Dell XPS 17 (9720) Review: Bright Screen Meets Efficiency Cores

Dell XPS 17 (9720) Review: Bright Screen Meets Efficiency Cores

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Dell’s iconic XPS laptop design, with its solid silver shell and carbon fiber keyboard deck, first set the bar for premium consumer clamshell Windows laptops back in 2015. And the line has been at or near the front of its field ever since, often occupying one or more spots on our Best Ultrabooks list. While I still miss the presence of USB-A ports on this latest iteration of the big-screen XPS 17 (model 9720), it’s still one powerful, generally pleasing machine, which Dell has updated to support the latest components from Intel and Nvidia.

Our review configuration packs an Intel Core i7-12700H (with six performance cores and eight efficiency cores), plus Nvidia RTX 3060 graphics, 32GB of RAM and a speedy and roomy 1TB PCIe 4.0 SSD. With those parts, this is an expensive system at $3,049, although the starting price with a Core i5 and integrated graphics is a more palatable $1,849. The 3840 x 2400 touch screen on the configurations we tested adds $300 to the asking price. But it’s a bright, colorful screen that’s great for doing some graphics work on the go or kicking back to binge your favorite shows on your downtime. And the battery life is long enough that you should be able to do a bit of both before having to reach for your charger.

Dell XPS 17 (9720) Specs

CPU Intel Core i7-12700H
Graphics Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 6GB GDDR6, 1,282 MHz Boost Clock, 60W TGP
RAM 32GB DDR5-4800MHz
Display 17-inch, 3840 x 2400, Touchscreen
Networking 802.11ax Killer Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.1
Ports 4x Thunderbolt 4, 1x SD Card Reader, 1x 3.5 mm combo headphone/microphone jac
Camera 720p webcam
Battery 97WHr
Power Adapter 130W
Operating System Windows 10 Home
Size 14.74 x 9.76 x 0.77 inches
Weight 5.34 pounds
Price (as Configured) $3,049

Design of the Dell XPS 17 (9720)

(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)

On the one hand, the XPS 17 looks and feels like a cross between a classic sports car and a tank with its iconic, rigid silver aluminum shell and carbon fiber interior deck. But the visual design is not only the same as the model we looked at last year, but also quite similar to XPS laptops going all the way back to 2015. So as generally good as it looks and feels, the XPS 17 no longer feels fresh or exciting.

(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)

Also, the port selection feels unnecessarily limited in its lack of USB-A ports. The left edge houses a lock slot and two Thunderbolt 4 ports, while on the right lives a headphone jack, a full-size SD card slot, and two more Thunderbolt 4/USB-C ports.  In fact, these are the same ports as the ones on the smaller Dell XPS 15.

(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)

A small dongle is included, which gives you access to a USB-A and HDMI port for the sake of sacrificing one of the Thunderbolt 4 ports. Granted, four speedy and versatile Thunderbolt ports (which also can be used to charge the laptop) is more than you get with most laptops. But with all the unused space on the edges of the laptop, there’s clearly room for a pair of USB-As. At least one would be nice so you don’t have to carry a dongle with you most of the time. I have to think most creatives still have USB-A-based accessories that they’d like to plug directly into their laptop.

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