Notebookcheck

Review Dell Inspiron 17R-5721 Notebook

Sebastian Jentsch (translated by Andreas Osthoff), 02/23/2013

Low-voltage gaming machine?. A 17-inch ultrabook? No, a thick 17-inch device with an ultrabook processor and mainstream graphics. Why does Dell not integrate a standard voltage CPU? Does the gaming performance suffer? Our review with an extensive gaming check gives the answers.

Dell Inspiron 17R-5721: Radeon HD 8730M and a ULV Core i5 - dream team?
Dell Inspiron 17R-5721: Radeon HD 8730M and Core i5 - a dream team?

For the original German review, see here.

At first, there were simple 13-inch ultrabooks with integrated graphics. Customers wanted big-screen gaming so the ultrabooks with 14 and 15-inch displays and dedicated graphics appeared. Even a real gaming machine was pressed into thin aluminum (Asus Zenbook UX51VZ with the GT 650M, 20 mm thick). Some manufactures quickly abandoned ultrabook standards in terms of size and weight.

Dell continues this evolution and now equips its 15- and 17-inch mainstream laptops exclusively with low-voltage processors (i3/i5/i7). Does the customer have to fear performance disadvantages? Or is the frugal customer happy with the low energy consumption and long battery runtime? We are going to find out.

The list of the competition in the 17-inch class with prices up to 800 Euros (~$1050) is very big. There are a vast number of available configurations. The graphical options are the GT 650MGT 640M (Kepler architecture), GT 630M and the AMD HD 7670M. We will need to see how the new Radeon HD 8730M compares to the offerings from Nvidia.

Case

The brushed aluminum has a cool and high quality feel
The brushed aluminum has a cool and high quality feel
and cannot be dented anywhere.
and cannot be dented anywhere.

Compared to the 2012 Inspiron 17R-SE-7720 (anodized aluminum) and the 2011 Inspiron 17R (N7110), both with replaceable display covers, the new Inspiron does not have such an exchangeable cover anymore. Now a matte, sparkling blue anodized and brushed aluminum surface covers the display and the palm rest. A good choice by Dell, even if the material has a negative impact on the weight (2.91 kg/6.41 lb.). The cool surfaces are a significant design improvement, avoid fingerprints and enable very good stability. This is seen especially with the large palm rest, which cannot be dented even slightly with substantial pressure.

The cover has limited torsional resistance and can be bent when forced. The hinges are firm but come with plastic covers. Nevertheless the hinges have a very solid connection to the base unit. During opening the heavy cover hits a point at which no further motion is possible.

The base unit is very pressure resistant even from underneath and can only be slightly twisted. All in all, the stability is very good for a heavy 17-inch device in this price range. The selected mixture of materials is of adequate quality. A similar appearance can be found on the HP Envy dv7-7200sg (matte aluminum surfaces, good stability).

The device has a maintenance cover at the bottom. The hard drive (2.5-inch), RAM (two slots occupied, 2x 4 GB) and CMOS-battery are accessible. Unfortunately, the WLAN module remains concealed. The whole bottom panel has to be removed to get to the fan.

Connectivity

The port selection is as expected from a device of this class - four USB ports (2x USB 3.0) are a small benefit. Competitors like the Lenovo G780 and the Vaio SV-E17 also have four USB ports, while the Pavilion g7-2007 and EasyNote LV44HC only have three. No competitor ignores the traditional VGA D-Sub like what Dell has done with the 17R. This is not a problem for latest TFT monitors most of the time as they usually have VGA, HDMI and DVI on board.

The ports are very close to each other on the left side, and there could be complications with thicker USB sticks. These can be avoided with the use of the single USB port on the right side. The ports are too far towards the front of the unit. All the cables block the desk area, which is a hindrance to a clean work area due to bulky HDMI or Ethernet cables.

Front: Card reader
Front: Card reader
Left side: Power, HDMI, GBit-LAN, 2x USB 3.0, USB 2.0, combined microphone/headphone
Left side: Power, HDMI, GBit-LAN, 2x USB 3.0, USB 2.0, combined microphone/headphone
Back: no ports
Back: no ports
Right side: DVD-burner, USB 2.0, Kensington-lock
Right side: DVD-burner, USB 2.0, Kensington-lock

Communication

The RJ45-port is not the usual Gigabit adaptor (1,000 MBit) that is in use in most systems, but the Fast-Ethernet chip (Realtek PCIe FE Family Controller 10/100 MBit). This is not supposed to be in a device in this era of high-speed data transfer. Anyone who ever copied hundreds of GB from one PC to another via WLAN knows that. Perhaps if the user had a Gigabit switch, then the 17R cannot deliver the supported performance.

Dell also uses the cheapest WLAN module available from Intel: the Centrino Wireless-N 2230 which only supports a single band (2.4 GHz). In case of interfering wireless networks, you cannot switch to the 5 GHz band. How is the reception quality? With a distance of three to ten meters (upstairs), the reception is excellent. Outside the house it gets down to two bars (15 m) and at 40 meters, the 17R loses the router signal. That is sufficient for daily use but adaptors like the Centrino Advanced-N 6205 are better: At further distance (40 m) it still has two bars (in the Fujitsu P702). The signal strength of the router (Fritz!Box 7270) is reduced to 50%.

The webcam has a maximum resolution of 1280 x 720 pixels. The exposure of pictures is good but it creates strong image noise and colors were unnaturally cool. Therefore, the webcam should not be used for pictures as the result is even worse with bad illumination indoors.

Webcam: 1.3 MP up to 1,280 x 720
Webcam: 1.3 MP up to 1,280 x 720
Reference EOS 1000D
Reference EOS 1000D
Dell-Support recovery
Dell-Support recovery
My Dell Support Tool
My Dell Support Tool

Accessories

The Dell notebook comes with a 90 watts power supply unit, the battery that is inserted at the bottom and a quick start guide. The new user should not miss anything as a Windows 8 recovery DVD is present in the box.

