If you spend enough time researching computers, you’ll notice that they all start to look the same. Sure, some outstanding models soar above the crowd every now and then; I’m particularly fond of the Asus ZenBook Pro Duo 15, which includes a tilt-up display between the keyboard and the main screen. There’s also the Alienware M17 R4, which features a real mechanical keyboard.
However, those are specialized (and expensive) gaming systems. When it comes to a typical performance-focused 15-inch laptop, Dell’s redesigned XPS 15 is a fantastic machine that may become my new workhorse. The machine was recently redesigned, and the result is a laptop that is more than the sum of its parts.
The Dell XPS 15 has a sleek design, heavy-duty all-metal construction, and a display that should make the rest of the industry jealous. But, more crucially, buying one doesn’t have to be expensive. Although I tested the $2,300 model with an Intel Core i7, an OLED display, and GeForce RTX 3050, the XPS 15 with an Intel Core i5 is available for as little as $1,371. Do I now have your attention? Let’s take a look at the Dell XPS 15’s features.
Dell XPS 15 – An Overview
• Weight: 4.3 pounds
• CPU: 11th Generation Intel Core i7-11800H
• Memory: 16GB DDR4 3200Hz
• 15.6-inch Display: 400 nits touch, 3456×2160 pixels
• Storage: 512GB PCIe NVMe SSD
• Battery life: Approximately 7:45 hours as tested
• Price as tested: $2,303
• Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3050
• Impeccable performance
• Gigantic touchpad
• Stunning 3.5K OLED touchscreen
• Unreliable all-day battery life
• Comes equipped with USB-C ports only
• RTX 3050 Ti is best graphics available
Dell XPS 15: Features Reviewed
The Dell XPS 15 has always been a gorgeous laptop, and it’s currently one of the most elegant portables available thanks to a makeover last year. It’s made of aluminium, glass fibre, and carbon fibre; my model has an aluminium top and chassis, as well as a silky-smooth glass fibre deck around the keyboard. Alternatively, the black carbon fibre deck is an option.
However, merely describing the finishes does not account for much. As such, let’s dive in. The Dell XPS 15 laptop is quite appealing, thanks in part to the fantastic 4 sided InfinityEdge display. There’s practically no bezel to discuss, with a screen that appears to go edge-to-edge all the way around. Even the lower bezel is non-existent; the XPS 15 previously had a prominent chin, but now the screen extends almost all the way to the keyboard.
When it comes to the display type, you have the option of a 3.5K OLED, FHD+ or UHD+ alternative. Regardless of the display you choose between the 3 available options, you get a 15.6-inch display with a 16:10 aspect ratio and an eye-catching 92.9 per cent screen-to-body ratio.
My test machine had the greatest option: a 3.5K OLED screen with a resolution of 3456×2160 pixels. Yes, it falls short of being a full 4K display, but I’m not complaining. The slightly decreased resolution is hard to perceive, and the incredible 400-nit OLED display more than makes up for it! Note that the FHD+ is placed at the bottom of the scale because it’s not a touchscreen.
The 3.5K OLED touchscreen display was, of course, one of the highlights of the test device I received. To put it bluntly, the show is incredible. It’s vibrant and colourful, and no matter how bright you make it, blacks will always be black. The display is virtually indistinguishable from a true 4K monitor in my opinion. In addition, the anti-reflective 400-nit panel is easily legible in a range of lighting settings, including in my front room with afternoon sunshine streaming in through the window. That’s unexpected, given OLED panels are infamous for being dim.
The deck is equally as attractive. A pair of top-firing speakers sit on either side of the backlit keyboard, and the XPS 15 has one of the largest touchpads I’ve ever seen on a 15-inch laptop. (You’ll want to remember where the backlight control is in the Function key row because the key labels become essentially invisible when the backlight is on in normal daylight. The backlight, on the other hand, is fantastic in low light.)
For Windows Hello biometric security, you have two options: the top-right power button with an inbuilt fingerprint reader or the webcam with facial recognition. Whichever method you choose, it will work almost instantaneously.
