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ReviewComputers

Review: Dell XPS 15

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Can a premium notebook appeal to gamers whom think that pure gaming notebooks are just too expansive? That's what we'll be sorting out in this test of the Dell XPS 15.
The American Dell corporation is one of the largest computer manufacturers in the world, housing brands such as Alienware, a well known player within the gaming scene. However this review is about a completely different line of Dell computers; notebooks in the XPS class. More precisely the premium class notebook Dell XPS 15 9550.

The test



When unpacked, I'm struck by the notebooks stylish design that's clearly inspired by Apple's MacBook Air. With a sleek aluminium chassis and a total weight of just under two kilograms, this 15.6-incher definitely is easy to carry. The connectors on the XPS 15 are all located to the sides of its lower part. Card reader, three USB ports (one USB 3.1, Type C with Thunderbolt), and HDMI as well as input and output for a microphone and headphones, respectively. The aforementioned screen takes up such a large part of the notebook's lid so that the more or less obligatory webcam has been moved down to the bottom of the screen. Not very charming, especially if one does not like to entertain people with "dewlaps".

The test machine comes packed with an i5 processor from Intel, model 6300HQ, 8 GB DDR4 RAM, a GeForce GTX 960M with 2 GB of GDDR5 memory and one 1 TB 5400 RPM HDD asw ell as a small SSD of 32 GB. A perfectly fine set may seem, at least for those who play less demanding games. The XPS 15 is available in several different configurations.

That is, after all, what this test is all about. How does the computer manage the task that our readers may throw at it? Let us be clear about one thing; this isn't a notebook for the full-time pro, nor those who aspire to become the same. Well, at least not unless they also have another notebook or desktop PC as their primary gaming machine. The XPS 15 managed to deliver about 150 FPS in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, when set at the highest graphics settings. It should give a pretty good idea of ​​where it stands. As a comparison, it performs like the Acer Aspire V Nitro VN7-792G, which contains pretty much the same things under the hood, but at a significantly lower price (from 1100 euro). And then there's the Asus Zenbook Pro, built on a previous generation i7. Even the ZenBook is cheaper than the XPS 15, yet it performs better at many tasks. The big difference between the XPS 15 and the other two is that the Dell computer weighs in at just under two pounds, while the Aspire V Nitro Acer weighs three kilograms. The Acer Zenbook Pro lands at just over two kilograms, but then it's not as thin as the XPS 15.

A little more on the XPS 15 and gaming. The notebook manage to squeeze out 32.3 FPS in Star Wars Battlefront, when set at ultra graphics settings. In the 2013 game BioShock Infinite the peak is clocked at 40.8 FPS.

The screen on the XPS 15 is an IPS panel, manufactured by Sharp, that really delivers a great picture. Despite that the maximum resolution is only 1920x1080 and scrubby response times, the XPS 15 boasts a screen with clear, strong colors and a nice sharpness. The viewing angle is real wide and fits the bill for a premium notebook.

When putting the gaming aside and instead focusing on the XPS 15 as a computer for watching movies, working, surfing and similar activities, well then it suddenly becomes much more enjoyable. The XPS 15 keyboard has a very slim design with buttons that still manages to provide a good response to key presses. It's simply put quite pleasant to write on. The touchpad, which has a top player made of glass, is great and contributes to making surfing the web real easy and comfortable. Even though we've already mentioned the display I just have to add that watching a full-HD movie (1080p) makes a really neat experience. The experience is further enhanced by the built in sound system, delivering a clear tones and fair bass considering the systems tiny size.

Despite providing a fair amount of power, the Dell XPS 15 may not find its home within the gaming scene. But as a notebook used for any other use it's actually really good, even boasting a high build quality. That's far from my experience from working as an IT technician at the local authorities in Skellefteå around 2010. Then we used to throw Dell computers on heaps. That time have since long passed and might be explained by Michael Dell, founder of the company, bying out the entire Dell group from the stock market a few years ago.

Positive:
  • Great for watching movies
  • Petite
  • High quality
  • Battery life, but you can't replace it yourself when it's getting old.
Negative:
  • Not a notebook for the enthusiastic gamer.
  • Few ports, particularly USB and the lack of a RJ45 connector.
  • The price, there are equivalent PCs on the market at a better price.
Price:
  • From 1 700 euro at well known European dealers.

Score

7 / 10

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