Review Price £1,779.00
Dell has installed a Scrabble-tile keyboard in this machine, but it’s a basic unit without a numberpad or extra buttons, which means it feels marooned inside such a sizeable wrist-rest. It’s the same design used by the Precision M3800, and it’s reminiscent of the MacBook Pro’s keyboard.
The backlit keyboard is excellent. The keys hammer down with a consistent, responsive action, and their action gets the balance right – they’re light enough to type quickly, but heavy enough to provide good feedback. The solid base is a boon, and the whole unit reminds us of the similarly slick MacBook.
The trackpad, too, draws inspiration from Apple: it’s just as big, and its surface is just as slick and responsive. It’s got gesture support, and a pair of satisfying buttons.
It’s almost a clean bill of health, but we’re disappointed by the lack of a numberpad. It’s not as much of a big issue as it was on the Precision, as the XPS isn’t designed exclusively for work, but it still seems inexcusable.
As usual, the high-end sample we’ve examined here isn’t the only XPS 15 configuration available. The middle model costs £1,429 and includes the same processor and GPU, and it still has that fantastic screen, but it’s got a slower 1TB hard disk with a 32GB mSATA SSD alongside a smaller battery.
The cheapest XPS 15 costs £1,179 and cuts the specification even further. It’s got a Core i5 chip, 8GB of RAM, a 500GB hard disk and no discrete GPU. It’s also got a standard 1,920 x 1,080 and that smaller battery.
Everything about the XPS screams luxury, from its class-leading screen and physical design to the high-end components and quality ergonomics. It’s unmistakably one of the finest laptops around.
It’s potentially better than its near-identical stablemate: the XPS shares its screen, design and keyboard with the Dell Precision M3800, but it’s got a bigger SSD, better battery and beefier GPU. The M3800 is only worth buying if you need its ISV certification – but that’s the only reason why you’d pay almost £100 more for the M3800.
At the other end of the scale, those less bothered about huge resolutions or physical design can spend less for similar power: the Asus G750JX is several hundred pounds cheaper and has a faster graphics core.
The final mark against the XPS 15 comes from the aluminium spectre of the MacBook Pro with Retina display. Both systems have stunning screens, design and performance, and Apple’s lesser 15.6-inch configuration is just as capable and is £80 cheaper than the Dell. The lower price, better storage and superior battery life means the MacBook just pulls ahead.
The XPS 15 is the best high-end Windows laptop on the market, but decide if you really need to splash out on such an expensive machine when others tackle certain jobs with more aplomb – and opt for a MacBook if you’re OK with a switch to OS X.
Dell’s luxurious XPS 15 has a superlative screen and physical design that’s the match of Apple’s MacBook, and it’s got high-end components on the inside too. It’s one of the best premium Windows machines on the market, but Apple’s MacBook Pro has better storage, a longer battery and better value for money. If you need a powerful, premium Windows machine, this is top-notch.
Next, read our guide to the 10 best laptops you can buy
Trusted Reviews is part of the Time Inc. (UK) Ltd Technology Network