The Good: Dell’s nearly edgeless display makes the XPS 15 a complete joy to work on, and especially to watch video content. It’s got a very high standard build and feels like a premium product all around.
The Bad: The 4K display is limited to the higher spec model, which is a shame.
The Bottom Line: If a Windows laptop is what you want and a good display matters to you, Dell’s XPS 15 (or even 13) is a great choice. It packs a strong spec sheet, great design and a gorgeous display.
Think of premium, high performance Windows laptops and Dell’s XPS lineup is certainly going to be one of the top picks or recommendations. With an edge-to-edge “Infinity Display”, powerful specification sheet and a generally good looking design, it’s easy to understand why.
Now while I don’t professionally do any intensive video, RAW photo editing or app development, I’m adamant about having a powerful machine for my marketing and blogging work.
On paper, the Dell XPS 15 is overkill for my daily workflows for things like writing, light photo editing, graphic creation, web development and a lot of social media work. But if you want to invest in a computer for the long-term like me, I wanted to see whether the XPS 15 was worth buying, so they sent out their top of the line XPS 15 with i7 processor, 16GB of RAM, 512GB SSD storage and a touch-enabled 4K display.
Breaking down the Dell XPS 15 options
Dell’s XPS 15 is placed in the premium bracket of Windows laptops starting at £1299 — and that’s for the 2nd base model worth buying in my opinion. For that price, you’re getting an i5 processor, 8GB RAM and 256GB SSD, along with a 1080p (non-touch) display. All reasonable specifications at a price you’d expect for a premium machine.
However if you’ve got a larger budget and are adamant about 4K and touch screens, you’ll need to splash £1749 for the model I’ve got here.
Design & build quality
Everything about the Dell XPS 15 laptop feels premium from its aluminium chassis with carbon fibre lining on the inside to the Gorilla Glass for that gorgeous InfinityEdge display.
What’s remarkable about the XPS 15 is the fact that Dell have squeezed a 15” display into a compact chassis, largely thanks to the reduced 5.7mm bezels surrounding the display. (Dell make a point of stating that it’s 59% thinner than the MacBook Pro’s.) It weighs in at 1.8kg which is still light for laptop of this size, and when you combine that with its 11-17mm thickness you’re dealing with a powerhouse machine in a portable package.
Even things like the display hinge feel fantastic; you can prod the touchscreen display all you like, open or close it and it’ll continue feeling firm and resistant.
The InfinityEdge Display
The star of the show is undoubtedly Dell’s InfinityEdge display. Unlike most of the Windows laptops I’ve used or seen in my life, the Dell XPS 15 stands out the most because of its gorgeous edge-to-edge display. While most laptops have chunky bezels, the XPS 15 leaves just 5.7mm around the edges and it just looks phenomenal.
My review unit packs in 3840 x 2160 pixels for a 4K resolution display here. Crank it up to full brightness and you really get to experience how colours pop, viewing angles are ideal from just about any angle and how incredibly sharp it is too. Just remember that it’s a glossy display, so while it’s perfectly usable in direct sunlight you will get a strong reflection — as with any glossy display.
Dell has really done a fantastic job on the XPS 15, but there has been one caveat: I’ve noticed that when you hover over links or swipe up/down on the touchscreen, the display becomes temporarily dull as if you’ve just turned down the brightness slightly. I tried this on two XPS 15 units and it’s a consistent issue that bothers me; an unfortunate annoyance on what’s otherwise a fantastic display.
Update: after some more research, it seems that by updating the display drivers on the XPS 15 this display flickering goes away. Read more about that here.
If you are more of a touchscreen person, you’ll be happy to know Dell have built a great one here. Whether you’re swiping up and down a webpage or grabbing notifications from your Action Centre, the XPS 15’s display is responsive and accurate. And because the hinge is quite strong the display deals well with any kinds of prodding too.
Keyboard & Trackpad
Dell’s XPS 15 comes with a good looking backlit keyboard that provides a nice typing experience. The keyboard has 3 brightness levels which you control with a single button (F10), and all of the keys feel nicely spaced out with all the necessary function keys like display brightness and volume controls.
The keyboard has fairly shallow keys, so if you’re used to a mechanical keyboard this may take some getting used to. It’s the price we have to pay for thinner laptops, but honestly, I’ve been typing on this thing a lot and despite its firm and shallow key travel the XPS 15 has been very comfortable and accurate to work on.
Its trackpad is also lovely to use. I’ve always had a hit-and-miss experience with Windows laptops and their trackpads, but Dell’s feels responsive and accurate. Everything from a two-finger tap, and left/right clicks to the up/down scrolling gesture have left me with nothing to complain about. On future models it would be nice to see Dell make use of the available space and build a larger trackpad, but even at this size I’m very happy with how it works.
Battery life on the Dell XPS 15 has been good to me. I can get between four to five hours of casual use from it involving writing, web browsing and social media. If you’re going to be doing more intensive tasks (which is likely if you buy this kind of machine), you’ll likely need a wall power socket regularly though.
In daily use I never struggled with the XPS 15; little surprise considering the powerhouse specs. The truth is though, I never got the chance to push it to the limit because of the work I do. Between writing articles, managing websites and social media work the Dell XPS 15 breezed through it all without a single hiccup.
Dell XPS 15: Verdict
So here’s my stance on the XPS 15. It’s an amazing laptop; possibly the best Windows laptop you can buy right now alongside the highly rated Microsoft Surface Book.
It’s a gorgeous machine with fantastic specs and a stunning display, and any pro user will love working on it. For a user like me who probably can’t stretch the XPS 15 to its full potential, there’s always Dell’s top of the line XPS 13 with QHD display. It’s a cheaper alternative at £1249, smaller and more portable.
That said, if budget isn’t an issue, you want the large 4K display and all the specs that come with it, you won’t be disappointed by Dell’s XPS 15. It really is fantastic.