The Dell XPS 15 2018 has shown up to put would be usurpers to its dominion over ‘prosumer’ laptops in their place. This new model is far more powerful than past Dell XPS 15 laptops, and even features longer battery life.
The Dell XPS 15 2018 does look a lot like the 2017 model. And, that does mean that the awkward camera placement and poor audio performance have been inherited by the new Dell XPS 15.
But, when it comes to sheer value, the Dell XPS 15 2018 sits comfortably at the top of the pile, especially with 4K media work, which earns it the Great Value award on top of a higher score. Here’s how, despite another flawed webcam placement,the Dell XPS 15 is still one of the best Ultrabooks on the market right now.
Here is the Dell XPS 15 configuration sent to TechRadar for review:
CPU: 2.2GHz Intel Core i7-8750H (hexa-core, 9MB cache, up to 4.1GHz)
Graphics: Intel UHD Graphics 630; Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 Ti (4GB GDDR5)
RAM: 16GB DDR4 (2,666MHz)
Screen: 15.6-inch 4K UHD (3,840 x 2,160) InfinityEdge display (anti-glare, IPS, 100% sRGB, 400 nits)
Storage: 512GB SSD (M.2 2280 PCIe)
Ports: 2 x USB 3.1, 1 x USB-C (Thunderbolt 3) w/ PowerShare, 1 x HDMI 1.4, SD card reader, headset jack
Connectivity: Killer 1535 802.11ac Wi-Fi (2x2 MIMO); Bluetooth 4.2
Camera: 0.9MP (720p) webcam
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
As configured to the right, you’ll pay a cool $2,099 (£1,869, AU$2,999) for the 2018 Dell XPS 15 with all of the power that a mainstream user needs. You can take the configuration even higher, with an Intel Core i9 processor, 32GB of memory and a 2TB SSD for a whopping $3,299 (£2,939, AU$4.499).
You don’t have to pay that much for the Dell XPS 15, especially with Dell’s Black Friday deals. It starts at just $999 at the time of writing, which will get you an Intel Core i5 processor, 8GB of memory and a 1TB spinning hard drive behind a Full HD (1,920 x 1,080) display. The starting price changes a little for the UK, with a 256GB SSD and Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 graphics for £1,319. In Australia, you get a similar starting setup to the UK sans the graphics chip for AU$1,899.
With Black Friday and Cyber Monday around the corner, we’re expecting Dell to put its lineup among the best Black Friday laptop deals. This puts the Dell XPS 15 somewhere between the luxury of the MacBook Pro and the value that Windows 10 laptops are known for. It’s an affordable Ultrabook that has a fingerprint sensor in its power button for biometric login via Windows Hello.
While the 15-inch MacBook Pro delivers a similar spec to what you see here, it does so at $2,399 (£2,349, AU$3,499) to start. This gets you the exact same processor, AMD Radeon Pro 555X graphics with 4GB of VRAM, 16GB of slower RAM and half the SSD storage space. This is all behind a display that, while a Retina panel, isn’t as sharp as the XPS 15 4K option. To match the Dell XPS 15 on all fronts, including storage, the MacBook Pro calls for $2,599 (£2,529, AU$3,819).
The Asus ZenBook Pro 15 hits the same audience as both the MacBook Pro and the Dell XPS 15, and does so for far less cash, starting out at $1,799 (£1,370, AU$2,500). This price nets you a 4K touch screen on top of a secondary touchscreen in the touchpad plus 512GB of SSD storage and 16GB of RAM with the same CPU and GPU as the Dell XPS 15.
Year over year, not much at all about the XPS 15 design identity has changed. The product still comes wrapped in an aluminum unibody shell with a carbon fiber keyboard deck, connected by a single, sturdy hinge.
The Dell XPS 15’s premium laptop design stands apart partially through the ports that the greater dimensions allow for while other trudge on into that USB-C dongle life. The Dell XPS 15 features a full size SD card slot, HDMI and USB 3.1 where the MacBook Pro only has four Thunderbolt 3 ports.
That said, the design doesn’t leave room for a number pad on its keyboard, but neither do either of the XPS 15’s listed competitors. Otherwise, the keyboard is expectedly punchy and well-spaced – just like we’ve observed on the award-winning Dell XPS 13. However, the travel is a little more shallow than we’d like on a 15-inch laptop.
The touchpad feels just fine, with its matte glass tracking surface, and produces a satisfying click when pressed. Navigating the Windows 10 interface on the XPS 15 is easy between the accurate touchpad and responsive touchscreen.
Display and audio
And, what a touchscreen it is. Our review unit came in the optional 4K UHD (3,840 x 2,160) resolution, which makes colors and textures in films and photos simply pop. Of course, this also means that the XPS 15 is more than ready to power editing of 4K media content.
While the MacBook Pro and Asus laptop can certainly power the same kind of work (and play) via a connected 4K display, the XPS 15 can handle it wherever and whenever – no additional screen needed. Better yet, the display meets 100% of the Adobe RGB color gamut.
Unfortunately, the ‘chin-cam’ returns with the Dell XPS 15: the webcam is positioned beneath the screen to make way for its mega-thin left, right and top bezels. The resolution is june fine, but the placement is just no good, and could be a deal-breaker for some.
The speakers are equally placed in a poor position considering a laptop of this size: on the base toward the lip, facing downward. They’re also awfully small given the laptop’s dimensions, though they’re surprisingly powerful. The end product may be audio lacking in depth compared to your TV or headphones, but at least it’s loud.