Versatile enough for gentle work and play

Spend enough time evaluating laptops, they tend to cloud along with a disappointing similarity crust. Certainly, there are notable models that sometimes rise above the noise; I’m particularly fond of the Asus ZenBook Pro Duo 15, which has a tiltable screen between the keyboard and the main screen. And there’s the amazing Alienware M17 R4, with a true mechanical keyboard. But those are niche (and expensive) gaming platforms. When it comes to a standard 15-inch laptop that focuses on performance, the updated Dell XPS 15 is a great laptop that could be my new favorite for getting work done.

Dell recently updated its XPS 15, and the result is a laptop that’s beyond the sum of its large parts. It looks great, with a sleek design, heavy-duty all-metal chassis and a screen that should be the envy of the rest of the industry. But most importantly, the purchase doesn’t have to break the bank; While I tested the $2,300 mid-range version with an Intel Core i7, GeForce RTX 3050, and OLED display, you can ride the XPS 15 train for $1,371 with an Intel Core i5 processor. fascinated by? Let’s see what the Dell XPS 15 has to offer.

Dell XPS 15 in short

Positives:

  • Stunning 3.5K OLED touch screen
  • Excellent performance
  • Massive touchpad

Negatives:

  • All-day marginal battery life
  • USB-C ports only on board
  • RTX 3050 Ti is the best graphics available

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Dell XPS 15 Technical Specifications

Price as tested: $2,303 | CPU: 11th Generation Intel Core i7-11800H Processor | an offer: 15.6 inches 3456 x 2160 pixels, 400 nits | Graphics: Graphics Card NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3050 | memory: 16 GB DDR4 3200 Hz | storage: 512GB PCIe NVMe SSD | Battery life: Approx. 7:45 hours depending on the test | Weight: 4.3 pounds

Dell XPS 15 design

The Dell XPS 15 has always been an attractive laptop, and after its facelift last year, it’s one of the most aesthetically pleasing laptops at any price. It’s made from materials like aluminum, fiberglass and carbon fiber – a typical distinction of an aluminum case and chassis with a silky smooth fiberglass surface surrounding the keyboard. You can also choose a black carbon fiber deck instead.

However, just describing the ending doesn’t quite do it justice. It’s a very nice laptop, thanks in large part to the great display – Dell’s four-sided InfinityEdge display. There’s basically no bezel to speak of, with a screen that feels like edge-to-edge all around. Even the lower frame is gone; The XPS 15 had a pronounced chin, and now the screen almost reaches the keyboard.

No matter which of the three display options you choose, you get a 15.6-inch screen with an aspect ratio of 16:10 and an eye-catching screen-to-body ratio of 92.9%. My test machine included what I consider the best option: a 3.5K OLED display that works at 3456 x 2160 pixels. Yes, it’s a little less than a true 4K screen, but I won’t complain. You’ll be hard pressed to notice the slightly lower resolution, and the impressive 400 nits OLED screen makes up for it. If you prefer, you can always opt for the FHD+ or UHD+ alternative. Only the low-end FHD+ models are not touch screen.

The deck looks just as smart as the screen. The XPS 15 features a massive touchpad — one of the largest I’ve seen in a 15-inch laptop, and a pair of louder speakers on either side of the backlit keyboard. (You will need to memorize where the backlight control is in the function key row, because when the backlight is lit in normal daylight, the key labels are basically invisible. But in low light, the backlight is great.)

You have two options for Windows Hello biometric security; The upper right power button with a fingerprint reader and a webcam that provides facial recognition. Whichever you prefer, they work more or less immediately.

When it comes to connectivity, the XPS 15 is quite the modern laptop, something that not everyone may appreciate. Specifically, the only connections you’ll find here are three USB-C ports, a full-size SD card reader, an audio jack and a lock slot. Two of the USB-C ports (the one on the left) are Thunderbolt 4, which is great, but if you’re traditional (or slow to update) you might miss the USB-A and HDMI connection.

