- Incredible high-resolution screen
- Fantastic design and build quality
- Powerful Core i7 processor
- Gaming-capable GPU
- Slimline chassis
- Noisy and warm under heavy load
- Battery life falls short of MacBook standards
Review Price £1,779.00
What is the Dell XPS 15?
Dell debuted its XPS brand on bleeding-edge desktop PCs back in 1993, but now this famous name is commonly associated with luxurious laptops such as the latest XPS 15. It’s designed for those who want a high-end experience, whether it’s for creative work or serious entertainment.
The latest XPS doesn’t just have a recognisable name – its physical design is familiar, too. It shares its aesthetic with the Precision M3800 mobile workstation, which we praised for its looks and build quality. Dell is still up against strong competition, namely the Apple MacBook Pro with Retina display at the top of the market and cheaper rivals with similarly powerful hardware.
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Dell XPS 15: Design & Build Quality
Dell has spent significant time crafting this machine, which is a near-perfect mix of high-quality materials and sumptuous design – something we loved on the Precision M3800.
This system is hewn from high-quality materials: the lid and frame are made from machined aluminium – similar to the MacBook – and the base, wrist-rest and edges are constructed from carbon-fibre, with still-visible weave evident throughout.
Many of the metallic edges are chamfered for added luxury, and the XPS 15 is all about the clean curves and good-looking minimalism – like the MacBook, the Dell’s subtle design exudes class.
The carbon-fibre base showed no weakness, and the wrist-rest was just as strong – we prodded hard, but couldn’t make the material flex. Pressing the rear of the screen caused a little desktop distortion, which isn’t a problem on the MacBook, but that’s the only issue.
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Ports include three USB 3 connections, a single USB 2 port, and HDMI and mini-DisplayPort connectors alongside a card reader and a headphone jack. There are also some nice small details, such as a smart LED-based battery indicator on the left-hand edge, and a metal base plate with the XPS logo that lifts up to reveal serial numbers and part codes.
It sounds good, but it gets even better when the Dell’s measurements are mentioned. The main body is just 17mm thick, with 4mm of that taken up by the screen, are another two millimetres are added by the banded rubber feet across the base – so it compares well with the 18mm MacBook. The XPS 15 weighs 1.88kg, which is a little less than the MacBook and not far off some Ultrabooks. Despite the huge power on offer, it won’t weigh you down when it’s slung in a bag.
Dual-band 802.11ac Wi-Fi is a future-proofed addition, and there’s Bluetooth 4.0, but no Gigabit Ethernet on-board – you’ll need to use the included USB adapter.
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Dell XPS 15: Screen & Sound Quality
The XPS 15 doesn’t just share its physical design with the Precision M3800 – both systems have the same stunning screen.
The native resolution of 3,200 x 1,880 is the undoubted star attraction of this 15.6in IPS panel. It’s a mighty figure that helps this machine deliver a stonking 237.9ppi – crucially, a higher figure than the MacBook’s 220.5ppi Retina display, which has a 15.4in screen but a lower resolution of 2,880 x 1,800.
The XPS 15’s panel isn’t just about sheer pixels – it’s got great quality too. The brightless level of 424 nits is around the same level as the Precision, and it’s combined with a black level of 0.36 nits to create a contrast ratio of 1,171:1 – marginally better than Dell’s workstation. The screen is punchy, with deep black levels and similarly impressive bright shades, and colours are vivid throughout.
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The 92.8% sRGB gamut coverage is impressive and, like the M3800, only red shades suffer slightly. The colour temperature of 6,654K is very close to the 6,500K ideal, and the Delta E of 4.5 is the only issue – it’s average, rather than outstanding.
That doesn’t take away from the fact that this panel is superb, with more than enough quality for movies, games and almost all work applications, and Dell has sensibly upscaled icons and other OS features so they’re not too small to use. Only hard-nosed creatives who demand better gamut coverage and colour quality for precision colour work should look elsewhere.
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The Dell’s entertainment credentials are enhanced by good audio. There’s more than enough volume to pump a room with sound, the crisp high-end is dominated by the crunchy, rich mid-range, and there’s noticeable bass – although we do with there was a little more.
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