Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

FAST AND RO­BUST, THERE ARE FEW COM­PRO­MISES IN EITHER LAP­TOP OR TABLET CON­FIG­U­RA­TION

PC & Tech Authority - - CONTENTS - NICK ROSS

Though there are many great new lap­tops en­ter­ing the mar­ket, it’s re­fresh­ing to see some­thing a bit dif­fer­ent. Dell’s pow­er­ful new XPS 15 2-in-1 lap­top-cum-tablet is just that thanks to some in­ter­est­ing fea­tures.

It looks very slick with its black, milled alu­minium chas­sis and car­bon fi­bre com­pos­ite palm rest. The ma­te­ri­als nat­u­rally add an im­pres­sive de­gree of stiff­ness while keep­ing the over­all weight down. In­deed, de­spite its solid ap­pear­ance, it weighs only two kilo­grams.

The screen is very thin and sur­rounded by a 5mm bezel. While this looks good, the down­side is that the HD we­b­cam is based at the bot­tom of the screen and so trans­mits an un­flat­ter­ing jowl-ori­ented pro­file to peo­ple you’re talk­ing to. Still, it’s uni­formly lit, im­pres­sively bright, has vi­brant colours and ex­cel­lent view­ing angles. The Ul­tra HD res­o­lu­tion of 3,840 x 2,160 pro­vides a very crisp res­o­lu­tion and all types of con­tent look sharp and im­pres­sive. It also uses Corn­ing’s Go­rilla Glass (ver­sion 4) which is more-usu­ally found on the lat­est smart­phones. The rea­son why, is that this lap­top is ac­tu­ally a fully-fledged 2-in1 tablet. That it took us some time to work this out, shows how far these ma­chines have come: they are fre­quently weird mu­tant creations with un­usual hinges but you could cheer­fully use this as a lap­top for­ever with­out re­al­is­ing that it’s also a tablet.

The hinge en­ables the screen to fold all the way round to the back with­out leav­ing an an­noy­ing, flappy gap. In this con­fig­u­ra­tion, it feels like a large-screened, solid tablet. It comes with a sty­lus that mag­net­i­cally con­nects to the left-hand side. We found it very re­spon­sive and the nar­row bezel makes its pres­ence felt. It also re­duces the im­pact of the low-slung we­b­cam.

The key­board is well laid-out and with mostly full-sized keys (ex­cept for the ar­row keys). They are very-low travel in or­der to pro­vide a nearly-flat sur­face when used as the base in tablet mode, but im­pres­sively, they are still very ac­cu­rate and com­fort­able to type on. All in all, it’s both a very-us­able lap­top and a very-us­able tablet.

The speak­ers are im­pres­sive de­spite the de­vice’s size: it had some punch for both bass-rich and treble rich au­dio.

But what of per­for­mance? The in­sides are very in­ter­est­ing. Dell es­chews the lat­est 8th-gen­er­a­tion In­tel hexa-core mo­bile CPUs to use the lat­est-gen­er­a­tion, In­tel-AMD, hy­brid CPU-GPU combo. In re­al­ity, this Franken­stein pro­ces­sor combo uses a last-gen­er­a­tion In­tel Kaby Lake CPU (with cur­rent gen­er­a­tion op­ti­mi­sa­tions) which is bolted onto AMD’s last-gen­er­a­tion Po­laris GPU tech­nol­ogy (with ele­ments of the lat­est Vega GPU tech­nolo­gies). If this sounds alarm bells that scream, ‘first-gen­er­a­tion, in­terim tech­nol­ogy’ it’s worth not­ing that the re­sult­ing cre­ation is still far­more tightly in­ter­wo­ven than an In­tel-based sys­tem with dis­creet Nvidia graph­ics. But the proof is in the pud­ding...

In tan­dem with 16GB RAM and a whop­ping 1TB NVMe hard drive, the 3.1GHz sys­tem scored 4,779 in PCMark 10. That’s slightly less than the lower-clocked Cof­fee Lake hex­a­core ri­vals we see else­where but the higher clock-speed will ben­e­fit some apps.

The in­te­grated Vega graph­ics are gen­er­ally com­pa­ra­ble to Nvidia’s 1050 Ti. It scored just 2,467 in 3DMark’s Fire Strike Ex­treme but this will still be enough to play the likes of Fort­night and Over­watch.

Con­nec­tiv­ity is in­ter­est­ing in that all ports are USB-C – two of them sup­port Thun­der­bolt 3 (plus re­lated video con­nec­tions). We’d like to have seen one USB-A con­nec­tor for legacy pe­riph­er­als, but a don­gle is bun­dled.

It played our Full HD movie and ran PCMark’s bat­tery test for al­most five hours each (though it ran the lat­ter 40 per cent slower com­pared to when plugged in.

If you’re in the mar­ket for ro­bust, por­ta­ble lap­top that’s also a large, im­pres­sive tablet, the XPS 15 makes a great choice. At $4,299, the tablet fea­tures and UHD touch­screen cost sig­nif­i­cantly more than ri­val, more-pow­er­ful, gam­ing-fo­cused all­rounder lap­tops, but the tech­nol­ogy on of­fer makes for an in­ter­est­ing al­ter­na­tive.

KEY SPECS

3.1GHz In­tel Core i7-8705G CPU • 16GB DDR4-2666 SDRAM • Radeon RX Vega M GL • 1TB M.2 SSD • 15.6in 3,840 x 2,160 touch screen dis­play • HD we­b­cam • 2 x Thun­der­bolt 3/USB 3.1 Type-C • 2 x USB 3.1 Type-C • mi­croSD slot • 3.5mm au­dio jack • 2.0KG • 1yr on­site war­ranty $4,299 • www.dell.com.au

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