Dell XPS 15 (2022) Review
A fantastic 15-inch laptop
The Dell XPS 15 remains one of the best premium laptops around, particularly if you can afford to splash out on a model with the gorgeous OLED screen.
- Tough, light and stylish design
- Superb OLED screen
- Speedy core specs
- Battery life could be better
- Low-powered 3050 Ti GPU lacks grunt
- UKRRP: £2199
- USARRP: $2299
- EuropeRRP: €3499
- CanadaRRP: CA$2599
- AustraliaRRP: AU$4099
- 15.6-inch OLED touchscreenWith superb clarity and eye-popping contrast, you’ve got a great screen for work, creative applications, video streaming and games.
- 12th-gen Core i7 and RTX 3050TiDon’t expect high-end gaming performance, but there’s more than enough power for the most demanding applications.
- Slick designThis is a practical big-screen laptop in a beautiful lightweight package – a pleasure to use.
I’ve come to trust Dell’s XPS range to deliver great-looking laptops with high-performance specs and cutting-edge design.
This year’s Dell XPS 15 doesn’t disappoint on any of these accounts. It looks superb, it’s light and practical, and with 12th-gen Intel Core processors and optional Nvidia graphics, it’s powerful too. What’s more, Dell has addressed our few concerns about the display on last year’s model by sending over a version with a stunning 3.5K OLED screen.
As always with this line, there’s plenty of scope to configure your XPS your way. Specs start with a Core i5-12500H, 16GB of RAM, a 512GB SSD and integrated Iris XE graphics – with a 1080p IPS display – and go all the way up to a Core i9-12900HK with 64GB, 4TB of M2 storage and an RTX 3050Ti, not to mention a 4K OLED screen.
The highest specs will cost you the best part of £4000, but if you’ve got that kind of money to spend on a laptop, then at least you’re getting what you pay for.
Design and keyboard
- CNC aluminium and carbon-fibre build make for a great-looking laptop
- Excellent spacious keyboard and huge trackpad
- USB Type-C only, but HDMI/Type-A adapter is included
The Dell XPS 15 design isn’t quite as cutting-edge as it once was, as Dell has stuck fairly closely to the form of last year’s model. That means a rather lovely brushed CNC aluminium shell, encompassing a near-borderless screen and patterned carbon-fibre palm rests, with the latter being more comfortable than a wholly metallic build while also keeping the chassis light.
The Dell XPS 15 (2022) is just over 9mm thick and weighs only 1.94kg, although some specs may be slightly lighter or heavier by about 10g. That’s not bad at all for a 15-inch laptop, and the XPS 15 is easy to manage whether on your lap, on your desk or in your bag.
You might have a shock with the connectivity at first: with two USB Type-C ports on the left side and another on the right, there’s nothing else bar a 3.5mm audio jack and a full-sized SD card slot. The port on the right is USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type C, while the two on the right also support Thunderbolt 4, DisplayPort and USB PD. Don’t despair if you need to connect older kit, however. Dell bundles in a USB-C to USB-A and HDMI v2.0 adapter.
As for wireless connectivity, the XPS supports Wi-Fi 6 with 2×2 MIMO through a Killer 1675 card, as found on many of Dell’s specialist gaming laptops. You can connect your headset, games controller and mouse using Bluetooth 5.2.
Another thing you’ll notice with this laptop is the sheer size of the trackpad. Measuring 15cm by 9cm it’s an absolute whopper, and its smooth, responsive surface makes it ideal for working in apps that demand speed and precision over a full-screen UI.
The only downside is that when you’re typing, it keeps your hands quite far apart on the wrist-rests in a position that took me a day or two to get used to. This and the keyboard’s large Tabs and Caps Lock keys meant I kept hitting the wrong keys towards the edge of the keyboard, often tapping Caps Lock instead of Shift and E or R instead of W or E.
This didn’t give me a great first impression of the keyboard, and for a while, I saw it as the XPS 15’s Achilles heel. Yet with time, I’ve grown to like it. It’s backlit with a spacious layout and good-sized Shift, Backspace and cursor keys, while the action is light but tactile with good amounts of feedback. It makes you feel that this isn’t just some style-focused poser of a laptop, but a machine that can get work done.
- Stunning OLED panel with superb contrast, colour and clarity
- 100% sRGB and DCI-P3 reproduction
- Restricted to a 60Hz refresh rate
Let’s cut to the chase and make it clear that the 3.5K OLED screen on the Dell XPS 15 (2022) is a beauty. I measured brightness levels at 428 nits with the classic OLED contrast of Infinity. Colour reproduction is nearly perfect, and it covers 100% of the sRGB gamut and the same for DCI-P3. The 16:10 aspect ratio is an improvement on the 16:9 of many 15-inch laptops, with more vertical space for web pages and documents. You’d swear it’s bigger than it is.
In short, this display is ready for anything. Stick on a high-budget TV show or movie, and you’ll struggle to find a laptop screen that will make it look better. Colours pop like you won’t believe without looking unnatural, and the levels of clarity and detail are phenomenal. You can edit videos or photos and be sure that you’re looking at accurate hues, but there’s more than enough punch for entertainment purposes as well.