All this adds up to 4.3 pounds (different versions of the laptop vary slightly). This isn’t particularly heavy, but it’s probably a few ounces higher than the average 15-inch laptop thanks to the all-metal chassis.

Dell XPS 15 performance

Dell gives you plenty of processor and memory options, from Intel Core i5 to Core i9, and memory ranging from 8GB to 64GB. In fact, you can stuff a full 8TB SSD storage under the hood if you feel the need (but I hope you’ll sit down when you click the option, because an 8TB drive is a $2000 top-selling).

However, the 11th generation Intel Core i7 configuration I tested was smooth no matter what task I threw at it — and I ran the gamut from word processing to Photoshop tasks and even audio editing in podcasts with Audacity. It’s not the fastest drilling rig, of course; It scored 1518/6544 on the Cinebench R32 benchmark and got a score of 4416 in the 3DMark Time Spy DirectX 12 trials. Those are respectable numbers, but they’re easy to beat with laptops tuned for gaming.

Speaking of podcasts, the high-performance speakers are one of my favorite improvements over older XPS 15 models that depicted sound in a tabletop. The new and improved sound is warm and full; I’ve listened to audio classics like Peter Himmelmann Impermanent things on Spotify and didn’t feel the need to run for headphones. And you can get a great deal of sound from these speakers – even play a song like radiance of your love, the speakers will not exceed the maximum volume. Kudos to Dell for getting the sound right.

Of course, one of the most notable features of my test unit was the 3.5K OLED touch screen. The show is, frankly, amazing. It’s vibrant and colorful, and black is always, well, black, no matter how you adjust the brightness. In my view, the screen is basically indistinguishable from a true 4K screen. The 400 nits anti-reflective panel can also be read in a variety of lighting conditions, including in my front room with afternoon sunlight streaming in the window. This is kind of surprising, because OLED screens can be noticeably dimmer.

Graphics processor options include integrated Intel UHD graphics, Nvidia’s GeForce RTX 3050 and RTX 3050 Ti. My system came with the RTX 3050 – a huge improvement over any 2xxx series RTX chipset that made running Microsoft Flight Simulator and Cyberpunk 2077 on a laptop workable for me at 60 fps. Want more graphical horsepower? Dell is limited to these 45W chipsets in the XPS 15, so if you really want to up the ante on the 70W RTX 3060, you need to try the XPS 17 instead — this laptop features vapor chamber cooling to keep graphics card temperatures in check. .

One of the reasons I love the XPS 15 — and no doubt boosts its popularity in general — is that it’s a versatile laptop that’s portable enough for on the go but powerful and comfortable enough to be a desktop alternative. If you plan to take it on the go, it has the juice to work a lot throughout the day. The 86WHr battery lasts for 8 hours in normal use, which is probably fine in most situations, although if you have long days you’ll need to bring the power brick with you.

Final Thoughts on the Dell XPS 15

It’s not often that I find a laptop that I want to continue using when the review period is over. Sure, I enjoy playing with gaming laptops, and I firmly believe that more horsepower is always better. But I always go back to my personal laptop simply because it’s more practical. Well, the XPS 15 packs its power into a versatile package that I can use comfortably at home and on the road. It’s a definition my work.

And that’s not all. The 15.6-inch OLED screen is remarkably good. It’s touchscreen, it’s bright and crisp, and the nearly bezel-less design makes the laptop feel bigger than it really is.

I also love that you don’t have to jump on the XPS 15 Ultimate Train. I haven’t tested the Core i5 version, but I’m confident it will be enough for basic productivity tasks. Perhaps my only real reservation is the battery life, which is on a knife edge from not being enough for a full day away from the power outlet. It’s a pity that Dell couldn’t squeeze 97 watts per hour under the hood. Then again, stepping down to the FHD+ screen should add another hour or so to your uptime.

minimum? Unless you have a few specialized needs — like 10+ hours of battery life, a 3-pound chassis or a gaming rig with a 360Hz refresh rate display — the Dell XPS 15 could be the laptop of your dreams.

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