Dell Xps 15 Review: Still The Best Only Faster
The Dell XPS 15 is at the top of its game and remains the best 15-inch laptop you can buy.
- Strong productivity and creative performance
- Above-average battery life
- Performance ceiling limited by thin chassis
We rated Dells XPS 15 as the best 15-inch laptop you could buy. It offered the best combination of an attractive, well-built thin and light chassis, solid performance, and a spectacular 3.5K OLED display. Unless you needed workstation or gaming performance, the XPS 15 was the of its size you could buy. Now, Dell has released the XPS 15 , which retains everything great about the previous model while updating to Intels 12th-gen platform.
- Our take
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I reviewed a midrange configuration of the XPS 15 with an Intel Core i7-12700H and the 3.5K OLED display. It runs $2,253, placing it solidly in premium laptop territory. After putting the laptop through its paces, I can say that its just as good as before, only faster.
Its not the fastest 15-inch laptop you can buy . However, youre getting a large laptop with a chassis that makes it seem much smaller than it is and enough performance to please all but the most demanding users. The XPS 15 retains its place as the king of 15-inchers.
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|This item Dell XPS 15 – 15 Inch FHD+, Intel Core i7 10th Gen, 16GB Memory, 512GB Solid State Drive, Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 Ti 4GB GDDR6, Windows 10 Home – Silver|
|4.2 out of 5 stars||4.5 out of 5 stars||3.9 out of 5 stars||4.6 out of 5 stars||4.5 out of 5 stars||4.5 out of 5 stars|
|Connectivity Technology||2x Thunderbolt 3 with power delivery & DisplayPort 1x USB-C 3.1 with power delivery & DisplayPort 1x Full size SD card reader v6.0 1x 3.5mm headphone/microphone combo jack 1x Wedge-shaped lock slot 1x USB-C to USB-A v3.0 & HDMI v2.0 adapter ships standard | Killer Wi-Fi 6 AX1650 and Bluetooth 5.0||wi_fi, bluetooth|
|NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3050 Ti||Ã¢ÂÂ|
|Keyboard, Microphone, Touch Pad, Touchscreen||Keyboard|
|20.5 x 19.8 x 14.8 inches||9.23 x 14.02 x 0.7 inches||13.57 x 9.06 x 0.71 inches||12.05 x 8.35 x 0.58 inches||14.1 x 9.3 x 0.6 inches||3 x 15 x 15 inches|
|â20.5 x 19.8 x 14.8 inches|
|Item Dimensions LxWxH||â20.5 x 19.8 x 14.8 inches|
|â1 Lithium Ion batteries required.|
What Are The Key Features Of The Dell Xps 15
The Dell XPS 15 comes in two halves: the 15.6-inch screen on the top and then the keyboard and the rest of the laptop attached to it. Part of the appeal of this laptop is how good those two halves look at how well they complement each other in terms of aesthetics it’s one of the best Windows laptops around, and it has a keyboard and trackpad that are comfortable and responsive in use.
As with the internal components, there are several screen configurations available here, so you’re going to have to figure out what your budget is and which one you want to go for. The resolutions start at 1920 x 1200 and go up from there, with a maximum brightness of 500 nits on offer, and a refresh rate stuck at 60Hz no matter what panel you choose . There are touchscreen and OLED upgrades available for the display, which is surrounded by ultra-thin bezels on all sides.
The dual 2.5W stereo woofer and 1.5W stereo tweeter speakers give you plenty of audio goodness, whether that’s from movies or music or podcasts. We wouldn’t say the sound system is one of the most outstanding reasons to buy this particular laptop, but then it’s by no means a reason not to buy it either. The speakers perform a little better than you might expect from their size and configuration, and you can’t really ask for much more than that.
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Dell Xps 15 2020 Review: Audio
The Dell XPS 15s top-firing stereo speakers are some of the best Ive heard on any laptop, filling my living room with lively, loud audio that was especially heavy on low-end.
