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Dell XPS 15: A slim and premium desktop replacement

Published on May 5, 2014 7:00 AM
 
Dell XPS 15

Dell's XPS 15 does a surprisingly good impression of a gaming laptop. But to be precise, it is a premium desktop replacement laptop suitable for those who work with video, images and graphics.

The XPS 15 will appear familiar to those who know the XPS design. Dell has retained this design over the past few years, with only minor tweaks.

You can expect a silver aluminium lid and a carbon fibre base. Both the base and the palm rest have a soft-touch finish that feels warmer than bare metal. The XPS 15 weighs about 2kg, relatively light for its size but still a tad heavy for lugging around on a daily basis.

Despite its slim, ultrabook-like chassis, the XPS 15 has very decent computing hardware. For a start, it runs on a powerful quad-core Intel Core i7 processor, and not the low-power variants found in ultrabooks. The chip is capably assisted by 16GB of system memory.

The laptop's mid-range Nvidia GeForce GT 750M graphics chip is slightly less capable than its gaming-class counterparts. However, it is good enough to run games such as BioShock Infinite at Very High settings at a comfortable

30 frames per second at 1,920 x 1,080 pixels. You could even bump the settings up a notch without affecting your gaming experience.

This graphics chip also powers the key feature of the XPS 15, an ultra high-resolution 3,200 x 1,800-pixel screen. It is a beautiful display, with practically no gap between the screen and the protective scratch-resistant Corning Gorilla Glass.

Viewing angles are excellent, though the glossy surface means you will see plenty of reflection.

A minor grouse is that Dell does not appear to have an option locally to replace the 1TB hybrid hard drive with a solid-state drive (SSD). While the 32GB SSD cache on board the hybrid hard drive helps to speed up frequently used programs, it is still not as quick as an SSD.

System performance is good. It scored 5,139 in PCMark 7, which is impressive considering it does not have an SSD.

For a 15-inch mainstream laptop, it is a bit disappointing that there is no Ethernet port. But this laptop has a new wireless 802.11ac adaptor that can reach faster data transfer speeds with a supported router.

With its powerful hardware, the XPS 15 ends up with a battery life that is not much better than gaming laptops. It lasted just 3hr 45min in Digital Life's battery test.

  • A slim desktop replacement laptop with an excellent screen, the XPS 15 is, as expected, short on battery life. Be prepared to pay for its premium build and hardware.

vinchang@sph.com.sg

This story was first published in The Straits Times on Jan 22, 2014.

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