Dell XPS 15 review 2017: Is Dell's portable powerhouse still the perfect Windows 10 laptop?

With quad-core Kaby Lake CPUs, gaming-capable graphics and a 4K display, Dell has created a 15.6in laptop of enviable proportions

Nathan Spendelow
9 Mar 2018
Price when reviewed 

Dell XPS 15: Performance

It might not look it, but the XPS 15 is something of a performance heavyweight. Unlike its smaller stablemate, the XPS 15 ups the ante with Intel’s quad-core Kaby Lake processors, adds dedicated graphics in the guise of Nvidia’s capable GeForce GTX 1050 GPU and throws in superfast NVMe SSDs on the pricier models. Oh, and there’s a choice of 8GB or 16GB of DDR4 memory for good measure. Dell hasn’t cut any corners at all here.

The result is a laptop that feels brutally fast in pretty much every scenario. Press the power button, and Windows 10 is up and running in seconds. This is largely due to the NVMe SSD in our review unit: with sequential read speeds of over 1,291MB/sec, it’s obscenely fast. It's something of a revelation, and everything feels supremely responsive as a result.

The Kaby Core i7 in our review unit is the same 2.8GHz processor that's included in all XPS 15 models, and – in technical terms – it’s extremely fast. In our demanding suite of image-processing, video-transcoding and multitasking benchmarks, the XPS 15 skipped through to a very respectable score of 127 – a near perfect score.

And speaking of games, the XPS 15 is unusually capable when it comes to 3D gaming. Our current go-to benchmark is Metro: Last Light, and while it’s no walkover, the Dell's GeForce GTX 1050 and its 4GB of GDDR5 memory are more than capable of doing it justice. Running at Full HD resolution and lowering the detail to Medium provided a silky smooth and if utterly gorgeous-looking experience, sending average framerates well above 60fps. Frankly, it’s hugely impressive that this laptop didn't immediately melt itself to a pile of hot metal and plastic.

Yet more impressive is the fact that the XPS 15 doesn’t cook itself while working flat out. Crucially, I observed no stuttering or throttling at all – the case felt warm to the touch, with a particularly hot area above the keyboard’s function keys, but this is nothing to worry about.

Dell XPS 15 review: Battery life

All that power-hungry hardware inside the Dell XPS 15 didn't even take a toll on battery life, either. With its fairly large 97Wh battery, the XPS 15 managed to survive 10hrs 25mins in our video-rundown test, and bear in mind that’s with screen brightness dimmed down to 170cd/m2 and Wi-Fi switched off. For comparison sake, this almost twice the longevity than last year's Skylake-equipped model.

Dell XPS 15 review: Verdict

With sheer perfection across the board, Dell should be patting itself on the back for delivering yet another top-notch Windows 10 laptop. The XPS 15 is powerful, portable and equipped with all the features anyone could ask of a high-end device. Factor in the genuine gaming capabilities, and I can see the XPS 15 being very popular everywhere from the bedroom to the boardroom.

No, it's not cheap, especially not the £1,349 model I had for review, but this is exactly the kind of laptop that manufacturers need to be making if they’re really going to take the fight to Apple’s increasingly dominant MacBook family. It's fast, gorgeous and multitalented: for me, this really is the do-it-all Windows laptop I’ve been waiting a decade for.

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