Dell XPS 17/17.3-inch Gaming Laptop

Dell XPS 17/17.3-inch Gaming Laptop
After scrapping the original XPS name years ago for the more affordable Studio XPS line, Dell has just relaunched the XPS brand with three new models. Aptly called the XPS 14, 15, and 17 based on the screen size, these laptops are appealing to gamers largely due to the available options and mid-range price tag. But are these notebooks great for gaming? The Dell XPS 17 offers a unique set of features, including NVIDIA GeForce GT 435M graphics and built-in JBL speakers. Hot off the presses, the Dell XPS 17 offers decent DirectX 11 gameplay, making it a worthy buy.

Pros :

* Available Options
* Speakers
* HD Webcam
* Price

Cons :

* Resolution
* Lack of an Optional High-End Video Card

Description :

* Intel Core i5-460M Processor
* 17.3-inch HD+ (900p) WLED Display
* 4GB 1333MHz Dual Channel DDR3 Memory
* 500GB SATA 7200RPM Hard Drive
* NVIDIA GeForce GT435M 1GB Graphics
* 8x CD/DVD Burner
* One Mini DisplayPort, Two USB 3.0, Two USB 2.0, HDMI 1.4
* 56WHr 6-cell Battery
* 16.3" x 11.3" x 1.3" @ 7.57 Pounds
* Windows Home Premium 64-Bit

Out of the three new XPS laptops, the Dell XPS 17 is the best fit for gamers. With its 17.3-inch widescreen display, there is ample room for gameplay. The standard WLED screen supports 900p resolution for sharp looking games, but it'd be nice if a 1080p option was available. Paired with the included NVIDIA GeForce GT 435m, the Dell XPS 17 is a decent gaming laptop for under $1,000. Of course, seeing as this is a Dell model, it is fully customizable, so you can add more memory or upgrade to a bigger hard drive if need be.

Speaking of memory, the Dell XPS 17 comes equipped with 4GB of 1333MHz DDR3 memory for $949.99. Upgrading to 8GB will run you $180 with a max of 16GB of memory. If you're on a tight budget, 4GB is adequate, but it's worth upgrading to 8GB if you want the notebook to last. The base XPS 17 also arrives with an Intel Core i5-460M processor that runs at 2.53GHz. You can upgrade to the Core i7, but the Intel Core i5-460M does its job for the price.

Graphics on the base Dell XPS 17 are on par with mid-range gaming laptops. The NVIDIA GeForce GT 435M 1GB graphics card is a newer Fermi card that supports DirectX 11. If you have the funds, though, an upgrade to the NVIDIA GeForce GT 445M is recommended. With the upgraded graphics, you'll benefit from 144 CUDA cores and an 1180MHz processor clock. By comparison, the standard GT 435M has 96 CUDA cores and an 1300 MHz processor clock. If you're playing the latest games, the GT 445M will let you game at higher settings. The Dell XPS 17 also features NVIDIA Optimus technology, which optimizes battery life by switching between onboard graphics and the video card depending on usage.

Along with being gamer-friendly, the Dell XPS 17 is designed for multimedia enthusiasts. This means you can game and watch movies with ease. Touted as being 3D TV-ready, the XPS 17 features NVIDIA 3D Play software that allows you to connect the laptop to new 3D HDTVs. This may confuse some as 3D content cannot actually be displayed on the Dell XPS 17. It must be used in conjunction with a 3D HDTV to game and watch movies in 3D glory. It's not a necessary feature, but it is cool if you own a 3D HDTV or plan to purchase one in the future.

The Dell XPS 17 also boasts JBL built-in speakers for updated sound. This enhancement offers loud, crisp sound that is refreshing compared to weak speakers found in many rival notebooks. The XPS 15-inch and 17-inch models even have 12-watt subwoofers. Overall, the audio is superb with rockin' bass that is awesome for gamers.

In the moments you aren't gaming, the Dell XPS 17 also functions as a social tool with an integrated webcam that streams in HD and is Skype-certified (a first in the laptop PC sector). It's a niche feature that is great if you use a webcam often.

Externally, the Dell XPS 17 comes standard with a silver anodized aluminum display back. While the sleek surface is nice, it cannot hold a candle to the aluminum unibody design of a MacBook. However, the Dell XPS 17 makes gaming a whole lot easier than on a Mac. Overall, the XPS 17 is a great setup for both gamers on a budget and multimedia enthusiasts seeking a new platform.