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Dell XPS 15 Core i7 4K laptop review

Dell XPS 15 laptop

from £1,199
8.8

Build quality

9.0/10

Design

8.5/10

Ease of use

9.0/10

Performance

9.0/10

Value

8.5/10

Pros

  • Build quality
  • Amazing screen
  • Colour accuracy
  • Compact for 15-inch laptop
  • Speedy processor and graphics

Cons

  • Battery life a bit short due to spec
  • Keys could be grippier

dell-xps-15-openThe Dell XPS 15 certainly looks like a killer laptop. Not only does it have impressive specs but Dell is calling it the smallest 15-inch laptop ever made.

If you are looking for a beast of a laptop then there’s quite a number of them out there. Is a 15-inch screen part of your wishlist? Well, take your pick. If you want a 15-inch screen and plenty of grunt but want it in as small a package as possible, then the XPS 15 might be it.

Read on and see if the Dell XPS 15 is all it promises to be.

XPS 15 design

As this is pretty much Dell’s answer to the Apple 15-inch MacBook Pro, they have ensured the XPS looks good on the outside.

dell-xps-15-backThe aluminium lid looks good and gives off a serious statement. The underside is matched to the lid. To keep things tidy, the barcodes and serial numbers are hidden underneath a magnetic XPS flap.

xps15-core-i7I love the carbon fibre-composite wrist-rest, a nice bit of flare from Dell. It’s also comfortable, thanks to its soft-touch coating.

xps-15-backlit-keyboardAll the edges have been finished nicely, so no sharp bits to catch on. The backlit keyboard is neat too.

At only 15.6-inches, you can tell Dell has gone as close to the screen size as possible; more on that later. The XPS 15 is also just 17mm thick when closed. If you ignore the 2Kg weight, this is an extremely portable 15-inch laptop.

I never really found the weight an issue and the laptop slipped in to my STM rucksack without a problem. You might notice it if you have a shoulder-bag and carry it for long distances though.

XPS 15 ports

There are two USB 3.0 ports on this laptop. There is actually room for a third on the right hand side but, instead, Dell have installed a battery meter.

xps-15-left-portsYou press a button and, via five mini-LED’s, you have an indication of battery level.

It’s kinda neat but I’d only use that when the laptop is turned off, before heading out. Maybe. Perhaps. Otherwise, the onscreen indicator works fine. I reckon I’d be more inclined to have use of a third USB port though.

xps-15-right-portsOther options are an SD card slot, a full size HDMI port and a Thunderbolt 3 port. The latter is Dell’s workaround for the lack of USB ports as this can perform many duties. The Thunderbolt port supports PowerShare, 40Gbps data transfer in both directions, VGA, HDMI, Ethernet and USB-A and C – but you’ll need to buy the relevant cables or one of Dell’s Thunderbolt docks as extras.

Oh yeah, you might have noticed that there’s no Ethernet port other than via the Thunderbolt 3. It does, obviously, have Wi-Fi and Bluetooth though. There’s even a headphone socket.

XPS 15 display

The reason that the XPS 15 manages to be only just larger than its screen is down to the ‘InfinityEdge’ display.

dell-xps-15-openThis has such a thin bezel that the total profile of the laptop is only a shade larger than the 15-inch 16:9 display itself.

While a regular laptop may feature a bezel that’s around 2cm in width, the Dell InfinityEdge display’s top, left and right bezels are only 5mm.

XPS 15 performance

XPS 15 power

The one I have here is packing a Core i7-6700HQ a 4K (3840×2160) touchscreen display, 16GB memory and a 512GB (461GB) SSD. Graphics hit that glorious panel by way of a GeForce 960M GPU.

xps15 screenThat’s plenty enough for most people, even for mobile video editing and gaming. There are, of course, others in the range with Core i5 chips, and HD displays without the touchscreen powers.

Thanks to the SSD, the XPS turns on and off very quickly, so no hanging around there.

Yes, this laptop is blisteringly fast and powerful but the most impressive feature, for me anyhow, is the display.

XPS 15 4K screen

Having thin bezels is one thing. InfinityEdge also looks fantastic. It is so bright and accurate it really does steal the show.

I can safely say that I have not seen a laptop screen that even comes close to the one on this Dell. It is practically OLED good.

Contrast ratio and absolute black levels are good, but colour accuracy is bang on. Dell states it can display 100% of the Adobe RGB colour gamut and I believe them.

The screen looks beautiful with plenty of crisp, sharp detail and vibrant colours. It’s also one of the best touchscreens I’ve ever used on a laptop.

It’s fast and responsive and good enough to see me reaching for it instead of using other input methods. Something I still don’t do with my Lenovo Yoga 2 Pro.

XPS 15 gaming

Are looking to game on the XPS? Well, yes indeedy you can.

The 4K screen and GeForce 960M does slow the framerates somewhat. After lowering the settings though Project Cars is very much playable. CS:GO was even smoother.

xps15-project-cars

XPS 15 keyboard and trackpad

The backlit keyboard on the XPS 15 is super comfortable to type on and the keys feel responsive with the right amount of travel. I even typed most of this on the laptop, so long periods of use is not a problem. If the keys were just a little more grippy, I would say the keyboard was neigh on perfect.

xps-15-front-closedThe trackpad is equally as good as the board. The palm rejection technology works fairly well. The pad also supports the multi-fingered gestures that come with Windows 10.

XPS 15 audio

The Dell XPs 15’s built-in speakers are surprisingly decent. They are powerful and clear with little-to-no hint of distortion even at maximum volume.

xps-15-left-ports-angleDialogue is handled well and music is reproduced with plenty of depth. Granted, bass suffers but that’s generally the case.

XPS 15 battery life

Dell claims battery life of up to 17 hours, I didn’t really get that. Five to six hours was more what I was getting. To be honest, I still rate that as pretty darned good given it has a 4K touchscreen and high spec innards.

xps-15-right-angleGaming or graphics work with screen brightness ramped up, you’ll get more like 3 hours.

Dell XPS 15 review conclusion

The Dell XPS 15 is a fantastic laptop and possesses excellent build quality.

It’s cheaper and more highly spec’d than a MacBook Pro is arguably better value for money than a Microsoft Surface Pro 3.

The 4K screen is breathtaking. The thin bezels and amazing colour accuracy makes it ideal for anyone working with graphics. If I had the coin, this would be mine.

I can definitely recommend the XPS 15 to anyone that needs a high spec laptop and mostly works at a desk.

Dell XPS 15 price and availability

You can buy the XPS 15 now direct from Dell. Prices range from £1,199 for the Core i5 to £1,699 for the Core i7 4K monster as reviewed here.

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Dell XPS 15 Core i7 4K laptop review

by Jay Garrett time to read: 5 min
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