Design

There’s certainly some issues when competitors outright copy another’s design, but luckily for Dell they have one of the most appealing laptops already in the XPS 13. The XPS 15, other than the larger size, is extremely similar to its source of inspiration, and that’s a good thing. Moving to the Infinity Edge display brings the same strengths and weaknesses along with it, but the one thing you’d have a hard time knocking is the look of this laptop.

Dell uses CNC aluminum on the top and bottom of the laptop, which gives it that great cool feeling of metal when you are holding it in your hand. But open up the XPS 15, and you get to look at a soft touch carbon fibre weave which surrounds the keyboard deck. This soft touch material makes for a positive typing experience, and by going to black on the keyboard, Dell gets to avoid the contrast issues that happen on other machines with lighter colored keys. Although the laptop looks like a bit of a sandwich when its closed, I think the color scheme works very well and gives the XPS lineup a premium look.

The bottom of the laptop is as well thought out as the XPS 13. There’s a large vent for cooling, and the rubber feet are almost the entire width of the machine. There’s no issue with sliding around on a table top when you are using the XPS 15 thanks to these feet, and that’s not always something I can say about other laptops. It also gives you a nice stable platform in your lap. Another great XPS touch is that all of the FCC information, serial numbers, and other markings, are collectively put under an XPS badge on the bottom of the device to keep the look as clean as possible.

The left side of the laptop has the power connector, USB 3.0 Type-A port, HDMI, a USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-C port which supports Thunderbolt 3 and power as well, and a headset jack. The right side has another USB 3.0 port, SD card slot, and a push button battery gauge. With the inclusion of USB 3.1 Gen 2 and Thunderbolt support there is a pretty big amount of bandwidth for any accessory, but as that market matures the USB Type-A connectors are likely going to see more use. It would have been nice to see a third USB port on the side but that’s a minor issue. Dell does sell a USB-C adapter which gives HDMI, VGA, Ethernet, and USB 3.0 all in one nice compact package which works well.

Once opened, the Infinity Edge display captures your eye, and the minimal bezel looks as good, or even better, than the smaller XPS 13. The webcam is still in a poor location though, tucked under the display and pointing up, which doesn’t flatter anyone. Considering the large bezel at the bottom of the display, I’d be fine with the screen shifting down slightly so the webcam could be fit above the screen, but I’m not a big user of a webcam so it’s not a big issue for me. If you do utilize a webcam a lot, this is not ideal and an external one might be better. I’d also like to see Windows Hello support in a premium machine such as this. Microsoft was able to fit it into the Surface Pro 4 and Surface Book with minimal bezels, so it can be done.

Taking a look at the keyboard, it’s very possible this is the exact same keyboard as on the XPS 13. It has the same white backlighting with high, low, and off settings, and the same layout as well. Dell didn’t try to squeeze a number pad into this 15.6-inch machine, and that’s a good thing since it would be very compromised with the smaller chassis this fits into. Key travel is 1.3 mm, which is adequate, and on the XPS 13 it was likely all that could be done thanks to the very thin body, but on the thicker XPS 15 I would have liked some more depth. The actuation force is also pretty light. The keyboard is ok but it’s not the best I’ve used, especially on a larger device.

Dell has gone with a Synaptics trackpad, and it is both very large and very smooth. Dell uses the Microsoft Precision Touchpad standard for their software, and although it lacks the outright customization of some of the other packages, in my time with the XPS 15 I found the touchpad to be excellent. The large size is very welcome, and it’s very precise while at the same time being very smooth. Two-finger scrolling works very well. There are not many options for three and four finger gestures with the Precision Touchpad, with three-finger tap opening Cortana, and four-finger tap opening Action Center. There are no other choices other than to swap those or disable it.

The overall design of the XPS 15 is as ground-breaking as the XPS 13 before it. By shrinking the bezels, Dell is able to fit a 15.6-inch device into a much smaller chassis, which makes it much more portable. The laptop itself is only 17 mm (0.66”) thick at its widest point (not including the feet) and weight with the 56 Wh battery is 1.78 kg (3.9 lbs) which is very light for a 15.6-inch machine. If you step up to the 84 Wh battery, that bumps the weight to 2 kg (4.4 lbs) which is still pretty respectable.

Introduction System Performance
POST A COMMENT

152 Comments

View All Comments

  • close - Tuesday, March 8, 2016 - link

    What I'm telling you is that if that is your honest opinion then you weren't reading Anandtech 5 years ago and that you lost the gamble when you assumed nobody will catch on to your BS.

    And because when I say something I like to make sure I have a sure way of showing it (not just BS) here it is: http://www.anandtech.com/show/4083/the-sandy-bridg...

