Dell XPS 15 review

Not quite as classy as its predecessors, but the newly affordable XPS is a bona-fide entertainer

Price when reviewed 

Page 1 of 2 Dell XPS 15 review

Since the release of the Adamo XPS at the tail-end of last year, Dell's XPS brand has lain dormant. But it's finally resurrected the brand for the release of its latest 15.6in and 17in models, and the first to arrive in the PC Pro Labs is the 15.6in XPS 15.

It cuts a striking dash, although initially for all the wrong reasons. Our review unit arrived with an unpleasantly kitsch Product (RED) motif scrawled across its lid; think surrealist meets 1960s wallpaper and you're halfway there. Thankfully, there are another 148 designs to choose from - for a £34.50 premium.

Whichever lid takes your fancy, the rest of the XPS 15 remains demurely finished in lashings of silver and grey and that, coupled with its smoothly rounded edges and stylish curves, makes for a great-looking laptop. The chassis feels surprisingly stout for such a modestly priced model.

The only concern is that the lid feels slightly insubstantial. Apply pressure to the garish design and the plastic fouls the panel underneath, resulting in a visible rippling effect onscreen. And at 39mm thick and a weighty 2.86kg, it isn't particularly portable either.

Dell XPS 15

Inside, there are no such worries. Processor options start with Intel's Core i3 and rise through the ranks, while Nvidia Optimus graphics switching technology partners Intel HD Graphics with a Nvidia GeForce GT 420M chip or, in the priciest Core i7 model, a GT 435M.

Our review unit struck the middle ground with a 2.53GHz Intel Core i5-460M, 4GB of DDR3 memory and Nvidia's GeForce GT 420M, a combination that helped it to a good score of 1.61 in our application benchmarks. And in our gaming tests it wasn't until we reached our mid-level test (run at 1,600 x 900 pixels and Medium detail in Crysis) that the average frame rate slowed to 24fps. This leaves the XPS 15 trailing dedicated gaming notebooks, but in front of most others. It's more than nippy enough for casual gaming.

Meanwhile, the graphics-switching technology helps the XPS 15 sweep past its rivals in the battery life stakes. With 5hrs 46mins in our light-use test, falling to 1hr 16mins when pushed hard, the XPS 15 leaves most desktop replacement laptops for dust. You might not want to carry it around very often, but it's nice to have the option to balance it on your knee without having a mains lead trailing from the rear.

Page 1 of 2 Dell XPS 15 review


Warranty1yr collect and return

Physical specifications

Dimensions381 x 266 x 39mm (WDH)
Travelling weight3.3kg

Processor and memory

ProcessorIntel Core i5-460M
Motherboard chipsetIntel HM57
RAM capacity4.00GB
Memory typeDDR3
SODIMM sockets free0
SODIMM sockets total2

Screen and video

Screen size15.6in
Resolution screen horizontal1,366
Resolution screen vertical768
Resolution1366 x 768
Graphics chipsetIntel HD graphics/Nvidia GeForce GT 420M
Graphics card RAM1.00GB
VGA (D-SUB) outputs0
HDMI outputs1
S-Video outputs0
DVI-I outputs0
DVI-D outputs0
DisplayPort outputs1


Hard disk usable capacity466GB
Spindle speed7,200RPM
Internal disk interfaceSATA/300
Hard diskSeagate ST9500420AS
Optical disc technologyDVD writer
Optical driveOptiarc AD-7700H
Battery capacity4,900mAh
Replacement battery price inc VAT£0


Wired adapter speed1,000Mbits/sec
802.11a supportno
802.11b supportyes
802.11g supportyes
802.11 draft-n supportyes
Integrated 3G adapterno
Bluetooth supportyes

Other Features

Wireless hardware on/off switchno
Wireless key-combination switchyes
ExpressCard34 slots0
ExpressCard54 slots0
PC Card slots0
USB ports (downstream)1
FireWire ports0
eSATA ports1
PS/2 mouse portno
9-pin serial ports0
Parallel ports0
Optical S/PDIF audio output ports1
Electrical S/PDIF audio ports0
3.5mm audio jacks3
SD card readeryes
Memory Stick readeryes
MMC (multimedia card) readeryes
Smart Media readerno
Compact Flash readerno
xD-card readerno
Pointing device typeTouchpad
Audio chipsetRealtek HD Audio
Speaker locationEither side of keyboard
Hardware volume control?no
Integrated microphone?yes
Integrated webcam?yes
Camera megapixel rating2.0mp
Fingerprint readerno
Smartcard readerno
Carry caseno

Battery and performance tests

Battery life, light use5hr 46min
Battery life, heavy use1hr 16min
Overall application benchmark score1.61
Office application benchmark score1.35
2D graphics application benchmark score1.74
Encoding application benchmark score1.53
Multitasking application benchmark score1.82
3D performance (crysis) low settings60fps
3D performance settingLow

Operating system and software

Operating systemWindows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
OS familyWindows 7
Recovery methodRecovery disc
Software suppliedN/A

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