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Dell XPS 15 review: An expensive but nifty Windows laptop for everyday work

Is the Dell XPS 15 that perfect everyday-use power notebook that you had been waiting for? Let's find out

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Dell | Laptop review | Laptops

Khalid Anzar  |  New Delhi 

Dell XPS 15
Dell XPS 15 has one of the best displays you get in laptops

The XPS 15 recently got upgraded, along with its siblings in the XPS notebook series. As part of this upgrade, the premium laptop got a fresh new design, a 16:10 aspect-ratio screen, 10th-Gen Intel Core processors, a big touchpad, and an improved chassis with carbon fibre covering the palm rest area, among other things. These tweaks would likely make you think this iteration of the XPS 15 is the perfect power notebook for everyday use that you had been waiting for. But is it? Let’s find out:

XPS 15: Design

This is one area where has worked a lot and that shows in the shining new look of the XPS 15. Made of aluminium, the XPS 15 is stunning to look at from every angle. It has a solid build with no area making any squeaking sound. On the outside, the notebook has the silver colour with a matte texture on the lid for a good in-hand grip while carrying the laptop. Speaking of the lid, it has a flexible yet solid movement feedback. Its compact hinge does not appear to be built to take a lot of weight: the display keeps moving backwards as you pick up the machine. But open the lid to experience a different world altogether, with everything in a black theme. It looks good but gets easily spoilt with dust and dirt.

Complementing the notebook design is an almost bezel-less display profile. It stretches from corner to corner leaving negligible bezels, and the prominent bottom bezel is now part of XPS history. Even with a bezel-less display profile, Dell has managed to put a webcam in the XPS 15. It is not an ordinary webcam but one paired with infrared sensors for Windows Hello login using face recognition. As a result, the face recognition works in all light conditions and unlocks the notebook instantly.

Dell XPS 15

The lower side of the notebook is still covered with carbon fibre with a rubberised texture which everyone may not appreciate. Nonetheless, it accentuates the design and goes well with the black-themed interior of the notebook. Like everything else, the keyboard and the touchpad are also black. The touchpad on the XPS 15 is big and it may be the biggest it can get in a notebook. The keyboard has been improved with bigger keys, and optimal distance between each key. The keys’ click feedback is good and the travel distance seems like what you get in most premium notebooks. The keyboard could have been stretched broader, making room for numerical keys, if there were no upward firing speakers – one on each side. The speakers’ placement does, however, bring out the best audio experience, be it during voice and video calls or while watching a series on Netflix.

Take a look on the side and you would see only USB type-C ports. That is because the Dell XPS 15 uses Thunderbolt 3 (two on the left side) and a USB-C 3.1 (one on the right side) for power delivery and display out. The notebook comes with an USB-C to USB-A port adaptor, if you need to connect any conventional product.

XPS 15: Display

The Dell XPS 15 has one of the best displays you get in It is a 15.6-inch touchscreen of an ultraHD+ (3840 x 2400) resolution. The additional pixels here are due to the notebook’s 16:10 aspect ratio, which might look reasonable on paper but makes a big difference in reality. The unconventional aspect ratio opens so many new ways for people to utilise the display. For example, I can stuff much more content on the Windows 10 home screen now. Also, I can open multiple apps and windows and use them without needing to minimise any of them to save on-screen space. The display is absolutely fantastic, especially for content creators and office goers. It, however, might not impress people who stream TV shows and movies on laptop, as the unconventional aspect ratio blacks out a huge portion of the screen (top and bottom) for want of content optimised for the 16:10 aspect ratio.

Dell XPS 15

As for quality, the display is bright, vivid and responsive. A touchscreen here does not really add much value; it only bumps up the product’s cost. Nonetheless, the display supports 100 per cent Adobe RGB and 94 per cent DCI-P3 colour gamut. The display’s brightness level peaks at 500nits, which keeps it legible in any light conditions. The value-added display features like Dell CinemaColor and Dell PremierColor make it only better and provide customisation options, so you can tune the display profile that works best for you.

XPS 15: Performance

The Dell XPS 15 is a premium laptop for everyday work requirements. Powered by 10th-Gen Intel Core i7 processor, paired with 32GB RAM (DDR4-2933MHz) and 1TB M.2 NVMe SSD, the notebook boots Windows 10 Home edition. For graphics, the notebook has Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650Ti discreet graphic processing unit (GPU). These are specifications that might not seem exceptional but work well for most use cases, except extreme gaming.

Dell XPS 15

In everyday use, even if it involves content creation using tools like Adobe Creative Suite, the notebook sails through easily without any trouble. It manages to deliver a consistent performance while rendering and exporting 4K videos, too. For gaming, it works well, but do not expect gaming-rig-like performance.

Dell XPS 15

While everything seems fine, the XPS 15 is marred by thermal issues and underwhelming on-battery life. You need a desk to work on, as the base of the XPS 15 heats up, making it comfortable to use on the lap. Surprisingly, it warms up even if you do basic tasks like... writing this review on a Microsoft Word file.

Dell XPS 15

The on-battery time is good enough for just a couple of hours. For anything above that, especially if your work involves power-intensive tasks, the XPS 15 will disappoint. On normal usage, however, expect nine hours of on-battery time with screen set to 50 per cent brightness.

Dell XPS 15 review: Verdict

Priced at Rs 2,36,287, the XPS 15 is expensive. The only way you can justify this pricing is by not asking about it. If price does not decide what you should buy, consider this one for its premium design, great display, impressive keyboard and touchpad, and swift performance. A caveat: Look elsewhere is you need a premium notebook for gaming and movie streaming.

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First Published: Sat, September 12 2020. 14:03 IST
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