The Dell XPS brand has been synonymous with quality laptops. In fact, its Dell’s premium brand. So NotebookReview took notice when Dell applied it to the company’s new line of Windows-based Ultrabooks.
The Dell XPS 15 (L521X) that NBR reviewed features a third-generation Intel Core i7 quad-core processor, 15.6-inch FHD Gorilla Glass display (1920 x 1080), NVIDIA GeForce GT, 8GB of DDR3 RAM, and a 9-cell lithium battery. In other words, it features top-of-the-line specs, and costs $1,699.99 at the time of review, as configured. Dell offers less powerful XPS 15 models with a Core i5 chip, less RAM, and slower HDDs, starting at $1,299.99.
All those specs add to more than just the cost. They make the Dell XPS 15 one of the heaviest 15-inch Ultrabooks on the market, as it tips the scales at 5.79 pounds. That is more than a pound heavier than the 15-inch MacBook Pro. In fact, Dell does not even technically list the XPS 15 as an Ultrabook, even though it meets Intel’s strict requirements.
That heft isn’t so bad, however. It lends itself to a sturdy device that sports thick brushed aluminum and a screen that won’t crack or scratch unless the user was really trying to break it thanks to its Gorilla Glass construction. The XPS 15′s large chassis also means plenty of room for ports, including three USB 3.0, HDMI, mini DisplayPort, and Ethernet, in addition to an optical drive.
The Dell XPS 15 performance is top notch. As reviewed with the upgrades, the XPS 15 was at or near the top of all NBR‘s benchmarks compared against similar devices. Even though it is an Ultrabook, “don’t think for a second that makes this notebook anything less than an exceptional multimedia and entertainment notebook,” NBR notes.
The Dell XPS 15 is not a perfect device, however. The Gorilla Glass display, while sturdy, is also glossy, and that makes the XPS 15 difficult to see in the glare. The XPS 15 also has the fatal Ultrabook flaw — it’s tough to upgrade. All its components are precisely placed to make the machine as thin as possible, so they are tough to access and swap out.
Still, NBR claims the Dell XPS 15 is “the best combination of attractive design, solid construction and excellent performance that we’ve seen so far from Dell.” In fact, the Dell XPS 15 is the “best Windows-based alternative to a MacBook Pro,” and is a fitting addition to the XPS lineup.