Dell XPS 15
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At first glance, Dell’s recently refreshed XPS 15 bears quite a resemblance to Apple’s 15-inch MacBook Pro with Retina Display (MBP), right down to its aesthetics and specs. However, the updated XPS 15 includes a 15.6-inch QHD+ (3,200 x 1,800 pixels) touchscreen display, Intel Haswell Core i7-4702HQ processor and NVIDIA GeForce GT 750M graphics. Its predecessor, launched in 2011, only came with a lowly 1,366 x 768 pixels display, a Core i5-class processor, and an NVIDIA GeForce GT 420M GPU.
What’s surprising (or rather disappointing) is that Dell didn’t upgrade the storage to match. Our unit came with a pretty standard 1TB 5,400RPM HDD with a 32GB SSD cache. This is just a minor increment over the 640GB 5,400RPM HDD found in the old XPS 15.
unlike the MBP that’s completely flat, the XPS 15 is slightly tapered all around the corners, measuring just 18mm at its thickest point, but because of it’s carbon fiber base, it weighs only 2.01kg, outdoing the MBP by 100g. In fact, the entire package is quite light for its class, but could have been even lighter if it was configured with an SSD. Overall, the XPS 15 looks meticulously built, from its polished exterior to its sturdy chassis enveloped in aluminum and carbon fiber.
Interestingly, there’s a handy little battery life indicator on the left side of the laptop, plus it also comes with NFC capabilities, which means you can easily connect NFC-COMPLIANT devices (printer, camera, smartphones, etc.) and share content.
Inside, a soft-touch silicone palm rest helps
CONCLUSION This XPS 15 is a big improvement over its previous model, with an amazing display to boot. Too badd about that HD though.
with prolonged periods of use. This aspect is more favorable than the allmetal MBP that can be cold initially, but heats up quickly during use. We can’t guarantee that the matte black palm rest on the Dell XPS 15 protects against oil stains and smudges though.
The chiclet-style backlit keyboard seems strangely modest in its 15-inch frame, leaving a lot of unused space at the sides, which Dell could have better utilized to house a number pad. Backlighting is present, but the XPS 15 only lets you toggle between two levels of brightness.
The keys are soft and easy to strike, so you may end up with more typographical errors as the keyboard registers any key that your fingers may have unintentionally skimmed while traveling back and forth. Nevertheless, after you get accustomed to the entire keyboard island, you’ll find typing a breeze.
The trackpad feels velvety and polished, with a glassy texture coated in a sheer matte finish that’s consistent with the XPS 15’s interior. Although its surface is not as smooth as MBP’s, the XPS 15’s trackpad is marginally bigger, and Windows 8 gestures worked well using it.
The highlight of the new XPS 15 however is its beautiful QHD+ display. Besides the staggering resolution, it also delivers an impressive 400-nit brightness rating, has touch capabilities and a wide 160-degree viewing angle, which makes it a joy to share around.
It delivers crisp visuals with vivid colors, and razorsharp text. Surprisingly, even under intense sunlight, there’s not much glare despite its gleaming surface. However, its reflectivity is quite an issue when viewing less vibrant content. We also found its touchscreen functionality to be relatively accurate and responsive, and navigation generally fluid. Although the notebook has a wide bezel design, the XPS 15’s edge-to-edge Corning Gorilla Glass NBT display ensures adequate protection against accidental scratches.
Audio is given a boost with Waves MaxxAudio Pro engineering. You have speakers situated in front of the base, facing forward so audio is projected amply and is unhindered by the lid. Again, the XPS 15 compares favorably against the MBP, which has speakers parked along the sides of the keyboard, so listening experience is compromised when the lid is not fully up. Understandably, the XPS 15 lacks in bass (as with most notebooks), but it does atone for that with its loud audio.
As a multimedia notebook, graphical performance of the updated XPS 15 with its Core i7 processor and GeForce 750M GPU matches a similarly-specced MBP. It scored 10180 in 3DMark 2013’s Cloud Gate benchmark, just slightly under our MBP’s score of 10365. However, it scored consistently lower than the MBP in all PC Mark 8 tasks, dragged down by its average mechanical HDD. The 32GB MSATA cache helped a little, but is obviously no stand-in for the proper SSD on our MBP.
It would seem that the XPS 15 was let down by its HDD, but having said that, do note that our equally specced MBP with a 512GB SDD is priced at $3,588. The XPS 15 can be had for $2,699. Still steep compared with most multimedia notebooks today, but Dell really did do an incredible job wwith the rest of the machine, especially the screen.
With built-in NVIDIA Surround technology, gamers can detect their enemy’s movement quicker and react before they do in FPS games.
All in all, the keyboard still serves its main purpose, but we thought the ample unused space could have been better utilized.