Dell XPS 15z review

27 Jul 2011

A big laptop with plenty of power, plus the style and battery-life to make a surprisingly strong all-rounder

Price when reviewed: 
1,150(£1,149 inc VAT)
5

As if Dell’s XPS 15 weren’t desirable enough already, it’s now joined by the sporty 15z. As well as upgraded internals, the whole design has received a bit of spit and polish to bring it up to luxury standards.

Dell has done a fantastic job sprucing up the curves of the 15in frame, with a lovely silver coating on the lid, a neat spiral-finished hinge cover and a muted grey inside. Add some neat flourishes, such as the large speaker grilles either side of the keyboard, and a silver trim around the edges, and you have a laptop that’s unusually stylish for its size. The Full HD screen makes it necessarily wide, but at only 26mm it’s not too thick either.

Dell XPS 15z

The keyboard adds to the luxury feel. First, there’s the shape of the keys, all rounded edges with a slightly concave surface. Then there’s the letters and symbols adorning them, which have a cool futuristic look. Finally there’s the size: although this isn’t a full-width keyboard, large gaps between rows mean it’s well suited to large hands.

The touchpad is huge too, and thankfully Dell has decided not to roughen it up, instead choosing a nice smooth finish that doesn’t get clammy too quickly. The deep-travel buttons could perhaps give a little more click feedback than they do, but on the whole it adds up to a very comfortable laptop to use on a desk. It’s just a shame that its size and 2.56kg weight make it rather less comfortable to use on a lap.

Dell XPS 15z

The 15z isn’t only about design: it also offers a great deal of computing power. It comes with a dual-core 2.7GHz Core i7-2620M and 8GB of DDR3 RAM, which pushed it to an overall score of 0.73 in our application benchmarks – not far off the sort of score you’d expect from a top-end quad-core laptop. Graphics are handled by a switchable Nvidia GeForce GT 525M GPU. This isn’t a powerhouse, but it’s perfectly capable of a little gaming: the XPS 15z managed a respectable 45fps in our Low quality Crysis test and 23fps at Medium. Lower a few settings and you might just about squeeze a playable frame rate at the screen’s native Full HD resolution.

Details

Price ex VAT £958
Price inc VAT £1,150
Overall rating 5
Features & Design 5
Value for Money 5
Performance 5

Warranty

Warranty 1 yr return to base

Physical specifications

Dimensions 384 x 260 x 26mm (WDH)
Weight 2.560kg
Travelling weight 3.1kg

Processor and memory

Processor Intel Core i7-2620M
RAM capacity 8.00GB
Memory type DDR3

Screen and video

Screen size 15.6in
Resolution screen horizontal 1,920
Resolution screen vertical 1,080
Resolution 1920 x 1080
Graphics chipset Nvidia Optimus (Intel HD 3000 graphics/Nvidia GeForce GT525M)
VGA (D-SUB) outputs 0
HDMI outputs 1
S-Video outputs 0
DVI-I outputs 0
DVI-D outputs 0
DisplayPort outputs 1

Drives

Capacity 750GB
Optical disc technology DVD writer
Replacement battery price inc VAT £0

Networking

Wired adapter speed 1,000Mbits/sec
802.11a support yes
802.11b support yes
802.11g support yes
802.11 draft-n support yes
Integrated 3G adapter no

Other Features

Wireless hardware on/off switch no
Wireless key-combination switch yes
ExpressCard34 slots 0
ExpressCard54 slots 0
PC Card slots 0
USB ports (downstream) 1
FireWire ports 0
eSATA ports 1
PS/2 mouse port no
9-pin serial ports 0
Parallel ports 0
3.5mm audio jacks 2
SD card reader yes
Pointing device type Multitouch touchpad
Speaker location Either side of keyboard
Hardware volume control? no
Integrated microphone? yes
Integrated webcam? yes
TPM no
Fingerprint reader no
Smartcard reader no

Battery and performance tests

Battery life, light use 6hr 13min
Battery life, heavy use 1hr 16min
3D performance (crysis) low settings 45fps
3D performance setting Low
Overall Real World Benchmark score 0.73
Responsiveness score 0.83
Media score 0.76
Multitasking score 0.60

Operating system and software

Operating system Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
OS family Windows 7