★★★★★ £1,549 • From www.amazon.co.uk
Dell has made the XPS 15 better than ever with new processors and improved battery life
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.
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.
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.