Dell XPS 15 (2018) review

Big power, little change

Dell XPS 15
Great Value

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You should come into a Dell XPS 15 purchase, honestly no matter the model, and rightly expect powerful performance. Naturally, the XPS 15 for 2018 doesn’t disappoint, putting up numbers arguably worthy of its price tag for less than the MacBook Pro and on par with competing 15-inch Windows laptops.


Here’s how the Dell XPS 15 performed in our suite of benchmark tests:

3DMark Sky Diver: 20,701; Fire Strike: 6,637; Time Spy: 2,481
Geekbench 4: 4,921 (single-core); 21,406 (multi-core)
Cinebench CPU: 1,065 points; Graphics: 121 fps
PCMark 8 Home: 3,306 points
PCMark 8 Battery Life: 4 hours and 11 minutes
Battery Life (TechRadar movie test): 6 hours and 34 minutes
Total War: Warhammer II (1080p, Ultra): 26 fps; (1080p, Low): 59 fps
ME: Shadow of War (1080p, Ultra): 31 fps; (1080p, Low): 70 fps

As you can see in our benchmarks, you can expect reliable, strong performance from the new Dell XPS 15 no matter what you’re doing, whether it’s video rendering and gaming, or something in between. The 8th-generation H-series processor in this laptop gives even the Core i9 chip in the new MacBook Pro a run for its money.

The XPS 15 is designed to deliver a complete experience, and it largely succeeds there with power enough for all sorts of tasks in a package that’s pleasant to look at and handle.

Just don’t go in expecting to play the best PC games on the Dell XPS 15, especially not at 4K. At most, you’ll be able to play at 1080p with medium settings to produce a smooth, playable experience.

Instead, the Dell XPS 15 is a 4K media editing powerhouse – not a 4K gaming laptop. For that – you’ll have to wait for Nvidia Turing to make its way to laptops.

Dell XPS 15

Battery life

While it’s not quite at the level of the MacBook Pro 2018, the Dell XPS 15 battery is considerably better than the 2017 XPS 15. In both the PCMark 8 battery test and our own video run-down test, this laptop improved by nearly an hour of lasting time.

At just 4 hours and 11 minutes of general use, the XPS 15 won’t last you all day, and Dell itself promises up to 21 and a half hours. Of course, Dell's promise refers to the model with a Full HD display, while here we've tested the 4K model.

We applaud Dell for this increased performance year-on-year, but we’re going to need to see even better numbers next year – if the manufacturer wants the Dell XPS 15 to remain relevant when it comes to battery life.

If you want a long-lasting 15-inch laptop, then the latest MacBook Pro is your answer with nearly 10 hours of life in it. However, you’ll be missing out on core features that Dell brings to the table for less.

Software and features

Despite the high price of this machine, Dell still manages to bundle the XPS 15 with software packages that likely subsidize the cost of producing it. Namely, the Dell XPS 15 2018 includes McAfee anti-virus software as well as Adobe Photoshop Elements.

Dell includes its own software too, namely a firmware update tool for drivers and other downloads that Dell releases before they make it to Windows Update. However, this package also brings Dell Mobile Connect, which allows for control of your iPhone or Android device while connected to the laptop. It’s not going to change your live, but it’s a convenient alternative to not having any such features on your laptop.

Finally, the fingerprint sensor on this laptop is worth calling out, especially for its highly stealthy application on the power button. The sensor is easily set up and works without issue. We’re also glad that Dell hadn’t focused on the webcam for biometric login.

Dell XPS 15

Final verdict

The Dell XPS 15 for 2018 improves upon the previous model in every way – at least on the inside. This version is not only more powerful, but it’s longer lasting than before. For most laptop buyers, this would be enough for them to hear or see before buying.

However, not only do we hold Dell to a higher standard, but there are some flaws about the system that need to be addressed, namely the webcam placement and audio performance. Neither are deal breakers, but they do keep this laptop from a better score.

For those working in media creation or another related industry, the Dell XPS 15 proves to be an excellent value for not only what it includes, but what it can endure, compared to its competition. Just be sure you’re OK with its minor flaws before pressing that ‘buy’ button.

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Joe Osborne

Joe Osborne is the Senior Technology Editor at Insider Inc. His role is to leads the technology coverage team for the Business Insider Shopping team, facilitating expert reviews, comprehensive buying guides, snap deals news and more. Previously, Joe was TechRadar's US computing editor, leading reviews of everything from gaming PCs to internal components and accessories. In his spare time, Joe is a renowned Dungeons and Dragons dungeon master – and arguably the nicest man in tech.