Dell XPS 15 review: the perfect Windows laptop?

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Dell XPS 15 review: the perfect Windows laptop?
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Performance

It might not look it, but the XPS 15 is something of a performance heavyweight. Unlike its smaller stablemate, the XPS 15 ups the ante with a seventh-generation (Kaby Lake) Intel Core i7-7700HQ processor across the range, along with dedicated graphics in the guise of Nvidia’s capable GeForce GTX 1050 GPU and superfast PCIe SSDs. Oh, and you have a choice of 8GB, 16GB or 32GB of DDR4 RAM for good measure.

The result is a laptop that feels brutally fast in pretty much every scenario. Press the power button, and Windows 10 is up and running in seconds. This is largely due to the PCIe SSD: with sequential read speeds of over 1,291MB/sec, it’s something of a revelation, and everything feels supremely responsive as a result.

Largely thanks to the quad-core Intel Core i7-7700HQ chip, the XPS 15 produced stunning test results. In our demanding suite of image-processing, video-transcoding and multitasking benchmarks, the XPS 15 skipped through to a very respectable score of 127 – a near perfect score.

On games, the XPS 15 is unusually capable when it comes to 3D gaming. Our current go-to benchmark is Metro: Last Light, and while it’s no walkover, the Dell’s GeForce GTX 1050 and its 4GB of GDDR5 memory are more than capable of doing it justice. Running at Full HD resolution and lowering the detail to Medium provided a silky smooth and if utterly gorgeous-looking experience, sending average framerates well above 60fps. Frankly, it’s hugely impressive that this laptop didn't immediately melt itself to a pile of hot metal and plastic.

Yet more impressive is the fact that the XPS 15 doesn’t cook itself while working flat out. Crucially, we observed no stuttering or throttling at all – the case felt warm to the touch, with a particularly hot area above the keyboard’s function keys, but this is nothing to worry about.

Battery life

All that power-hungry hardware inside the XPS 15 didn’t even take a toll on battery life, either. Dell includes a 56Whr battery with Full HD screen and a 97Wh battery with the more power-hungry 4K screen. We tested the latter and the XPS 15 managed to survive 10 hours 25 minutes in our video-rundown test.

That’s almost twice the longevity than last year’s Skylake-equipped model and would translate to a full day without a recharge for an average business day.

Conclusion

With close to perfection across the board, Dell should be patting itself on the back for delivering yet another top-notch Windows 10 laptop. The XPS 15 is powerful, portable and packed with high-end features. Factor in the genuine gaming capabilities, and we can see the XPS 15 being very popular everywhere from the bedroom to the boardroom.

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-touch display.

That’s $1,000 less than the entry-level MacBook Pro 15-inch with roughly similar specs. For $500 less than that MacBook, you’ll get better specs – including a 4K touchscreen and 512GB PCIe SSD – and you can find even better value if you wait for one of Dell's frequent specials.

This is exactly the kind of laptop that manufacturers need to be making if they’re going to take the fight to Apple. It’s fast, gorgeous and good value.

Those who prefer an ultraportable, a hybrid device or MacOS will, of course, look elsewhere. But for everyone who wants regular laptop with a full-size screen and keyboard, this really is the do-it-all Windows laptop we’ve been waiting for.

Dell XPS 15
5 5
Verdict
It’s not overly generous with expansion ports, but otherwise the Dell XPS 15 is close to perfection, with powerful processor and graphics, all-day battery life, excellent display, and light and compact for a 15in laptop. For those looking for regular notebook with a full-size screen and keyboard, this really is the do-it-all Windows laptop we’ve been waiting for.
Overall
Specs
From $2499 AUD
15.6in, 1920 x 1080-pixel non-touch or 3840 x 2160-pixel touch display; Intel Core i7-7700HQ processor; 8GB, 16GB or 32GB RAM; 256GB, 512GB or 1TB PCIe SSD; 1 Thunderbolt 3, 2 USB 3.0 and 1 HDMI ports; Killer 1535 802.11ac 2x2 WiFi and Bluetooth; 2kg weight; Windows 10 Home or Pro.
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