    I would let you draw the conclusion all by yourself but I am confident now that you will be unable to. That is a review for a motherboard with the infamous P67 chipset that was recalled (!) just 4 weeks after the review was written. And yes, this article is 5 years old. And yes, it was written by Anand himself.
    http://www.anandtech.com/show/4142/intel-discovers...
    Reply
  • Nightwolf1 - Monday, March 14, 2016 - link

    Couldn’t be more true!

    Look here "Issues":
    http://www.ultrabookreview.com/10234-dell-xps-15-9...
    Reply
  • HurleyBird - Monday, March 7, 2016 - link

    Try selecting high performance power mode in Nvidia's drivers. That's how I eventually was able to fix the frequent crashes I was experiencing with the GTX 960m. Reply
  • milli - Monday, March 7, 2016 - link

    Yeah, the Dell driver and performance mode in nV-cp are the only way to get it running for more than 5 minutes. I also installed the beta Intel 4380 video drivers but I haven't yet tested Optimus again. Reply
  • euskalzabe - Friday, March 4, 2016 - link

    Guys, seriously. Shoot RAW pictures and process them. The distortion in many of the pictures you posted gives Anandtech an embarrassingly low-level image. This is not a blog ran on grandma's basement. Shoot RAW, process with PhotoShop or similar, get rid of those distortions. Many people would be so put off by the low quality of the image that they won't consider the product. It's just so unprofessional. Reply
  • rpg1966 - Friday, March 4, 2016 - link

    Which pictures are you referring to? But regardless, anyone who is put off a machinelike this based on a bit of distortion in a review image is probably in the wrong market. Reply
  • euskalzabe - Friday, March 4, 2016 - link

    For instance:
    http://images.anandtech.com/doci/10116/SizeCompari...
    http://images.anandtech.com/doci/10116/KeyboardB.j...
    http://images.anandtech.com/doci/10116/Bottom.JPG
    http://images.anandtech.com/doci/10116/Open_678x45...

    Don't give me that "wrong market" excuse. Correcting distortion takes 1 click, 2 seconds on Photoshop. Many cameras by now just do it automatically if you are shooting JPEG, all it takes is activating it. It takes minimal to zero effort. I don't know what field you work in, but any respected company that has any sort of visual (printed, digital, etc) presence would never accept the IQ I've been seeing in Anandtech since Anand left (which occurred occasionally before that too). It's such an easy fix. Not doing it is incredibly unprofessional.
    Reply
  • nathanddrews - Friday, March 4, 2016 - link

    I would argue that anyone that buys a product based upon how good it looks in pictures is the exact opposite of a professional. Also, it's not AT's responsibility to sell the products.

    I have noticed a marked increase in "straight from the hip" photography on AT as well, but I can't imagine a professional - to use your words - not buying a laptop based upon a review website's photos. If you were to order this laptop from Amazon, Newegg, Best Buy, or Dell, they would have plenty of stock, photoshopped photos or renders to make it look all pretty and shiny. If you go into a store to buy it, you can see it on the shelf.
    Reply
  • euskalzabe - Friday, March 4, 2016 - link

    Clearly you guys don't work with media materials. Most editors would not accept these standards. At the end of the day, that's what it's about: quality standards. Sure, we don't have to correct distortion, but what does it say to the world when you choose not to do something that takes 1 second of your life to improve your visual standards? Whatever your opinion, there is proof - just look online for articles on the matter - that these little details make a difference in people's perception.

    Frankly, I've long believed there's a reason The Verge has become so popular so fast and it mainly has to do with public image. Check, for example, how they showcase this XPS15 in their review:
    https://cdn3.vox-cdn.com/thumbor/-x0jfGXnaZuQRTbXG...
    Feel that difference. Accurate representation of the product. Not distorted. The editors interest in their visual presence has an impact not just on how readers view the product, but also how they view the website. You're careless in one glaringly obvious aspect, who knows what else you're being serious about? It's about professionalism. I respect your opinion that focusing on properly processed (not just good looking, there's more to this than subjective evaluation) pictures is not professional, but I can tell you, the market very clearly has decided otherwise.

    Don't forget AT is not just read by professionals that look for HW specs VS value. There are many consumers that give life to these ads. Consumers that are as influenced by visual presence as anybody else. It's not about convincing people, it's about aspiring to quality standards. When you can't be bothered to implement a dead-easy fix... that says very little of your interest/effort in other areas of your professional venue. In my professional experience, visual presence has proven to be very important and judged both consciously and unconsciously.
    Reply
  • shadarlo - Friday, March 4, 2016 - link

    If you think the link you just posted makes this laptop dramatically more appealing then you sir live in some alternate universe than the majority of the population. You might be insanely good in your field, but you have lost the forest for the trees.

    I honestly don't even like the picture you just linked to. As a non-designer I think the shot looks cheap and bland.
    Reply

Log in

Don't have an account? Sign up now