The laptop is light on preinstalled software. My Dell Support Center (clarify problems, contacting support, driver updates, FAQ, manual), Dell Backup & Recovery (burn an image) and Dell Digital Delivery (update of the system software via service tag) are the only OEM software. There is also manual for Windows 8 with useful tips.

Warranty

The standard warranty period (pickup & return) is 12 months. For longer coverage, you have to purchase a warranty extension. One year on-site service is an additional 75 Euros (~$100), two years 115 Euros (~$150) and three years 150 Euros (~$200). Dell also offers accident coverage for 40-80 Euros (~$50 to $110).

Input Devices

Keyboard

The matte black chiclet keyboard convinces with precise and clear pressure point in combination with medium key travel. The stability is very good and the area does not yield even under high pressure. Fast and accurate typing is a bit difficult due to the lack of a finger-friendly design (available in Lenovo laptops) but the large key spacing and the wide layout can compensate for that. The separate arrow keys and the numeric keypad with a standard layout (+/-/Return on the right side) are very convenient. However, all 17-inch rivals have a numerical keypad.

The noise development during typing is muffled and adds to the impression of the laptop being a high quality device. It is a good keyboard for daily use, but serious typists will desire more key travel as well as curvature better design on the keys (see Latitude).

Touchpad

With a diagonal of 11.3 centimeters, the touchpad is quite large and allows navigating the mouse over the entire screen without repositioning your finger. They slide over the matte surface with small resistance. The Dell input device is very precise and delivers distinct feedback for every movement. Dell offers a very comfortable setup for the multi-touch pad. Cursor movements, sensitivity and browse/scroll can be adjusted separately. Although, almost all trackpads offer these adjustments, the ease of use and explanation of features in this case are excellent.

But the touchpad does fall short on some points. The mouse buttons have very small travel, which leads to fast triggering of the click. The feedback is too weak for our taste.

Keyboard
Keyboard
Touchpad
Touchpad
Numerical keypad
Numerical keypad

Display

One of our biggest criticisms for multimedia laptops is usually the display. Pale colors, inappropriate resolutions and small viewing angles spoil gaming and productivity. The 17R is no exception, although the contrast ratio of 354:1 is better than some competitors. The Pavilion g7-2007sg (166:1), IdeaPad G780 (141:1) and the Vaio SV-E17 (268:1) show that the screen could have been even worse. The Packard Bell LV44HC (656:1) and the Aspire V3-571G-53214G50Maii (1.016:1, FHD IPS) are better equipped (but similarly priced!).

The resolution of 1600 x 900 pixels is typical for a 17.3-inch screen and results in a very modest pixel density of 106 dpi. The TN panel is glossy, but the brightness is sufficient at 234 cd/m². All the competitors have the same glossy HD+ resolution. The Aspire with its matte Full HD display (IPS, 1920 x 1080) is still the exception in this price range. 

214
cd/m²
222
cd/m²
259
cd/m²
226
cd/m²
244
cd/m²
268
cd/m²
201
cd/m²
219
cd/m²
253
cd/m²
Distribution of brightness
Information
X-Rite i1Pro 2
Maximum: 268 cd/m²
Average: 234 cd/m²
Brightness Distribution: 75 %
Center on Battery: 244 cd/m²
Black: 0.69 cd/m²
Contrast: 354:1

Color spaces and TFT calibration are important for professional picture editing and printing. This is not the target group for the 17R, but for the sake of completeness, we show the measurement results. The small sRGB color space is by no means covered, the same applying to the AdobeRGB. We compare the coverage with the IPS display of the Aspire V3 (only on some models) and see that the color space is not to be equated with contrast or viewing angles. The Aspire does not cover the sRGB as well with the color spaces of the 17R and V3 IPS panel being almost identical.

Inspiron 17R-5721 vs. AdobeRGB (t)
Inspiron 17R-5721 vs. AdobeRGB (t)
Inspiron 17R-5721 vs. sRGB (t)
Inspiron 17R-5721 vs. sRGB (t)
Inspiron 17R-5721 vs. Aspire V3-571G FHD IPS (t)
Inspiron 17R-5721 vs. Aspire V3-571G FHD IPS (t)

The following three screenshots show the color analysis with the i1 Pro 2 photo spectrometer and CalMAN 5 software. Without calibration we measure a distinct weakness with the grayscale presentation. The DeltaE (2000) of almost 15 (average) indicates a suboptimal presentation. Distortions for the inexperienced eye become visible with a value of 3 and more. At 7700 K, the white point is clearly shifted into the blue area (blue cast, too cool, ideal: 5500K). The color accuracy shows that blue, cyan and magenta deviate the most. The yellow line (picture 2) should be met with the 17R being almost three times above that.

Grayscale
Grayscale
Color management
Color management
Saturation
Saturation

Outdoors, the usage of the 17R is very limited. Thanks to the moderate heat development under load, the 17-inch device can be used as warming cushion or hand warmer on cold winter days but the reflections from the screen and the cold fingers are not very pleasant after a while. Our pictures were taken on a cloudy day; sunlight would make the dark screen even worse. To minimize the effect. the brightness should be at least 350 cd/m².

View from the side, max. luminance (cloudy)
View from the side, max. luminance (cloudy)
View from the side, daylight from the side (cloudy)
View from the side, daylight from the side (cloudy)
Frontal view, max. luminance (cloudy)
Frontal view, max. luminance (cloudy)

When it comes to viewing angles, the 17R shows the typical limitations of a TN panel. Viewing angles indicate whether colors or characters are clearly visible on the screen in the view from the side. The angles of the 17-inch panel are not very wide. If the screen deviates vertically, colors become pale even with small angles (around 10 degrees). To the left and right (horizontally) we could deviate up to 50 degrees from the center before colors started to invert and the TFT becomes noticeably darker.

