Dell's XPS 15z Ultra Slim Notebook Review - HotHardware

Dell's XPS 15z Ultra Slim Notebook Review

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We don't want to beat around the bush here: the Dell XPS 15z is one of the most surprising and innovative 15.6" laptops to arrive in years. Dell's XPS 15z is a monumental leap forward in overall design and build quality in the affordable notebook sector. And that "affordable" bit is key. This machine starts at under $1000, and the hardware that you get for that amount of money is impressive.


At less than 1" thick, this ultra-sleek machine just oozes style. It weighs around 5.5lbs., par for the course for a slim, stylish 15" mainstream notebook. We have watched other publications make the comparison, and it's a reasonable one: the XPS 15z looks a lot like the 15" MacBook Pro in many ways. There's no skirting the facts -- unless you're just attempting to overlook the obvious, you can see the similarities. But that's hardly a bad thing. Apple's hardware design has been world-class for years, and to see a PC counterpart come anywhere close with a price tag that's far less, well, that's a great accomplishment.


The entire machine is rigid and well-made. The accents are subtle, and aside from three small palm rest stickers, it's the most understated 15.6" notebook we've seen in some time. Dell really went out of their way on the style factor here. The silver body is highlighted with subtle chrome accents, the speaker grills have a snazzy pattern, and the matte black LCD bezel, well, you barely notice that it's there.


There are no ports or slots along the front lip, while the right edge is home to an 8x slot-loading CD/DVD burner, a 3.5mm headphone jack, and a 3.5mm audio input. The rear edge is home to an AC input, a textured exhaust fan and a Gigabit Ethernet port. The left edge houses an HDMI port (full-size), a mini-DisplayPort, eSATA / USB combo port, two USB 3.0 ports and a 9-in-1 multi-format card slot.

The Apple similarities continue on the underside, there the 8-cell battery that is totally sealed within the frame, so you can forget about buying an extended batter and popping it in yourself. As you open the LCD up, you'll find a glossy 1080p (or 720p, depending on what build you get) display, a backlit keyboard, and a monster trackpad that sits in the center of the casing instead of aligned with the spacebar. Kudos on that, Dell!


The multi-gesture pad recognizes multi-finger pinch-to-zoom and scrolling efforts, while the left / right dedicated click buttons were just about perfect. There's a bit of a "plasticky" click feel, and they have a lot of travel, but most consumers won't even notice. The keyboard has keys that are gently sloped towards the middle, and typing on them was very comfortable. A truly awesome typing experience, and a world-class mousing experience.


The LCD, while glossy, is still fairly resistant to reflections, and the 1080p display on our test unit was just gorgeous. Colors were dead-sharp, viewing angles were above average (though not perfect at extreme angles), and fast motion was no problem for it. The keyboard itself had no flex whatsoever, and the LCD hinge was rock solid. Really, we can't complain about any of the design or construction choices; it's all top tier stuff here.

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"Excellent review, awesome video, I have no questions, which is rare, but an opinion, with a laptop as beautiful as this, I surely would not have those stickers on the keypad."

-Optimus

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Great review this is a sharp looking laptop. I really like the shape of the keys. I agree with @Optimus those stickers would be the first thing to go!

"we doubt you'll find a superior 15.6" machine out there right now"

I hate to be the a-hole who takes this seriously but the digital storm xm15 level 2 should do the trick. Better processor(2630QM) and graphics card(555m) coming in at 1126 with 8gb and 750hd selected its 1192.

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Good review on a stylish laptop from Dell. Nice to see it do so well in the benchmarks and I wasn't too surprised from the Metro 2033 benchmarks since every test I have seen before that game just kills all but the highest end components. Too bad about the battery but all together a good laptop with some nice features.

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Thanks for another great review. This looks and sounds like a very nice laptop. Though looking at the side view it does not seem as thin as you would think for being less than 1"

@LBowen I have had a lot of trouble with Dell batteries and at least with the Dell machines I have at work currently which are all 1 and 2 years old. Out of 220 2 year old machines I have had to replace about 75% of the batteries because they simply failed and the machines won't stay on with battery power at all. and even the other 500ish 1 year old machines have had about 25% of the batteries replaced.

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i just want to change my notebook .that's why i am here!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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Great review of this gorgeous laptop I agree that aluminum just looks classy.

I hope Dell does not go the complete route of Apple locking users out from upgrading battery's to RAM and CPU.

Speaking of which Marco, is this unit upgradable as far as RAM and CPU and hard drive go?

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Im impressed with the quality of the notebook, i always thought of Dell as being sorta cheap, especially after fixing numerous Dell desktops. Its also nice to see that Dell decided to be a bit more artistic with the looks as opposed to HP who tried to copy the mac book pros straight up. Not that the Envy line isn't nice, its just good to see a different type of styling. Nice review Ray.

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Great Video and Review! I would have to say one of the best video reviews of the 15z I've seen and yeah, I've seen about all of them. This will be my next laptop for sure.

You say, "If we had to dig up some negatives, it's the three palm rest stickers, the excessive heat / noise produced when the machine is taxed, the non-replaceable battery and the omission of WiDi (or a similar wireless streaming technology)."

Does "Intel® Wireless Display ready" mean WiDi enabled?

I checked Dell's site and it does have WiDi.

Wireless

* Connectivity Options6

10/100/1000 Ethernet network standard, opt external USB Modem

Intel® Centrino® Advanced-N 6230 802.11 agn (2x2)

Bluetooth 3.0

Intel® Wireless Display ready6

Just thought I would clarify. :D

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Another great, thorough review as always.

I like that it performs admirably through every benchmark that was placed through it and I admit, I'm a sucker for the notebook's looks.

At least it's a far cry from the Dell of 2003 right?

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This is a great review and about as thorough a they get.and actually surprised as too all the sweetness that Dell but into this laptop.What I liked seeing in the video was Dave's hands-on to get a better idea of the keyboard /trackpad size.Liked the hinge design as well and more laptop chassis can do better with that like Dell did here .

It has a lot of features and performance I would consider for a powerful day in day out laptop that looks really great too.about the only deal breaker is the non-user replaceable battery & possibly some heat and fan issues .But overall its a laptop I pretty much like and surprisingly from Dell.Definitely going to share this some of my Friends to consider and sure they may be seriously looking into this one.In a way ir has a mac like look with out the high price and the minimal amount of pre-installed software is a plus.

heck it can be configured like the review model for some casual gaming with great rez on the screen and what's in the base models ain't too shabby.

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