The Dell XPS 17 9700 has a charging problem

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The Dell XPS 17 9700 has a charging problem

The new Dell XPS 17 is drop-dead gorgeous, thin, relatively fast, and has what looks like a potentially show-stopping charging problem.


How serious is it? We’ll just say that based on our review unit, it’s enough to recommend that you put a pause on a potential purchase until the problem is addressed by Dell.

The charging issue first came to light on July 10, when respected technology site Notebookcheck.com reported that its XPS 17 9700 review unit discharged the battery under heavy loads even when plugged into the wall. 

This probably isn’t a surprise to anyone who pays attention to the unsung hero of laptops: the power brick. When we saw that Dell had chosen a 130-watt USB-C charger for the XPS 17, we even expressed our concern in a video posted on YouTube in May.

If you don’t have time to watch the video, you should know that the vast majority of laptops we’ve seen with six- and eight-core CPUs plus GeForce RTX 2060 GPUs feature 180-Watt power bricks using conventional “barrel” plugs. 

Why use a less powerful lighter power brick?

Why use “only” a 130 watt power brick? The answer is less weight and slightly less bulk. That may seem trivial to many, but the XPS 17’s 130-watt brick weighs just shy of a pound (0.9 pounds, to be precise). A typical 180-watt brick weighs about 1.3 pounds, about 30 percent heavier.

Power consumption on a laptop isn’t constant, either. Doing light tasks you might use 40 watts, while a video encode might use 100 watts.

Dell’s math is that most people are not going to push a laptop to 11 all day long. Instead, they might push it to 11 for a half-hour or maybe an hour. For those times when a laptop is actually drawing more than the 130-watt power brick can deliver, Dell uses a “hybrid” system, where it will tap the reserve power from the battery for the hour or so it’s needed, then recharge the battery once the heavy load is done. The end result is a lighter overall weight on the road.

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