Viewing angles of the Dell Inspiron 17R-5721
Viewing angles Dell Inspiron 17R-5721

Performance

The Inspiron 17R-5721 is equipped with a Core i5-3317U (1.7 GHz). This 17 watts processor (TDP, ultra-low voltage) is the only choice for the configuration with the dedicated Radeon HD 8730M and HD Graphics 4000 (switching via AMD Enduro). Two other versions without Radeon can be ordered with a Core i3 and i5 (only HD 4000) for a lower price.

8192 MB memory (dual channel, 2x 4GB) and a 750 GB HDD complement our package. The choice of a processor, which is currently used in many ultrabooks (MacBook Air 11-inch 2012-06), small subnotebooks (Aspire V5-171, 11.6inch) and thin 14-inch and 15-inch devices (IdeaPad U510) is very interesting, since we have a thick 17-inch device in front of us that should have no problems with the cooling of a 35 watts chip with integrated graphics (standard voltage).

Furthermore, we investigate if the selected CPU brings advantages for ergonomics, power consumption and of course, the battery runtime. The 17R is, so far, the only 17-inch notebook with an i5-3317U (and an i3 alternative) on the market. Until now, you have had to choose a device with the AMD E2-1800 (or the older E-450) if you wanted a low voltage 17-inch notebook. However these processors had scary low performance. 

Systeminfo CPUZ CPU
Systeminfo CPUZ Cache
Systeminfo CPUZ Mainboard
Systeminfo CPUZ RAM
Systeminfo CPUZ RAM SPD
Systeminfo GPUZ Radeon HD 8730M
Systeminfo GPUZ Intel HD 4000
DPC Latenzen Idle OK
DPC Latenzen WLAN off/on Verzögerung
 
System information Dell Inspiron 17R-5721

Processor

CPU-load: Prime95 Solo @2,4 GHz
CPU-load: Prime95 Solo @2,4 GHz

How does the chosen Core i5 stand against the i7-3610QM, the Pentium B980,  the i5-3210M and the  i7-3612QM that are used in the competition? In terms of price, the i5-3210M fits perfectly for our 17R (e.g. Packard Bell EasyNote LV44HC, starting at 575 Euros).

The Cinebench R11.5 CPU Multi benchmark (2.38 points) delivers equal results to numerous other 3317Us in our reviews. We couldn’t detect any difference in the Turbo for the different tests (2.4 GHz for multi core, 2.4 GHz for single core). We expected Turbo boost to allow the processor cores to reach the designed 2.6 GHz frequency.

Nevertheless, the cooling solution in the 17-inch body is a bonus. Many ultrabooks want to offer Core i5 or even Core i7 processors but overextend on the design with their cooling solutions. The result: The Turbo is not in use (e.g. HP Folio 13-2000) or the clock is reduced below the design clock. This does not happen with the 17R, which is indicated by the stress test (see ergonomics).

But back to the comparison with standard voltage processors. As expected, the quad cores are far ahead of the 3317U in the Multi benchmark. However, the i7-3610QM (+163 %) and the i7-3612QM (+160 %) cannot be found in the base configurations of the Pavilion g7, Asus K75VJ, Aspire V3-771G and the Inspiron 17R SE. In these cases, we get a i5-3210M (+21 %), like in the EasyNote LV44HC. The G780 performance is below average with the same CPU due to some throttling issues. Only the Pentium B980 (Vaio SV-E17, -21 %) is beaten by our low voltage model.

The differences are not that big in the Cinebench R11.5 Single benchmark (1.07 points). Here, our 17R is behind the i5-3210M (Medion Akoya +7 %; G780 throttling). The quad cores are ahead by 17-27 %. During use on the battery, the user does not lose any performance. The R11.5 Multi benchmark result is identical.

Cinebench R11.5
CPU Multi 64Bit (sort by value)
Dell Inspiron 17R-5721
2.35 Points ∼13%
Sony Vaio SV-E1712F1EW
1.85 Points ∼11% -21%
Lenovo IdeaPad G780 (M843MGE)
2.42 Points ∼14% +3%
Packard Bell EasyNote LV44HC-137GE
2.85 Points ∼16% +21%
Medion Akoya Sample
2.77 Points ∼16% +18%
HP Pavilion g7-2007sg
5.66 Points ∼32% +141%
Dell Inspiron 17R-SE-7720
6.16 Points ∼35% +162%
Asus K75VJ-TY102H
6.18 Points ∼35% +163%
Acer Aspire V3-771G
6.19 Points ∼35% +163%
CPU Single 64Bit (sort by value)
Dell Inspiron 17R-5721
1.07 Points ∼54%
Sony Vaio SV-E1712F1EW
0.92 Points ∼46% -14%
Lenovo IdeaPad G780 (M843MGE)
0.97 Points ∼49% -9%
Lenovo IdeaPad G780 (M843MGE)
0.97 Points ∼49% -9%
Medion Akoya Sample
1.15 Points ∼58% +7%
HP Pavilion g7-2007sg
1.29 Points ∼65% +21%
Asus K75VJ-TY102H
1.36 Points ∼68% +27%

Legend

 
Dell Inspiron 17R-5721 Intel Core i5-3317U, AMD Radeon HD 8730M, WDC Scorpio Blue WD10JPVT-75A1Yt0
 
Sony Vaio SV-E1712F1EW Intel Pentium B980, AMD Radeon HD 7650M, Hitachi Travelstar Z5K500 HTS545050A7E380
 
Lenovo IdeaPad G780 (M843MGE) Intel Core i5-3210M, NVIDIA GeForce GT 630M, Seagate Momentus ST750LM022 HN-M750MB
 
