I first received my Dell XPS17 9700 in late September, and I’ve been impressed with it since day one. It’s such a powerful laptop that it replaced both my XPS15 2-in-1 laptop and my XPS27 all-in-one desktop. Not only is the DellXPS17 9700 a more capable PC than either of those, but I also save time simply because I no longer need to transfer files between two devices.
Before we get started, I will be completely transparent. Dell gave me this laptop as part of our ongoing partnership; however, they did not ask me to write a review. The opinions are my own. I have exclusively used Dell computers for the past five years, and I’ve always been thoroughly impressed by their performance and durability.
If you’re following along, I can attest to the durability. Without any damage, I managed to bounce my first XPS15 off a city street in Bishop, California. While I hope to never put my XPS17 through a similar test, knowing it would likely survive a momentary lapse in grip strength is comforting. You’ll have to ask Jack Fusco about their durability in cold environments. He also reviewed the brand new XPS15 9500 in the autumn, if you’re curious about it vs the XPS17.
Dell XPS17 9700 Specifications
Dell designed this to deliver desktop performance in a laptop. It uses 10th Gen Intel Core processors, NVIDIA graphics cards, 64GB RAM and 2TB SSD. While it’s available in HD (1920×1200), most creatives prefer the UHD (3840×2400) version that displays 100% Adobe RGB.
My complete laptop specifications are:
- Model: Dell XPS17 9700
- Processor: 10th Generation Intel® Core™ i7-10875H (16MB Cache, up to 5.1 GHz, 8cores
- Display: 17” UHD (3840×2400) InfinityEdge Touch Anti-Reflective 500-Nit Display
- Memory: 32GB DDR4-2933MHz, 2x16G
- Storage: 1TB M.2 PCIe NVMe SSD
- Graphics: NVIDIA® GeForce RTX™2060 6GB GDDR6 with Max-Q
- OS: Windows 10 Home 64bit English
Design changes from previous XPS Laptops
I’ve previously owned both the XPS15 and XPS15 2-in-1 laptops. Both were wonderful, but the Dell XPS17 9700 comes with some marked upgrades.
Size: It goes without saying that the Dell XPS17 is larger than its 15-inch counterparts; however, it’s worth quantifying. Personally, I do not mind dealing with the extra size or weight. It’s a small tradeoff for the increased performance and editing experience on a larger display. The exact numbers look like this:
Dell XPS17 dimensions
- 9.76” X 14.74” X 0.77”
- 248.05mm X 374.45mm X 19.5mm
- Weight: 4.65 lbs or 2.11 kg
Dell XPS15 dimensions
- 9.7” X 14.06” X 0.45”
- 235mm x 357mm X 11mm
- Weight: 4 lbs or 1.8KG
Another significant change – and an incredibly welcome update during the Covid-19 era of zoom calls – is Dell finally relocated the webcam to the top of its display. If you’ve used previous XPS models, you’ll be all too familiar with their old design’s spider fingers and nostril angles. This was a change that absolutely had to happen.
The keyboard is new, as well, but it is relatively straightforward. The most significant difference I’ve noticed is that the left-right arrow keys are larger than expected, so it takes some time to adjust to the directional arrows without looking down.
Audio quality has received a boost, too, as the first-ever laptop to feature Waves Nx 3D audio for speakers.
Ports and Slots are, in my opinion, exactly what I expect on a modern laptop:
- 4x Thunderbolt 3 with power delivery and DisplayPort
- Full-size SD Card reader
- 3.5mm headphone/microphone combo
- Wedge-shape lock slot (I don’t know anyone that uses this)
Performance for Creatives
The Dell XPS17 9700 is not meant as a lightweight, travel-friendly laptop. It’s a powerful workhorse designed for creatives to get work done. If I’m going to carry the extra weight, I want to be rewarded with fast performance, whether I am stitching a 1GB panorama or rendering a 4k video.
It’s difficult to quantify the performance; however, here is some anecdotal evidence that illustrates its performance:
- 4K DJI drone footage, which has always been a massive issue on my previous PCs, plays back instantly in Premiere Pro.
- Massive panoramas, featuring 20-30 42.3MP files, are stitched surprisingly quickly and without crashing Photoshop
Beyond its performance, the laptop also has some fantastic features that creators will love. The Dell PremierColor tool is incredible. I took a few minutes to set mine up so that it defaults to Adobe RGB in Photoshop/Lightroom, sRGB in Chrome and Photos, and ImageRec.709 in Premiere Pro. This allows me to edit my content in its ideal colour space and preview how it will look online. This tool cannot be overlooked, as it provides a consistency that creatives should demand.
The 6-cell battery, rated to 97Whrs, comes with a warning that it may deplete at a higher-than-expected rate when connected to A/C power and using applications that place a heavy demand on the graphics adapter. In the 4 months I have owned this, I have never noticed an issue, and I am constantly surprised with its battery life. I probably average nearly 8hrs on a charge; however, that could be extended by adjusting my power mode that favours performance rather than battery life.
At home vs on the Road
As I mentioned earlier, the Dell XPS17 9700 has replaced my desktop and laptop. It is now my go-to solution for photo and video editing both at home and on the road.
When I travel, I do not carry any accessories. I find the trackpad and keyboard more than enough to work comfortably. At home, it’s a wildly different story. I’ve essentially converted the laptop into a desktop to maximize my work efficiency by tethering it with a BENQ 27″ 4k PhotoVue Photographer Monitor (SW271). I also use the Dell Premier Wireless Keyboard and Mouse (KM717) in this configuration.
The result is stunning. With dual 4k monitors, I have more screen space than ever to stay organized and work efficiently. Whenever I do not need dual screens, I can simply close the laptop and work on the external display.
I used a desktop computer in my home office and a laptop while on the road for four years. It worked great; however, I constantly had to shift large Lightroom catalogues back and forth; transfer working files between devices, and make sure I had what I needed on the laptop every time I left home. Now, my Dell XPS17 9700 can handle both roles perfectly.
This computer is not for everyone. Depending on how you travel, you might need to consider a smaller laptop. You might want a more powerful desktop build if you only edit in your studio. But if like myself and many creatives, you work from home one week and on the road the next, this might be the ideal one-computer solution. I know it sped up my entire workflow.