Dell XPS 17 (9700) first impressions: Simply magnificent

Dell Xps 17 9700
Dell Xps 17 9700 (Image credit: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central)

Dell has been doing some remarkably exciting things lately in the laptop space that are hard to ignore. Its XPS revamp, which started in late 2019, has culminated now in the recently reviewed XPS 15 (now in arctic white) and the new 17-inch XPS 17 (9700), with the latter, just arriving on our doorstep.

The XPS 17 (9700) is arguably more interesting than the XPS 15. While the XPS 15 is now like a 14-inch laptop in size, the XPS 17 is closer to what a 15-inch workstation was like in 2019.

While it is undoubtedly bigger, the XPS 17 also has a new vapor chamber thermal solution, a bump to RTX graphics, and it gets a whopping 5.1 GHz 8-core Intel Core i7-10875H processor. Toss in optional 64GB of RAM, a 2TB SSD, and four full (4x) Thunderbolt 3 ports, and you have a very powerful workstation. The 97WHr battery also pushes things to the max, meaning this thing shouldn't die in four hours.

Dell Xps 17 9700

Source: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central)
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CategoryDell XPS 17 (9700)
Operating SystemWindows 10 Home
Windows 10 Pro
Display17-inch 4K UHD+; InfinityEdge touch; HDR400 + Dolby Vision, 500 nits; 94% DCI-P3; anti-reflective
17-inch FHD+; InfinityEdge; Dolby Vision, 500 nits; 100% sRGB minimum; anti-glare
ProcessorUp to 10th Gen Intel Core i9-10885H
GraphicsUp to NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060 (Max-Q Design), 6GB, GDDR6
MemoryUp to 64GB DDR4 2933MHz
Storage256GB PCIe 3 x4 SSD
512GB PCIe 3 x4 SSD
1TB PCIe 3 x4 SSD
2TB PCIe 3 x4 SSD
WebcamHD (720p)
SecurityWindows Hello camera
Windows Hello fingerprint reader
ConnectivityKiller Wi-Fi 6 AX1650 (802.11AX) built on Intel chipset
Bluetooth 5
Ports4x Thunderbolt 3 (power delivery + DisplayPort)
1x Full size SD card reader
1x 3.5mm headphone/microphone jack
1x USB-C to USB-A 3.0 & HDMI 2.0 adapter included
AudioStudio quality tuning w/ Waves MaxxAudio Pro & Waves Nx 3D audio
1.5W x2 tweeters
2.5W x2 woofers
Battery56WHr or 97WHr
DimensionsHeight: 19.5mm (0.77") x Width: 374.45mm (14.74") x Depth: 248.05mm (9.76")
Weight2.11 kg (4.65 lbs) to 2.51 kg (5.53 lbs)
PriceStarting at $1,399 (opens in new tab)

First reactions are essential, and so far, the XPS 17 has piqued my interest more than any laptop coming out this summer. While it is too early to reach any firm conclusions about battery life, performance, and overall reliability, out the gate, it certainly wows.

With a screen-to-body ratio of 93.7 percent – slightly higher than the XPS 15's 92.9 percent – there is just so much display here. (I'm sticking to my guns here that Sharp IGZO is the best display tech in a laptop in 2020.)

Some will lament the obvious: no number pad. While the critique is valid for some, I am personally glad it is not here. Besides never using one, the XPS 17 looks more balanced without it, plus it lets Dell put in those two (relatively) massive top-firing speakers (matched by two more on the bottom).

Regarding the trackpad, Dell is reportedly on top of the manufacturing process to ensure no more wobbly ones slip through. Indeed, the one on our review unit is solid and, besides being massive, is incredible to use.

Compared to the Surface Book 3 (15-inch), a radically different device, the XPS 17 is remarkably similar in size. The two differ mostly because the Surface Book has a taller 3:2 display compared to the 16:10 of the Dell. But they are close.

The good news is there is no shortage of fun 17-inch laptops. The LG Gram 17 is a unique Ultrabook that is great for basic productivity, whereas the Razer Blade Pro 17 (also being reviewed soon) is positioned better for those who need to game with the best performance and a 120Hz 4K screen.

The XPS 17 starts at $1,372, though our review unit is configured at the $2,939 tier with 32GB of RAM, a Core i7 CPU, and a 1TB SSD. A version with the new Core i9-10885H is currently unavailable, but it is expected later this summer.

