The Dell XPS 15 is a premium notebook with a bright OLED display surrounded by a beautiful design. It is definitely aimed at content creators. Inside is a 12th generation Intel Core i7 processor and GeForce RTX 3050Ti graphics, a duo that offers excellent application and multimedia performance and some 3D graphics power. The all-metal design is sturdy, and the carbon-fiber keyboard is not only sturdy but also eye-catching.
Creative professionals will appreciate the high style and graphics performance, while executives looking for a high-end laptop for productivity can forgo the RTX option to reduce the price and still get a slim, rugged workhorse with absolutely stunning Windows. Dell XPS 15 devices tend to be among the most luxurious laptops around, and the latest Dell XPS 15 does not deviate from an already familiar design. This is not necessarily a problem. The XPS 15 has received subtle improvements over its last iteration, and the laptop impresses with powerful internal components and expanded display options.
There is no doubt that the Dell XPS 15 looks good and has the power to handle the most demanding tasks, but there are some areas where the design is not entirely convincing. And as always, Dell XPS devices are not cheap, so we took a look at the price as well. Until the release of its successor, the Dell XPS 15 was perhaps the closest thing to a perfect device in the sense that it took the line to the next level. It is the ultimate combination of performance and functionality, offering users enough power to handle most tasks beyond the 3D design and features such as the keyboard, trackpad, display, and speakers that are among the best in class.
The XPS 15 benefits from years of design iterations, culminating in a streamlined and cohesive aesthetic. The angles are perfect, and the silver chassis with black carbon fiber keyboard on the unit I reviewed is elegant without being ostentatious. You can also get a Frost chassis with a white woven fiber keyboard top, which is simply gorgeous. In both cases, the keyboard top is warm and comfortable compared to bare metal.
Each model shares the same diamond-cut, double-anodized side edges, which are attractive, functional and offer scratch resistance that helps keep the metal intact despite connecting and disconnecting peripherals. With the smallest bezels found in a 15-inch laptop, and a screen-to-body ratio of 92.9 percent, the XPS 15 has an ultra-modern look with a screen that seems to float in mid-air. The only laptop that comes close to offering such an attractive design is HP’s Specter x360 16, which is even flashier.
Keyboard and Touch Pad
As mentioned above, the wrist rest is black carbon fiber and the keyboard is finished in black and uses chiclet-style keys. The keyboard is comfortable and accurate, although it leaves much to be desired compared to, say, a ThinkPad X1 Extreme, since ThinkPads are known to have the best Dell keyboards. One thing we can say is that while not as quiet, we like the power curve a little better. For us, Lenovo’s ThinkPads have too much key depth and sometimes do not feel modern.
One thing we absolutely love is the large touchpad that Dell has included. It’s the largest possible in a 15-inch laptop, and the only other OEM I see trying to create large touchpads is Apple. That is a good thing to see on the Windows side. The large touchpad can be a little wobbly at times, and we think a haptic touchpad in its place would be a nice change. Perhaps we will see this in a future iteration. In the meantime, we consider the large touchpad an asset.
The XPS 15’s 15-inch OLED touchscreen almost hangs over the keyboard. Its thin bezels are striking despite the fact that many other computer manufacturers have reduced the bars around their panels. The 16:10 aspect ratio provides plenty of room to work and display more content with less scrolling. The OLED screen has a resolution of 3456 x 2160, which is not quite 4K, but very close. Dell’s panel is vibrant and bright, though not the brightest. We used it to watch an open-source 4K movie we are using for testing, Tears of Steel, and in the opening scene, when the red flames of a rocket turn blinding white, they stand out well even against a gray sky.
The XPS 15 covered 85.9% of the DCI-P3 color gamut and 123% of the sRGB color gamut. This result beats both the Gigabyte Aero 16 and the MacBook Pro. The IdeaPad Slim 7 Carbon won with 139.3 percent of the DCI-P3 color spectrum and 197 percent of the sRGB color spectrum. Dell’s screen measured 382 nits on our light meter, beating the Aero but falling slightly behind the IdeaPad and MacBook Pro (501 nits). I had no problems with brightness in my use of it, but having the option is nice, especially if you are creative on the go.
