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Dell XPS 15z review:

Dell XPS 15z

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The Good Attractive aluminium shell; Slim design; Excellent performance.

The Bad Build quality disappointing in places; Unimpressive battery life; Unattractive keyboard.

The Bottom Line The Dell XPS 15z offers great performance with an attractive, slim design. If you're after a MacBook Pro but can't quite get the cash, this laptop may be a good alternative.

Visit manufacturer site for details.

CNET Editors' Rating

8.3 Overall

Apple's MacBook Pro may well look the part when it gets pulled out in a swanky coffee shop, but it commands a steep price tag. The Dell XPS 15z offers noticeably similar styling and excellent performance for a far more wallet-friendly sum. 

It's available now from £899. Our review model was at the top of the range and is available for £1,199.

Familiar face

If you glanced quickly at the Dell XPS 15z, you'd be forgiven for thinking you had seen a MacBook Pro. The XPS 15z has a very similar aluminium shell that curves smoothly at the edges. Of course, there is a Dell logo on the top of this guy, rather than a picture of half-eaten fruit. The chassis makes the XPS 15z feel very well built and definitely gives it a premium look.

At a glance, the Dell XPS 15z could be mistaken for a MacBook Pro

Unlike the MacBook Pro, the XPS 15z is not made entirely from aluminium. Inside you'll find grey plastic surrounding the keyboard and trackpad. It's less nice to look at than the metal casing, but it seems solid and doesn't detract from the premium feel. As the XPS 15z is considerably cheaper than the MacBook Pro, we can't expect it to totally match their beautiful unibody construction.

The build quality was definitely let down on the bezel around the screen. On our review model, the plastic was noticeably peeling away at the corner. When we viewed the bezel from above, we could clearly see the plastic separating from the screen, revealing the glue in between.

The XPS 15z has an LED battery indicator on the left hand side -- it's very similar to the one you'd find on a MacBook Pro. Sadly, on this model, the button was set rather far inside, making it look poorly constructed and cheap. We're not sure if this is a manufacturing error or just the design, but we weren't keen on it.

The XPS 15z has a 15.6-inch screen, so it's definitely not an ultra-portable machine. It's beautifully slim though, measuring only 25mm tall -- it's one of the thinnest 15-inch laptops available. At around 2.5kg it shouldn't weigh you down too much either.

The keyboard is a bit of a mixed bag. On the one hand we like the rounded, isolated keys -- they're easy to press and comfortable to type on. On the other hand, we feel that Dell could have used more of the space to make it slightly bigger. It sometimes feels a little squashed up, surrounded by a sea of grey plastic.

Rounded, isolated keys, but the futuristic font on them does not fit the classy look of the machine

We don't want to seem picky here, but we're also not fans of the font Dell used on the keys. Rather than go for a traditional, easy-to-read font, it has opted for a 'futuristic' style that doesn't match the mature, classy feel of the rest of the machine.

To the left and right of the keyboard you can find large speaker grilles. We hoped that the speakers would provide a big sound to match the big spaces they take up, but sadly we found that they gave a sound we can only describe as average. You'll definitely need to keep the XPS 15z plugged into some good speakers when you're watching films or listening to music.

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