If you're someone who prefers a broad perspective, you need a laptop that can keep up. A notebook with a large screen size that can effectively replace a desktop computer, while also providing a clear and expansive view of your work or entertainment. That's where a 17-inch laptop comes in—offering the largest popular screen size in the portable computing world.
Most 17-inch laptops feature displays that measure 17.3 inches diagonally, providing a large enough view for high-resolution content such as Full HD or 4K. These larger screens allow for a more comfortable viewing experience and make it easier to see fine details.
Are you ready to upgrade to a larger screen? In this article, I'll be breaking down the best 17-inch laptops for various user categories. Additionally, I'll guide you on what to look for in the perfect laptop for you.
Buying Guide: The Best 17-Inch Laptops for 2023
If you frequently use multiple windows on your laptop or have difficulty with small text, a 17-inch screen can be a game-changer. However, this larger screen size comes with its own set of drawbacks. The larger size of these laptops can make them difficult to transport, often requiring a separate bag or backpack, and their weight can be a hindrance.
Most 17-inch laptops weigh in at around seven pounds, with the exception of the LG Gram 17, which is a remarkable three pounds. Heavier gaming models can weigh even more, making them difficult to take with you on the go. Additionally, battery life on these laptops is often limited, and they are designed to run on AC power for the majority of the time.
Despite these trade-offs, 17-inch laptops offer many benefits. Their larger size allows for more powerful processors and graphics cards, stronger cooling systems, and ample storage. They also have more ports and a spacious keyboard, making them ideal for productivity and gaming.
In summary, 17-inch laptops are not the best option for frequent travelers, but they do fill a specific niche. They offer a large, easy-to-view screen, powerful performance and ample storage, but trade-off in portability and battery life. If you're looking for a 17-inch laptop, it's important to weigh these factors and decide if it's the right fit for your needs.
Deciding Between a Mobile Workstation or Gaming Laptop
When it comes to 17-inch laptops, there are a few options that are suitable for general use, but most fall into one of two categories: mobile workstations or gaming laptops.
While both types can handle basic tasks such as office productivity and email, mobile workstations are designed for more demanding tasks like computer-aided design (CAD), advanced 3D modeling, and video editing. They are equipped with powerful CPUs and GPUs and often have certifications for compatibility with specialized software.
On the other hand, gaming laptops prioritize GPU power over CPU and are built to handle the latest and greatest games at high speeds and with all the visual details turned up. They are designed to provide smooth, lag-free gameplay.
Regardless of which category you are considering, the main draw for 17-inch laptops is the large screen. Whether you need a powerful machine for work or for play, a 17-inch laptop can provide the necessary performance and a visually stunning display.
What Kind of Display Is Best in a 17-Inch Laptop?
When it comes to 17-inch laptops, the display is a crucial aspect to consider. Both mobile workstations and gaming laptops benefit from choosing the right screen type. An in-plane switching (IPS) or indium gallium zinc oxide (IGZO) panel is a solid choice, as it offers sharp colors and contrast, as well as wide off-center viewing angles. Touchscreens are less common in both categories as users prefer the precision of a mouse.
Gamers often prefer displays with a 1080p resolution, as it allows for higher frame rates. However, some workstation users prefer the highest resolution possible to mimic the experience of multiple monitors or for editing 4K video. Mobile workstations also offer a choice of color spaces, such as sRGB, Adobe RGB, or DCI-P3, and some even come with Pantone validation for color accuracy.
Most standard laptop LCDs have a refresh rate of 60Hz, which is sufficient for most users and applications. However, gamers may prefer high refresh displays, such as 120Hz, 144Hz, 240Hz, or even 300Hz and 360Hz. These displays are able to redraw the image on the screen more times per second, providing smoother gameplay. Some of these high refresh displays also support Nvidia's G-Sync technology, which synchronizes the refresh rate to the GPU's output for even smoother appearances.
Selecting the Right CPU
When it comes to selecting a CPU for a 17-inch laptop, Intel's Core i7 H Series is the most popular choice for gaming notebooks, as it offers powerful performance for running demanding games. This is in contrast to the lighter-hitting Core i7 U- or G-Series CPUs that are typically found in thinner and lighter laptops. The top of the market is occupied by the mighty and costly Core i9 chips.
For mobile workstations, the Core i7 and Core i9 are still popular choices, but they are also joined by Intel's Xeon processors. These processors offer support for server-style, error-correcting code (ECC) memory, which can detect and fix single-bit memory errors. This is beneficial for scientific, architectural, or financial computing jobs that require data integrity and cannot tolerate even the slightest data corruption.
