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Dell XPS 15z – Performance, Battery Life, Value and Verdict

Ardjuna Seghers

By Ardjuna Seghers



Our Score:


We received the top-end XPS 15z, which rocks on with a Core i7 processor, 8GB of RAM, a 2GB Nvidia GeForce GT 525M, and a 750GB, 7,200rpm hard drive. To be honest, we think that for the vast majority of users this configuration will be overkill, though if you have the £200 extra to spare, it's not bad value for upgrading from a Core i5 CPU, 4GB of RAM and a 500GB HDD – especially considering it also doubles the memory on the GeForce graphics card.

Dell XPS 15z

As you can see from the results graph, our sample spec of the XPS 15z will easily cope with almost any task. It's not quite as fast as a laptop sporting an SSD and, unfortunately, Dell doesn't offer one as an option (with the unibody chassis making it almost impossible to upgrade to one yourself), but otherwise its powerful CPU and GPU, generous RAM and speedy hard drive make for a potent combination.

Dell XPS 15z

As with all Nvidia GPUs, the GT 525M supports Optimus graphics switching. This means that the 15z will use Intel's power-frugal integrated HD 3000 graphics where possible, and when the workload kicks up a notch with demanding 3D gaming or GPU-accelerated applications, the GT 525M card will come into play. It offers a moderate amount of gaming potential, managing 44.3 frames per second (fps) in Stalker at 720p and Medium Detail, though this fell to a barely playable 24.8fps at the screen's native 1,920 x 1080 resolution. Still, undemanding titles at moderate settings are a definite possibility.

Dell XPS 15z

Battery life is decent, which is good news considering you can't replace it with a spare when it runs out. In our non-intensive Productivity test, with screen brightness at 40 percent, it managed just a few minutes short of six hours – though this will decrease when using the dedicated graphics and/or wireless radios.

So the remaining question is whether the XPS 15z is worth your hard-earned cash. We would definitely recommend going for the Full HD screen, which means coughing up for the £999 configuration. On the other hand, if you do want a little more power and future-proofing, the £1,199 is very reasonable for the extras you get.

Dell XPS 15z 2

This configuration also compares very favourably with its nearest rival, the Apple MacBook Pro: you get a faster CPU, double the RAM, a larger, faster hard drive, more powerful graphics with better 3D support, a far higher resolution screen, and more versatile connectivity, all for £350 less! Of course the Mac still has the benefits of its more cohesive, slimmer overall design, the comfort of its keyboard, and better speakers, but that's simply not enough to give it the edge.

With PC rivals the 15z doesn't fare quite as well, though the premium it demands is justified to an extent by its premium construction, and its Full HD screen is still an asset few rivals can match. On the other hand, the lack of a Blu-ray drive option really hurts it here.

Dell XPS 15z 7


The Dell XPS 15z is the MacBook Pro of the Windows world, with a streamlined aluminium and magnesium chassis, good 1,920 x 1,080 screen, backlit chiclet keyboard and plenty of power under the hood despite being less than an inch thick. Unfortunately it gets rather audible under load, its keyboard and speakers aren't the best, and the absence of a Blu-ray drive holds it back from being an all-round entertainment centre, but if you're happy with a DVD rewriter and are after a chic yet competent machine, this is definitely one to consider.

Overall Score


Scores In Detail

  • Battery Life 7
  • Design 9
  • Features 8
  • Performance 8
  • Value 8


June 11, 2011, 6:06 am

I stopped reading after checking how thick the 15.4in MacBook Pro is. Turns out it is 2.41 cm --> 24.1mm which is thinner than this 'thinnest 15.4in laptop in the world' at 24.6mm.

Sort it out.


June 12, 2011, 10:20 pm

In fairness, Dell used to advertise this as the thinnest 15.4" laptop, but they've now changed their marketing to say "one of the thinnest". I suspect Ardjuna was going on the original press release.


June 13, 2011, 3:48 pm

That's fine CptKirk, today's journalists can't really find out any facts. Not even on a site calling itself Trusted.

The FCC as even just given this phenomenon a name, it's the "hamsterization" of media. So - as long as they don't tar their advertisers - it's all perfectly fine.



June 13, 2011, 9:19 pm

Well-spotted and sorry about the error, but that was really reason enough to stop reading?

I wasn't going bythe press release, actually, I confirmed this info with Dell representatives at the show, where I was still told it was "the thinnest of its size in the world". I have requested more information regarding this apparent error...