Be aware, however, that the refresh rate is a bog-standard 60Hz. If you’re looking to game at 120Hz or higher, then this device is the wrong direction anyway, but if you just prefer a high refresh rate in Windows, this could be an issue. Personally, I’d rather have superb image quality but your priorities may differ.
The sound from the built-in speaker system is very good at normal volumes, with serious clarity and a weightiness you might not expect from a relatively slimline laptop. Push it upwards and some harsh overtones start to kick in, but only really at levels where you’d find listening uncomfortable anyway.
- High speeds across all applications thanks to 12th-gen Core i7
- 40W RTX 3050Ti doesn’t have the performance for high settings above 1080p
- Use DLSS to improve game frame rates without losing quality
My test model of the Dell XPS 15 (2022) shipped with the Intel Core i7-12700H, a 12th-gen CPU with six performance cores and eight efficient cores handling a total of 20 threads. The efficient cores can run at up to 3.5GHz, while the performance cores can push upwards to 4.7GHz. My test spec was rounded out with 16GB of RAM and a 512GB Hynix PCIe 3.0 M2 SSD. I can’t actually spec this last item using Dell’s configurator, so any XPS 15 you bought with the same spec would have a 1TB SSD instead.
The Dell XPS 15 (2022) is certainly speedy. In Geekbench 5, it comes out ahead of the Acer Swift Edge, the Gigabyte Aero 16 XE5 and the LG Gram 16 in both single-core and multi-core performance. It’s the same deal with PC Mark 10. Productivity, programming or creative uses aren’t going to give this laptop any trouble. However, as with many other slim and light laptops, thermal constraints mean you’re not quite getting the full performance of the CPU. The XPS 15 can get very hot down below when it’s being worked hard.
You might also need to adjust any expectations you have regarding the XPS 15’s gaming performance. It’s true that it uses an Nvidia RTX 3050 Ti GPU rather than the vanilla RTX 3050, but this is the low-power 40W variant, which limits speeds to 1185MHz. This means it can’t compete with some 3050 variants, despite a lower number of shader units, if they run at a higher wattage and at higher speeds.
As a result, the figures for the synthetic 3DMark Time Spy benchmark are a lot better than the results from other slim and lightweight laptops with integrated graphics or a similar CPU – but way behind more gaming-focused laptops with a higher-wattage RTX 3050, with or without the Ti suffix.
What’s more, the difference is reflected in actual games. You can play Horizon: Zero Dawn or Borderlands 3 at 1080p resolutions, but try it on Ultra settings and you won’t get a consistent 60fps in the former or even 30fps in the latter. At the native resolution, you’ll find that there’s not enough power to get beyond about 12fps – or that there’s not enough VRAM and GPU grunt to run the game properly without textures popping in.
You can work around this by reducing the target resolution to something more sensible, like 1440p, then engaging DLSS for some sneaky AI scaling, but there’s always going to be a compromise to hit truly playable frame rates. What’s more, that CPU and GPU still get pretty toasty when pushed hard. I saw a lot of fan noise and felt plenty of heat coming out during the gaming tests.
- Up to 8hrs of everyday use with the brightness turned down
- Expect 7-8hrs of video streaming
Of course, the Dell XPS 15 (2022) has a price to pay for all that performance and the beautiful OLED screen: battery life.
7 hours and 42mins in PC Mark’s Modern Office benchmark isn’t bad, but it’s a way off the 10+hrs you’ll get from many other laptops, or even the 9hrs and 57mins we saw from the 16-inch Acer Swift X. That’s also with the brightness turned down to 150 nits, where you’ll really want to use this screen at a higher level.
That goes double if you’re streaming video, and with the brightness set to full, you can expect roughly 7-8hrs of 4K streaming – a decent effort, but nothing exceptional.
Should you buy it?
You want a great all-round 15-inch laptop:
Sure, battery life isn’t all it could be, but this is a slick, stylish and well-made premium laptop with good core specs and a fantastic screen – ideal to use for business, creative projects, or just about anything else.
You want a gaming laptop:
If you’re a gamer looking for the last word in performance, the XPS 15 doesn’t have the raw horsepower you’re seeking. It’s good for some casual gaming at medium detail settings at full HD resolutions, but you’re not going to max out the 3.5K screen.
Some could accuse Dell of resting on its laurels, but the Dell XPS 15 (2022) remains one of the best premium laptops around, particularly if you can afford to splash out on a model with the gorgeous OLED screen.
While the power-constrained GPU means it’s not as good for gaming as the specs suggest, it’s more than fast enough for anything and everything beyond that. Most of all, it’s great to use. If you’re in the market for a high-end Windows portable, put the Dell XPS 15 high on your shortlist.
How we test
Every laptop we review goes through a series of uniform checks designed to gauge key things including build quality, performance, screen quality and battery life.
These include formal synthetic benchmarks and scripted tests, plus a series of real-world checks, such as how well it runs the most frequently used apps.
We also make sure to use every laptop we review as our primary device for at least a week to ensure our review is as accurate as possible.
Spent at least a week testing the laptop.
Tested the screen with professional equipment.
Use benchmark software to evaluate performance.
Tested the battery life.
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The Dell XPS 15 may be an expensive laptop, but it’s well worth the investment if you’re looking for a high-end productivity laptop with an OLED display.
Yes, the underside can get hot when the laptop is under stress.
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