Dell XPS 15
If you’ve been wishing for a high-powered laptop that doesn't weigh a ton, the Dell XPS 15 packs a huge amount of wallop into every one of its 2,000 grams.
There aren’t many 2kg laptops that can really smash through the latest games, for instance, but the XPS 15 is one of them, thanks to the immensely capable NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 graphics chip.
This is a laptop that’s capable of much, much more than taking on aliens or bad guys, however. The 2017 XPS 15 has a seventh-generation quad-core Intel Core i7-7700HQ processor, which provides enough power to handle even the most demanding workloads.
Even more impressive, we got double the battery life of last year’s model in our testing. Based on these results, it should last a full day without a charge under most circumstances – an outstanding feat for a high-powered system.
Considering what’s on offer, the XPS 15 is good value too. Even the entry-level $2,499 model includes the Core i7-7700HQ and GTX 1050, along with a fast 256GB PCIe SSD, 8GB of RAM and Full HD non-touchscreen display. Higher-end models offer a luxurious 4K touchscreen, up to 32GB of RAM and up to 1TB of storage.
Like its smaller sibling, the XPS 15 offers adequate expansion options – one Thunderbolt 3 and two USB 3.0 ports. If you want a fingerprint reader and advanced security, however, you’ll have to look elsewhere – such as the Dell Precision 5520.
But if you want a powerful, reasonably affordable 15in laptop, they don’t come any better.
Apple MacBook Pro 15-inch
The 15-inch MacBook Pro is even more expensive than the 13-inch model, starting at $3,499 –although that includes a super-quick seventh-generation quad-core 2.8GHz Intel Core i7 processor, 16GB of RAM, 256GB SSD and dedicated Radeon Pro 555 graphics chip, as well as Touch Bar, Touch ID and four Thunderbolt 3 ports. Again, there are plenty of options to beef up the specs – and the price!
However, what you’re getting is effectively a high-performance workstation with the superb trackpad and keyboard you’d expect from Apple, along with an unbeatable 15.4in, 2880 x 1800-pixel display.
And considering it houses all that power and a full-size notebook screen, the MacBook Pro 15-inch is almost unbelievably elegant and thin, weighing just 1.83kg.
Dell Precision 5520
The new Dell Precision 5520 banishes memories of bulky workstations by cramming the seventh-generation quad-core Intel processors and high-end graphics processing inside a sleek metal and carbon fibre frame. It’s a business-grade workstation with a 15.6in screen inside a 14in, 1.78kg chassis, thanks largely to ultra-thin bezels.
It’s expensive, though, with pricing starting at $5,578 – and that entry-level model only offers a Full HD screen, bog standard 256GB SATA SSD and basic graphics. However, there are loads of options to upgrade to high-end Nvidia Quadro M1200 graphics, up to 32GB of RAM, a faster PCIe SSD (ranging from up to 1TB) and 4K screen. You can also bump up the processor to a quad-core Core i7 or even a beefy 3.0GHz Xeon E3-1505M v6 processor.
However, all this versatility adds to an already high price. Prices reach beyond an eye-watering $7,000 – although at the time of writing, Dell had one model on special for under $3,700.
But what you’re paying more for with the Precision 5520 is a business system that offers a generous three-year, one-site, next-day warranty, along with advanced features for enterprise-grade security and system administration.
If you need true workstation performance and capabilities in a lightweight package, the Precision might well justify its cost.
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