Dell’s latest XPS 15 is among the most powerful Windows laptops ever built by Dell
Limited battery life
Awkward camera placement
Dell XPS 15 (2018) review: What you need to know
The Dell XPS 15 comes with a top-notch predecessor and offers something a little more special over its 2-in-1 sibling. Housed inside the 15.6in Windows 10 laptop, is a 6-core i7 processor, 16GB of RAM and an Nvidia GTX 1050 Ti with Max-Q Design.
In more ways than one, the new XPS 15 is a sizable upgrade over last year’s model. Yet, retains the most important factor: affordability. Obviously, it’s a relative thing, but when you look at the spec it’s not ridiculously expensive – in fact, some might even say it’s cheap for what you’re getting.
Dell XPS 15 (2018) review: Design
For a few years, Dell has maintained a strong design ethos. The 2018 XPS 15 is no different from its predecessors – it has a CNC machined aluminium lid, a black carbon-fibre composite palm rest, and narrow bezels around the display. It’s also a sleek-looking laptop, just 16mm thin at its thickest edge and weighing in at just 2kg. It’s surprisingly easy to lug around.
Dell has opted to ditch the infrared camera setup of the 2-in-1 model, where it’s used as a Windows Hello sign in option, though the remaining Webcam is still awkwardly placed at the bottom edge of the display. That’s understandable, though, given the screen’s ‘InfinityEdge’ design.
As for ports, there’s a USB 3.1 Type-A port and an SD card reader on the right edge, which both sit under a convenient five-LED battery indicator. Here, you can check the laptop’s battery level by clicking the small physical button on the right-hand edge. Neat.
On the left edge, there’s another USB 3.1 Type-A port, a 3.5mm headphone/mic jack combo, a full-sized HDMI 2.0 port, and a Thunderbolt 3 USB Type-C port that’s used to deliver power, connect a display, and/or transfer data.
The backlit keyboard is 81-key-sized; a smart inclusion as there’s very little need to have a number pad on a portable device. The keys are clicky, have a nice feel to them and are perfect for fast typists – there’s no “maglev keyboard” here.
The touchpad is positioned in the middle and boasts pinch to zoom capabilities, and while the buttons are integral there are clear left and right indicators along the bottom edge of the pad. Better still, you can left-click anywhere on the pad; a small, yet noticeable touch when you’re a power user.
Finally, the power button, which resides at the top right-hand side of the keyboard, doubles up as a fingerprint reader. This makes it ultra-convenient to unlock the laptop.
Dell XPS 15 (2018) review: Display
The XPS 15 has a 15.6in “InfinityEdge” edge-to-edge Corning Gorilla Glass 4 display with a choice of either a 4K (3,840 x 2,160) touchscreen or a Full HD (1,920 x 1,080) non-touch IPS display. On the 4K model, I found the touchscreen to be responsive; it also supports 10-point touch.
The IPS display looks fantastic. The screen is capable of covering 95.5% of the sRGB colour gamut, which means colours pop and are vibrant. It manages to achieve a contrast ratio of 1,638:1, which is on par with other IPS displays.
Colour accuracy, on the other hand, is less impressive. At a measured average Delta E of 3.21, and a maximum of 10.75, it’s not one for professional photo or video editors. Still, to the naked eye, it looks incredible.
My only real complaint and this only applies to you if you’re an avid gamer, is that the display is limited to 60Hz. Here, the 144Hz Full HD Razer Blade 15 will provide a more fluid experience.
Dell XPS 15 (2018) review: Performance and battery life
Housed inside the top-spec Dell XPS 15 (9570) is the incredible 6-core 2.2GHz Intel Core i7-8750H processor, which runs at 2.2GHz but has a boost clock of 4.1GHz. It also has 16GB of DDR4-2666MHz RAM and 512GB of ridiculously fast M.2 PCIe SSD storage space.
But that’s not all, the laptop also boasts an Nvidia Max-Q design GTX 1050 Ti, which has 4GB of dedicated GDDR5 memory. In case you’re wondering, that Max-Q design isn’t just for show; it’s Nvidia’s certificate for laptops that are both thin, silent and have a full-blown Nvidia graphics card housed inside.
As for its GPU, that’s no slouch either. That GTX 1050 Ti powers through most games. In GFXBench Manhattan 3.0, the onscreen tests netted the capped 60fps mark, while its offscreen performance (which runs at 1080p), hit a staggering 295fps.
Synthetic benchmarks go only so far – I put the laptop through its paces on Dirt Showdown, and at Full HD it manages an average of 104fps, while the minimum sits at 76fps. Ramping up the quality to 4K, and still, the laptop manages 68fps and 56fps, respectively.
Upping the ante, I used Metro: Last Light Redux to really stress out its GPU. Here, cracks started to appear, with 4K at medium settings hitting an average of 33fps, while on high graphics settings the figure drops down to 25fps.
Still, for a non-gaming centric laptop, it’s impressive. Just remember, that at 4K there’s only so much a full-blown GTX 1080 in a desktop PC can do, let alone a GTX 1050 Ti that sits in a 16mm laptop. So, if you want to game, I’d suggest dialling down the graphics to 1080p.
As for temps, the laptop doesn’t pass 91°C on any of the 6-cores. Of course, if you’re going to be gaming for hours on end, you’ll probably want to get yourself a laptop cooling pad.
Unsurprisingly, the 4K display eats away at the laptop’s battery life. Here, the laptop still manages to achieve a respectable 7hrs 14mins in the Expert Reviews battery rundown test. By comparison, the XPS 15 2-in-1 that we tested with a Full HD display achieved 8hrs 29mins.
Finally, there’s the 512GB M.2 PCIe SSD, which is ridiculously fast. In the AS SSD Benchmark, the XPS 15 achieves a read speed of 2,292 MB/s and write of 1,009 MB/s. That’s around 2-3x faster than your regular SSD. Let that sink in.
Dell XPS 15 (2018) review: Verdict
The XPS 15 2-in-1 is impressive, but the ‘regular’ XPS 15 just takes it up a notch. It’s spectacular, with or without a 4K screen. For close to half the price of a 15-inch MacBook Pro, you could buy a Dell XPS 15 – and if you want the top-spec configuration on the Dell.
Just when you thought the XPS range couldn’t get better, it did; and that’s not only due to its ridiculously fast processor but the entire package. Everywhere I looked and tested, I struggled to find a real fault. Sure, it could do with better camera placement, and slightly better battery life, but that’s it.
It’s no surprise then, that the 2018 Dell XPS 15 (9570) gets the 5/5 Best Buy award. As far as I’m concerned, it’s the best laptop money can buy.