Our Verdict

While no laptop can be proficient in every area, the Dell XPS 15 makes a valiant effort to accomplish just that. With the exception of playing games, Dell has proven once again that it can build a laptop that appeals to (almost) everyone.

For

  • Gorgeous 4K display
  • Blazing fast CPU
  • Much improved battery
  • Legacy ports still at play

Against

  • Middling graphics
  • Poor webcam placement
  • Bloatware

When Dell refreshed its 13-inch flagship laptop late last year, many immediately wondered of the whereabouts of a certain 15-inch version. After all, while the Dell XPS 15 of last year was fine and dandy, it wasn’t without a few hiccups that ultimately set it back.

For starters, the battery life on last year’s Dell XPS 15 was dismal. Our other concerns included a shallow keyboard, weak speakers and an Nvidia GeForce GTX 960M graphics chip that wielded only 2GB of video memory, not nearly enough for modern games and the onslaught of titles coming out moving forward. 

Fortunately, all of these issues have been rectified with the new Dell XPS 15. What’s more, everything we liked about last year’s model is still intact, including a similarly diverse range of prices and configurations. And that's why it has made its way into our best laptop list.

Spec Sheet

Here is the Dell XPS 15 configuration sent to TechRadar for review:

CPU: 2.8GHz Intel Core i7-7700HQ (quad-core, 6MB cache, up to 3.8GHz)
Graphics: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 (4GB GDDR5); Intel HD Graphics 630
RAM: 16GB DDR4 (2,400MHz)
Screen: 15.6-inch, UHD (3,840 x 2,160) InfinityEdge touch display
Storage: 512GB SSD (PCIe)
Ports: 2 x USB 3.0, 1 x USB-C (Thunderbolt 3) w/ PowerShare, 1 x HDMI 1.4, SD card reader, headset jack
Connectivity: Killer 1535 802.11ac 2x2 WiFi; Bluetooth 4.1
Camera: 720p widescreen HD webcam with dual array digital microphones
Weight: 4 pounds (1.8kg)
Size: 14.06 x 9.27 x 0.45 – 0.66 inches (357 x 235 x 11 – 17mm; W x D x H)

Price and availability

Like the Dell XPS 13, which we praised for its vast spectrum of hardware options, the Dell XPS 15 has a ton of these, too.

While the model we were sent for review is valued at $2,174 (£1,814, AU$2,634), it comes with a luxury, 7th-generation Intel Core i7-7700HQ quad-core processor, 16GB of RAM, 512GB of SSD storage, a 4K InfinityEdge touch display, an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 graphics card and a built-in fingerprint reader for Windows Hello logins.

Assuming your tastes don’t require all of these bells and whistles, what you get with the entry level Dell XPS 15 depends on where you live. In the US, it’s $999 for an Intel Core i3, 8GB of RAM, a 1080p non-touch display and a 500GB hard drive plus 32GB of SSD storage for the OS – no discrete graphics or fingerprint reader in sight.

In the UK, the Dell XPS 15 starts at £1,349 for an i5 processor, 8GB of RAM, a full HD screen (once again, no touch) and a 1TB hard drive/32GB SSD. 

Meanwhile, in Australia, you’ll have to shell out a whopping AU$2,499 for the “cheapest” Dell XPS 15. The silver lining is that in addition to sporting a 7th-gen Core i7 CPU, 8GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD, this model also hoists a GTX 1050 and a fingerprint reader. Still, you may be disappointed to find that with all this comes a mere 56Whr battery, compared to the 97Whr battery of Nvidia GPU-equipped models in the US.

Design

At first glance, the 2017 Dell XPS 15 doesn’t look much different than its predecessor. It still has a silvery aluminum shell that closes in on a rubberized material surrounding plastic inputs. Only the keyboard has been refined since the last time we saw it. 

Though the key travel is relatively low, the Dell XPS 15 boasts a keyboard that’s both spacious and comfy, keeping in line with trends followed by the likes of the HP Spectre x360 15 and even Apple’s 15-inch MacBook Pro. The touchpad remains clicky, which is great for those who want that, though this reviewer in particular prefers the silent clicks exhibited by the Force Touch trackpad on the MacBook.

Still, the inputs on the Dell XPS 15 compare nicely to those of the competing Gigabyte Aero 15 whose keys are so tightly packed that it’s a nuisance trying to get anything done outside of gaming. At the very least, the tracking and left/right click detection is par for the course on the Dell XPS 15.

Ultra-high pixel density

For $400 (£210, AU$35) on top of the initial cost of the 1080p versions, you can get a lush, 4K (3,840 x 2,160) screen that puts the 2,880 x 1,800 resolution Retina Display found in the MacBook Pro 15-inch to shame. Granted, there’s no Touch Bar on the Dell XPS 15, but you can always opt for a pricier version of the notebook that features the elusive fingerprint scanner and a full-on touchscreen.

To put a finer point on it, the 4K Dell XPS 15 bears a pixel density of 282.4 pixels per inch (ppi), while the 15.4-inch display on the MacBook Pro stands at 220.5 ppi. It may not seem like a steep difference, but considering the MacBook Pro costs more for arguably inferior parts, there’s clearly a value disparity between the two devices.

Although it’s kind of a gratuitous cosmetic feature, there’s no denying that Dell’s InfinityEdge technology adds gusto to the Dell XPS 15’s look. However, the narrow bezels once again force the webcam to the lower left-hand corner of the upright panel. Seriously consider whether you want to literally look down at your audience while broadcasting and Skyping if you proceed to buy this laptop.