Packard Bell EasyNote LV44HC-137GE Intel Core i5-3210M, NVIDIA GeForce GT 630M, WDC Scorpio Blue WD5000BPVT-22HXZT3
 
Medion Akoya Sample Intel Core i5-3210M, NVIDIA GeForce GT 730M, Hitachi Travelstar 7K750 HTS727575A9E
 
HP Pavilion g7-2007sg Intel Core i7-3612QM, AMD Radeon HD 7670M, Toshiba MK7575GSX
 
Dell Inspiron 17R-SE-7720 Intel Core i7-3610QM, NVIDIA GeForce GT 650M, WDC Scorpio Blue WD10JPVT-75A1Yt0
 
Asus K75VJ-TY102H Intel Core i7-3610QM, NVIDIA GeForce GT 635M, Seagate Momentus SpinPoint ST500LM012
 
Acer Aspire V3-771G Intel Core i7-3610QM, NVIDIA GeForce GT 650M, Intel SSD 320 Series SSDSA2CW120G3
Cinebench R10 Rendering Single CPUs 64Bit
3923 Points
Cinebench R10 Rendering Multiple CPUs 64Bit
9038 Points
Cinebench R10 Shading 64Bit
5702 Points
Cinebench R11.5 CPU Single 64Bit
1.07 Points
Cinebench R11.5 CPU Multi 64Bit
2.35 Points
Cinebench R11.5 OpenGL 64Bit
31.8 fps
Help

System Performance

PCMark 7 scores
PCMark 7 scores

PCMark 7 evaluates the system performance of a Windows PC. The result of 2349 points is only superior to the G780 with throttling issues and the slow Pentium based Vaio SV-E17. But even quad core systems get 17 % more points at most. In the case of the Pavilion g7-2007eg, the higher overall score is due to the Radeon HD 7670M. The more powerful GeForce GT 650M (Inspiron 17R SE) cannot enhance the System-Score significantly which is interesting. The HDD is the bottleneck for this benchmark. Only an SSD would improve the overall score significantly for our 17R and the competition.

5.9
Windows 8 Experience Index
Processor
Calculations per second
6.9
Memory (RAM)
Memory operations per second
7.4
Graphics
Desktop performance for Windows Aero
6.6
Gaming graphics
3D business and gaming graphics
6.6
Primary hard disk
Disk data transfer rate
5.9
PC Mark
PCMark 72349 points
Help
PCMark 7 - Score (sort by value)
Dell Inspiron 17R-5721
2349 Points ∼35%
Lenovo IdeaPad G780 (M843MGE)
1933 Points ∼29% -18%
Sony Vaio SV-E1712F1EW
1949 Points ∼29% -17%
Packard Bell EasyNote LV44HC-137GE
2375 Points ∼36% +1%
Dell Inspiron 17R-SE-7720
2538 Points ∼38% +8%
Asus K75VJ-TY102H
2601 Points ∼39% +11%
HP Pavilion g7-2007sg
2760 Points ∼42% +17%
Acer Aspire V3-771G
4160 Points ∼63% +77%

Storage Devices

The Western Digital Scorpio Blue (WD10JPVT-75A1Yt0) offers 1000 GB for storage, and for more storage, users will have to explore the option of an mSATA SSD or find a system with two HDD bays. The 2.5-inch hard drive (9.5 mm height) only works at 5400 rpm. Apparently, it offers high performance, 92 to 104 MB/Sec for sequential reads. Read performance of smaller files is much lower (4K: 0.452 MB/Sec). The access time of 16.6 ms is okay for this type of HDD. Because of this, the PCMark 7 HDD-Score (1558 points) is slightly above average (for a 5400 rpm drive). Fast 7200 rpm drives are up to 20% faster (e.g. Asus A95VM-YZ030V).

WDC Scorpio Blue WD10JPVT-75A1Yt0
WDC Scorpio Blue WD10JPVT-75A1Yt0
Crystal Disk Mark: 104 MB/sec reading
Crystal Disk Mark: 104 MB/sec reading
HD Tune: 92 MB/sec reading
HD Tune: 92 MB/sec reading
WDC Scorpio Blue WD10JPVT-75A1Yt0
Transfer Rate Minimum: 50.2 MB/s
Transfer Rate Maximum: 121.6 MB/s
Transfer Rate Average: 91.7 MB/s
Access Time: 16.6 ms
Burst Rate: 105.9 MB/s
CPU Usage: 2.7 %

Graphics

The Radeon HD 8730 (1024 MB, DDR3) is an AMD mainstream graphics card. The GPU can be disabled via AMD Enduro technology in favor of the integrated HD Graphics 4000. All new GPUs still support DirectX 11.1. The chip is produced using the 28 nm process, unlike the 40 nm based HD 7670M. The smaller production process gives efficiency advantages (more performance per MHz). Information on additional energy saving features like Power Gating and ZeroCore can be found in the Data-sheet of the HD 8730M.

In our opinion the performance is mixed. In the Open GL Test, it is on the level of the Radeon HD 7670M (+ 3%). A GT 630M is 50 % behind, yet the new GT 730M (+ 14 %) cannot be beaten. 3DMark 06 and 11 show a similar picture considering the GT 730M (+ 26 and 22 % respectively) and GT 640M (+ 49 and 28 % respectively).

Note: 3DMark 06 gets a big boost from the CPU of the Acer Aspire V3-571G-73614G50Makk compared to our Inspiron 17R’s low voltage core.

Without high CPU load, the HD 7670M falls back in 3DMark 11 (-20 %) and 3DMark 06 (- 20 %) (Sony Vaio SV-E1712F1EW, Pentium). The common GT 630M (-29 %) and GT 635M (-27 %) loose despite the faster processor (Asus K75VJ-TY102H, quad core; IdeaPad G780, standard i5).

