Are you for 4K?
I'm a bit of a contrarian compared to my colleagues when it comes to the usefulness of 4K, mostly because they're more concerned about entertainment and the availability of 4K content. From that perspective, sure -- it's probably not worth the price premium, now, but that doesn't mean next year or the year after you won't be glad you opted for it.
But I look at the other side, and it's totally worth it for serious work and content creation like judging image sharpness, working with detailed illustrations or editing video. If you code, you can fit more lines on the screen (though how practical you find it depends on your vision). At 4K, it has a pixel density of 282 pixels per inch (PPI), which is approaching print.
And Dell's top-tier screens are terrific. While it's annoying that the only calibrator its PremierColor application supports in hardware is the pricey X-Rite i1, It works fine with other software-profile calibrators, such as the . Games look great even played at lower resolutions, and you can save profiles; for example, I have one that uses the maximum gamut and boosts the display gamma to improve visibility in shadow-filled areas for games, and another that uses Adobe RGB as well as lower brightness settings for image editing. The biggest drawback of the screen is high reflectivity -- but I can't seem to escape it.
Netflix looks great in either HD or 4K on a screen this size, and our tests show that it will stream for about 7.2 hours on its battery using the existing power settings. I tend to use it at full throttle (but with lower display brightness) for working, and my mileage is closer to 4 hours under typical use. That may not be sufficient for some people, but you can stretch it if you're not doing anything intensive.
While previous reviews have complained about the touchpad, I think it's fine -- out of the box it's a bit hypersensitive, but if you decrease the setting in Windows it's perfectly acceptable. The backlit keyboard is just adequate; while the backlighting is nice and all the keys are a good size as well as in the right places, there isn't enough travel or feedback for my taste. I like a little more click and kick in my keyboards.
There's a decent set of connections -- two USB 3.0, one USB-C which supports external monitors, HDMI out and a headphone jack -- and the speakers sound pretty good. It sustained a Bluetooth headset connection while gaming, but it did display the common "unknown device" issue while pairing (it showed my devices properly, but they were lost in a sea of Unknown devices in the vicinity).
I initially experienced some issues with Chrome freezing (I was not alone), but after setting the Nvidia driver to use the 1050 GPU exclusively for it rather than swapping with the integrated graphics everything seemed to run smoothly.
While there's tons I like about the system, one serious design flaw remains -- the webcam is at the bottom left side of the display. That's the tradeoff for the attractively thin bezel, but it's a real pain. If you plan to use Windows Hello to login to your computer, spring for the fingerprint reader.
And the system vents out the bottom, so it can get hot where there isn't a lot of airflow -- like sitting on a desk. Plus, when the fan spins up, it's relatively loud.
Go for it
The competitive landscape for this type of notebook changes rapidly, but for the moment I can't think of another that balances all the essentials for a reasonable price as well as the Dell XPS 15.
|Dell XPS 15 (2017)||Microsoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit); 2.8GHZ Intel Core i7-7700HQ; 16GB DDR4 SDRAM 2,400MHz; 4GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050; 512GB SSD|
|Apple MacBook Pro with Touch Bar (15-inch, 2016)||Apple MacOS Sierra 10.12.1; 2.7GHz Intel Core i7-6820HQ; 16GB DDR3 SDRAM 2,133MHz; 2GB Radeon Pro / 1,536MB Intel HD Graphics 530; 512GB SSD|
|HP Spectre x360 (15-inch, 2017)||Microsoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit); 2.7GHz Intel Core i7-7500U; 16GB DDR4 SDRAM 2,400MHz; 2GB Nvidia GeForce 940MX; 512GB SSD|
|Dell Inspiron 15 7000 (2017)||Microsoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit); 2.5GHz Intel Core i5-7300HQ; 8GB DDR4 SDRAM 2,400MHz; 4GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050Ti; 256GB SSD|
|Razer Blade (14-inch, 2016)||Microsoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit); 2.6GHz Intel Core i7-6700HQ; 16GB DDR4 SDRAM 2,133MHz; 6GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 970; 256GB SSD|