How Much Memory Is Needed?
When it comes to memory for a 17-inch laptop, regular non-ECC RAM is suitable for most buyers. A minimum of 8GB is recommended for gaming laptops, with 16GB being the preferable option. However, for mobile workstations, 16GB is a practical minimum and 32GB is not uncommon. Some models even support up to 64GB or 128GB. For workstation laptops, it's important to consider the specific RAM requirements of the applications you plan to run to gauge how much to invest in memory.
How Much Storage Is Needed?
When it comes to storage, look for one or two M.2 solid-state drives (SSD) and possibly one or two 2.5-inch hard drives. The SSD should be used for the operating system and favorite applications, while the hard drive can be used for games and data. Performance-conscious laptops often use slightly quicker PCI Express (PCIe) SSDs rather than SATA SSDs. These SSDs often include the acronym "NVMe" (for Non-Volatile Memory Express) and proprietary monikers such as HP mobile workstations' Z Turbo Drives, which indicate the fastest SSDs.
A minimum of half a terabyte of storage (for an SSD-only system) is recommended, with 1TB or 1.5TB being more mainstream. Some workstations even boast up to 3TB or 4TB of capacity. If budget is a concern, a smaller SSD (such as 256GB or 500GB) as the boot drive paired with a roomy hard drive is a good compromise. Many 17-inch laptops have room for both, and some may even have an empty bay to let you install an aftermarket 2.5-inch drive or M.2 SSD yourself, which can be an economical option.
Selecting the Right GPU: Determine if You Want a 17-Inch Laptop Suitable for Gaming or Professional Work
Mobile workstations have a choice between Nvidia's RTX A-series (formerly Quadro) and AMD's Radeon Pro graphics cards. These graphics cards are optimized for different operations than the companies' respective GeForce and Radeon parts for gaming laptops, as well as for intense rendering or calculations.
On the gaming side, Nvidia has a significant market lead in mobile GPUs. Its current offerings, the "Ampere" architecture, is seen in the GeForce RTX 30 Series, which is first seen in desktop video cards like the GeForce RTX 3080. At the higher end of the gaming laptop market, these GPUs, indicated by "GeForce RTX" instead of "GeForce GTX," have mostly replaced chips based on the "Turing" architecture of Nvidia's GeForce GTX 20 series, though some laptops based on these are still available for sale. The RTX 40 Series "Ada Lovelace" GPUs, in turn, will start to replace the Amperes as 2023 progresses.
The basic story for both workstations and gaming laptops is a familiar one: higher model numbers and higher prices bring more speed and higher frame rates, as well as support for features such as virtual reality (VR). Even midrange gaming-laptop GPUs like the GeForce RTX 1660 Ti (Turing) and above, and all of the current GeForce RTX chips, support playing and exploring VR worlds, while high-end mobile-workstation parts like the Nvidia RTX A series support VR authoring or creating them.
In 2021, Nvidia's gaming-laptop GPU lineup saw a shift with the introduction of the 30-Series Ampere and 20-Series Turing laptop chips. Before this, the lineup was simple, with GPUs ranging from the GeForce GTX 1050 to the GTX 1050 Ti, then the GTX 1060, with the high-end GTX 1070 and GTX 1080 at the top.
These were replaced by the GeForce RTX 2060, RTX 2070, and RTX 2080 (and slightly faster "RTX Super" versions of the last two), which have since been succeeded by the RTX 3050, RTX 3050 Ti, RTX 3060, RTX 3070, and top-end RTX 3080 and RTX 3080 Ti. Only the last two are capable of handling the latest titles at 4K resolution with all image-quality settings dialed up, while the GTX chips and lower RTX chips are designed for gamers with full HD (1,920-by-1,080-pixel) screens. The RTX 2070, RTX 3060, and RTX 3070, meanwhile, fall in between the full-HD and 4K realms.
At the lower end, the current options are the mobile versions of the GeForce GTX 1650, GTX 1650 Ti, and GTX 1660 Ti. Machines with the GeForce RTX 3050 and RTX 3050 Ti started hitting the market in early 2022; these are the first low-end RTX-class GPUs. All of these GPUs have replaced the GTX 1050, GTX 1050 Ti, and GTX 1060. If a laptop has one of these GTX 1600-series chips or an RTX 3050-class one, it can be considered up-to-date for lower-end gaming.