3D Mark
3DMark 06
 1280x1024
8636 points
3DMark Vantage6292 points
3DMark 111510 points
Help
3DMark 11 - 1280x720 Performance (sort by value)
Dell Inspiron 17R-5721
1510 Points ∼11%
Sony Vaio SV-E1712F1EW
1061 Points ∼7% -30%
Asus K75VJ-TY102H
1100 Points ∼8% -27%
HP Pavilion g7-2007sg
1205 Points ∼8% -20%
Lenovo IdeaPad G780 (M843MGE)
1074 Points ∼8% -29%
Medion Akoya Sample
1846 Points ∼13% +22%
Acer Aspire V3-571G-73614G50Makk
1926 Points ∼13% +28%
Dell Inspiron 17R-SE-7720
2312 Points ∼16% +53%
3DMark 06 - 1280x1024 Standard AA:0x AF:0x (sort by value)
Dell Inspiron 17R-5721
8636 Points ∼23%
Sony Vaio SV-E1712F1EW
6938 Points ∼18% -20%
Asus K75VJ-TY102H
8463 Points ∼22% -2%
HP Pavilion g7-2007sg
8203 Points ∼21% -5%
Packard Bell EasyNote LV44HC-137GE
9832 Points ∼26% +14%
Medion Akoya Sample
10851 Points ∼28% +26%
Acer Aspire V3-571G-73614G50Makk
12843 Points ∼34% +49%
Dell Inspiron 17R-SE-7720
14418 Points ∼38% +67%
Cinebench R11.5 - OpenGL 64Bit (sort by value)
Dell Inspiron 17R-5721
31.8 fps ∼26%
Sony Vaio SV-E1712F1EW
32.68 fps ∼27% +3%
Asus K75VJ-TY102H
25.14 fps ∼21% -21%
HP Pavilion g7-2007sg
34.29 fps ∼28% +8%
Packard Bell EasyNote LV44HC-137GE
17.04 fps ∼14% -46%
Lenovo IdeaPad G780 (M843MGE)
25.22 fps ∼21% -21%
Medion Akoya Sample
36.26 fps ∼30% +14%
Acer Aspire V3-571G-73614G50Makk
38.86 fps ∼32% +22%
Dell Inspiron 17R-SE-7720
42.5 fps ∼35% +34%

Legend

 
Dell Inspiron 17R-5721 Intel Core i5-3317U, AMD Radeon HD 8730M, WDC Scorpio Blue WD10JPVT-75A1Yt0
 
Sony Vaio SV-E1712F1EW Intel Pentium B980, AMD Radeon HD 7650M, Hitachi Travelstar Z5K500 HTS545050A7E380
 
Asus K75VJ-TY102H Intel Core i7-3610QM, NVIDIA GeForce GT 635M, Seagate Momentus SpinPoint ST500LM012
 
HP Pavilion g7-2007sg Intel Core i7-3612QM, AMD Radeon HD 7670M, Toshiba MK7575GSX
 
Packard Bell EasyNote LV44HC-137GE Intel Core i5-3210M, NVIDIA GeForce GT 630M, WDC Scorpio Blue WD5000BPVT-22HXZT3
 
Lenovo IdeaPad G780 (M843MGE) Intel Core i5-3210M, NVIDIA GeForce GT 630M, Seagate Momentus ST750LM022 HN-M750MB
 
Medion Akoya Sample Intel Core i5-3210M, NVIDIA GeForce GT 730M, Hitachi Travelstar 7K750 HTS727575A9E
 
Acer Aspire V3-571G-73614G50Makk Intel Core i7-3610QM, NVIDIA GeForce GT 640M, Toshiba MK5059GSXP
 
Dell Inspiron 17R-SE-7720 Intel Core i7-3610QM, NVIDIA GeForce GT 650M, WDC Scorpio Blue WD10JPVT-75A1Yt0

Gaming Performance

The gaming performance of the Radeon HD 8730M shows what 3DMark 11 already indicated: The popular HD 7670M gets 20-30 % less frames. A GT 635M can be saved by a strong quad core depending on the game (Hitman), but is otherwise slower (Mass Effect). The GT 730M is always ahead, at least around 20 %. Again, Hitman benefits from the standard Core i5 (+179 %).

Gaming is usually not possible in the native HD+ resolution (1,600 x 900). We resort to minimizing the resolution to 1366 x 768 setting to get smooth game play. One demanding game was not playable at all: Hitman: Absolution (repeatedly tested, dGPU active). The nearly identical Inspiron 15R had a similar problem with Assassin's Creed II (18 fps average). Higher settings are not possible with the Radeon HD 8730M.

low med.high ultra
Crysis - GPU Benchmark (2007) 3531fps
Crysis - CPU Benchmark (2007) 3127fps
Battlefield: Bad Company 2 (2010) 715842fps
Metro 2033 (2010) 724122fps
StarCraft 2 (2010) 942720fps
Mafia 2 (2010) 644738fps
Total War: Shogun 2 (2011) 12533fps
Deus Ex Human Revolution (2011) 10147fps
Battlefield 3 (2011) 383227fps
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (2011) 584430fps
Anno 2070 (2011) 794629fps
Mass Effect 3 (2012) 5744fps
Risen 2: Dark Waters (2012) 483822fps
Diablo III (2012) 785651fps
Max Payne 3 (2012) 3735fps
Sleeping Dogs (2012) 492822fps
F1 2012 (2012) 322925fps
Fifa 13 (2012) 225154128fps
Medal of Honor: Warfighter (2012) 543326fps
Hitman: Absolution (2012) 151412fps

Emissions

Air vent
Air outlet

Noise Level

The noise levels of the 17-inch notebook are very good. It is always audible because the fan never stops spinning. The noise is very low during idle at 32 db (A). In this scenario, the fan speed is more or less constant and therefore very convenient for office use. The hard drive can be a bit disturbing with the clatter of the read/write heads, we measured 33.4 db (A) during high activity.

