Large screen laptops are favoured by those looking for a laptop that provides occasional portability and enough power to act as a viable alternative to a desktop PC.
But, in recent years the 17 inch market has been neglected with manufacturers shifting their focus to the current small and light trend.
Fortunately there are still a handful of great 17 inch laptops out there and below you’ll find what we consider to be the best 17 inch laptops available to buy in April 2012.
Best Value 17 Inch Laptop – April 2012 »
What we like – i7-2670QM, Nvidia GT540M Graphics, huge storage, Blu-ray drive, USB 3.0, great looks
Best deal – Check price at Dabs.com
Details – The Samsung RF711 nudges the equally impressive Dell XPS 17 into second place thanks largely to the “claim your VAT back” offer Samsung are currently running. This drops the price of a new RF711 to under £700 which is fantastic value for an i7 equipped laptop with such a comprehensive specification.
The only thing that’s missing from the RF711 is a full HD screen so if screen resolution is an important consideration for you then you’ll be better off with the Dell XPS mentioned above which can be configured to include a full HD screen.
Key features include:-
Intel i7-2670M – Whilst this is an entry level i7 in Nvidia’s current mobile line up it’s still considerably faster than any of the i5 or i3 processors currently available. It’s a true quad core processor capable of processing 8 threads simultaneously and features 6MB of L3 cache memory (twice that of the i5-2450M).
Nvidia GT540M - The Nvidia GT540M graphics chip found in the Samsung RF711 has been around for a couple of years now but is still capable and will playing modern games like Battlefield 3 and Skyrim at modest settings. Whilst the RF711 wasn’t intended to be a serious gaming laptop the inclusion of the GT540M does mean that the option is there and will keep casual gamers happy. Serious gamers would be better off with a laptop designed purely for gaming like the hugely powerful Alienware M17X.
USB 3.0 – USB 3.0 is set to become the standard for data transfer to and from external devices and is considerably faster than older USB 2.0 ports. Whilst you may not benefit immediately from the inclusion of USB 3.0 ports the number of USB 3.0 external devices hitting the market in the coming year is set to dramatically increase so it’s worth factoring this into your decision.
Storage & Drives – The Samsung RF711 is equipped with 8GB of ram which is ample for running Windows 7 smoothly and a large 1TB hard drive. Even users with lots of large files won’t run out of space in a hurry. The inclusion of a Blu-ray drive in the RF711 is also a nice touch and makes the RF711 a great multimedia laptop.
Best 17 Inch Laptop Under £500 – April 2012 »
What we like – i3-2350M, HD+ Screen, great value
Best deal – View deal at Ebuyer.com
Details – There aren’t many decent 17 inch laptops available for under £500, in fact the ASUS K73E was the only 17 inch laptop we could find at this price point that included both a second generation i3 processor and a HD+ (1600 x 900) screen. Cheaper models like the Packard Bell LS13 use lower resolution (1366 x 768) screens or slower Pentium B processors.
The Asus K73E is a capable laptop with enough grunt for the majority of users but if you don’t mind spending slightly over the £500 mark the Samsung Series 3 300E7A is a significantly faster, better looking machine.
Key features include:-
i3-2350M – This is a second generation Intel i3 processor distinguishable by it’s four digit product code (2350). As a result, it includes Intel’s integrated HD 3000 graphics system which is considerably better than the original HD system found on first generation i3′s or Pentium processors. The HD 3000 isn’t a gaming chip but it does make sure the K73E can handle high resolution video content.
HD+ Screen – HD+ is the slightly confusing name given to screens that run at a resolution of 1600 x 900, a resolution we consider to be the lowest acceptable resolution on a 17 inch screen. Many of the cheaper 17 inch laptops we found had a resolution of 1366 x 768 which is fine on 15 inch screens but too low for 17 inch models.
Best 17 Inch Gaming Laptop – April 2012 »
What we like – i7-2670QM, Nvidia GTX560M, optional Full HD screen
Best deal – Check price at Dell.co.uk
Details – When it comes to laptop gaming power the M17x R3 is hard to beat. By combining a fast i7 CPU with Nvidia’s GTX560M dedicated graphics card Alienware have created a laptop that copes well with modern games. But, if that’s still not enough power for there an extensive list of configurable options including SSD drives, full HD screens and AMD’s very powerful 6990M graphics card.
At around £1300, the M17X is far from cheap but compared to other competing gaming laptops like the Asus G74SX the M17X still represents good value for money. You’ll either love or hate it looks and at 4.5KG its a bulky piece of kit but if you’re serious about gaming the M17X is a great choice.