Yes, thanks, Gk.pm. I should of course have spent hours checking the dimensions of every single other 15.4in laptop out there rather than trust what I took to be confirmed facts and attempt to bring you this preview as soon as possible.

As for your equally helpful comment of not tarring advertisers, we would not have pointed out the sub-par keyboard were that the case.


June 13, 2011, 9:54 pm

I've just confirmed with a Dell official what led to this misunderstanding. The XPS 15z is posited as "the thinnest *PC* laptop in the world" (a distinction that wasn't mentioned by the reps I spoke to at the event).

While technically Macs should be considered Personal Computers (PCs) too, in general usage people tend to use "PC vs. Mac" to differentiate between Apple machines and those from other manufacturers, so in that regard Dell could be said to be correct. In summary then, it's the "thinnest Windows PC 15.4in laptop" you can get.

I've amended the article to reflect this, and do apologise for the initial faulty info.


June 14, 2011, 2:24 am


Sorry but it's not that hard, there's not that many companies making thin laptops, maybe 3 at most, and you could start with the one this tries to emulate. It would have taken you 5 minutes to confirm such bold claim - which seems to be a major selling point in the article.

By the way the error is still there in several places:

"TrustedReviews says...
The thinnest 15.4in laptop in the world is a real looker, housed in a beautiful aluminium unibody exterior and magnesium alloy keyboard surround. "

So the article has not been amended. I guess the easiest solution would be to just change the intro to "TrustedPressReleases says..." ?

Sorry if I seem to pick especially on you, it's just that the whole media seems to get worse and worse by the day. "Facts" these days seem to come direct from companies' PR, if not random tweets by fly-by-night "insiders".

I do make sure to write to everyone I come across, in what may be a deluded attempt to fix what I perceive as a problem.


June 14, 2011, 2:18 pm

There are more than you would think. Still, if this had been a full review rather than a hands-on preview I would have checked what the exact thickness difference with any potential or actual rivals was.

No, the article was fully amended (including 'TrustedReviews says') before I made my comment, but unfortunately there's a cache which only gets refreshed at set periods (which can be up to several hours). As to "TrustedPressReleases" - it's a hands-on review, I didn't even have the press release to hand when writing it up...

I do understand what you mean, and I do always attempt to check my facts even when not writing a full review (as with the http://www.trustedreviews.com/lenovo-thinkpad-x1_Laptop_review X1 preview where Lenovo underplayed the fact that it tapered to quite a thick rear). But while we appreciate critical feedback, there is no need to do it in quite so disparaging a manner.

Thanks for reading and commenting all the same.


June 14, 2011, 8:16 pm

@Arjuna Thanks for replying Arjuna and clearing up the cache delay issue.

I'm very glad to know you do look more closely into your main articles.

Apologies for the disparaging-ness of my comments, it's just that TR has been regularly afflicted by mistakes in past reviews (often worse than this thickness issue) so my tolerance level for TR as a whole was already a bit low.

Truth be told I don't remember noticing any other problems in your articles, so should have taken that into account.


June 15, 2011, 4:39 pm

No worries, thanks for your reply to my reply :)
I do understand your frustration with cases of mindless press-release rehash, as it's something I personally abhor too (at least when it's disguised as a preview).

I appreciate your comment, and I'm glad to hear you haven't encountered inaccuracies in my other articles/reviews. I'll endeavour to make this a once-off.

Nav Garayal

July 1, 2011, 3:11 pm

Dear TR, I am really confused by the consistency of your reviews. Several references are made to the Macbook Pro 15 during your review. I have checked the Macbook Pro review and you gave the machine 8 for value even though the price as reviewed was nearing £1900. The Dell machine is given a lower value score even though it is £700 cheaper. You also criticise the Dell machine for not having a bluray drive but you do not criticise the Macbook.


July 1, 2011, 4:00 pm

Nav Garayal:
Thanks for the feedback, and I agree with your points - as I mention in the final paragraphs of my review, the XPS 15z is far better value than the MacBook Pro. In fact, to further emphasize this point, its value score is brought up to an eight.

However, regarding the scoring difference, when it came out the MacBook Pro had no real rivals, hence why it scored so highly. That would obviously be different now.

If it hadn't been for its average keyboard and noisiness under load, the XPS 15z would definitely have won a recommended award. These, along with battery life, are still aspects where Apple's product is superior.


