Dell Inspiron 17R N7110 Review

Dell Inspiron 17R N7110
This is the Dell Inspiron 17R N7110.

The Dell Inspiron 17R N7110 we reviewed last week is a 17.3″ inch laptop which belongs to the popular and affordable Inspiron R series. The model we tested had a Core i3-2330M processor, the Nvidia GeForce GT 525M dedicated graphics combined with the on-CPU Intel HD, 4GB RAM, a 500GB hard drive, DVD burner, and 1600×900 display resolution.

Dell Inspiron 17R N7110 Specifications

Here are specficiations of available N7110 models:

  • Display: 17.3″ HD+ (1600 x 900), LED backlight, glossy
  • Processor:
    – Intel Core i3-2330M 2.2GHz, dual core
    – Intel Core i3-2350M 2.3GHz, dual core
    – Intel Core i5-2450M 2.50GHz with TurboBoost up to 3.1GHz, dual core
    – Intel Core i7-2670QM 2.2GHz with TurboBoost up to 3.1GHz, quad core
  • Graphics: Intel HD 3000 or Optimus with Nvidia GeForce 525M 1GB (128-bit) + Intel HD 3000
  • RAM: up to 8GB DDR3
  • HDD: up to 1TB at 5,400rpm
  • Optical drive: DVD burner or Blu-ray Combo
  • Audio: 2.1 speaker system with 2x2W and 1X3W subwoofer
  • Webcam: 1MP at 1280×720
  • Networking and connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, 10/100 Ethernet LAN, 2xUSB 3.0, 1xUSB 2.0, 1xeSATA/USB 2.0, HDMI, VGA, 8-in-1 media card reader
  • Battery: 6-cell 48WHr Li-Ion and separately sold 9-cell 90WHr Li-Ion Battery
  • Dimensions: width 16.50″; height 1.23″-1.40″; depth: 11.30″
  • Weight: 7.14 pounds
  • OS: Windows 7 Home Premium, 64-Bit

Design and Build Quality

The glossy lid of the Dell Inspiron 17R N7110.

As you can see on the images above, the 17R N7110 sports an all-glossy design and the finish is a real fingerprint magnet on both the lid and palm rests. Even space between keyboard keys is glossy, not to mention the LCD bezel and the display itself. The only matte surfaces are the touchpad and the bottom of the case. A nice and unique feature on this laptop, like on the other R series, is its switchable lid, which can be easily removed by pushing a button located on the low end of the LCD back panel. The hinges keep the display firmly in a chosen position, but the whole screen panel wobbles considerably. The keyboard is surrounded by chrome-like plastics which gives this budget laptop a somewhat classy look.

Keyboard and Trackpad

The keyboard.

The keyboard is a chiclet-style one with a large space between the keys, but the keys could have been larger to avoid constant hitting keys’ edges. The keys provide good tactile feedback with a mid-range travel. The flex is present only on the right side of the keyboard – around the enter key and on the num-pad. But, that flex occurs only if you use bigger pressure on the keys. In normal typing, you won’t notice it.

Above the keyboard, there are three dedicated buttons for access to Windows Mobility Center, Dell’s support service, and for turning the screen on and off. Although these buttons can be useful, Dell could have included at least basic multimedia buttons, like volume and mute, besides or instead of them.

We had no problems with the touchpad, which is off the center in order to match the keyboard with numeric pad. It’s spacious and precise, and the separate left and right touchpad buttons have a mild stiffness. However, these plastic keys are pretty loud when clicking.

Display

The display is a TN panel, which provides good viewing angles from the sides, but when you only slightly tilt the screen from the ideal position you will notice big contrast and color changes. That’s common for TN-based displays. In terms of colors and contrast, we have nothing to complain about, but brightness could have been better. The 1600×900 resolution is standard for 17.3″ consumer laptops and does provide a noticeably larger work space than 1366×768 15.6″ screens.

Speakers and Webcam

Stereo speakers accompanied by a subwoofer on the Dell Inspiron 17R N7110 deliver a pleasant sound. They provide a decent sound volume, but the problem is their location on the front-bottom of the case so high tones and sound sharpness are reduced.

The 1.0MP camera performs well in lower light conditions, such as room lighting at night. On the other hand, the frame rates are pretty low so you won’t be able to stream a fluid picture.

Performance

The Core i3 processor used in the review unit belongs to the lower end of the Core i-series family, but it’s a mid range chip if you additionally take into consideration Pentium and Celeron chips. Similarly, the GeForce GT 525M is an entry-level dedicated video card, but on the other side it’s much faster than widely used Intel’s integrated GPUs.

Here are Windows Experience Index, PC Mark Vantage, and 3D Mark Vantage results for the system we benchmarked:

Dell Inspiron 17R N7110 Core i3 GT525M Windows Experience Index
Dell Inspiron 17R N7110 Core i3 GT525M Windows Experience Index
PC Mark Vantage
PC Mark Vantage
3D Mark Vantage Performance
3D Mark Vantage Performance

In a real world use, performance of the laptop is sufficient for everyday web and office tasks and HD multimedia playback. What differs this system from the vast majority of other budget laptops is the discrete GPU which enables playing hardware-demanding games on up to medium graphics settings at 1280×720. With these settings, Crysis and Far Cry 2 run at 43 and 54 frames per second on average, respectively.

If you are interested in comparison between the GT 525M and Intel HD 3000, you can can read the separate benchmark article.

Battery Life

In a simulation of everyday PC use involving web surfing, word editing, and playback of about 30 minutes of Youtube videos, the battery was good for only 2 hours and 20 minutes or operation. That’s with Balanced power plan, default Nvidia Optimus settings, and Wi-Fi turned on. Although we didn’t expect to get a long battery life on a 17.3″ laptop with a 48WHr battery, the run time is really short on the model we reviewed.

Heat and Noise

In this field the N7110 does a good job, most likely due to the spacious casing of the notebook. The laptop ran very cool on both palmrests and bottom, even during intensive benchmarks such as PC Mark Vantage. The only area that was mildly warm was on the left side of the touchpad and space bar. Since the system didn’t get hot, the fans were kicking in rarely and when they run noise isn’t much noticeable.

Dell Inspiron 17R N7110 Review Conclusion

The Dell Inspiron 17R N7110 doesn’t stand out from the dense crowd of 17-inch entry multimedia laptops available no the market today. It’s a machine with plastic casing and it isn’t a top performer, but that’s kind of usual for the current affordable consumer laptops. The biggest selling point for this notebook is its price. For $700 you can get a better specced configuration than we reviewed. This N7110 at Dell.com includes the Intel Core i5-2450M with Turbo Boost, 8GB RAM, and a 750GB HDD. Not bad at all for a $700 laptop. We have checked out the comparable HP g7t with the same main specs except the Radeon HD 7450M GPU instead of the Nvidia and it’s $920 at HP.com.

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Written by Dan


On Laptoping, Dan writes about Windows-based laptop, 2-in-1, and tablet PCs.

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One thought on “Dell Inspiron 17R N7110 Review”

  1. Question: My Inspiron n7110 has four small lights on the front edge of the keyboard, the third light from the left is blinking orange. What does this mean?
    Thanks!!!

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