Dell

Dell XPS 15 Review

dell xps 15

Over the last 2 years, I have tested and reviewed many Ultrabooks. They are light, elegant and has powerful hardware. But almost all of them has a lacking in common and it’s the screen. Almost all of them sport a smaller 13 inch screen. And for the first time, Dell made a difference, with the New Dell XPS 15.

With 15 screen crystal sharp touch screen, amazing 4K resolution and 4th Gen Intel Core i7 processor, Dell XPS 15 is a perfect high end Ultrabook. If I had to chose between the XPS and MacBook Pro, I would definitely chose the XPS. I believe the XPS 15 can easily outguns the MacBook Pro from many aspects. Let’s take a look what it has inside and what made this XPS 15 this much desirable. And for those who already want to get one, it is available on Amazon already with a starting price of $1,599.

Pros

15 inch touch screen

4k resolution

Long battery life

Great performance

Solid build

Attractive outlook

Amazing audio output

Comfortable keyboard

Cons

Bad ventilation system

Unusual keyboard layout

Uncomfortable screen scaling

High energy consumption

Expensive

dell xps 15 lid 1

Specifications

Brand: Dell

Series: XPS 15

Processor: Intel Core i7 4702HQ 2.2 GHz

Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 4600 & NVIDIA GeForce GT 750M

Memory: 16GB DDR3L SDRAM

SSD: 512GB

HDD: none

Optical Drive: none

Display Type: Ultra Sharp UHD IPS touch display

Screen Size: 15.6 inch

Screen Resolution: (3840 x 2160)

Audio: 2x Waves MaxxAudio speakers

Keyboard: Island style backlit keyboard

Navigation: 4.1 x 3.1 inch touchpad

Webcam: 720p

Video Ports: 1x HDMI 1.4 and 1x Mini Display Port 1.2

Audio Ports: Combo headphone/microphone jack

Total USB Ports: 4

USB 2.0 Ports: 1

USB 3.0 Ports: 3

Media Ports: SDXC card slot

Wi-Fi: IEEE 802.11b/g/n/ac

Network: none

Bluetooth: 4.0

Ethernet: none

Battery: 91 Wh lithium-ion battery

Battery Life: 8.5 hours

Width: 14.3 inch / 37.2 cm

Depth: 10 inch / 25.4 cm

Height: 0.7 inch / 1.8 cm

Weight: 4.44 pounds / 2.01 kg

Operating System: Windows 8.1 (64Bit)

Warranty: 1 year Limited

Base Price: $1,599.99 on Amazon

dell xps 15 lid 2

Build and Design

If you checked any XPS laptop before, you probably have noticed that the XPS series are not meant to have shiny and eye catching look. Dell has the Alienware series for that. Instead, the XPS series sport an elegant and classic look. Our XPS 15 is no difference. Build-wise the XPS 15 is as solid as they come with amazing finishing. It feels really solid and strong. The exterior of the laptop is a mix of black and silver and has a soft crafted pattern. The lid is made of one solid piece of aluminum, which not only gives a great look but also adds strength.

And the bottom of the XPS 15 is made of carbon fiber composite. It gives a grippy, slightly rubberized feel to it which helps when carrying the laptop without a case. Besides, if you check out the dimension on the specs, it’s also quite thin and small for a 15.6 inch laptop.

Keyboard

dell xps 15 key 2

The keyboard of the XPS 15 is one of the best I’ve used so far. It is nicely build and the keys provide perfect feedback. They are well spaced, and the caps have a nice concave shape that cups your fingertips. Also with the soft bluish white light the backlit is really pleasing to the eyes. Moreover, you can control the backlight with function keys and it has three modes, off, high and medium. It is the layout of the keyboard which bothered me a little bit.

dell xps 15  key 0

Touchpad

The XPS 15 sports a spacious touchpad. It has the size of 4.1×3.1 inches and has the same finish as the rest of the palm rest. When I tested the pad, it was able to perform all windows 8 gestures smoothly. However, as I see, the touchpad is not really that much comfortable and accurate. The MacBook Pro has a much better touchpad if you compare.

Connectivity

Like the previous XPS laptops, the XPS 15 supports a wide range of connectivity features.

