TECHNOLOGY

Dell XPS 15 Review

Is it worth its hefty price tag?

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BY Rahil Bhagat - 31 Aug 2017

 

In a Nutshell

The Dell XPS is a portable powerhouse with great build quality and a long-lasting battery. Its high cost might be a turnoff to some but for the price of entry, there are few better laptops out there.

 

It wasn’t too long ago that Dell was known for creating the most boring PCs on the planet—dull grey boxes that signified the worst ideals of mass market computing. Today, however, Dell makes some of the most exciting machines money can buy.

Case in point is the XPS series of light and thin laptops. These devices are beautifully built, razor thin, and sport one of the best display’s available on a laptop.

The downside of this portability and killer good looks is that XPS machines tend to cost a bit more than Dell’s mainstream Inspiron line. Plus, they are not what you would call powerful. Dell intends to address that second point with its latest 15-inch XPS, aptly named Dell XPS 15.

Sporting a powerful, 7th generation Intel Core i5 or i7 processor and a solid Nvidia GTX 1050 dedicated graphics solution, this big brother of the XPS line does seem to tick all the boxes. But is it worth its hefty price tag?

Read on to find out.

The Good

The hallmark of the XPS series is the edge to edge, bezel-less InfinityEdge display. When it was first released a few years ago, the display wowed everyone, and year on year, Dell has kept improving the XPS’s most famous feature. This latest edition of the XPS 15 is no exception with the same gorgeous edge to edge display.

The benefits of such a display, beyond just a more immersive picture, is that it can actually fit a larger screen into a smaller chassis, making this sexy beast all the more trim. Viewing angles are also good and the matte screen keeps glare to a minimum, while still providing a rich picture that lets it stand out from its competitors.

The build quality really deserves an extra round of applause because aside from maybe the Razer Blade and Apple MacBook, there is perhaps no consumer grade laptop that’s better built. The machined metal body feels rigid and solid with everything from the screen hinge to the i/o ports being of very high quality. This also makes the XPS 15 a great looking machine with a sleek grey shell and little in the way of the obnoxious bling that a lot of powerful Windows laptops suffer from. This is one device that you can use in public and feel cool about. I should also mention how shockingly light the XPS 15.

The XPS 15 isn't just a pretty face. Under its sleek shell, this laptop has tons of grunt. The 7th generation Intel Kaby Lake CPU made most tasks, even intense ones like video editing a breeze. The Nvidia 1050 also allows the XPS 15 to double up as a decent mid-tier gaming machine. It could run most modern AAA games on “medium” with little effort. And as for less-demanding popular titles like League of Legends and Counter Strike: GO, the XPS is able to power through at maximum graphics settings and still achieve buttery smooth frame rates.

I do not know what kind of witchcraft Dell employed to put all that power into such a small shell but here’s to hoping that with Nvidia’s newly announced Max-Q architecture, newer iterations of the XPS 15 will pack even more under the hood.

Props to Dell for including a powerful battery (up to 97WHR) that gives the XPS 15 a full 7 hours of standard usage browsing the web, watching a few videos, and listening to music.

A little caveat here is that if you are using the XPS 15 with the 4k display, expect to need a charger faster due to the screen pushing out way more pixels. Another great feature is the trackpad—though not as good as that on a MacBook—is pretty solid for a Windows PC. It’s very accurate, clicks are satisfying and gesture detection is top notch.

The Meh

On a device as light and thin as this, it’s understandable that sacrifices have to be made. What a pity that for a machine with such a great screen, the speakers are quite lacking. Overly tinny and with middling bass, the XPS 15 struggles to fill even a full room with sound. This is made worse by severe distortion, on my unit at least, on anything above 80 percent sound. You’ll want a good pair of headphones for this machine.

In the past, Dell has been known to make some exceptional keyboard, especially on its Alienware branded devices. The typing experience on the XPS 15, though, is pretty meh. Key travel, while serviceable, is not great and the feedback from each key press could be better. Again, this isn't a major downside for the XPS 15, just an area where Dell could improve in future iteration of the device.

The Bad

Dell markets the XPS 15 as a do-it-all device combining portability and performance in a sexy package. A problem though, with stuffing high-end components in such a slim chassis is that thermals can often be an issue—there’s no escaping physics after all.

What this means is that under heavy load such as gaming, the laptop gets quite hot and the fans spin a bit louder than one would expect.

Another issue is the cost. At the starting price of SG$2499, the XPS 15 is not what you would call cheap. The less portable Inspiron 15 7000 laptop, with similar specs, is nearly a thousand dollars cheaper. Compared to its main rivals such as the Apple MacBook Pro however, the XPS 15 is relatively affordable.

Conclusion

Overall though, the Dell XPS 15 is an amazing laptop and Dell should be commended for building a device that appeals to both power users as well as people looking for a well-built portable machine that can smash through most basic tasks. The price may be a bit on the high side but considering the build quality and that gorgeous screen, the Dell XPS 15 should be high up on anyone’s list.

 

Device specs:

CPU:Intel Core i5 or i7

Ram: 8 or 16 GB

GPU: Nvidia Geforce 1050

Screen: A 15.6 inch (Full HD or 4K) InfinityEdge Display

Price: SG$2499 (Core i5 variant)/ SG$3199 (Core i7 variant)