The speakers on the XPS 15 are quite good by laptop standards. Sure, they are very loud, but they are also well calibrated and balanced. The sound of “25” by The Pretty Reckless filled my apartment and did not distort unless we turned up the volume. The vocals, strings and rum also sounded good.
The bass was a bit weak, but we were able to get even more by playing with some of the controls and equalizers in the included Waves Maxx Audio Pro app. But this sound came at an odd price: the XPS 15 literally vibrated when we listened to music. We could feel it with our hands on the palm rest and even through the keyboard keys if we touched them long enough. This happens to some extent on most laptops, but it is especially noticeable on this system.
The XPS 15 9510 is a multimedia laptop, so it does not use the more powerful graphics cards found in gaming laptops. If you want a higher quality laptop without a dedicated GPU, you can buy the XPS 15 again without a GeForce GPU so that the GPU built into the processor handles all the graphics calculations.
However, the iGPU of the Tiger Lake H CPUs is much slower than the GPU of the Tiger Lake U chips found in many laptops today, so we always recommend buying at least the smaller GeForce RTX 3050. The RTX 3050 and RTX 3050Ti graphics cards are unpretentious. They are faster than any integrated graphics core, but they have only enough power to help mainstream content creation tools. As for games, they can only handle esports and single player titles at 1080p.
Our Dell XPS 15 features an Intel Core i7-12700H processor, 16 GB of RAM, RTX 3050Ti graphics and a 512 GB SSD drive. The Core i7-12700H is part of Intel’s Alder Lake H series of 45-watt mobile chips. The Core i7-12700H features Intel’s new hybrid architecture with cores for performance and efficiency. It has six cores for performance, eight cores for efficiency, and a total of 20 processing threads.
To get an idea of the XPS 15’s performance, we compared its results with those of other content creation laptops such as Asus VivoBook Pro 16X OLED, Acer Swift X, HP Specter x360 16, Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio, MSI Summit E compared -16 Flip and Dell’s own XPS 17 9710. We also included a pair of MSI Katana gaming laptops with low-end RTX graphics and the same Core i7-12700H CPU as the XPS 15 9520.
Our first benchmark is PCMark 10, which measures performance in everyday use, including office productivity tasks, web browsing and video chatting. The two MSI Katana laptops are at the top of the leaderboard, but the XPS 15 9520 is among those that finish with a score above 6,000, indicating that it has more than enough boost to run basic productivity applications.
In a work benchmark at half screen brightness, we found that the XPS lasted nine hours and four minutes. This is a decent result for a 15.6-inch laptop with a powerful processor, and those who use this notebook daily will get through the workday well. Using the processor at full speed, we found that the XPS 15 lasted about six hours. If you buy the OLED screen, both scores drop by about an hour.
These are not bad results for this type of machine, but neither are they outstanding results. If you want to significantly improve battery life, you should use a less powerful notebook. The decent battery life and excellent performance allow us to recommend the Dell XPS 15 as one of the best student laptops, were it not for the high starting price.
We measure heat in laptop stress tests. In this case, we are measuring temperatures during the Cinebench R23 glove. At the center of the keyboard, between the G and H keys, the XPS 15 measured 42.2 degrees Celsius (107.96 degrees Fahrenheit). The hottest spot on the bottom of the laptop was the exhaust port, which measured 43.6 degrees Celsius (110.48 degrees Fahrenheit).
Announced this spring, the Dell XPS 15 9520 is already available starting at $1,449. The base model features a Core i5-12500H, 8GB of DDR5 memory, a 256GB SSD, and a FHD+ display. It does not contain dedicated graphics. As usual, there are many options. You can have up to 64GB of RAM and a 2TB SSD, and the display has two different 4K options, one of which is OLED and the other is not.
The CPU comes in at a Core i9-12900HK and the graphics card at an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050Ti. There are two colors. One is Platinum Silver and contains a black carbon fiber keyboard. It is the classic XPS look. The other is Frost with a white woven fiberglass keyboard.
Dell installs a new processor, a new graphics card and a new optional display in the XPS 15. According to our test, not all aspects are convincing. There still seem to be some software problems that have been improved with the latest BIOS updates, but not all of them have been solved. The new Intel processor offers good performance, but it also requires a lot of power. In multi-core scenarios, you can only take advantage of the full performance for a few seconds. A comparison with modern AMD CPUs also shows that Intel CPUs lag behind in efficiency.