July 2, 2011, 12:35 am

AND the small but DEAL-BREAKING matter of Apple's 15" Macbook Pros having QUAD-CORE i7s where the Dell tops out with last generation DUAL-CORE i7s..

tut tut tut lol - this computer is not quite yet in the same league as the mac methinks...


July 2, 2011, 12:38 am

and what about the Mac's Quad-core i7 vs the Dell's Dual?


July 2, 2011, 11:28 am

It makes me smile every time ... TR does a piece comparing something to a Mac, and the whole world jumps down their throat...

A new twist to this one though is TR rated it less highly .... and still they get a kicking

Guys - it's just a laptop....

Ardjuna - for what it's worth I liked the review and thought it was a nicely presented case, well written detailing both the good and the bad of the machine


July 2, 2011, 2:00 pm

Whilst i agree that sometimes these reviews can be misleading/inaccurate etc, and not just this site, you have to remember that you pay nothing for this!
If you bought this review as a subscription then fair enough complain, otherwise stop nit-picking.


July 2, 2011, 8:49 pm

@ TheDon

You may want to check your facts. The Dell comes with the latest generations of Intel CPU's (Unless Apple filters your internet content for you).

Here are the CPU's available:

2nd Generation Intel® Core™ i5-2410M 2.3GHz, 4Threads, 3MB cache)

2nd Generation Intel® Core™ i5-2410M 2.3GHz, 4Threads, 3MB cache)

2nd Generation Intel® Core™ i7-2620M 2.7GHz, 4Threads, 4MB cache)


July 3, 2011, 10:23 pm


You might want to check YOUR facts before correcting someone else's. It does come with the latest generation of Intel CPU (which TheDon didn't question...) but the CPUs are indeed only dual core - remember that each core can support two threads via Hyperthreading. The quad core i7 in the MacBook Pro can consequently support 8 threads.


July 3, 2011, 11:49 pm

I think the disparity in scores can be explained by the different authors too, and ultimately parts of a review are down to personal opinion. I see the last Macbook Pro review was done by Hugo (who no longer writes for this site it seems). I think if Ardjuna had reviewed it, it might have scored differently (even considering its lack of rivals when released).

Anyway I'm not quibbling, as I find Ardjuna's reviews to be consistently interesting to read and accurate (and some of the best on this site).


July 4, 2011, 2:37 pm

Hardly DEAL-BREAKING. A valid point, but for most people and most tasks, a dual-core Core i7 is more than sufficient. And just look at the price difference!

Thanks, glad you liked the review!

Wow, thanks for your kind comment - made my day :)
I'll do my best to continue bringing our readers detailed and balanced reviews.


July 4, 2011, 9:59 pm

Oops, the classic mistake.. A Thread is NOT a CORE.


July 8, 2011, 3:06 pm

>> but for most people and most tasks

For most people even an Atom CPU does the job. But when going the high end CPU's, the difference between a Quad & a Dual is highly relevant.


July 8, 2011, 10:14 pm

I had a previous version of the XPS - and this one has the same problem: with all the acres of space around the keyboard, why do Dell not fit a full 104-key unit, with numeric pad? For about 500 quid less than this, I have an HP with a full keyboard, 17" screen, core i7, 8GB RAM, 640GB drive, blu-ray, and Win7 Ultimate. It's not quite as pretty, but it's a far better spec machine. The Dell wins only on screen res and nice mag finish.


July 8, 2011, 10:17 pm


My core i7 machine shows 8 threads in task manager; it's a quad-core 64-bit. And no, it's not a macBook, it's an HP Pavilion.


July 8, 2011, 10:18 pm


I reckon it's not the thinnest PC laptop. My Nokia 3G is thinner.


August 24, 2011, 8:52 am

As as pround owner of both the 15z and the Macbook, I'll give you the quick and dirty synopsis.. If this makes any difference, I work in Marketing for a large IT services company, and I am more than technical.

As nice as ithe 15z is (if you're going to obviously compare to a Mac) it doesn't come close. The screen is nice and feels like it's the most expensive item of the product. When you're typing on the keyboard it feels like you're going to put your fingers through the machine - it feels cheap compared to the sturdiness of the Mac.

It DOES NOT run Win7 like the Mac runs OSX (I nuked mine, put on Ultimate 64, and started from fresh a fresh install.

Mac wins hands down, on design, build and (of course) should do for the extra expense...

That's all it comes down to. How much do you want to invest..

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