Dell 17r N7720 SE - user review

Discussion in 'Dell' started by c_man, Jul 4, 2012.

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  1. c_man

    c_man Notebook Evangelist

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    Top resume

    Pros:

    - good package for the money:

    » big enough FHD screen for a lot of activities, power to match from i7-3610QM processor (6M Cache, up to 3.30 GHz) and nVIDIA GT 650M 2GB DDR5,
    » up to 16GB RAM,
    » 7200rpm HDD,
    » 2 drives capable and one mSATA cache, all with easy access,
    » 4x USB 3.0 (one is PowerShare USB to charge your phone without starting the laptop),
    » HDMI,
    » WIDI,
    » card reader,
    » illuminated keyboard and so on;

    - well built;
    - good cooling system even when room temperature is above 30°C (86°F);
    - Optimus active;
    - screen well above average;
    - speakers well above average;
    - good battery life for a 6 cell.


    Cons:

    - touchpad could have been better;
    - pad's buttons not so good;
    - Space key not so good;
    - not lap friendly;
    - a bit of a software chaos from Dell's site;
    - no ExpressCard;
    - no FireWire;
    - no Gigabit.


    As it turns out I have little time for this, but let's see how it goes. A promise is a promise.

    Since English is not my native language (I know, it's not an excuse), I'm sorry for any mistakes you will find.


    I will skip the product pictures in here, most of you know how it looks any way. Maybe over the week-end I'll shoot some hi-res stuff and post it.

    Let's see how this middle range workstation/entertaiment/gaming laptop performs.

    All the test you will see here are an average choice with no special tweaks and programs running normal. Room temperature was +30°C, quite hot. I did this to show a normal behaviour, it's not about scoring big. I don't care about that.

    Case

    I had Inspiron and XPS Dell laptops before, I have an idea about build quality on both. I've been looking at 7720 quite a bit. I find it very well built.

    Feels solid, it's not bulky, cooling seems to do a decent job, does not get very hot, to flex the keyboard you need to apply unnecessary pressure.

    The aluminium part is only the chassis and the hinges from what I could find. It's not all aluminium itself, but mostly very good plastic.

    Palmrest (and other areas, but this matters the most I think) is coated with some soft of rubber. It's pleasant to touch and I hope it will not wear out in time. Fingerprints are not all gone, but it's far from some laptops that drive me crazy with this.

    At a total weight of around 4kg (the laptop has about 3.4kg), I find it very close to 15" ones, so this is not an issue if you want to carry one around.

    Well, if you put it right next to the 15" and pick them both, it feels big, but if you just pick this one up, it's OK.

    Is it portable? I'd say it is. As portable as carrying few kg with you can be anyway. Sometimes I find even my phone to be quite heavy.

    Keyboard

    It has num pad and mine is backlit (with control in 2 stages or off). I don't find it very noisy, but not dead quiet either. It is in between. I don't need to apply much preassure and I find the layout very easy to use. I hardly miss letters (I hope :)). It is one keyboard I like.

    Touchpad

    The touchpad is big, but I don't find it very easy to use. There is too much friction. Buttons are very noisy, very noisy (not a typo) and I need to apply too much pressure for them to work. No, I do not like it at all. One might say there is a feature in this since the buttons are very wide and when you push close to the middle zone they make noise, but toward extrems they tend to get quiet. I find myself pushing the middle every time.

    Speakers

    I have a 2.1 set-up Skullcandy speakers. I have tested them with Melody Gardot and Pink Martini (stuff I like) using PotPlayer.

    Clean rich sound up to 70-80%, I don't think they can do full volume with best quality possible. At this rate there is plenty of sound to fill a normal room and raise your voice a little for others to hear you.

    Do they beat the JBLs? No.

    Display

    I have seen a report for this already with a Chi Mei display in a 7720 SE. But mine is different.

    I have the LGD02DA panel.

    [​IMG]

    From what I could find out, this panel is used in the latest Alienware 17", with ATi 7970, as glossy. Mine is not glossy. I have tested it and it behaves like a matte one. I think on Dell it might have a non-reflective coating of some sort. On notebookcheck they said this was the biggest problem with it on AW, the lack of a non-reflective surface.

    It is almost sRGB. It also passed Lagom's test for sRGB, almost spot on.

    [​IMG]

    But like I said before (in another topic, not here), in some areas it will go over sRGB space. So this has a decent gamut, not a common thing among non-wide gamut laptops.

    For photo editing in sRGB space it will work. I do a bit of this myself.

    Colors are good, contrast is good, viewing angles are OK, brightness is more than enough. I keep mine at under half and it's perfect indoors.

    I have tried to find some info on Chi Mei one, to compare, but with no luck. All I got was a parallel between similar products and it seems like the CM ones have less gamut and contrast. But until I have a positive confirmation on the exact model, it's hard to say how it really performs. From the Lagom report some one posted, things tend to look like stated. That is all I have right now.

