Dell XPS 17 9710 as Forensic Laptop

What are your thoughts on the new dell xps 17" laptop for forensics? TO be used for evidence processing, field work, password cracking, cell collections and so forth.

I’ll take a stab at answering this since there haven’t been any takers so far :slight_smile:

The new XPS 17 looks very appealing, especially with the vapor chamber and that InfinityEdge display. The OLED display on the XPS 15 also looks amazing! :rocket:

However, I would be concerned about power delivery in the use case that you describe. Let’s assume that you will fully load the device as most of us do for forensic work. That is, spring for the i9 11900H CPU and GeForce RTX 3060.

Doing some behind-the-napkin math, it looks like the 11900H has a Thermal Design Power (TDP) of up to 45 W while the RTX 3060 has a TDP of up to 80 W. Add to this any other peripherals such as the display, NVMe SSD, RAM, fans, etc. and you could be cruising well over 130 W when the device is fully loaded. On the other hand, Dell ships these XPS laptops with a USB-C charger that supplies a maximum of 130 W. There is a very real chance that the laptop will either apply throttling under very heavy load due to power delivery limits or start drawing from the battery even while plugged in.

Now, do we really expect that both the GPU and the CPU will be maxed out often? Not likely. But, I would be cautious about purchasing a device for forensic work that has a potential flaw along these lines. This is not unique to Dell, but rather a general issue with laptops with USB-C chargers and high-end i7/i9 CPUs and discrete graphics cards :man_shrugging:t2:

If I could nitpick a bit, I am also not too pleased with the port selection on the XPS 17, or the lack of WiFi 6E support. I think both can be forgiven given the target demographic for the device.

Hopefully, we will see new devices that support the Extended Power Range (EPR) option (i.e., 240 W) in the v2.1 update to the USB Type-C specification soon which will make this a moot point. You can read more about EPR below:

USB Type-C® Cable and Connector Specification Revision 2.1 | USB-IF

USB Power Delivery | USB-IF

In the meantime, if you will get a forensic laptop with discrete graphics and i7/i9 processor, I would recommend a device that has a non-USB-C power brick. Perhaps the upcoming Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 4 can be a good option if you are looking for a somewhat slim device:

ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 4 | 16 inch Intel vPro® powerhouse laptop | Lenovo US

If you don’t mind lugging around something beastly, I would look at Dell Precision Mobile Workstations, ThinkPad P Series, HP Z Mobile Workstations, Sager, etc.

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For what is is worth, I have good luck with the Helios Predator line of Gaming Laptops for use as Forensic laptops. You can’t beat the price/performance and they have plenty of room for internal storage. I upgraded the one I use to a 1tb NVME for C:, a 2tb NVME for D, and a 2 TB SSD for extra storage. 17" screens etc. Of course the chip shortage has driven all the prices up. . .


Great to have some real-world feedback about these, Derek. Thanks for sharing! :+1:t2:

It looks like the ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 4 is available now—albeit without customization options. For comparison re: power delivery, the i7 11850H / RTX 3070 combination is sold with a 230 W power adapter!