Dell XPS 15 (2017) Review

  • Ratings Breakdown (1-10)

  • Pros

  • Cons

Quick Take

With a gorgeous 4K display, strong specs, and portable design the Dell XPS 15 is a standout for consumers that want a premium well-rounded package.

Money may not be able to buy happiness, but it can buy a great laptop. The Dell XPS 15 (2017) is an excellent laptop that delivers a premium experience in just about every area. With a solid well constructed portable design, eye-catching Infinity Edge 4K display, and strong performance the Dell XPS 15 is a well-rounded machine that can do a little bit of everything. Whether you need productivity, a great multimedia device, or even want to do some lightweight gaming the Dell XPS 15 has you covered, just be prepared to pay for that premium experience.

Dell XPS 15 Build and Design

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The Dell XPS 15 sports a similar look to that of its predecessor with the clean, understated silver and black aesthetic. The laptop features a silver aluminum display lid with rounded corners and a black Dell logo in the center of the lid. Under the lid is where the real magic is. The laptop features an infinity edge display with a razor thin bezel. Below that sits the black plush soft to the touch deck complete with a fingerprint scanner. The right side of the laptop also houses a battery indicator with five lights that will roughly show how much juice is left in the tank.

Measuring 14 x 9.27 x 0.66-inches and weighing 4.6 pounds the Dell XPS 15 isn’t exactly lightweight, but it travels well enough. The laptop is pretty much on par with most 15-inch devices such as the 4.4 pound HP Spectre x360. Sure the Dell XPS 15 may seem a bit on the heavier side when compared to some of the Ultrabooks on the market, but take into consideration the power i7 and dedicated graphics and the extra bulk is well worth it’s weight in computing horsepower.

Dell XPS 15 Ports

The Dell XPS 15’s slanted design does add a certain elegant charm, but it also means only the back portion of the chassis can be used to house ports. Despite this limitation, the Dell XPS 15 offers a solid array of connectivity options. The left side of the device houses a power connector, a USB 3.0 port, an HDMI connector a Thunderbolt 3 port, and a headphone/mic combo jack. The right side of the device features a Kensington lock slot, a battery life indicator, another USB 3.0 port, and an SD card reader.

Dell XPS 15 Keyboard and Touchpad

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The Dell XPS 15 houses a black island-style backlit keyboard. The plastic square keys are rounded at the edges and smooth to the touch. Unfortunately, key travel is incredibly shallow (especially given the size of the device) and it’s not uncommon to bottom out when typing. Luckily the limited travel is met with well-spaced design and forceful consistent feedback, which made it easy to get into a typing rhythm after only using the device for a few minutes.

Located below the spacebar is a generously sized touchpad. The smooth rubber pad feels great to use with its frictionless, precise travel. The pad also fully supports Windows 10’s precision gestures. Swipes, clicks, and gestures all read accurately without delay.

Dell XPS 15 Screen and Speakers

The real gem of the Dell XPS 15 is it’s gorgeous 15.6-inch 4K (3,840 x 2,160) resolution Infinity Edge display. The Infinity Edge display lets the screen take center stage, as it looks like the picture is bursting out of the laptops frame. NBR was impressed by the vividly detailed color depiction, as bright green, dark purples, and rich blacks all popped right off the screen. Best of all the screen is more than just a looker, it’s functional. The panel covers an astounding 188 percent of the sRGB color gamut, making the notebook perfect for professional image or video work.

The screen also boasts a 288 nits brightness, providing wide flexible viewing angles. The only real downside to the glossy display is that it can become a bit reflective in direct light. While taking pictures of the device, NBR noticed that background images would often appear on screen, especially if the screen had a dark background picture.

Still this one of the best displays out there. Whether you’re looking to play games, watch movies, or simply do your work, you’re going to love looking at this panel.

The Dell XPS 15 delivers clear boisterous audio capable of filling a modest-sized room with ease. NBR was particularly impressed with how well the laptop was able to capture a number of orchestral pieces as the mids and highs were captured with near pristine quality. The only notable downside is that the lows didn’t pack as much oomph as we would have liked, but the Dell XPS 15 still beats most laptops in the audio department hands down.

Dell XPS 15 Performance

Armed with a 2.8GHz Intel Core i7-770HQ CPU, with a Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 GPU, 16GB of RAM, and a lighting fast 516GB PCIe SSD the Dell XPS 15 packs quite a punch. The XPS 15 also has the price tag to match, as the unit that NBR tested is currently listed at $2,100 on Dell’s website. To be fair some of that cost is caught up in the screen; if you are willing to drop the 4K panel you can get a similarly equipped laptop for around $1,700. Dell is also offering a more modest build with a seventh generation Intel Core i5-7300HQ CPU, the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 GPU, 8GB of RAM, and a 256GB PCIe SSD for $1,350. This configuration is likely the “best bang for your buck” option depending on your computing needs.

Still, there’s something to be said about going for all the bells and whistles. The premium configuration of the Dell XPS 15 that we tested was a powerhouse and a joy to use. As is evident from the strong benchmark scores, the XPS 15 makes short work of basic word processing and multitasking processes. NBR was able to run 20 active Google Chrome tabs, with 2 HD video streams, and Spotify playing in the background without any drop in performance. The fast read and write times of the 516GB PCIe SSD also offers impressive and consistent performance.

Despite not really looking the part, the Dell XPS 15 is actually pretty solid entry-level gaming device thanks to the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 GPU. The laptop was cable of tackling a wide array of games in our Steam library, and NBR was pleased how smooth

Far Cry 4

ran on the multi-purpose rig averaging 38 fps on high settings at 1080p. Unfortunately, the laptop won’t be able to run too many games at 4K, but less demanding titles like League of Legends will look fantastic at full resolution.

Dell XPS 15 (2017)
review unit that NBR tested had the following specifications:

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Dell XPS 15 Benchmarks

PCMark8 Home (Accelerated) measures overall system performance in Windows 8 for general activities from web browsing and video streaming to typing documents and playing games (higher scores mean better performance):

PCMark8 Work (Accelerated) measures overall system performance in Windows 8 for work-related productivity tasks (higher scores mean better performance):

3DMark Fire Strike measures the overall gaming performance of the GPU (higher scores mean better performance):

Dell XPS 15 Battery Life

To test battery life, we used Futuremark’s PowerMark benchmark in balanced mode. The test consists of a combination of automated web browsing, word processing, gaming and video playback workloads. The test is far more strenuous than typical web browsing alone, measuring the machine under a litany of scenarios to better simulate high-stress usage. With the test being far more demanding the scores are understandably lower than what you’ll experience just checking Facebook or watching Netflix.

PowerMark “Balanced” battery life test results listed in minutes (higher scores mean better life):

In our tests, the Dell XPS 15 ran for
4 hours and 56 minutes
before shutting down, which isn’t all that bad considering the 4K display and dedicated GPU under the hood. With our tests being a bit more strenuous than normal everyday activities you can expect to get upwards of 7 to 8 hours of battery life on a full charge.

Dell XPS 15 Conclusion

Norton LifeLock PhishingThe Dell XPS 15 is a fantastic laptop. Sure it has a premium price tag, but it also has premium features with a jaw-dropping 4K display, strong performance, and a well built portable design. One of the strongest selling points of this device is its versatility. It’s portable enough to be a travel laptop, with solid battery life. It’s also powerful enough to be a great workhouse, with the ability to multitask and load files almost instantly. Not to mention the dedicated GPU makes it a great option for games and media to boot. Truthfully the only downside is that the key travel is a bit limited, but that doesn’t mar the incredible package this laptop offers.