    Someone asked if the letters are small. This is the UK Dell site under IE9, zoom 100%, full screen.

    [​IMG]

    For me there is no effort to see very well.

    LE:

    If you have screen flickr when using the battery, this looks like the solution for it.

    If do not want to entirely disable it, you could try using a setting closer to Maximum quality until the flickring is not an issue anymore. I was able to get a good balance around middle.





    Processor

    3rd Generation Intel® Core™ i7-3610QM processor (6M Cache, up to 3.30 GHz)

    LE:

    Turbo frequency

    3300 MHz (1 core)
    3200 MHz (2 cores)
    3100 MHz (3 or 4 cores)


    All that was tested was the stability of this, pushing CPU and GPU hard will hit +90°C.

    This is a very unlikely scenario for both of them, but it's good to know. Normal temps are much lower.

    [​IMG]

    I guess the performance itself does not matter that much, should be OK for most tasks.

    A real life scenario (with quite a few things working) looks like this:

    [​IMG]

    It is for you to compare, I don't care that much about it.

    Memory

    I have 2 x 8GB Corsair Vengeance 1600MHz auto-overclocking (no bios configuration required) modules. Yes, you can use 16GB of RAM. I do not know if any memory will do, I only had these.

    [​IMG]

    They have been tested quite a lot, system is stable. They work.

    Drives

    System drive is a 128 GB Samsung 830 Series SSD with Windows 7 Ultimate SP1 64bit on it.

    As you may know, you can use 2 x 2.5" drives (even in RAID) and one mSATA cache.

    What you might not know is that it was impossible to just put the SSD in and get to work. The unit had only the Seagate in it. The Seagate had to be moved to the empty bay and replaced with the SSD for the laptop to boot and work OK. Boot order did nothing.

    mSATA was not tested since I find it useless in this set-up.

    With all my programs on it, Boot takes under 10s and Shut down under 5s. These are the only numbers I have. To be honest, I don't care for tests that much. If it runs well, does it matter if it's 200 or 500 writing speed? Do I really need that much? No.

    But I did some tests for you. Again, this is real use scenario with other things running.

    [​IMG]

    Write not supported. I did not let it end, soooory, it's more than OK for me.

    Almost anything is instant. I went for Samsung since they are the most reliable ones I've seen. Not that fast, but will work good in time.

    Things I did to protect the SSD:
    - No Page file - I know some say it does not matter, but I don't need it. If i'll get a BSOD from this, I'll consider 1GB for it.
    - No Super fetch.
    - No Defragmentation.
    - No Indexing.
    - No power off for it, even when on battery.
    - No System restore.
    Most of the above can be done by Samsung Magician, a very handy utility.

    Storage drive is a Seagate 750 GB 7200rpm HDD. Very nice unit.

    Read

    [​IMG]

    Write not supported.

    Optical drive is one WORD THE FORUM KEEPS DELETING DVD+-RW UJ8C1, noisy as hell when I put my Windows DVD in it. But should be a decent drive in time, with no optical failure.

    Graphics

    Dell has Optimus active and seems to work OK. Almost OK anyway.

    For example 3DMark Vantage only worked with option "Run with ..." or it would go non-responsive in the middle of the test. And I did that a lot of times just to be sure.

    Drivers used are from Dell.

    The first card is Intel HD 4000.

    [​IMG]

    Nothing much to say here.

    The second is the nVIDIA GT 650M 2 GB DDR5. Seems like it has auto-OC, but no app I had ever got anything above base 745Mhz.

    [​IMG]

    3DMARK 11

    [​IMG]

    3DMARK VANTAGE

    [​IMG]

    The GPU results are average for 650M. The CPU score is a bit low I'm afraid.

    Some of you want the Windows scores, so here they are.

    [​IMG]

    Gaming

    I do not have BF3 or Skyrim HD.

    I have The Witcher2 and did a little run on it. Works well, maybe too well or I am missing something since this is my first play ever. I know nothing about it. I set it to 1080 High spec, I get low fps, but the game runs just perfect. Hm.. Quality is very good.

    That's all I have right now. I'll post some feed back on more games later if I have the time for it.

    Noise

    I find noise level to be OK even under high demand. On normal use I barely hear it. I do not have anything to measure, so it's a subjective matter.

    Temperature

    Under normal load, palmrest on the left gets a little warm, but barely. On the right things tend to stay cooler.

    Under heavy load, everything starts heating up. It's not unpleasant, but some might not like it.

    I think the cooling system works well for this kind of machine.

    Lap usage might not be the best idea or might not be even possible since the under left will get quite warm under heavy load.

    This is quite common with the type of cooling used. laptops should have a middle back exhaust and everything built around that.

    Battery life

    I have a 6 cell Sanyo battery.

    Software used was BatteryBar.

    One thing I could not test was the wireless. I do not have one. Using broadband cable with screen 100% I got about 3-3.5h, but it's not really something to consider. Time may vary a lot from user to user.

