capsule review

Dell Inspiron 1720

At a Glance
  • Dell Inspiron 1720 Notebook - Customizable

    PCWorld Rating

A powerful laptop does not have to be a boring laptop. Take Dell's Inspiron 1720, a robust system that also happens to be available in seven colors besides black. The 1720 is a heavyish 17-inch notebook, but its multimedia design is outstanding.

Superbly crafted for a demanding home office, the 1720 has a full-size keyboard with a separate number pad. Our test machine had a single 160GB hard drive, as well as a complete contingent of connections--five USB ports, an ExpressCard/54 slot, and a memory card slot. The 1720's weight (8.7 pounds) makes it a less-than-ideal notebook for the road.

When you're ready to kick back, Dell's DirectMedia button provides instant access to the full panoply of entertainment choices: DVD movies, music, photo slide shows, and videos. The stereo sound is good; a Blu-ray Disc drive is an option, albeit a costly one ($660 on top of our test unit's $2409 price).

Configured with a 2-GHz Core 2 Duo T7300 processor, 2GB of RAM, and an nVidia GeForce 8600M GT graphics card, the 1720 proved an agile workhorse and gaming machine. Its WorldBench 6 Beta 2 score of 75 puts it in the top 10 percent of currently tested notebooks. The 1720 kicked booty in our gaming tests, producing 116 frames per second playing Far Cry at 1024 by 768 resolution. Its 3-hour, 33-minute battery life, while not great, is above average for this class.

Our review notebook had an espresso-brown lid that I found a little drab, but if you're looking for a notebook with some pizzazz, try the Inspiron 1720 in spring green or flamingo pink, among other available hues. Who said work isn't fun?

Carla Thornton

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At a Glance
  • PCWorld Rating

    Perfect for gadget lovers, this splashily designed unit offers excellent entertainment options and rich-sounding speakers.

    Pros

    • Dual hard drives option
    • Fast 3D gaming

    Cons

    • Pricey
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