When we demand the highest performance of the 17R, the noise rises up to 42.1 db (A) (stress test CPU+GPU). When we just play a game or run 3DMark 2006, we measured a moderate 36.4 db (A). In these cases the speed of the fan is also constant and there is no annoying pulsating.  

Noise Level

Idle 32 / 32.4 / 32.4 dB(A)
HDD 33.4 dB(A)
DVD 35.1 / dB(A)
Load 36.4 / 42.1 dB(A)
 
    30 dB
silent
40 dB
audible
50 dB
loud
 
min: , med: , max:    Voltcraft sl-320 (15 cm distance)

Temperature

Stress test CPU+GPU @2.4 GHz: no throttling, full multi-core Turbo
Stress test CPU+GPU @2.4 GHz: no throttling, full multi-core-Turbo

The cooling solution performance is pretty good on this system. Only with extremely high and continuous load on the CPU and GPU (stress test) does the bottom heat up to 48 degrees in some places. The average temperatures on the top and bottom are 36 and 34 degrees centigrade respectively. During idle, the surfaces are just lukewarm (up to 35 degrees centigrade).

Throttling was not an issue with our 17R. The 3DMark result after the stress test was identical to the value measured after a cold start. The clock in the stress scenario was always above the nominal clock of 1.7 GHz at a steady 2.4 GHz. Even with the highest CPU+GPU load, the CPU can use the Turbo feature without any restrictions. Most of the thin notebooks with the same or similar low voltage CPUs tend to throttle down at this point. Unpleasant examples of ultrabooks with throttling issues or deactivated Turbo are:   

The list would be even longer if we included other low voltage processors. The last generation 17R with a standard voltage CPU also had problems. Thin laptop profiles are normally to the detriment of the cooling system leading to throttling to keep temperatures down. It is still difficult to establish a reason for using an ULV processor in the new Dell 17R with its thick construction compared to the other ultrabooks and mainstream laptops on the market.

Max. Load
 39.6 °C43.4 °C27.8 °C 
 41.1 °C42.8 °C28.6 °C 
 33.5 °C39 °C28.1 °C 
Maximum: 43.4 °C
Average: 36 °C
25.1 °C34 °C40.7 °C
29.1 °C38.5 °C47.6 °C
29.8 °C32.8 °C31.1 °C
Maximum: 47.6 °C
Average: 34.3 °C
Power Supply (max.)  50.2 °C | Room Temperature 21.7 °C | Voltcraft IR-360

Speakers

The 17-inch notebook is equipped with stereo speakers, which are located at the front beneath the palm rest. The volume is sufficiently high but the sound is tinny at best. The lack of a subwoofer results in almost no deep tones or bass. Music playback is uniform without differentiation of trebles, middle and deep tones. This performance is disappointing, especially for a 17-inch notebook with enough space for a subwoofer on the bottom. We could not find the "Dell-Audio" software (15R) by MaxxAudio (preconfigured profiles) on the 17R. We suggest using external speakers to enjoy music or games.

Energy Management

Battery: 65Wh Lithium Ion
Battery: 65-Wh-Lithium-Ion

Power Consumption

Is the 17R as frugal as an ultrabook? Due to the lack of a 17-inch notebook with a 3317U, we compare it to the Acer Aspire V5-571G (HD 4000 + GT 620M). The Acer uses 7 to 10 watts (minimum to maximum settings) during idle. The smaller screen and the 50 cd/m² higher luminance distort the comparison, nevertheless our 17R consumes disproportionately more energy from the socket: We measure 13 to 18 watts (idle) without charging the battery. 

During 3DMark 2006 the consumption rises to 42 watts, with the HD 8730M active instead of the HD 4000 (Enduro switching). The stress test consumes even more power with a measurement of 52 watts. Compared to the competition these values are low. The following table shows other 17-inch devices with similar or identical 3DMark 2006 scores needing up to 60% more power.

Dell Inspiron 17R-5721
Intel Core i5-3317U, AMD Radeon HD 8730M, WDC Scorpio Blue WD10JPVT-75A1Yt0
Acer Aspire V5-571G-53314G50Makk
Intel Core i5-3317U, NVIDIA GeForce GT 620M, Hitachi Travelstar Z5K500 HTS545050A7E380
HP Pavilion g7-2007sg
Intel Core i7-3612QM, AMD Radeon HD 7670M, Toshiba MK7575GSX
Packard Bell EasyNote LV44HC-137GE
Intel Core i5-3210M, NVIDIA GeForce GT 630M, WDC Scorpio Blue WD5000BPVT-22HXZT3
Asus K75VJ-TY102H
Intel Core i7-3610QM, NVIDIA GeForce GT 635M, Seagate Momentus SpinPoint ST500LM012
3DMark 06
1280x1024 Standard AA:0x AF:0x86367466
-14%
8203
-5%
9832
14%
8463
-2%
Power Consumption
29%
3%
-3%
-10%
Idle Minimum *13.16.6
50%
10.4
21%
7.6
42%
7.9
40%
Idle Average *189.1
49%
12.3
32%
11.7
35%
13.2
27%
Idle Maximum *18.210.2
44%
12.3
32%
14.2
22%
13.3
27%
Load Average *41.642.1
-1%
44
-6%
66
-59%
65.1
-56%
Load Maximum *52.249.5
5%
86.6
-66%
81.8
-57%
98.1
-88%
Total Average (Program / Settings)
8% / 22%
-1% / 1%
6% / -1%
-6% / -9%

* ... smaller is better

Power Consumption

Off / Standby 0.1 / 0.6 Watt
Idle 13.1 / 18 / 18.2 Watt
Load 41.6 / 52.2 Watt
 
Key: min: , med: , max:         Voltcraft VC 960

Battery Runtime

Load Classic: 135 min.
Load Classic: 135 min.
DVD-movie: 177 min. (max. brightness)
DVD-movie: 177 min. (max. luminance)

Due to the high idle consumption, the battery runtimes are not much better than the competition. Only the WLAN test with a runtime of 4:01 hours is above average.

