiron 17R as the lower power processor does sacrifice performance but gives it one of the better running times available in a 17-inch laptop. The affordable pricing and stylish design also help it appeal to many buyers. Just don't expect traditional desktop replacement performance here which is what their more expensive Special Edition version is for.
- Above Average Battery Life
- Stylish Design
- Sacrifices Some Computing Power For Battery Life
- Keyboard Is A Bit Soft
- Intel Core i5-3317U Dual Core Mobile Processor
- 6GB PC3-12800 DDR3 Memory
- 750GB 5400rpm SATA Hard Drive
- 8x DVD+/-RW Dual Layer Burner
- 17.3" WSXGA+ (1600x900) Display With 1.0 Megapixel Webcam
- Intel HD Graphics 4000 Integrated Graphics
- Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11b/g/n Wireless, Bluetooth
- Two USB 3.0, Two USB 2.0, HDMI, VGA, 8-in-1 Card Reader
- 16.2" x 10.6" x 1.4" @ 7.2 lbs.
- Windows 8, Office Starter, McAfee Security Center
Review - Dell Inspiron 17R-5721
Jan 25 2012 - Dell's 17-inch Inspiron laptop comes in two different versions, the 17R and 17R Special Edition. Both look very similar but the standard 17R is a more basic general purpose laptop while the special edition is for those looking at higher performance and graphics. On the exterior, they look very similar with an aluminum exterior but the panels don't have the honeycombed texture of the Special Edition model.
Powering the Dell Inspiron 17R 5271 is the Intel Core i5-3317U dual core mobile processor. Now this is a notable processor because it is typically used in many of the new ultrabook systems which this clearly is not. It uses half the energy of a standard laptop Core i5 processor. The downside is that it does have a bit lower overall performance. For the average user, this isn't an issue as most processors provide more than enough performance for their applications. Only those looking to use the laptop for more demanding tasks such as desktop video work will want to look at versions with the higher power laptop processors. The CPU is matched up with 6GB of DDR3 memory which allows for a smooth overall experience in the Windows 8 operating system.
Storage features for the Inspiron 17R are fairly typical of a mid range 17-inch laptop. A 750GB hard drive provides a fair amount of storage for applications, data and media files. The drive spins at the more traditional 5400rpm spin rate of laptops. This means that it is a bit slower to boot or load up applications than those that use the faster spinning 7200rpm drives. If you do need additional space, there are two USB 3.0 ports for use with high speed external storage drives. A dual layer DVD burner handles playback and recording of CD or DVD media.
Since the Inspiron 17R is their more mainstream offering, the 17.3-inch display panel opts for a 1600x900 native resolution. The downside here is that it does not fully support 1080p high definition video but this probably won't bother many buyers. The display itself is fairly average with decent color and brightness and your standard viewing angles from a TN based panel where color and brightness will drop off the further you move off center. In addition, the graphics are handled by the Intel HD Graphics 4000 that are built into the Core i5 processor. This is fine for your basic computing tasks but it lacks 3d performance for gaming still and won't really accelerate many non-3D programs. It does offer accelerated media encoding with Quick Sync compatible applications. This is the one area that buyers wanting either higher resolution or dedicated graphics will want to look at getting the Inspiron 17R Special Edition models.
They keyboard design for the Inspiron 17R doesn't stray far from their past isolated keyboard layouts of the past. It offers a nice sizable key layout with good spacing. The only downside is that hte center of the keyboard was fairly soft which may be a concern for heavy typists that want a solid feel. The touchspad is a nice large size with two distinct buttons rather than integrated ones which is very welcome. It was accurate and didn't have any issues with Windows 8 multitouch gestures.
For the battery, Dell uses a six cell battery pack that has a 65WHr capacity rating. This is a bit higher than many of the other laptops in this class and price range that use roughly 48WHr. In digital video playback testing, this yielded a better than average four and three quarter hours before going into standby mode. Much of this can be attributed to using the lower power Core i5 processor along with the slightly larger battery pack.
With a price of between $700 and $800, the Inspiron 17R is certainly aiming for those looking at a general purpose laptop with a larger screen. There are a few competitors in this price range. The ASUS X75A costs roughly the same and has a higher performance processor but with less memory and storage space. HP's Pavilion dv7 is more affordable but based on the AMD processor for less performance and running time but better integrated graphics. The Lenovo G780 also uses a faster processor and features a low end dedicated graphics but with less memory and storage space.