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Dell XPS 15 review

Verdict

Not quite as classy as its predecessors, but the newly affordable XPS is a bona-fide entertainer

Review Date: 8 Dec 2010

Reviewed By: Sasha Muller

Price when reviewed: £582 (£684 inc VAT)

Buy it now for: £1306
(see more store prices)

Overall Rating
5 stars out of 6

Features & Design
5 stars out of 6

Value for Money
5 stars out of 6

Performance
5 stars out of 6

PCPRO Recommended

Since the release of the Adamo XPS at the tail-end of last year, Dell's XPS brand has lain dormant. But it's finally resurrected the brand for the release of its latest 15.6in and 17in models, and the first to arrive in the PC Pro Labs is the 15.6in XPS 15.

It cuts a striking dash, although initially for all the wrong reasons. Our review unit arrived with an unpleasantly kitsch Product (RED) motif scrawled across its lid; think surrealist meets 1960s wallpaper and you're halfway there. Thankfully, there are another 148 designs to choose from - for a £34.50 premium.

Whichever lid takes your fancy, the rest of the XPS 15 remains demurely finished in lashings of silver and grey and that, coupled with its smoothly rounded edges and stylish curves, makes for a great-looking laptop. The chassis feels surprisingly stout for such a modestly priced model.

The only concern is that the lid feels slightly insubstantial. Apply pressure to the garish design and the plastic fouls the panel underneath, resulting in a visible rippling effect onscreen. And at 39mm thick and a weighty 2.86kg, it isn't particularly portable either.

Dell XPS 15

Inside, there are no such worries. Processor options start with Intel's Core i3 and rise through the ranks, while Nvidia Optimus graphics switching technology partners Intel HD Graphics with a Nvidia GeForce GT 420M chip or, in the priciest Core i7 model, a GT 435M.

Our review unit struck the middle ground with a 2.53GHz Intel Core i5-460M, 4GB of DDR3 memory and Nvidia's GeForce GT 420M, a combination that helped it to a good score of 1.61 in our application benchmarks. And in our gaming tests it wasn't until we reached our mid-level test (run at 1,600 x 900 pixels and Medium detail in Crysis) that the average frame rate slowed to 24fps. This leaves the XPS 15 trailing dedicated gaming notebooks, but in front of most others. It's more than nippy enough for casual gaming.

Meanwhile, the graphics-switching technology helps the XPS 15 sweep past its rivals in the battery life stakes. With 5hrs 46mins in our light-use test, falling to 1hr 16mins when pushed hard, the XPS 15 leaves most desktop replacement laptops for dust. You might not want to carry it around very often, but it's nice to have the option to balance it on your knee without having a mains lead trailing from the rear.

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User comments

Your Best Deals link is incorrect!

It points to a Panasonic Lumix camera on Amazon. Shame, I thought Christmas had come early....

By Throbinevans on 10 Dec 2010

motherboard failures

make sure you buy the very expensive warranty, you'll need it...now on my 4th motherboard in my XPS M1730 premium DELL laptop

By JamesBub on 10 Dec 2010

Nah.

I bought a Sony E-series, whilst the battery life maybe shorter, I got a Blu-Ray writer drive as a free upgrade & paid about £70 for a screen upgrade, the quality is better that the Dell & having had Dell PC's in the past & then being bombarded with unwanted emails, mailshots etc, I decided not to use Dell ever again.

By SKINHEAD1967 on 10 Dec 2010

You also can't get the same 'upgrades' as you can in the States, as usual with Dell.

By Ex_Sailor on 10 Dec 2010

Upgrades

My contact said that the Full-HD upgrade wouldn't be available straight away due to supply issues.

It may be that they're holding them back in readiness for the imminent upgrade to Sandy Bridge. Or they may simply be waiting for supply to increase.

I'll try to keep you posted!

Sasha Muller
Laptops Editor
PC Pro

By SashaMuller on 11 Dec 2010

Francois

I bought a Dell XPS 15 in December 2010. I find it extremely pleasurable to work with. Pros: good-looking, fast, excellent quality/price ratio. Cons: limited monitor viewing angles, monitor proportions (too wide, not high enough),weak battery. Overall an excellent desktop replacement.
PS: what is it with this fashion of very wide but not high enough monitors? I don't like it at all. Fortunately I use it mostly on my desk with another monitor attached.

By frapro on 17 Feb 2011

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