On the left side there are two USB 3.0 ports, a mini DisplayPort, an HDMI port, and headphone and power jacks.

dell xps 15 port 2

While on the right, there are 1 more USB 3.0 port, 1 USB 2.0 port and an SD card reader.

dell xps 15  port 1

Display

dell xps 15 screen 2

The XPS 15 came with an ultra sharp 4k UHD display. The screen has more pixels (3200 x 1800 pixel, 235 5ppi) and higher brightness (365 CD/m²) than any laptop screen I’ve recently seen. Moreover, because of the IPS panel, the display content looks correct even from sharp angles. Even when running on battery, the panel was able to reach high brightness levels of up to 345 CD/m². However, some programs are still unable to keep up with the high resolution and can only be rendered very small or in a pixilated state. Also, despite its powerful brightness, in outdoor use the Dell XPS 15 is still very uncomfortable. Under direct sunlight, the reflective display surface obscures the screen content. A matte screen could be really helpful in this case.

dell xps 15 screen 1

Audio

With loud and clear sound, the speakers of the XPS are really amazing. They are powered by the MaxxAudio Waves and, I believe, they are the best speakers an Ultrabook can sport. It also has a software with four sound profiles: Movies, Music, Voice and Gaming.

Performance

The 4th generation Haswell Core i7 4712HQ Processor (6M Cache, up to 3.3GHz) is as powerful as you would expect in a laptop. It has a base clock rate of 2.3 GHz. In turbo mode, the clock frequency can rise to up to 3.3 GHz. Unlike other HQ models from the i7 line, this processor has really low TDP. According to the manufacturer, the chip generates up to 37W of heat, which is 10W less than other HQ processors. The power of this processor is sufficient enough to run almost all regular software and apps open instantly after you click on them. However, without a power outlet nearby, when the laptop is running on batteries the CPU performance will fall drastically.

The version I tested, had 16 GB of RAM, a 512 GB SSD and NVIDIA GeForce GT 750M, They are so far the best laptop technologies currently available. The Dell XPS 15 is a powerhouse and besides the high resolution touch screen display, it has everything a high end Ultrabook need. You will be able to play videos, running scans, browsing the Web and casual game at the same time on this laptop without a single problem.

The NVIDIA GeForce GT 750M graphics and its 2GB of DDR5 video memory in the XPS 15 are strong enough for video editing as well as high end gaming. Though you will have little problem playing next Gen games with ultra graphics.

dell xps 15 bottom

Heat and Noise

I was praising the laptop all the way, but when it comes to this, the XPS 15 is not really shines. I think, if Dell should’ve improved anything of the XPS 15, it’s the heat dissipation and ventilation system. When I was just listening to the music and browsing the internet, the bottom of the laptop hit around 50 degrees Celsius. Which is 25 degrees more than the usual room temperature and really unacceptable. Even the keyboard was a lot hotter than usual (35 degrees Celsius). So far, the palm rest and the touchpad stay under acceptable temperature. So if you want to game on it or planning to use it for a long duration, surely you will have to get an extra cooling device.

Battery Life

Instead of conventional 4 cell battery, Dell powered the XPS 15 with a rather large 6 cell 91Wh battery. However, the XPS is designed as a work and multimedia device, it is not supposed to last through a whole day without a connection to a power outlet. But it is not a total disappointment at all. When I tested the battery of the XPS 15 by listening to the music, browsing the internet and playing casual games, it was able to last almost 6 hours. Considering the powerful i7 processor and NVIDIA graphics, 6 hours of practical battery life is more than enough.

Customization

You won’t be able to customize the laptop by yourself, but there are options. Dell offers four different configurations of the XPS 15. The cheapest one has the price of $1,599. And this version contains an Intel Core i5 4200H processor; 8GB of RAM; a 1TB SATA HDD; a 32GB SSD; and a 15.6 inch 1080p touch screen display with Intel HD 4600 graphics.

However, the cheapest model with a 4K display costs $2,149. For that you will get an Intel Core i7 4712HQ processor, 16GB of RAM and an NVIDIA GeForce 750M GPU with 2GB of DDR5 video memory and of course the 4k touch screen.

Other models are almost similar and don’t really have much difference.

Wrap Up

Although it is one of the most expensive laptops on the market, it is worth every dollar. It is perfect, from almost every aspect, from the powerful specifications to the elegant and classic design. Usually, there are many areas where laptops can go wrong, the display, the keyboard design, battery life or performance. But the Dell XPS 15 somehow got them all right. With a little better GPU, it could be the perfect gaming machine. Anyway, If you are in need of a premium looking Ultrabook with good specification, and if the price is not a problem to you, the XPS 15 is surely the right choice and there is nothing better!

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