The Dell XPS 15 ranks among the best 15-inch laptops money can buy, but it's not without its problems. Its space-saving design and great performance all add up to a machine that feels like a capable desktop PC and a great 4K monitor rolled into one.
If you're mainly going to be using this notebook away from a wall socket, however, it's a poor choice. Neither is it appropriate if you want to stay on the cutting edge of laptop tech for the next few years.
The XPS 15's combination of an eyeball-pleasing, accurate 4K display, compact dimensions and powerful processor makes it one of the most attractive workstations on the planet. So long as you're near a wall outlet, you've got a machine that's primed for any task: from productivity work to entertainment to gaming.
The XPS 15 has enough grunt for 1080p gaming, and any titles that it can run at 60 fps benefit from the display's shimmering color saturation and vibrancy. For once, you won't mind using the XPS 15 in the absence of a mouse. With a smooth gliding action, it has one of the best clickpads on a Windows machine. Combined with the touchscreen, you've got two solid input methods to help you pick out menu icons and toolbars.
Poor battery life is the main drawback to the XPS 15: you simply can't rely on it for long when using its internal battery. You can lower the brightness to eke out a longer runtime from the battery, but you won't get the full benefit of its gorgeous high-resolution display.
The XPS 15's keyboard fails to enhance its reputation as a machine geared for productivity. It's serviceable, but if you're an ardent typist who appreciates a certain amount of key travel, you're unlikely to be impressed.
Its speakers tell a similar story, producing sound that's plenty loud but suffers from a distinct lack of clarity. Don't expect the XPS 15 to run tomorrow's demanding games, because it tends to struggle with some of today's demanding titles at 1080p due to its GPU's limiting 2GB of video memory.
If you're itching to get your hands on the most compact and powerful workstation around, the XPS 15 is a great choice. It will take some time for a display to best its pixel-packed 4K panel, and the strength of its Skylake processor should see you good for at least a few years.
Its Thunderbolt 3-powered USB-C port offers further future-proofing, though it will be some time before you can take full advantage of it due to a lack of supported accessories today. At the same time, the XPS 15 lives for the moment.
This laptop can play just about every modern game in 1080p, but will struggle to power tomorrow's titles with the graphical details dialled up. You could take it to a coffee shop and watch a full-length 4K movie in glorious 4K with the brightness lowered, but you'd have to hunt down a power socket straight after.
Compromise is at the heart of the XPS 15, and if you're prepared to make it, you'll net yourself of one of the best 4K laptops around.