REVIEW: Dell XPS 15

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Dell XPS 15

These days there’s a bewildering amount of computing choice – almost too much in fact. There is an army of desktops, all-in-ones, tablets, Ultrabooks, laptops, phablets… Most of us opt for a type of device that suits our lifestyle and budget, but businesses generally have to be more pragmatic to accommodate software choices and manageability. Dell’s latest machine is a top-of-the line ‘traditional’ laptop with a significant added feature – a Full HD touchscreen display. If you want cutting edge without compromising on power and features, you’re going to love the XPS 15.

Impressive From The Outset

Dell XPS 15

Let’s not beat around the bush. The Dell XPS 15 is a fantastic machine that’ll bust most people’s budget. But it’s value is justified by its incredible build quality and feature set. Sharing its aesthetic with the Precision M3800 mobile workstation, the XPS 15 is encased in an ultrathin silver aluminium chassis (372 x 254 x 18mm) with contrasting black backlit chiclet keyboard, silicone palmrest, dominating touchpad, and edge-to-edge 15.6-inch IPS display, making working on the XPS 15 an incredibly enjoyable experience. Starting at 2.01kg (4.44lbs), it’s also light enough to carry around on a daily basis.

Beyond The Eye Candy

Dell XPS 15

Powered by Intel technology and Windows 8.1 64-bit, the XPS 15 can be configured as a multimedia powerhouse. Dell supplied us with the top-end model for this review (£1,549 ex. VAT), but the base model can be purchased for £1,049 (ex. VAT).

Differences across the range include the usual ramping up of processor speeds (4th Generation Intel Haswell Core i5 or Core i7), memory (8- or 16GB DDR3 1600MHz), GPU (Intel HD Graphics 4400 or discrete nVidia GeForce GT 750M 2GB) and hard drive configuration (500GB HDD with/without SSD, 512GB SSD or 1TB HDD).

The screen on all models is an LED Backlit Touch Display, but the entry-level unit sports a ‘FHD’ resolution of 1920×1080 compared to the ‘QHD+’ resolution of 3200×1800 on the others. The base unit doesn’t include a built-in 720p camera either. Another difference is the 61WHr 6-cell battery, which can be upgraded to a 91WHr battery to increase power outlet autonomy to around 4.5 hours. An optical drive isn’t an option on any model.

Connectivity options are plentiful and include Dual-band 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0, USB 3.0 w/PowerShare (x3), USB 2.0 with PowerShare (x1), mini DisplayPort (x1), HDMI (x1), 3-in-1 media card reader (SD/SDIO/SDXC), 2.5mm headset jack, and Noble lock.

The lack of an Ethernet port comes as a result of the slim design, but Dell does include a USB Ethernet adapter if you need wired networking. The smart LED-based battery indicator on the left-hand edge is a great touch, as is the XPS-branded metal base plate on the underside of the machine that lifts up to reveal serial numbers and part codes.

Premium Experience

Dell has done a great job In keeping with the XPS tradition of offering a high-end computing experience. The XPS 15 oozes quality with its machined aluminum, carbon fibre edges, vibrant display, durability and performance. Dell’s update and support tools make managing the machine a snap too, which is often overlooked by other manufacturers. A fast boot time and silent operation seal the deal. This is a fantastic machine if you need a powerful yet luxury Windows 8-powered computer with a large, ultra-high resolution display for creative work. If you’re not bothered about operating system, make sure you also check out Apple’s MacBook Pro with Retina display.