Review Price £648.99
Dell XPS 15 - Performance, Value and Verdict
Where performance is concerned, Dell's XPS 15 holds up pretty well. Its Core i5 460M is a dual-core processor that supports Hyper-Threading for up to four virtual cores. It runs at 2.5hGHz with a maximum turbo speed of 2.8GHz, and will be more than adequate for the average consumer. If it doesn't meet your needs, £220 gets you an upgrade to a quad-core Core i7.
Meanwhile, Nvidia's GeForce GT420M allows for casual gaming, and will happily run undemanding titles at the screen's native 1,366 x 768 resolution (this will obviously no longer be the case if you upgrade to the Full HD display, but don't let that put you off it!). Even DirectX 11 title Stalker: Call of Pripyat was just about playable, though only at Medium Detail.
The card will also ensure that CUDA acceleration is on hand for compatible applications, and will output 3D video to a compatible TV or monitor, with the XPS' Blu-ray upgrade allowing you to play back 3D films.
We were impressed by the XPS 17 lasting 10 minutes short of four hours in Mobilemark's Productivity test, and unsurprisingly the 15 betters this, for though its battery has the same six-cell/56Wh rating, it's powering a smaller screen and less powerful graphics.
Oddly enough, it didn't hold up as well in the intensive DVD playback test, falling seven minutes short of the XPS 17. Overall, battery life isn't outstanding for a 15.6in laptop but it's still decent and if you want more, upgrading to a nine-cell/90Wh battery will only add £50.
On the subject of upgrades, another interesting and affordable addition is a DVB-T TV tuner, which will set you back an extra £30. A fully kitted-out XPS 15 with Core i7, the RGB-LED 1080p screen, Bluetooth, Blu-ray and TV tuner will cost £1099, which gives you a true powerhouse for heavy processing and nearly every form of entertainment, though it's still compromised where gaming is concerned. For designers, artists and photographers, the RGB-LED screen combined with CUDA-enabled graphics makes this XPS a very interesting machine, and one of the cheapest portable options.
Aside from its cheap-feeling keyboard, the only disappointment with the XPS 15 is that it gets a tad noisy when under heavy load, certainly more so than the XPS 17. In general use though, it's whisper-quiet.
Where value is concerned, the £650 our review configuration demands is very reasonable, especially considering its superior build and connectivity. An interesting alternative is the Acer Aspire 5745DG, which has dropped to £700 since we reviewed it. While not up to snuff in the build and connectivity categories (not to mention its inferior Core i3 processor and slower hard drive), you do get a 3D-capable, 120Hz display and wireless stereoscopic glasses, with considerably better battery life for the extra £50.
Overall, Dell's XPS 15 is an impressive machine, offering good build quality, class-leading connectivity, decent video and audio, and plenty of power for the average user. It's fully upgradeable too, including such luxuries as a digital TV tuner and the unique (for a consumer laptop at this price point) option of a Full HD, RGB-LED backlit screen, which makes this an intriguing choice for colour-critical work.
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