The moody, bouncy bass of Hayley WilliamsSimmer popped loudly and cleanly out of the XPS 15s speakers, getting me to bop my head along instantly. I noticed that the song would get a tiny bit distorted at maximum volume, but it sounded impressively full and clear just a few notches below the max.
The bass was once again the highlight when I switched to the aggressive alternative rock of Dance Gavin Dances Prisoner. The massive wall of distorted guitars sat nicely against the high-pitched vocals of the songs chorus, while the cleaner, funkier guitar riffs in the verse also sounded bright and crisp.
When I jammed the somber acoustic rock of Phoebe BridgersGarden Song on the XPS 15, the singer-songwriters voice was so lucid that it sounded like she was in the room with me. And as present as Bridgers sounded, the XPS did an equally great job preserving the reverberating guitar plucks under her croons.
The Dell XPS 15s audio performance is amplified even further by the Waves Maxx Audio Pro technology and Waves professional tuning, as well as a variety of EQ presets made possible by the included companion app. The XPS speakers sounded significantly louder and fuller with the Waves app activated, and I found presets such as Rock and Pop to be useful for brightening their respective genres.
How Long Will It Last
The XPS 15 9520 is as well-built as a laptop can be, with attention paid to the fine details and solidity that few laptops can match. It will last for years of productive service, and its user-upgradeable as well increase the RAM up to 64GB and add a second SSD for RAID performance or extra storage. Of course, wed love to see a longer warranty than a single year, but thats just how it is with even premium laptops.
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Dell Xps 15 2020 Review: Heat And Noise
With so much power and a discrete GPU packed into a slim design, the XPS 15s fans can get quite noisy. While it didnt happen often, I occasionally noticed that the laptop would start sounding like a miniature jet plane when I ran a lot of applications at once. It can also get a bit warm, with the keyboard and underside reaching temperatures close to 100 degrees Fahrenheit on our heat gun .
Dell Xps 15 Benchmarks
|Puget Systems Benchmark for Premiere Pro||659|
This XPS is getting a fraction of the lifespan that a MacBook Pro can get
And, of course, even these mid-range chips come with a fairly substantial downside: battery life. Even with the GPU disabled, this XPS is getting a fraction of the lifespan that a MacBook Pro can get. I was only averaging three hours and 46 minutes of continuous work with the screen at medium brightness, with occasional downloads running, files copying, and other such tasks.
This battery lifespan is not necessarily a deal-breaker for this kind of laptop, as Im sure people will point out in the comments. Dell did not make particularly lofty battery claims, and the XPS 15s 86 Whr battery isnt massive. Still, a $1,999 device dying that quickly is a tough pill to swallow, especially considering that portability is supposed to be one of its major selling points. It appears to be yet another place where the XPSs svelte dimensions are putting a hard ceiling on its performance.
Dell, in its own materials, describes this webcam as miniscule.
The good news is that those are basically my only gripes about this laptop. If youre aware that youre making those tradeoffs, the rest of it is very, very good.
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Dell Xps 1: Battery Life
- All-day lifespan in moderate workloads
- Longevity drops in tough apps or with the OLED display
In a work benchmark with the screen at half brightness, we found that the XPS lasted for nine hours and four minutes. Thats a reasonable result for a 15.6in laptop with a powerful processor, and if you use this notebook for everyday tasks then youll get through the working day.
Running the processor at maximum pace, we found that the XPS 15 had about six hours of longevity. You can expect both of those results to drop by around an hour if you buy the OLED screen.
These are not bad results for this kind of machine but they dont push the envelope either. If you want a significant improvement to battery life, then youll have to opt for notebooks with weaker performance.
