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Dell XPS 15 (9500) Review

Dell XPS 15 (9500) Review

Hi, I’m Matthew Buzzi, here with the 2020 version of the Dell XPS 15, Dell’s premium desktop replacement laptop. We generally love the XPS laptops. So, we’ve seen the XPS 13, the smaller version, get pretty frequent updates, but the 15 was kind of due for a facelift and kind of exactly got that with this modern, sort of sleeker redesign.

Now, this laptop has a lot of configuration options as is usual with Dell machines. It starts at $1,299, but we got a souped-up $2,299 version, which includes, most importantly, this nice 4K touch panel, which is really brilliant.

The Infinity Edge display here really pops, and it actually has a 16 by 10 aspect ratio, which is more vertical pixels, so more screen-to-body ratio, ’cause even the chassis got thinner as well as changing the screen shape.

What hasn’t changed is the really premium build, you have this full metal body which is really nice, there’s a carbon-fiber keyboard deck. But there are some enhancements, like these up-facing speakers, so the sound actually comes up at you instead of down into the table, which is better.

The touchpad is also enormous now, which takes a page out of the MacBook’s book a bit, which does include really, really big touchpads, so it’s nice to see that Dell followed suit. The metal body does mean it’s fairly heavy at four and a half pounds.

It’s not too much heavier than some of the competition, but the MacBook Pro is now 16 inches and it is a tad lighter than this, so it’d be nice to see this be a little less hefty, but I would take the tradeoff for the premium build.

Now, because the chassis is so trim and to modernize it a bit more, Dell opted for all USB-C ports on this model, so no more standard USB-A ports and no HDMI connections. That can be a bit inconvenient for those who have legacy peripherals, whether a mouse or a flash drive, but USB-C ports are versatile, fast and useful, so– Dell included two of them over here and one more over here.

These two have Thunderbolt 3 support, this one just has DisplayPort out, as well as the SD card slot. They also did include an adapter in the box both for HDMI connection and for standard USB-A connection.

So you’ve got that convenience, you do have to carry around a dongle, but it’s a lot better that they include it in the box for you, still. So as I mentioned, there’s plenty of configuration options for this laptop.

Our particular model has a Core i7 10th Gen processor, which is really snappy across the board, 16 GB of RAM to help it out and 512 GB SSD. You can of course change and configure those, there’s a couple preset models, and then from there you can mix and match components, so it’s pretty easy to get a different component mix no matter what you’re looking for.

Now on top of all that our unit also includes NVIDIA’s GTX 1650 TI GPU, which is a good modest kind of performer for 3D tasks. It’s much better than integrated graphics, it’s not quite up there with the 2060, 2070, sort of those real gaming GPUs, but you can do 1080p gaming and if you’re someone who uses 3D applications for work and, y’know, you’re a professional doing photo editing or video editing, it can do those in a pinch.

I’d say if that’s your main purpose, you want to go something a little more powerful, but if that’s a hobby, if that’s a side job or you occasionally do some tasks that require GPU, or you want to do a bit of light gaming on your mostly professional machine, it’s a pretty capable GPU.

Finally, the battery life is pretty good on our model, not amazing, it ran for just over 12 hours, which, strong, that’s all day battery, that’ll last you a long time off the charger. The 4K screen and the GPU play into that a good amount, because those drain the battery pretty quickly.

But still getting over 12 hours with the 4K display is actually better than I expected. If you opt for the full HD screen version, I’m sure the battery will be several hours more than that. So with all the configuration options available for this laptop and the big range of prices that it covers, it’s hard to say exactly who this is for, but the good news is that means it can apply to a lot of different shoppers looking for a lot of different things and working with a lot of different budgets.

The main competition, the same kind of people who would be looking for this laptop would be looking for the Apple MacBook Pro, would be looking for Microsoft Surface Book 3, the 15-inch version. Those sound like comparable, premium, high-end competitors for this laptop, and it makes a really strong case as kind of the best one, the most configurable one.

I think, if you’re a Mac person, you’re probably gonna want to go with the MacBook anyway, and the Surface Book 3 of course has its versatility and its transformation, but the XPS is a really solid, regular, traditional-style laptop that does everything very well.

So between that and the configuration options you get, this is one of our favorites and it doesn’t really have any weak points. It’s a little heavy, the USB-C is a little inconvenient, but they give you the adapters.

So overall, not much to complain about and really a lot to like, which is why we gave it such a high score at our Editor’s Choice for the category.


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