    Under heavy load, battery will only last for about 1h.

    Software problems

    About the wireless. Dell does not have a driver for it. On my laptop I should have Intel® Centrino® Wireless-N 2230 Card (802.11n + BT 4.0).

    On Dell driver options, there is none for this. Windows 7 does not recognize it as well.

    I got the driver from Intel, for that card and it worked or at least I see some connections in my area now. I can't test it.

    [​IMG]

    In fact there is nothing about 2230 in any network driver for N7720. Maybe Dell can clear this up.

    LE: USB problem and custom button functions solved, just driver issues.


    This is just about it. I hope it will help people make a choice. I also had an Asus G55VW in mind, but I like this more.

    LE:

    A few more test for you. Do keep in mind that they are done in real usage situations. If you close everything, you might get higher scores. Remember I have changed the RAM completly, please read above about it.

    To compare use AIDA64 2.50.2000.


    [​IMG]

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  2. Niblet

    Niblet Notebook Guru

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    Very nice review!

    Only thing I'd say is that some of your benchmark scores do seem particularly low - On a similar specced 17r SE I just ran cinebench and while the CPU score was similar (6.04), I got over 40 fps on OpenGL.

    All my 3DMark GPU scores were about 5-10% higher too, except the 3DMark Vantage score seems very low too (I got about 50% higher).

    Did you have background stuff running for some of these tests?
     
  3. c_man

    c_man Notebook Evangelist

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  4. Rassal

    Rassal Notebook Consultant

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    Indeed, very very nice review. Just awaiting mine also so i can do the same.
     
  5. KSMB

    KSMB Notebook Deity

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    i ordered one today. PS...(easily)....go for the highest configuration.....(the one with TRUE LIFE 3D screen)......its way better then the WLED screen. (my friend has the AG (anti glare) WLED 1080p without true life and its good, but not very good). colours & sharpness is way better on the 3G true life screen.

    i put a full photo review when its arrive.........

    spec: (Price: £.1100 = 12000 SEK)
    ---------------------------------------
    1 N0517S20 9.592,00 9.592,00 SR
    Inspiron 7720 Basee 1 SR
    Processor : Intel Core i7-3610 (up to 3.3 GHz) 1 SR
    Display : 17.3in 3D Full High Definition (1080p) LED Display
    with TrueLife
    1 SR
    LCD Back Cover : Aluminium 3D 1 SR
    Ship Accessory : EMEA1 MUI Docs - Nordics (Eng, Swe, Fin,
    Dan, Nor)
    1 SR
    Resource DVD : Inspiron 7720 Diagnostics and Drivers 1 SR
    Memory : 8192MB (2x4096) 1600MHz DDR3 1 SR
    Hard Drive : 750GB Serial ATA (7200RPM) 1 SR
    Hard Drive : 750GB Serial ATA (7200RPM) 1 SR
    32
     
  6. c_man

    c_man Notebook Evangelist

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    I saw that. I'll try to re-run them with as much programs off as I can and see what happens.

    What about Witcher 2? Does the game changes anything to keep it going even in low fps? I know nothing about how this game works.

    I don't have that option here :(

    Thank you! I wonder how they compare.
     
  7. Rassal

    Rassal Notebook Consultant

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    I think he refers to the TRUE LIFE 3D screen, the optional screen... which i obviously didn't order as gaming with 3D glasses on a 17 inch monitor for me is kinda not a go for.

    The Corsair Force GT is what i will be adding in the 2nd drive bay, and i will try to get the mSata 32gb drive only to cache things from the 1TB 5400 drive and let the Main OS on the SSD. Will see once i receive the laptop.

    And i would say also that your benchmarks for the graphics card are off... i had an Alienware M11x with an nvidia 335 GT and an i7-640UM and it ran comparable benchmarks. It was a 2 year old laptop... and this new 17R SE has a way better CPU and GPU... so it should run way better than what you did.
     
  8. c_man

    c_man Notebook Evangelist

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    [​IMG]

    So, it should be moore like this. It's possible.

    I did took some middle values like I said, but not by that much. Programs off and I got the above.

    But those things will always run anyway and numbers in tests are not really my thing. If something does not run OK, then I try to make it work by closing stuff and so on.
     
  9. KSMB

    KSMB Notebook Deity

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    @c-man...strange you should have the option for true life 3d screen

    [​IMG][/URL]
    Uploaded with ImageShack.us[/IMG]

    @Rassal..............(i did not buy the 3d glasses, glasses is optional)...i just bought the true life 3d screen.


    why did you not bought the true life screen ??...its both sharper & have better colour rendition. (the anti glare wled is good, but not super-good when it comes to gaming/movies)
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 7, 2015
  10. c_man

    c_man Notebook Evangelist

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    Where I live we can not customize any laptop. We must do that after purchase. I'm not going to change the panel on mine. Screen is OK for me.

    OK, Max Payne 3 works. I get a decent fps in HD on high quality.
     
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