During idle, the review unit manages 5:16 hours, and even standard voltage systems with lower battery capacities reach this runtime. In contrast, the 17R comes with a 65 Wh battery.

Battery Runtime
Idle (without WLAN, min brightness)
5h 16min
WiFi Surfing
4h 01min
DVD
2h 57min
Load (maximum brightness)
2h 15min

Verdict

The 17-inch mainstream notebook, the Dell Inspiron 17R-5721 is targeting price sensitive customers who want a fully equipped notebook with gaming capabilities. The Intel Core i5-3317U (1.7 GHz) feels to be too little power at first. Based on the measurements, the performance of the low voltage system is not above ultrabooks with the same processor. Yet the 17-inch chassis with its large cooling solution offers sufficient reserves for the full CPU-Turbo feature, even with combined GPU load. This is not the case for most ultrabooks with low voltage CPUs.

The ergonomics also benefit from the large chassis. The fan does not immediately speed up with spontaneous load, and it is able to keep the fan quiet until temperatures really rise to unbearable limits. The result is a quiet system that can be used in an office environment without disturbing the neighbor.

People who like to be green will be pleased with the low consumption under load, thanks to the 18 watts TDP that is lower than the standard voltage competition (35 W). However, the AMD Radeon HD 8730M does not offer the highest frame rates in games. Gamers will have to reduce the resolution to 1366 x 768 pixels and use medium quality settings. In some cases the 3317U can be a bottleneck for games too.

Comment this article:

In Review: Dell Inspiron 17R-5721
In Review: Dell Inspiron 17R-5721

Specifications

Dell Inspiron 17R-5721

:: Processor
:: Memory
8192 MB, Dual Channel
:: Graphics adapter
AMD Radeon HD 8730M - 1024 MB, DDR3, 9.0.12.0, Enduro, Intel HD Graphics 4000
:: Display
17.3 inch 16:9, 1600x900 pixel, JXWY4 173WD1, TN LED, glossy: yes
:: Harddisk
WDC Scorpio Blue WD10JPVT-75A1Yt0, 1024 GB 5400 rpm
:: Soundcard
HD Audio
:: Connections
2 USB 2.0, 2 USB 3.0, 1 HDMI, 1 Kensington Lock, Audio Connections: Microphone/headphone combines 3.5 mm stereo, Card Reader: SD, MMC, MS, MSPro,
:: Networking
Realtek PCIe FE Family Controller 10/100 (10MBit), Intel Centrino Wireless-N 2230 (b g n ), 4.0 Bluetooth
:: Optical drive
HL-DT-ST DVD +/-RW GSA-T11N
:: Size
height x width x depth (in mm): 27 x 412 x 283
:: Weight
2.911 kg Power Supply: 0.46 kg
:: Battery
65 Wh Lithium-Ion, Dell MR90Y 11.1V
:: Price
529 Euro
:: Operating System
Microsoft Windows 8 64 Bit
:: Additional features
Webcam: 1,3 MP bis 1280 x 720, Speakers: Stereo, Keyboard: Chiclet, Keyboard Light: no, Dell Support Center

 

[+] compare
For Dell, the Inspiron 17R and 15R notebooks are bread and butter machines.
For Dell the Inspiron 17R and 15R notebooks are bread and butter machines.
The port selection is reduced. Dell offers no VGA. At the front is an isolated card reader.
The port equipment is reduced. Dell offers no VGA. At the front is an isolated card reader.
The speakers produce decent sound.
The speakers produce a quite decent sound.
The webcam has a maximum resolution of 1280 x 780 pixels but produces blurry pictures with distorted colors even with good illumination.
The webcam has a resolution of 1,280 x 780 pixels but produces blurry pictures with distorted colors even with good illumination.
Accessories: Dell puts a system installation DVD into the box.
Accessories: Dell puts a system installation DVD into the box.
Maintenance is limited: The fan cannot be easily accessed, only the CMOS battery, the hard drive and RAM are user replaceable.
Maintenance is limited: The fan cannot be easily accessed, only the CMOS battery, the hard drive and RAM.
The battery has a capacity of 65 Wh.
The battery has a capacity of 65 Wh.
That is enough for runtimes of 2:15 (load, Battery Eater Classic) up to 5:16 hours (idle).
That is enough for runtimes of 2:15 (load, Battery Eater Classic) up to 5:16 hours (idle).
The 90 W PSU easily covers the consumption of up to 52 watts (stress test, without charging).
The 90 Watts PSU easily covers the consumption of up to 52 Watts (stress test, without charging).
Dell Inspiron 17R-5721: review configuration with HD 8730M from 630 Euros and up
Dell Inspiron 17R-5721: review configuration with HD 8730M from 630 Euros up
The cover can be heavily twisted, yet the hinges keep it very firm and seem durable.
The cover can be heavily twisted, yet the hinges keep it very firm and seem durable.
The stability during lifting and handling is okay for a 17-inch notebook, but not especially brilliant.
The stability during lifting and handling is okay for a 17-inch notebook but not especially good.
Large numbers are sold on the mass market.
Large numbers are sold on the mass market.
They are even sold off at some online retailers.
When high numbers are needed they are even sold off at some Internet dealers.
After our in-depth review of the 15-inch Inspiron 15R-5521
After our in-depth review of the 15-inch sibling Inspiron 15R-5521
- with an identical configuration (i5-3317U and Radeon HD 8730M) -
- with identical configuration (i5 3317U and Radeon HD 8730M) -
we now have the 17-inch version, which will be often used
we now have the 17-inch version, which will be often used
as desktop replacement at home.
as desktop replacement at home.
Can it live up to expectations with the ultrabook processor?
Can it live up to the expectations with the ultrabook processor?
At first, the 17R would look under-powered.
At first the 17R should look impressive..
The brushed aluminum finish with cool haptics is very refined and leaves a high quality impression.
The brushed aluminum finish with cool haptics is very noble and leaves a high quality impression.
Dell Inspiron 17R-5721: all in all, good build quality, useful performance
Dell Inspiron 17R-5721: all in all good build quality, useful performance