The decent battery life and excellent performance mean that we would happily recommend the Dell XPS 15 as one of the best laptops for students, if it wasn’t for the high entry price. Speaking of which…
Performance That Packs A Punch
Our best. From start to finish: One tiny chip houses both an incredibly powerful 8th Gen Intel® Core processor with custom Radeon RX Vega M discrete graphics plus 4GB of dedicated high-bandwidth memory, so youve got the ultimate in creating and processing power in an impossibly thin machine. Get the performance you need for rich content creation, editing or viewing FHD content, high-powered gaming or mega-tasking. Watch VideoStar performer: Meet Dells most powerful 15-inch 2-in-1. With new 8th Gen Intel® Quad Core CPUs, more cores means increased performance, even with multiple applications running. Power engineered for perfection: Dell Power Manager, engineered by Dell, allows users to customize their laptop acoustics, temperature and performance based on their preferences. It also dynamically delivers the maximum power from your processor while monitoring and managing system temperatures. Adapts to the way you work: A built in gyroscope and accelerometer can differentiate between lap and tabletop positioning, upping your systems performance while youre working on your desktop, knowing you are not in contact with the base and adjusting the temperature accordingly. Go all day: More power doesnt mean more plugging in. With up to 15 hours, 53 minutes of battery life* with FHD, your uber-powerful 2-in-1 can handle your big projects while youre on the go.
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Webcam On The Dell Xps 15
The XPS 15 has some of the thinnest borders I’ve seen on a 15-inch notebook, but that leaves little room for a camera. Dell still has a subpar 720p lens above the display. If you plan to make a lot of calls, consider buying one of the best webcams.It works, and you could use it in a pinch. But this lens doesn’t capture a ton of detail and isn’t the best at color accuracy. My bead looked drawn onto my face, my navy blue shirt looked almost black, and there was plenty of grain in images and video calls.
I imagine that part of the issue here, as it has been for a few years, is that Dell needed to make a tiny camera to squeeze it above the screen. Now it needs to work on making it sharper.
The camera works with IR sensors for Windows Hello login. I found that to be a fast and easy way to log into Windows 11.
Energy Efficient: The Xps 15 Is Energy Star Certified
Recognized as a CES 2018 Best of Innovation Awards Honoree, our black packaging trays are a step beyond recycled. 25% percent of the material consists of ocean plastics collected from coastal areas, while the remaining 75% is made up of other recycled plastics.
Free of materials like cadmium, lead, mercury and some phthalates, itÃ¢ÂÂs also EPEAT registered and BFR/PVC-free.
90% of the laptopÃ¢ÂÂs parts can be easily recycled or reused, and the white bamboo packaging trays are 100% recyclable.
Creator Edition: Fully equipped with the creative tools you need to make magic happen faster and better, so your art can be pushed to the edge. The rendering of high-resolution graphics and videos accelerates with performance class NVIDIA Geforce GTX 1650 Ti graphics.
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Display On The Xps 15
The 15-inch OLED touchscreen on the XPS 15 all but floats above the keyboard. Its thin bezels impress despite the fact that so many other computer manufacturers have been shrinking the bars around their panels. The 16:10 aspect ratio provides plenty of room for work, showing more content with less scrolling.The OLED screen has a resolution of 3456 x 2160, which is not quite 4K, but pretty close
Dell’s panel is vivid and bright, albeit not the most luminous around. I used it to watch a 4K open source film we use in testing, Tears of Steel, and in the opening scene, as a rocket booster’s red flames turned a blinding white, they stood out nicely even against a gray sky.
The XPS 15 covered 85.9% of the DCI-P3 gamut and 123% of the sRGB gamut. That surpasses both the Gigabyte Aero 16 and the MacBook Pro . The Ideapad Slim 7 Carbon won out here at 139.3 percent of the DCI-P3 gamut and 197% of the sRGB gamut. Del”s screen measured 382 nits on our lightmeter, beating the Aero but falling slightly behind the IdeaPad and far behind the MacBook Pro . In my use, I didn’t have an issue with brightness, but having the option is nice, especially if you’re a creative on the go.The OLED screen measures 60 Hz, which is still fairly common. Apple’s mini-LED display goes up to 120 Hz with ProMotion turned on.
Dell Xps 15 Configurations
Our XPS 15 test unit came with an Intel Core i7-12700H,Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050 Ti, 16GB of RAM, a 1TB SSD, an OLED, 3456 x 2160 touchscreen and a black carbon fiber palm rest. As of this writing, that goes for $2,399.