The XPS 15 is also a truly modern laptop when it comes to connections, which not everyone may appreciate. It has 3 USB-C ports, a full-size SD card reader, an audio jack, and a lock slot. Two of the USB-C ports (on the left) are Thunderbolt 4, which is excellent, but if you’re a purist (or just sluggish to update), a USB-A and HDMI connection might be missed. These are the only connections available.
The total weight is 4.3 pounds (different versions of the laptop vary slightly, though). Because of the all-metal build, it’s probably a few ounces heavier than the normal 15-inch laptop.
Dell offers a wide choice of processor and memory options, ranging from an Intel Core i5 to a Core i9, as well as memory sizes ranging from 8GB to 64GB. In fact, if you feel the need, you can add an additional 8TB of SSD storage to the hood (but I hope you’re sitting down when you choose the option because the 8TB drive is a $2,000 upsell).
That said, the 11th generation Intel Core i7 setup I tested, proved to be buttery smooth no matter what job I threw at—and I ran the gamut from word processing to Photoshop and even podcast audio editing with Audacity. Needless to say, it isn’t the fastest system out there; it scored 1518/6544 on the Cinebench R32 benchmark and 4416 in the 3DMark Time Spy DirectX 12 trials. Nevertheless, that’s still a respectable number, although gaming laptops easily outperform them.
Speaking of audio, the top-firing speakers are one of my favourite upgrades over previous XPS 15 models which shot sound into the tabletop. The new and improved audio is warm and full; I particularly didn’t feel the need to put on headphones when listening to acoustic classics like Peter Himmelman’s Impermanent Things on Spotify. Moreover, these speakers have a lot of volumes — even while blasting a song like Sunshine of Your Love at maximum intensity, the speakers didn’t overload. A round of applause to Dell for getting the audio right!
When it comes to the types of graphic processors available, you have the options of RTX 3050 Ti, Nvidia’s GeForce RTX 3050, and onboard Intel UHD graphics. My system came with the RTX 3050, which was a significant upgrade over any 2xxx-series RTX chipset and allowed me to play Microsoft Flight Simulator and Cyberpunk 2077 at 60 frames per second on a laptop. But what if you need additional graphics power?
The XPS 15 is limited to 45-watt chipsets. That said, if you truly want a 70-watt RTX 3060, you’ll have to go with the XPS 17 instead, which has vapour chamber cooling to keep the graphics card temperatures under control.
One of the reasons I like the XPS 15 so much—and one of the reasons it’s so popular—is that it’s a multipurpose laptop that’s small enough to carry around yet powerful and ergonomic enough to replace a desktop. If you want to use it on the go, it has enough juice to last you the entire day. In normal use, the 86WHr battery lasted slightly over 8 hours, which is probably enough for most situations, however, if you have long days ahead of you, you’ll want to carry the power brick with you.
Final Verdict: Dell XPS 15
It’s not often that I come across a laptop that I want to keep after the evaluation time has ended. Sure, I adore playing with gaming laptops, and I believe that greater processing power is always a good thing.
However, I always resort to my personal laptop because it is more convenient. The XPS 15, on the other hand, packs its punch into a portable device that I can use at home and on the go. It’s the epitome of practicality.
Not only that but there’s more. The 15.6-inch OLED display is excellent. It’s a touchscreen, so it’s bright and clear, and the laptop’s almost bezel-free design makes it appear larger than it is.
I also like that you don’t have to upgrade to the XPS 15 at the high-end side of things. Although I have not tested the Core i5 version, I am confident that it will suffice for basic productivity activities.
The battery life, which is on the verge of being insufficient for a full day away from a power source, is perhaps my only major reservation. Dell was unable to fit a 97 watt-hours power supply beneath the hood. Nevertheless, stepping down to the FHD+ display should add another hour or so to the runtime.
The Final Verdict? The Dell XPS 15 could easily be the laptop of your dreams unless you have very specific requirements, such as 10-hour battery life, a 3-pound chassis, or a gaming rig with a 360Hz frame rate display. It is well worth the buy!