Dell XPS 15 review: Dell XPS 15

The included Nvidia GeForce GT 640M graphics card in this system isn't the top of Nvidia's laptop line, but it's a solid midrange part (whether you should expect more than "midrange" in a $1,699 laptop is another story, however). In our very challenging Metro 2033 test at full 1,920x1,080-pixel resolution, the XPS 15 ran at 20.3 frames per second, which is considered an excellent score on that test. The more forgiving Street Fighter IV test at the same resolution ran at 73.1fps.

Anecdotally, I ran Modern Warfare 3 at 1080p resolution with nearly all the graphics settings on high, and got a very smooth, playable experience. This isn't a specialized gamer machine like you'd get from Origin, Maingear, or even Dell's Alienware brand, but it's great for mid-to-high-end gaming.

Juice box
Dell XPS 15 Avg watts/hour
Off (60%) 0.33
Sleep (10%) 0.73
Idle (25%) 7.77
Load (05%) 43.38
Raw kWh number 38.39
Annual power consumption cost $4.36

Annual power consumption cost
Dell XPS 15
$4.36 
Maingear EX-L 15
$11.40 

Among high-end laptops with quad-core Core i7 CPUs and discrete graphics, the Dell XPS 15 cleans up in battery life, running for 4 hours and 41 minutes in our video playback battery drain test. That previously mentioned high-powered Maingear 15-inch ran for 2 hours less. Of course, you have to exclude the Retina MacBook Pro for this comparison to work -- Apple's quad-core Core i7 15-inch laptop ran for more than 6 hours.

Dell offers a different level of warranty support with its XPS laptops than you'll find in less expensive Inspiron models. This Premium Protection Package, as Dell calls it, includes in-home service, accidental damage protection, and LoJack service, all for one year. A separate phone support line is set aside for XPS systems. Upgrading this package to three years of coverage costs $299.

Dell's high-end XPS line has gone through many different designs over the years, but the current look is the best to date, and fits well with the overall theme of a high-end laptop that mixes productivity with premium materials and construction. Still, this Core i7 configuration is very expensive at $1,699, and if you're more interested in the internals than the chassis, there are less expensive ways to get similar performance.

Multimedia multitasking test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)

Adobe Photoshop CS5 image-processing test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)

Apple iTunes encoding test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)

Street Fighter IV (in fps, native resolution, 2X AA, V Sync off)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)

Video playback battery drain test (in minutes)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)

Find out more about how we test laptops.

System configurations:

Dell XPS 15
Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit) w/ SP1; 2.1GHz Intel Core i7-3612QM; 8GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,333MHz; 1GB Nvidia GeForce GT 640M LE / 64MB (Dedicated) Intel HD 4000; 750GB Toshiba 5,400rpm

Acer Aspire V3-571G-9435
Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit) w/ SP1; 2.3GHz Intel Core i7-3610QM; 6GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,333MHz; 2GB Nvidia GeForce GT 640M / 128MB (Dedicated) Intel HD 4000; 500GB Toshiba 5,400rpm

Maingear EX-L 15
Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit) w/ SP1; 2.7GHz Intel Core i7-3820QM; 8GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,333MHz; 2GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 675M + 64MB (Dedicated) Intel HD 4000; 750GB Seagate 7,200rpm

Lenovo IdeaPad Y480
Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit) w/ SP1; 2.3GHz Intel Core i7-3610QM; 8GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,333MHz; 1GB Nvidia GeForce GT 640M LE / 64MB (Dedicated) Intel HD 4000; 750GB Toshiba 5,400rpm

Sony Vaio S1511AGXB
Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit) w/ SP1; 2.1GHz Intel Core i7-3612QM; 8GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,333MHz; 1GB Nvidia GeForce GT 640M / 64MB (Dedicated) Intel HD 4000; 750GB Seagate 7,200rpm

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    Dell XPS 15 - Core i5 TFT

    Part Number: XPS15
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