Lap­tops

★★★★★ £1,549 • From www.ama­zon.co.uk

Computer Shopper - - CONTENTS - Nathan Spen­de­low

Dell has made the XPS 15 bet­ter than ever with new pro­ces­sors and im­proved bat­tery life

VERDICT

A great Windows lap­top be­comes even bet­ter with an up­dated pro­ces­sor and longer bat­tery life

LAST YEAR’S XPS 15( Shop­per 338) was close to be­ing a per­fect Windows 10 lap­top, and now, like the XPS 13 (Shop­per 351), it’s had an In­tel Kaby Lake refresh.

Wisely, the new XPS 15 doesn’t de­vi­ate from the looks of its pre­de­ces­sor, stick­ing with the same smooth car­bon fi­bre and alu­minium combo, plus the tiny bezels of Dell’s 15.6in In­fin­i­tyEdge dis­play. It might not be as pe­tite or as com­muter-friendly as the XPS 13, but it’s well worth it for those added inches of screen real es­tate.

While there’s a lack of out­right de­sign im­prove­ments, the XPS 15 re­mains a beau­ti­ful lap­top. Its gun-metal body still ta­pers to­wards the front edge, mea­sur­ing just 11mm at its thinnest, and weighs 2kg – that’s roughly the same as the most re­cent MacBook Pro.

The XPS 15 still has that soli­tary Thun­der­bolt 3-pow­ered USB Type-C port on its left side, sit­ting next to one USB3 port, an HDMI 2.0 out­put and a 3.5mm head­set jack. The other USB3 port can be found on the right, ac­com­pa­nied by an SD card slot.

SUC­CESS­FUL TRANSPLANT

The big change, of course, lies in that Kaby Lake up­grade in­side. The new XPS 15 is equipped with a 7th-gen, quad-core In­tel Core i7-7700HQ pro­ces­sor clocked at 2.8GHz. Un­sur­pris­ingly, it’s quite a per­former, scor­ing a to­tal of 127 in our rig­or­ous 4K bench­mark­ing tests – that’s up from 111 on the Sky­lake ver­sion. Mul­ti­task­ing is much im­proved as well: it scored 132 in this por­tion of the test, which is also sig­nif­i­cantly bet­ter than Ap­ple’s MacBook Pro equiv­a­lents.

It’s even rea­son­ably well suited for oc­ca­sional gam­ing, with a dis­crete 4GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 help­ing Dirt Show­down hit a sta­ble 65fps when run­ning on Ul­tra set­tings and 1,920x1,080 res­o­lu­tion. Even the much more GPU-in­ten­sive Metro: Last Light Re­dux man­aged 60fps on the Very High pre­set after drop­ping to 1,280x720.

Bat­tery life, which is typ­i­cally a ma­jor detri­ment on high-power clamshells, is ex­cel­lent too: the XPS 15 lasted 10h 25m in our video play­back test, close to five hours longer than the old XPS 15.

EDGING BETS

It might not be the more ex­pen­sive 4K dis­play model that’s also on sale, but the Full HD edition we tested is still a sight to be­hold. As al­ways, its skinny In­fin­i­tyEdge bezel works won­ders, and this 15.6in screen looks even bet­ter than those that came be­fore it.

The XPS 15’s matt-fin­ish, Full HD dis­play cov­ers 91.2% of the sRGB colour gamut, pro­duc­ing some won­der­fully punchy colours, and the 1,612:1 con­trast ra­tio makes for a de­tail-rich dis­play from the dark­est to the bright­est pixel. With a high max­i­mum bright­ness of 365cd/m2, the XPS 15 is also per­fectly suited for sum­mer­time read­ing.

There is one is­sue with the XPS 15, and sadly it’s one that also af­flicted the old model: the key­board doesn’t take full ad­van­tage of all the space given to it. In fact, this is ex­actly the same key­board, in terms of di­men­sions and me­chan­ics, as on the XPS 13. While that lap­top was neat and com­pact, here you just end up with some ugly, use­less empty space un­der the lid. Dell should have opted for a larger set of keys.

That said, the keys aren’t as cramped as they look, even if you do have to reach out a lit­tle fur­ther to touch them. As with the XPS 13, you’re treated to a per­fect amount of feed­back with ev­ery sat­is­fy­ing key­stroke, and each press has the right amount of tac­tile move­ment to make writ­ing lengthy doc­u­ments more bear­able.

The large touch­pad, on the other hand, makes per­fect use of the ex­tra space. It’s no­tice­ably deeper than its XPS 13 coun­ter­part, which helps with those mul­ti­touch fin­ger flour­ishes. We could even use it in Pho­to­shop with­out too much frus­tra­tion, though it can be a lit­tle clingy with your fin­ger­prints.

BANKS A LOT

Dell’s XPS 15 is still a su­perla­tive Windows lap­top. It might not have the in­stant vis­ual im­pact of the diminu­tive XPS 13, but it’s crammed full with un­ri­valled horse­power in that 15.6in chas­sis. The XPS 15 is the per­fect mar­riage of raw per­for­mance and lav­ish looks, but it doesn’t come cheap.

Our model, with its non-touch, Full HD screen and 512GB SSD, costs £1,549, and even the en­try-level vari­ant (with 8GB of RAM, a Core i5 pro­ces­sor and 1TB SSHD) costs £1,249. Opt for a glossy 4K touch­screen model, and you’re look­ing at ei­ther £1,900 for a 512GB SSD or £2,290 for a 1TB SSD. It’s a splen­did per­former, but we wish the XPS 15 wasn’t out of reach from most rea­son­able bud­gets.

If you’re lucky enough that money is no ob­ject, Dell’s XPS 15 is the best big-screen Windows lap­top, but get an XPS 13 if you’re a lit­tle more strapped for cash. You may lose out on an ex­tra 2.3in of screen real es­tate, but it will soften the blow to your wal­let.

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