Traditionally, very few large and heavy gaming laptops carried two GeForce GPUs for extreme speed, using Nvidia's SLI (and in the latest generation, NVLink) multi-GPU technology. However, these laptops were extremely expensive, had poor battery life and not all games benefited from dual-GPU setups. This technology is now considered outdated and if you see a laptop with two GPUs, it's a sign of old technology. If they were found in any class of laptops, it would be 17-inch models.
As for the competition, Nvidia dominates the laptop GPU market. However, AMD's Radeon RX mobile GPUs have made some progress in the gaming market in recent years, particularly with the launch of the AMD Advantage laptop program, which sets specific performance and component requirements. So far, Radeon RX GPUs have tended to appear more in 15-inch laptops and less so in 17-inch laptops.
Considerations for Keyboards, Touchpads, and Thunderbolt Ports
That concludes general advice, except for matters of personal preference. For example, keyboards: Some gaming laptops have colorful and customizable RGB backlighting and macro keys for frequently used commands or combat sequences, while some mobile workstations have touchpads or pointing sticks with a third (middle) mouse button that is commonly used in CAD and similar applications.
Additionally, it is recommended to choose a 17-inch laptop that has at least one Thunderbolt 3 or Thunderbolt 4 port, which combines USB-C and DisplayPort functionality with support for external docking and storage solutions through daisy-chaining.
Best Overall 17-Inch Laptop for Mainstream Use
Dell XPS 17 9720 Laptop
The Dell XPS 17 9720 is the ultimate desktop replacement laptop that offers unbeatable performance, sleek design and an incredible display. With the latest Intel 12th Generation "Alder Lake" processors, Nvidia RTX 3050 graphics, and an non-touch anti-glare 500-nit display, this laptop is built for power users who demand the best.
With plenty of RAM and storage, this laptop can handle any task you throw at it. The premium feel of the chassis and the overall design are top-notch, making it a great option for professionals who want a high-end device that looks and feels great.
While it may be pricey, the performance and overall experience make it well worth the investment. If you're in the market for a new high-performance laptop, the XPS 17 is a must-consider option that has few true competitors.
Best Lightest 17-Inch Laptop for Traveling
LG Gram 17
The LG Gram 17 is the ultimate ultraportable laptop with a 17-inch display, making it a unique and rare find in the market. The featherweight design, paired with the large display, made last year's model a top choice, and the 2022 version takes it to the next level.
With new Intel hardware, the performance is better than ever and the battery life is longer, making it perfect for on-the-go work. The addition of a 1080p webcam and Windows Hello facial recognition feature makes it easy to keep your work secure. The carbon-magnesium alloy construction and the superb 17-inch display remain unchanged and make it a solid choice for general-purpose laptops.
Best 17-Inch Laptop for Mainstream Gaming
Alienware X17 R2 VR Ready Gaming Laptop
If you are looking for a gaming laptop that offers stunning visuals, powerful performance, and cooling technology, look no further. The Alienware X17 R2 gaming laptop is a top choice for you if you're a gamer.
The Full HD display with 1920 x 1080 resolution, 360Hz 1ms refresh rate and ComfortView Plus technology provides an incredible visual experience that will give you an edge in your gaming. The 12th Gen Intel Core i7 processors deliver powerful performance across all your favorite games, allowing you to experience high-performance action with no lag.
The thermal design on this thin gaming laptop maximizes airflow by expelling warm air through the vents on the sides and taking in cooler air at the top of the keyboard, which keeps your laptop cool even during intense gaming sessions.
The NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3070 Ti laptop graphics card with 8GB GDDR6 of memory ensures quick loading times and a quieter system, delivering an incredible gaming experience. And with Dolby Vision technology, you can get immersed in the game with the most authentic visual experience possible.
Overall, this laptop is perfect for anyone looking for a high-performance gaming experience.
In conclusion, when looking for the best 17-inch laptops, it is important to consider the type of usage it will be put to, whether it be for gaming or professional work. For gaming, it is recommended to look for laptops with Intel Core i7 H Series CPUs, paired with discrete Nvidia graphics cards such as the GeForce RTX 30 series and a minimum of 8GB of memory.
For professional work, mobile workstations with Intel Core i7 or i9 CPUs, Xeon processors and support for ECC memory, as well as Nvidia RTX A-series or AMD Radeon Pro graphics cards are recommended.
Additionally, it is important to consider personal preferences such as keyboard customization, touchpad functionality and Thunderbolt ports.
Ultimately, the best 17-inch laptops will offer a balance of performance and features to meet the needs of the user.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2023 Ionel Anton