Dell XPS 15 review: too hot to handle

Dell XPS 15 review: too hot to handle

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The XPS 15 is inactive loud, inactive hot, and inactive good.

It is not arsenic powerful, and it is not arsenic businesslike arsenic the 16-inch MacBook Pro. But erstwhile it comes to the operation of power, physique quality, and portability, the Dell XPS 15 is the closest Windows-running contender that I’ve been capable to find. It’s exceptionally bladed and airy for its size. Its keyboard and touchpad are best-in-class. Its OLED surface is simply a imagination to view.

If you’re buying for a Windows instrumentality that tin past each day, you’re amended disconnected looking elsewhere. But if you’re looking for a large-screen laptop that’s compact, beautiful, and much affordable than the astir almighty machines connected the market, the XPS 15 is simply a no-brainer.

The important happening to enactment if you’re considering this laptop is that it doesn’t travel with anyplace adjacent the astir almighty specs you tin find successful a 15-incher. The portion I was sent, presently listed for $1,999.99 on Dell’s site, comes with a Core i7-11800H, 512GB of storage, 16GB of RAM, and an Nvidia RTX 3050 Ti GPU. (For comparison’s sake, a 16-inch MacBook Pro with comparable RAM and retention costs $2,499.) There’s a Core i9 option, but I’m tense astir it — you’ll spot wherefore shortly.

But it’s inactive beauteous wide to me, aft investigating this device, that these are fundamentally the astir almighty components Dell has been capable to fig retired however to enactment successful this 4.3-pound chassis. They are, of course, almighty capable to tally immoderate productivity tasks you mightiness propulsion astatine them. But the instrumentality was having a hard clip handling them. I privation Dell could fig retired its cooling concern already due to the fact that a amended spot and GPU successful this happening could marque it genuinely exceptional.

Generally, erstwhile I reappraisal a laptop, adjacent a reasonably bladed one, I mightiness spot an occasional spike supra 90 degrees (Celsius) portion moving dense loads. Larger laptops with precise competent cooling (such arsenic Asus’ ROG Zephyrus G15) are precise susceptible of keeping their CPUs beneath the 80s. Recent MacBooks fundamentally don’t crook connected their fans ever.

But this XPS 15 portion was really… something. Throughout my assorted testing, the CPU was consistently astir 99-100 degrees. This wasn’t a substance of little spikes successful temp — it was precise worryingly hot. That seems apt to person impacted its performance. I saw a alteration successful Cinebench R23 scores betwixt the 10-minute loop and 30-minute loop of the test, meaning that the XPS was kicking the chip’s show down arsenic it heated up. Across the board, the unit’s scores were good but a large measurement down from the apical of the market, arsenic you’ll spot successful the illustration below.

The fans weren’t holding back, either. They were roaring the full clip passim astir of my tests. The XPS could beryllium heard from crossed the country for the duration of our 4K video export trial (which it completed successful 3:57 — a respectable but not astonishing time).

The Dell XPS 15 keyboard seen from above. This keyboard volition earnestly ne'er get aged to me.

Outside of benchmark testing, portion moving my comparably lighter load of Chrome tabs, apps, and streaming with occasional Zoom calls overtop, I wasn’t needfully proceeding the fans each the time. But I did perceive them occasionally, and much concerningly, I did consciousness rather a spot of heat. The keyboard keys were ne'er excessively blistery to usage portion I was working, but they did occasionally travel close, and the bottommost of the chassis was often connected the lukewarm broadside connected my lap. Neither of these factors means you shouldn’t bargain the laptop — it conscionable seems similar this chassis is truly astatine the limits of what it tin cool.

Dell XPS 15 benchmarks

Benchmark Score Benchmark Score
Cinebench R23 Multi 9089
Cinebench R23 Single 1439
Cinebench R23 Multi looped for 30 minutes 8911
Geekbench 5.3 CPU Multi 7883
Geekbench 5.3 CPU Single 1539
Geekbench 5.3 OpenCL / Compute 58763
Puget Systems Benchmark for Premiere Pro 659

And, of course, adjacent these mid-range chips travel with a reasonably important downside: artillery life. Even with the GPU disabled, this XPS is getting a fraction of the lifespan that a MacBook Pro tin get. (I’m definite the high-resolution surface isn’t helping.) I was lone averaging 3 hours and 46 minutes of continuous enactment with the surface astatine mean brightness, with occasional downloads running, files copying, and different specified tasks.

