HP Pavilion dv7t vs. Dell Inspiron 17R: Affordable Desktop Replacements

by Reads (26,735)

17-inch notebooks aren’t just for gamers; the affordable HP Pavilion dv7t and Dell Inspiron 17R are two of the most popular and widely available notebooks in their class. These two attractive desktop replacements start at $600 and function as great at-home computers, especially for families.

Here are the specifications of the notebooks in our comparison:

 

HP Pavilion dv7t

Dell Inspiron 17R

Starting Price

$599.99

$599.99

Price as Configured

$694.99

$718.99

Screen

17.3? 900p, glossy

17.3? 900p, glossy

Processor

Intel Core i5-2450M dual-core

Intel Core i5-2450M dual-core

RAM

6GB

6GB

Storage

640GB 5400RPM

500GB 5400RPM

Graphics Card

Integrated Intel HD

Integrated Intel HD

Battery

6-cell

6-cell

Optical Drive

DVD burner

DVD burner

Webcam?

Yes

Yes

Weight

6.72 lbs

7.14 lbs

Thickness

1.24 inches

1.23~1.4 inches

Ports

2x USB 3.0, 2x USB 2.0, HDMI, VGA, Ethernet, media card reader

2x USB 3.0, 1x USB 2.0, 1x USB 2.0/eSATA combo, HDMI, VGA, Ethernet, media card reader

 

Beats speakers and subwoofer

SRS speakers and subwoofer

Warranty

2-year (standard)

2-year (1-year standard)

Items highlighted indicate which notebook has the advantage. The notebooks are configured as closely as possible for comparison.

The HP Pavilion dv7t and Dell Inspiron 17R are neck-and-neck; the price difference is almost laughable. I upgraded both notebooks to a faster Core i5 processor (a Core i3 is standard) but otherwise left the standard configurations unchanged. The HP came standard with a two-year warranty; it was a $69 option on the Dell.

Design

Despite the company?s halo products ? such as the XPS 15z and XPS 13 Ultrabook ? Dell predictably underperforms in the design arena. The Inspiron series especially has never fared well (remember the white bumpers on the Insprion 9300 of yore?); the 17R fails to improve the situation. The all-plastic design looks and feels rather cheap which is a shame since it?s actually a solid product; there?s little flex anywhere in the unit. The excess use of glossy plastic is an issue; fingerprints are the sworn enemy.

On the contrary HP continues to improve the look and feel of its Pavilion series notebooks; the dv7t has a stylish chassis with brushed aluminum accents and clever design touches such as the silver speaker grilles. It feels an entire class up from the Dell despite being about the same price.

Keyboard and Touchpad

Neither notebook offers a backlit keyboard, which is a shame as it?s a real selling point. That aside, both the HP and Dell have solid, full-size keyboards with separate numeric keypads. The dv7t has one of the new ?Chiclet? style keyboards with extra spacing between the keys; the 17R has flat keys but sticks with the traditional keyboard style. The tactile feel from both keyboards is satisfactory however I prefer the HP; the slightly heavier keystrokes inspire more confidence and it?s quieter to boot.

Screen

The screen is a dead tie ? both come with 1600×900 resolution screens with a glossy surface; it doesn?t get more generic than this for a 17.3? notebook. Color reproduction and contrast are average at best. No more can be expected at this price point.

The dv7t is available with an optional 1920×1080 display which has about 30% more space and is more colorful. It?s pricey at $150 however; spending that much on a single option isn?t reasonable (it represents 25% of the notebook?s total starting price, after all).

Speakers

The 17R?s two speakers get rather loud and have measurable bass thanks to a dedicated subwoofer. Unfortunately their placement under the palm rest muffles the sound, especially when wrists are placed over them while typing. The HP has a superior setup; it has four speakers, two of which are located under the display and face at the user. It also has a subwoofer. It gets just as loud as the 17R and sounds clearer.

Other Differences

We?ve addressed all the important differences between the dv7t and the 17R; they are indistinguishable in all other aspects including performance. The Core i5 processor, 6GB of RAM, and large hard drives are more than enough for casual home use and even more demanding programs such as Photoshop. As configured, neither notebook in our comparison is good for gaming. The Dell is available with an anemic Nvidia GT 525M graphics card in its pricier configurations while the HP is available with a far superior AMD Radeon HD 7690M for just $100, which would allow it to play the latest games with ease.

Speaking of configuration options, the dv7t?s other advantage is that it is available with two hard drives; the Dell only has a single drive bay.

The battery life of both notebooks is almost identical at about three and half hours. It?s not that much time but for a 17.3? notebook, it?s acceptable; the screen is the number one consumer of battery power.

In physical terms the HP has a slight weight and thinness advantage, but nothing noticeable (a couple of ounces and two tenths of an inch).

The Winner?

The HP Pavilion dv7t takes the cake; the Dell Inspiron 17R failed to edge it out at any point during the comparison. At the same price point the dv7t delivers a higher-end look and feel, superior speaker setup and better configuration options (such as a second hard drive and fast AMD graphics card). The Dell Insprion 17R isn?t a bad pick but if the price is within $100 of the HP, we?d take the HP without second thought.

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