Searching for a top-of-the-line Windows laptop that’s a no-holds-barred, best-in-class machine? You may not have to look any further than the Dell XPS 15. It’s a large, powerful laptop that boasts terrific design and has a fabulous screen. (If you’d prefer or need something smaller, check out our other reviews of smaller Windows laptops that are standouts in their own right.)
Have a look at our review of the Dell XPS 15 to find out why it’s impressed us so much!
Fabulous screen, great design
The first thing to note about the XPS 15 is that it continues to uphold Dell’s stellar reputation for fantastic design.
Flip the large screen open and start the unit up, and you’ll be impressed firstly by the laptop’s overall small footprint despite its sizeable 15.6-inch screen, due to its InfinityEdge design: all that real estate fits neatly within what seems to be an unusually narrow frame thanks to the fact that the screen itself has practically zero bezels save for its ‘chin’. Thanks to this feature, the XPS 15 becomes quite a bit smaller than other 15-inch laptops around; Dell says it’s actually closer to a 14-incher. And when you’re talking about laptops of this size, every inch and ounce saved is welcome. (For reference, the base XPS 15 weighs 1.8kg while the touchscreen version weighs 2kg.)
The only drawback to the screen’s design is that the webcam is located down in the ‘chin’, which has certain implications regarding videocalls and the like (i.e. the viewing angles of those you’re speaking with can be a little odd), but it’s not a big deal and far from a dealbreaker.
What about the screen, you might ask? Buyers can choose from either an FHD (1920×1080) display or an UltraSharp 4K Ultra HD (3840×2160) Gorilla Glass-enhanced touch display in the most expensive version. We suggest coughing up a little bit more for the latter – which is so incredibly sharp that you’ll need to put your face right next to the screen to see the pixels – only if you need it (if, say, you’re a photographer or in another occupation where the additional expense is warranted); otherwise, you can’t go wrong with the base version, which is already impressively clear and bright.
No special features here a la Dell’s own XPS 2-in-1 or Lenovo’s YOGA convertible laptops, and/or even those laptops whose screens can be laid flat: the hinge of the XPS 15 opens only to a regular degree.
On to other things now. The XPS 15 boasts what’s become Dell’s trademark “semi-wedge” design – from rear to front, it narrows somewhat, albeit to a much lesser extent than Apple’s MacBook Air line. Unlike Apple, which is ruthlessly paring its laptops’ ports down to what seems to be the bare minimum, this unit has been equipped with a wealth of ports, including two USB 3.0 ports, one USB 3.1 port, a full-size HDMI port, and an SD card slot. Little touches impress, such as the tiny five-LED push-button battery indicator that was once an Apple exclusive. Lastly, the XPS 15 is made from machined aluminum and also boasts a carbon-fiber composite palmrest that’s been enhanced with ‘soft touch paint’ for a more premium, comfortable feel.
Quite the powerhouse
Now on to how the XPS 15 performs. In this aspect, it doesn’t disappoint either – very far from it indeed.
The XPS 15 comes with Windows 10 Pro; your choice of either a Core i5 or Core i7 quad-core processor; an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 video card with 4GB RAM for starters; and various storage configurations from a 500GB + 32GB flash setup to a 1TB SSD.
All of these configurations are quite impressive, as they’re hands-down far more powerful than most of what else is out there – a boon to those who edit video or want to play the odd game when out and about.
We have to give Dell more praise for how silent the XPS 15 is, too – another hallmark of its power and capability. Only when pushed to its limit does it begin to sound off, but it has power to spare and then some – even with plenty of programs open and a boatload of browser tabs open, it was hard to get a rise out of our test unit.
Regarding battery life, you might well expect a laptop with this power and capability to blaze through one charge almost before you know it. We’re happy to say that this isn’t the case. Our test unit averaged around six hours on a full charge and when put through moderate use before we had to plug it in. Not exactly what you might refer to as one day’s worth of charge, but still better than can be expected. (This is where the little battery indicator can come in handy – to help you keep abreast of your XPS 15’s charge even without needing to flip the screen open.)
The keyboard and trackpad aren’t too special, but both get the job done pretty well. It’s worth noting that the keyboard has dual backlight settings – you can make it a bit brighter or dim it a little. Lastly, the speakers are pretty decent, but again no great shakes.
The bottom line
The Dell XPS 15 is a beast of a laptop that impresses in more ways than one. It’s about as well-designed and as compact as a modern Windows laptop can be, and it’s fully functional and ready to help you manage even the toughest day’s load while you’re on the go. We’d say it’s a ‘happy medium’ laptop: positioned in between those that are extremely portable yet might lack a little power, and between the ‘gaming monsters’ that are very capable and functional, yet too tough to cart around with ease. The XPS 15 is a true winner in our book.