This artillery lifespan is not needfully a deal-breaker for this benignant of laptop, arsenic I’m definite radical volition constituent retired successful the comments. Dell did not marque peculiarly lofty artillery claims, and the XPS 15’s 86 Whr artillery isn’t massive. Still, a $1,999 instrumentality dying that rapidly is simply a pugnacious pill to swallow, particularly considering that portability (i.e., the quality to, you know, instrumentality the happening distant from your desk) is expected to beryllium 1 of its large selling points. It appears to beryllium yet different spot wherever the XPS’s svelte dimensions are putting a hard ceiling connected its performance.

The Dell XPS 15 webcam. Dell, successful its ain materials, describes this webcam arsenic “miniscule”.

The bully quality is that those are fundamentally my lone gripes astir this laptop. If you’re alert that you’re making those tradeoffs, the remainder of it is very, precise good.

Software-wise, it’s solid. It comes equipped with Dell’s absorbing Mobile Connect feature, which allows you to integrate your instrumentality with a smartphone and easy transportation files, reflector screens, etc., betwixt them. The fingerprint scholar and Windows Hello camera some enactment good for sign-in. And determination was nary McAfee oregon different nonsense pre-installed connected my unit.

The Dell XPS 15 seen from the beforehand   connected  a woody  table. The surface  displays The Verge homepage. Mobile Connect works with iOS arsenic good arsenic Android.

Hardware-wise, not overmuch has changed since the XPS 15’s past important redesign a fewer years ago, which you tin work much astir successful our review. The physique is gorgeous, sturdy, and arsenic premium arsenic they come. The 16:10 surface is simply a stunner — and it comes with an OLED option, a bigger positive for those who privation exceptional contrast. The 2.25mm infrared HD webcam is inactive tiny, not great, and not wholly terrible. (Though different laptops are starting to travel retired with surprisingly coagulated webcams, truthful hopefully, Dell steps that up for the adjacent model.)

The talker  connected  the Dell XPS 15 seen from supra  connected  a woody  table. There are 2 upward-firing speakers and 2 tweeters successful the base, powered by Waves Nx 3D audio.

The larboard enactment of 2 Thunderbolt 4 USB-C slots, 1 USB 3.2 Type-C, a headphone jack, an SD reader, and a fastener slot, portion limited, should enactment for astir people, and Dell provides USB-A and HDMI adapters successful the box. The speakers are good, the microphones are good. Despite its powerfulness limitations, the XPS 15 is 1 of the fewer laptops I ever extremity up utilizing aft hours due to the fact that I can’t carnivore to spell backmost to my idiosyncratic one. It’s a masterpiece.

The Dell XPS 15 unfastened  connected  a woody  table. The surface  displays a marbled bluish  and purple surface. You get 2 Thunderbolt 4 USB-C with DisplayPort and Power Delivery, and 1 USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C (also with DisplayPort and Power Delivery).

That’s wherefore the artillery beingness is truthful unfortunate. The world is that radical who are buying an XPS 15 cognize what they’re getting — for years, it’s been a hot, loud, and not-super-long-lasting instrumentality that’s exceptional successful each different way. But different companies are rapidly making advances astatine this size and terms range, and adjacent arsenic the XPS’s chassis and surface proceed to apical the market, that artillery beingness is leaving much of a sour sensation successful my rima each year.

Its redeeming grace is that determination are not presently a ton of 15-inch laptops with this signifier origin and terms constituent that volition connection you amended show and amended artillery life. The MacBook Pro 16 does, but it’s a measurement up successful terms (and doesn’t tally Windows, of course). There are different 15-inchers successful the productivity space, but the XPS’s premium physique prime is beauteous hard to rival. You could spell for a well-built gaming laptop similar Asus’ ROG Zephyrus G15, but that won’t beryllium suitable to galore radical seeking a instrumentality that looks and feels similar an XPS.

The XPS 15 is inactive reasonably unsocial successful what it offers, and that means it’s inactive going to beryllium my proposal for immoderate folks who are looking for a premium 15-incher with large peripherals and a standout screen. But if Dell lone could fig retired however to chill much almighty chips (or enactment a damn AMD spot successful this thing), I deliberation it could beryllium a cleanable device.

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