[Note: This review originally appeared in PC&TA issue 167 as part of a laptop group test.]
Dell’s XPS logo has adorned some fine laptops over the years, and its current XPS 15 is no exception. Visually, it isn’t the most distinctive addition to the range. A sea of silver and grey stretches around its thick-set curves, and a huge nine-cell battery juts out of the underside, propping up the laptop’s rear.
The nine-cell battery might look a bit ugly, but it sure does come in handy.
Instead, the XPS 15 has it where it counts. The backlit keyboard feels great to type on, and the wide-gamut display pampers your eyes with a Full HD resolution and eye-popping visuals. If anything, it’s too vibrant; the wide gamut panel regularly veers into oversaturation.
Pop a Blu-ray movie into the XPS 15’s drive and any qualms about its colour reproduction rapidly evaporate. The sheer detail and depth of the images on offer are something to behold, and the JBL-branded speakers make their mark. Using Waves’ Maxx Audio technology – a cut-down version of the Waves sound-enhancing tools more often found in music studios – music and movies sound full and clear, reaching startling volumes for mere laptop speakers.
If there’s a price to pay for the Dell’s entertainment credentials, then it’s a small one. It uses the Core i7-2630QM CPU that seems to be the current manufacturer’s darling and only differs from the top end performers in the GPU department.
In everyday use you won’t notice the difference. The 7200rpm hard disk keeps things feeling snappy, even under multitasking duress, and when Nvidia’s Optimus allows the GeForce GT 540M to take over from Intel’s integrated graphics, there’s enough power to plough through our Medium Crysis benchmark at a respectable 34fps.
The final string to the XPS 15’s bow is its stunning reserves of stamina. The huge battery adds significantly to the overall weight – the XPS 15 weighs 3.02kg – but its herculean 7hrs 28mins of light-use battery life comes as ample recompense; perfect for the occasional jaunt into the garden.
Blending power, panache and a generous range of features, the XPS 15 has been a regular fixture on the A-List with good reason. If you can afford the price of admission, it puts on a spectacular show.