Dell’s XPS 15 makes big laptops cool again – The Verge
The model I’ve been testing has a 15.6-inch 4K touchscreen display (3840 x 2160), 16GB of RAM, and Intel’s latest Core i7 processor. It’s priced at a steep $2,229.99, but the base model starts at $999.99 with a 1080p display, 8GB of RAM, and an Intel Core i3 processor. Dell’s 4K edge-to-edge display is simply stunning on the XPS 15. I love the XPS 13’s display, but the larger, higher-res version on the XPS 15 looks even better. Viewing angles are solid, and color reproduction is really crisp. The upgraded display is a $450 option, and I think it’s worth it, but I really wish there was a matte option. I dislike glossy displays with a passion, and while this one is really nice, a matte finish would have really put it over the top.
The XPS 15 has every single port I need in a laptop. There are HDMI, USB, and USB Type-C ports on the left-hand side, and an SD card slot and USB port on the right-hand side. The addition of the Type-C (which doubles as Thunderbolt 3) means you can drive a lot of powerful accessories like external drives or monitors, and even charge the laptop through USB (warning: it will be slow compared to using Dell’s power brick). A lot of accessories will use Type-C this year, and the XPS 15 is ready for them.
Dell’s choice of ports on the XPS 15 are designed to complement what’s inside. This is a powerful laptop, and it shows. After using it for a few weeks, I don’t want to go back to using my desktop machine. It feels so fast, and I never had any performance problems using regular apps in Windows. As the XPS 15 is larger, it also includes discrete graphics processing from Nvidia. This isn’t a gaming laptop, and at 4K native resolution you’ll obviously have to run games at a much lower resolution, but it’s an option.
The XPS 15 uses the built-in Intel graphics card for most tasks, but once you start pushing into 3D apps or games, it switches over to Nvidia’s chip. Performance has been mixed for me using Nvidia’s graphics, but recent driver and BIOS updates have certainly helped. It will run most Steam titles well if you’re not concerned about maximum settings, but this is still designed as a laptop for powerful desktop apps and not games. If you want to use games and apps that really make use of the discrete graphics then make sure you’re connected to the power supply as it draws a lot of battery juice otherwise.
Nvidia graphics help power games and apps
My experience with the XPS 15 hasn’t been problem-free, though. I’ve had some random bluescreens which haven’t filled me with confidence, and the amount of BIOS and driver updates shows that Intel, Nvidia, and Dell are still trying to perfect the right balance of performance, stability, and battery life here. If you’re spending $1,600 on a laptop, it’s reasonable to expect it not to bluescreen on you. I had similar bluescreen issues with the Surface Book, so I’m not sure if Microsoft, Intel, and Nvidia are still trying to figure out drivers and software for Windows 10. Either way, Windows 10 itself still feels a little unfinished in a lot of areas. Fortunately, Dell has added minimal bloatware so you don’t really have to deal with that on top of any Windows 10 bugs.