Attractive design; Solid performance ; Sharp 1600 x 900 display with wide viewing angles; Large, comfortable keyboard
Lackluster graphics; Tinny audio;
The Dell Inspiron 17-3721 offers a large and sharp 17.3-inch display and solid Windows 8 performance at a very affordable price.
Dell knows how make a compelling budget notebook, and the aggressively priced $449 Dell Inspiron 17-3721 continues the trend. Offering an appealing design, a Core i3 processor and a 17.3-inch, 1600 x 900 display, the Inspiron 17 is ideal for everyday computing. If you're looking for a big screen with a small price, look no further.
For a budget notebo
There's not a lot of bling here: The lid is decorated with a simple chrome Dell logo, and the only bit of shine on the interior comes from the glossy black keyboard deck. The black plastic hinges are thick and sturdy. A long, unobtrusive ridge between the hinges houses the 4-cell battery, with the power button just to the left.
Despite its large frame, the 6-pound, 16.2 x 10.6 x 1.12~1.17 inch Inspiron 17 has a fairly thin profile for a notebook with a DVD drive. In fact, it's slimmer than the smaller 5.2-pound, 14.8 x 9.6 x 1.2-inch HP Pavilion g6z-2200. The 5.4-pound Acer Aspire V3-551-8458 is only slightly slimmer, measuring 15 x 9.96 x 0.99~1.3 inches.
As we watched the 1080p trailer for "The Incredible Burt Wonderstone," we noticed some pixelation during the darker scenes. Steve Carell and Steve Buscemi's maroon velvet suits looked a bit dusty, and we had trouble making out the ruffles on Buscemi's tuxedo shirt. However, the notebook's wide viewing angles can easily accommodate three cinema buffs.
In terms of brightness, the Inspiron 17's 236 lux display failed to match the 250 lux average, but it was more than enough to outshine the Aspire V3 (172 lux) and the Pavilion g6z (159 lux).
The Inspiron 17's speakers, which are just below the front lip, delivered loud, but tinny and hollow audio. Kendrick Lemar's "Poetic Justice" sounded harsh and lacked bass. Tweaking audio settings in the Dell Audio control panel (rebranded Waves MaxxAudio 4) helped a bit. MaxxSense sounded the best out of the five settings (Music, Movies, Voice, Gaming and MaxxSense). Despite our best efforts, Kendrick Lemar's wistful love song ultimately fell flat.
Keyboard and Touchpad
The 4.25 x 2.4-inch Synaptics touchpad gave us plenty of real estate. Our fingers glided across the soft-touch panel. Multitouch gestures such as two-finger rotate, three-finger swipe and four-finger press were a breeze to use, as were the Windows 8 gestures.
The pair of discrete mouse buttons are large and delivered strong feedback.
After watching 15 minutes of "Archer" on Netflix, the Inspiron 17's touchpad measured 86 degrees Fahrenheit. The space between the G and H keys and the underside of the notebook reached 83 and 77 degrees, respectively. All are well below what we consider uncomfortable: 95 degrees.
When we ran the PCMark 7 benchmark, the Inspiron 17 scored 2,223, which is almost half the desktop replacement average of 3,917. However, this showing was more than enough to top the Acer Aspire V3-551-8458 (1.9-GHz AMD quad-core A8-4500M processor) and the HP Pavilion g6z-2200 (2.7-GHz AMD dual-core A6-4400M processor), which notched 1,788 and 1,731, respectively.
During the File Transfer test, the Inspiron 17's 500GB 5,400-rpm hard drive duplicated 4.97GB of mixed-media files in 3 minutes and 23 seconds for a 25.1MBps transfer rate. That's on a par with the Aspire V3 (25.8 MBps) but slower than the HP g6 (33.9 MBps).
The Inspiron 17 booted Windows 8 in 25 seconds, 20 seconds faster than the 0:45 category average. It's about the same as the Aspire V3 (24 seconds) and the Pavilion g6z (21 seconds).
On the OpenOffice Spreadsheet Macro Test, the Inspiron 17 matched 20,000 names to their corresponding addresses in 8 minutes and 23 seconds. This time is in between the Aspire V3 (10:09) and Pavilion g6z (7:35).
On the "World of Warcraft" test, the Inspiron 17 delivered 23 fps on Good at 1366 x 768. When we switched to native resolution (1600 x 900) the frame rate dipped slightly to 22 fps. Both frame rates are less than our 30 fps playability threshold and the 201 fps category average. The Aspire V3 and the Pavilion g6z scored 46 and 22 fps at 768p.
Software and Warranty
Third-party apps include Amazon, Skype, eBay, Amazon Kindle and a 30-day free trial of McAfee Security Center.
The Dell Inspiron 17-3721 comes with a one-year In-Home Service after Remote Diagnosis warranty and 90 days of premium phone support. See how Dell fared in our Tech Support Showdown and Best and Worst Brands Report.
Our $449 review unit of the Inspiron 17-3721 features a 1.9-GHz Intel Core i3-3227U CPU with 4GB of RAM, a 500GB 5,400-rpm hard drive and an Intel HD Graphics 4000 GPU. The $399 base model comes with a 1.8-GHz Intel Pentium 2117U CPU, 4GB of RAM, a 500GB 5,400-rpm hard drive and an Intel HD Graphics 4000 GPU.
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|CPU||1.9-GHz Intel Core i3-3227U processor|
|Operating System||Windows 8|
|RAM Upgradable to|
|Hard Drive Size||500GB|
|Hard Drive Speed||5,400rpm|
|Hard Drive Type||SATA Hard Drive|
|Secondary Hard Drive Size|
|Secondary Hard Drive Speed|
|Secondary Hard Drive Type|
|Optical Drive Speed||8X|
|Graphics Card||Intel HD Graphics 4000|
|Wi-Fi Model||Dell Wireless 1704 802.11b/g/n|
|Touchpad Size||4.25 x 2.4 inches|
|Ports (excluding USB)||USB 2.0|
|Ports (excluding USB)||Kensington Lock|
|Ports (excluding USB)||HDMI|
|Ports (excluding USB)||Ethernet|
|Ports (excluding USB)||Combo Headphone/Mic Jack|
|Ports (excluding USB)||USB 3.0|
|Card Slots||6-1 card reader|
|Warranty/Support||90 Days Premium Phone Support + 1 Year In-Home Service after Remote Diagnosis|
|Size||16.2 x 10.6 x 1.12~1.17 inches|