Dell XPS 15 (2012) review

MacBook Pro rival boasts Ivy Bridge speed and an incredible display

Dell XPS 15
Dell XPS 15 review

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Cinebench 19,434
3DMark 10,381
Battery Eater 195 minutes

The Ivy Bridge revolution has meant that we've had to re-write the rulebook when it comes to assessing a laptop's benchmark results.

However, even when referring to the more stringent measures now in place, the Dell XPS 15 impresses on all fronts, with staggering results from Cinebench and decent gaming results from 3DMark.

Don't get too excited; you won't be able fire up Battlefield 3 and run around Sulaymaniyah looking for IEDs with all the settings turned up on full, but tone a few of the more demanding graphical tasks down a notch or two and you should be able to play the latest titles with little or no stutter.

We took Batman for a quick jaunt around Arkham City, for example, with the resolution set at 1,366 x 768 and the detail levels turned down low, at a respectable 40fps (measured using Fraps).

And remember, the Dell XPS 15 is in no way a gaming machine, despite the presence of the Nvidia GPU.

What it specialises in is hammering through your daily digital demands, such as HD movie matching, high-res picture editing, office work, media-infused web browsing and streaming audio and video.

And believe us when we tell you that it handles all of these tasks with an effortless ease and, thanks to the quad-core (and eight-thread) CPU, you'll have no bother carrying out many of these tasks at the same time.

Dell XPS 15 review

And it will all look absolutely stunning, as the display is one of the best that we've seen on a Windows notebook in a long time.

The 15.6-inch screen features edge-to-edge hardened Corning Gorilla Glass, a Full HD resolution of 1,920 x 1,080 and an impressive brightness reading of 350-nit.

The viewing angles are absolutely brilliant and it more than holds up under bright lights with little or no reflection from the glossy finish.

The audio is also impressive, especially once you've fully mastered the MaxxAudio-powered Dell Audio control panel.

The presets - Music, Gaming, Voice and MaxxSense – may not give you the best clarity, but once you have manually tweaked to perfection, you're faced with a loud, clear sound with plenty of depth.

Using the dedicated 3.5mm headphone jack, results in incredibly loud volume through your cans or buds, with very little distortion even at the very top level.

Using the Dell XPS 15 is an incredibly comfortable affair thanks to the isolated, island style keyboard and the 3.9 x 2.8-inch, glass Synaptics touchpad.

The keyboard is a backlit affair, a la the MacBook Pro, with a very shallow travel and a smooth springiness hidden behind every stroke.

The touchpad supports multi-touch gestures and navigation is smooth, without any hint of the over-sensitiveness that has blighted other high-end laptops such as the Sony S Series.

The touchpad and keyboard are surrounded by a soft-touch silicon bottom panel which is incredibly swish and adds an air of elegance.

The Dell XPS features a non-removable 9-Cell Li-Polymer, 65WHr battery, with the company promising a battery life of up to eight hours. During our stress test it managed just 195 minutes, however, indicating a real-life lifespan of around five to six hours.

Even when maxing out the battery in order to test its resolve, the Dell XPS 15 remained incredibly cool and operated in near silence.