Anyway, we'll be reviewing the XPS 17 (9700) in the coming weeks, so you can now take a gander at some photos. Let me know what questions you have about it that you want to be answered in the review.

Daniel Rubino

Daniel Rubino is the Editor-in-chief of Windows Central, head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been covering Microsoft since 2007 when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, laptops, next-gen computing, and for some reason, watches. Before all this tech stuff, he worked on a Ph.D. in linguistics, watched people sleep (for medical purposes!), and ran the projectors at movie theaters because it was fun.

  • This looks incredible. I don't think the no number pad thing is a valid critique in a laptop chassis the same size as what traditionally has been 15" laptops. My 16" MBP doesn't have a number pad and no one complains about that. The dell seems beastly and looks sexy!
  • Considering that it's still wide enough for a NumPad i'd say it is indeed a valid critisicm. (Yes it really bothers me)
  • So it's more of a consumer-focused laptop, and not a business oriented one.
    If you need to calculate your taxes or do any home business calculations, then the numpad cannot be beat.
  • I agree, I’ve gone 10 key-less on my desktop keyboard to ensure my posture stays straight and gives me more room for a mouse to the right of the keyboard. I don’t want number pads in any laptop, if it means every other key is bumped over to the left
  • 1. Is the edge the wrist rests on sharp?
    2. Causes the big *ss touch pad unwanted curser movement? Also When will it be avaylable anywhere else than ^^
  • Please review the touchscreen. Many reviewers belittle the touchscreen.
  • It would be perfect if it had a Ryzen CPU
  • Wheres the seperate number pad- Urgh.
  • One thing I don’t understand is that why all the XPS laptops don’t have the numpad. At least this 17 inch XPS should have had it.
  • It's really simple: not everyone uses or benefits from a number pad and there are design ramifications for including one.
  • It's a detriment to more people than it's a benefit to. There are laptops with that feature available so, if you need it, get one of those, rather than expecting everyone else to live with something that is, at best, useless to them and, more likely, a tangible disadvantage.
  • Charging $400 to get the 4k screen is ridiculous. Daniel, does this model suffer from the persistent Dell touchpad issues of random clicks?
  • "Daniel, does this model suffer from the persistent Dell touchpad issues of random clicks?"
    So far, seems fine, but need more time with it.
  • I'm not a clamshell person, let alone a big workstation person, but this thing looks ... pretty awesome.
  • Now that's a cool-looking Windows machine!
  • What a beauty spec wise.
    I *wish* they had at least included a 1080p webcam... In times like these, a 720p is not okay when the price rougly starts at $1,400. Daniel, could your review talk a bit why, even in 2020, laptop webcams are still 720p?
    Normally I would guess costs, but when the laptop starts at roughly $1,400 and there's not even a price tier with a higher resolution webcam? ... By now I'll say it's an industry "lazy" standard, something almost no one does because it has become the norm not to focus on it. Meanwhile most smartphones in 2020 has a 4K camera - or at least half of that.
    Does a higher "res" camera take up more space? There must be a reason, and I would love to know what it is. Thank you in advance :)
  • Phones have hi-res cameras because they are used for taking photos. PC webcams are used primarily for video-conferencing, so the same level of detail is not required. Front-facing cameras on phones were originally quite lo-res for the same reason: they were for video calls. They've only gone more hi-res recently because selfies became so popular and people did want greater detail. No one is using PC web cams for photos and higher resolution means greater bandwidth usage. There are still plenty of stand-alone PC webcams available in 720p but more and more are 1080p, so I'd expect to see more appear in PCs soon too. Probably once someone does it, we'll see a flurry as everyone else tries not to be left behind. For now though, they're probably trying to save every $ they can until there's a genuine demand.
  • There are exceptions, but tbh, until COVID there was a general decline in web camera usage. See Huawei, who cited 70% of its users did not use a webcam on laptops, hence why it put it under the KB. Previously declining usage and the desire for ultra-thin bezels drove the current micro cam solutions. Things have changed drastically since March, but things like the XPS 15/17 redesigns have been in the works since last year. It'll take a gen or two for laptop makers to catch up and "fix" micro cams. Until then, there's simply Surface, which has the best cameras around on any PC.
  • I say goodbye Apple and their MBP