Review: Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 offers high performance with equally high price tag

  • Slim, elegant yet boasting powerful specs
  • High price tag, missing USB-A ports may not appeal

 

Review: Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 offers high performance with equally high price tag

 

WHEN you think of Ultrabooks, the image of lightweight ultraportable PC notebooks come to mind. That being said, the market is filled with lots of different ultrabooks from different manufacturers.

Dell’s XPS series has been one of the hallmarks of the ultrabook form factor and the XPS 15 2-in-1 is no exception. But does it have what it takes to fend off the competition? Let’s find out.

Design

Though the XPS 15 2-in-1’s design remains faithful to past iterations, that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Sporting a silver brushed metal chassis, it has a very classy and premium feel that definitely exhibits a solid build quality.

The laptop’s lid is not as easy to open as Apple’s MacBooks though as the hinge is rather stiff. However, I was impressed by the large FullHD resolution InfinityEdge display that greeted me.

Quite honestly, the touch-enabled display looked absolutely stunning as it was sufficiently bright and contrasting enough in use. It also helps that it comes with a Dell Premium Active Pen that’s great for sketching or note-taking.

The all black keyboard and palmrest looks classy. There is a faux carbon fibre texture on the palm rest that is smooth to the touch yet has a firm rubber-like texture so your hands don’t slip while typing. Typing on the keyboard also felt really good with great key travel.

The trackpad is also generously large and Precision-enabled, giving it fast and accurate input with support for Windows 10 gestures.

Given its size, the XPS 15 2-in-1 is not a very light notebook despite its ultrabook branding. It does feel somewhat cumbersome to carry about but as it is a convertible, I suppose it is kind of like carrying multiple devices in one.

As the name suggests, this massive 15.6-inch screen notebook can be used in one of several modes. Apart from functioning like your regular notebook, it can be used as a tablet or in the hybrid tent mode thanks to the 360-degree hinge. The hinge itself is made of metal and is quite sturdy so the screen doesn’t wobble much.

In keeping the design super slim, Dell had to make a few sacrifices by leaving out the old faithful USB-A ports in favour of USB-C. Along the sides, I found two Thunderbolt 3 USB-C ports, another two USB-C 3.1 with a DisplayPort, an audio jack and a microSD card slot.

I certainly did not enjoy the idea of carrying multiple dongles to regain access to my legacy accessories but this is 2018 and it is increasingly common for high-end laptops to exclusively carry USB-C ports.

At the very least, Dell does include a USB-C to A adapter within the box to help you get started but you should get a better dongle if you need to access your older accessories and devices.

Another setback to the otherwise stellar design is the placement of the 720p web camera on the lower half of the screen, just below the Dell logo in the centre. This means you are going to be stuck with a camera that looks up at your nostrils, giving you a rather unflattering look when performing video chats. Furthermore, the design is impractical as your hands will block the camera as you type.

When it comes to security, Dell has made it really easy to login without having to resort to a password. You get a fingerprint reader right on top of the power button and there is facial recognition too if you so desire. 

 

Review: Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 offers high performance with equally high price tag

 

Performance and features

Now the performance that you get with the XPS 15 2-in-1 will vary depending on the configuration that you select. Dell provided the top-of-line model featuring an 8th Generation Intel Quad Core i7-8570G processor with 16GB of DDR4 RAM paired with a 512GB SSD.

Needless to say, the model is a clear performer that can handle most content creating programmes like Adobe Photoshop, Lightroom and Premiere among other things.

I found that it also performed extremely well on benchmarks like PCMark8 and Geekbench 4 scoring 3389 and 4721 (single-core) and 16032 (multi-core) respectively. Even in terms of gaming, it was no slouch as it scored a respectable 6341 with 3DMark Fire Strike.

Even within real-world use, the XPS 15 2-in-1 was a blast to use every day. Never once did I encounter any hiccups or issues with it.

While it is not billed as a gaming device, the notebook can hold its own thanks to its Radeon RX Vega M GL discreet graphics. Common titles like League of Legends or Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, ran at smooth frame rates.

Meanwhile, for more graphically demanding games including open world types such as The Witcher 3 or Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, you are going to have to reduce the resolution to get it running at an optimum frame rate.

Naturally, gaming and any other intensive task will run down the notebook’s battery life significantly.

Speaking of which, the 75Whr battery within managed to comfortably last a full day of work. This includes using it for web browsing, word processing and the occasional photo editing in between. I found myself being able to do my work at the local coffee shop without fretting when there were no power sockets available.

 

Review: Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 offers high performance with equally high price tag

 

Conclusion

All around, the XPS 15 2-in-1 is a laptop that is in a class of its own. With a crisp 4K display, excellent build quality and powerful specs this is easily one of the best ultrabooks to be released in 2018.

I can’t fault Dell for using the XPS 15 2-in-1’s iconic design but it might be time for a refresh at this stage. Unfortunately, the aggressive push for USB Type-C means that old USB-A devices need to be connected via a dongle.

That being said, the XPS 15 2-in-1 is an expensive laptop. According to the Dell online store, this top end configuration costs a whopping US$2,222 (RM9,288). Granted, this is Dell’s most powerful 15-inch 2-in-1 laptop to date so it has to be expensive. Needless to say, if you have the means then this would be a powerful tool for content creators on the go.

 
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