The cheapest version you could get has a Core i5-12500H, integrated graphics, 8GB of RAM , a 512GB SSD and a 1920 x 1200 non-touch screen.The white woven glass palm rest is available only in limited configurations with the Core i7, discrete graphics and 16B or more RAM.
You can top out the XPS 15 for $3,399 with a Core i9-12900HK, RTX 3050 Ti, 64GB of RAM, 2TB of storage and either the OLED screen or a 3840 x 2400 LCD display.
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Dell Xps 1: Specs And Performance
- Impressive Intel processors
- An entry-level graphics core
The Core i7-11800H has eight cores and a top speed of 4.6GHz, and its superb. When combined with the default 16GB of memory, it can tackle most everyday tasks, from running loads of browser tabs to handling Office tools and mainstream content creation.
This chip is marginally faster than the AMD Ryzen 7 5800H thats often included in rivals, and its miles beyond the low-power Core i7 CPUs used in lighter laptops. Dells machine does a great job in the thermal department, too the XPS was never too hot or loud.
If you spend more on the Core i9-11900H, dont expect a huge performance boost. Both chips have eight cores and the Core i9 part is only 300MHz faster. The processor upgrade will deliver some extra ability in creative tasks, but its only worth consideration if you want to run demanding apps, like 4K video tools or high-end design software.
If you want to wait for Intels 12th generation chips, youll see small improvements to single-threaded tasks alongside significant gains in multi-core tests. If you want to run really demanding creative software, its worth although the boosted Dell XPS 15 will likely be more expensive than the models listed here.
Battery Life On The Dell Xps 15
The XPS 15 did quite well on our battery test, especially with both an OLED screen and a discrete graphics card. It lasted for nine hours and 43 minutes on our workload, which involves constantly browsing the web, streaming videos and running OpenGL tests with the display set at 150 nits.
That easily exceeded the Aero 16, which ran for 5:04. The IdeaPad Slim 7 Carbon was in the same ballpark as the XPS 15 at 9:56.
But Apple’s 16-inch MacBook Pro, with its Arm-based M1 Max proved far more efficient, running for 15 hours and 31 minutes on the test. The XPS 15 will last a workday, and is quite good for a PC. But Apple has it outpaced.
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Dell Xps 15 2020 Review: Webcam
Now that videoconferencing has become the norm, Id really like to see mainstream laptops step their webcam quality up. Thats unfortunately not the case with the Dell XPS 15 2020s camera, which made my face look pixelated and blotchy despite accurately capturing the colors of the Spider-Man poster behind me.
I give credit to Dell for getting the webcam on the impossibly slim top bezel as of last year and the camera is still serviceable for everyday calls. But if you want your colleagues to see you as clearly as possible, youll want to spring for one of the best webcams as an add-on.
Dell Xps 15 2020 Review: Verdict
The Dell XPS 15 2020 follows in the footsteps of the new XPS 13 by making small but welcome refinements to one of the best laptops you can buy. The improved, truly bezel-less InfinityEdge display is one of the most immersive and gorgeous screens you can find on a laptop, with brilliant color and plenty of real estate for getting work done.
The XPS 15s larger keycaps and touchpad make Dells laptop comfortable to use for long stretches of time, and its impressively loud speakers can fill small rooms with rich sound. Pair that with 10th Gen Intel CPUs and an optional Nvidia GTX 1650 Ti GPU, and the XPS 15 2020 has more than enough muscle for everyday multitasking as well as video editing and gaming.
The 4K version of the XPS 15 doesnt last quite as long as the 16-inch MacBook Pro , and the systems fans can get a bit noisy at full speed. Power users may also want to consider the new Dell XPS 17, which packs a bigger screen and optional RTX graphics for superior content creation. But if youre looking for a portable workhorse thats as attractive as it is powerful, the XPS 15 is among the best in its class.
Mike Andronico is Senior Writer at CNNUnderscored. He was formerly Managing Editor at Tom’s Guide, where he wrote extensively on gaming, as well as running the show on the news front. When not at work, you can usually catch him playing Street Fighter, devouring Twitch streams and trying to convince people that Hawkeye is the best Avenger.
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