Similar Devices

Devices with the same GPU

» Review Dell Inspiron 15R-5521 Notebook
Core i5 3317U, 15.6", 2.36 kg

Devices with Same Screen Size and/or Weight

» Toshiba Satellite L70-B-130 Notebook Review
Radeon R9 M265X, Core i7 4710HQ
» Acer Aspire V3-772G-747a8G1.12TWakk Notebook Review
GeForce GTX 850M, Core i7 4702MQ
» Toshiba Satellite Pro C70-B-111 Notebook Review
Radeon R7 M260, Core i5 4200U
» Gigabyte P27G v2 Notebook Review
GeForce GTX 860M, Core i7 4710MQ

Links

Price Comparison

Amazon.com

$29.88 Genuine Original Dell Slim 65W Replacement AC Adapter for Inspiron 17 (3737), Inspiron 17 (7737), Inspiron 17R (5720), Inspiron 17R (5721), Latitude 3330, Latitude 3440, Latitude 3540, Latitude 6430u, Latitude E5430, Latitude E5440, 100% compatible with P/N: M1P9J, 332-1831, 04H6NV, 4H6NV, PA-12.

$66.63 Dell Inspiron 17R 17.3" HD (1600 x 900) Glossy Replacement Laptop LED LCD Screen 17R-5720, 17R-5721

$21.99 Genuine OEM Dell PA-12 Mini 65W Replacement AC Adapter for Dell Notebook Model: Inspiron 15R (5520), Inspiron 15R (5521), Inspiron 15R (7520), Inspiron 17 (3721), Inspiron 17R (5720), Inspiron 17R (5721), 100% Compatible with P/N: 0V0KR, 331-5968, LA65NS2-01, PA-1650-02DD, N6M8J, 928G4, TJ76K, K9TGR, KT2MG, PA-12. Free Notebook Parts Outlet Microfiber Adapter Pouch

$33.18 Genuine Original Dell New Version 90W Replacement AC Adapter for Dell Inspiron 17 (3721), Dell Inspiron 17 (3737), Dell Inspiron 17 (7737), Dell Inspiron 17R (5720), Dell Inspiron 17R (5721), Dell Inspiron 17R (7720), 100% Compatible with P/N: HH44H, 332-1833, FA90PM139, FA90PM138, FA90PM136, FA90PM131, FA90PM132, FA90PM133, FA90PM135, FA90PM137, LA90NM130, HA90NM130, FA90PM130, FA90PM134.

$31.97 Genuine OEM Dell 90W New Design Replacement AC Adapter for Dell Inspiron 17 (3737), Dell Inspiron 17 (7737), Dell Inspiron 17R (5720), Dell Inspiron 17R (5721), Dell Inspiron 17R (7720), 100% Compatible With P/N: HH44H, 332-1833, DA90PM130, 6C3W2, 06C3W2, HA90NM130, FA90PM131, FA90PM132, FA90PM133, FA90PM135, FA90PM130, FA90PM137, FA90PM139, FA90PM138, FA90PM136, FA90PM134.

Pricerunner n.a.

Pro

+Good all-round performance
+Cover color can be chosen
+Moderate emissions
+Good keyboard feedback
+Good battery runtimes
 

Cons

-Glossy screen with bad measurement results
-Suboptimal port layout

Shortcut

What we like

Full CPU Turbo, even under load. Good battery runtimes. Low emissions.

What we miss

A display without glare and with good contrast.

What surprises us

How quickly the VGA port was ignored.

The competition

Acer Aspire V3-771G (i5, GT 630M), 550 Euros, Review GT 650M version
HP Pavilion g7-2222sg/2205sg (i5, HD 7670M), 575 Euros, Review 2007sg
HP Envy dv7-7200sg (i5, GT 630M), 690 Euros, Review top-version
Packard Bell EasyNote LV44-HC-137GE (i5, GT 630M), 575 Euros
ASUS X75VD-TY205H (i5, GT 640M), 620 Euros, Review Asus K75VJ (identical in construction)
Lenovo G780 (i5, GT 630M), 600 Euros
Toshiba Satellite Pro L870-173 (i5, HD 7670M), 640 Euros
Samsung 350E7C (i5, HD 7670M), 680 Euros
Samsung 550P7C (i5, GT 630M), 800 Euros, Review with GT 650M
Sony Vaio SVE-E1712Q1E/W (i5, HD 7650M), 730 Euros, Review with Pentium
Dell Inspiron 17R SE (i7, GT 650M), 800 Euros

Rating

Dell Inspiron 17R-5721
02/20/2013 v3
Sebastian Jentsch

Chassis
80%
Keyboard
80%
Pointing Device
86%
Connectivity
66%
Weight
75%
Battery
86%
Display
73%
Games Performance
83%
Application Performance
90%
Temperature
80%
Noise
86%
Add Points
80%
Average
80%
81%
Multimedia *
Weighted Average

> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > Reviews > Archive of our own reviews > Review Dell Inspiron 17R-5721 Notebook
Author: Sebastian Jentsch, 2013-02-23 (Update: 2013-06- 6)