Dell XPS 15 2-In-1 Review: An Ultra-Powerful, Premium Convertible Laptop

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Dell XPS 15 2-In-1: An Ultra-Powerful, Ultra-Portable

At CES earlier this year, Dell strutted out a few new products, including its XPS 15 2-in-1 with a 360-degree hinge. It is the first XPS 15 to adopt the convertible 2-in-1 form factor, providing customers with flexible use case scenarios, like folding the display all the way back onto itself to become a tablet, or propping it up in tent mode as a kitchen counter companion. While not groundbreaking in 2018, it's a welcome upgrade to one of the more desirable and premium laptops on the market. What is groundbreaking, however, is what lies inside this laptop in terms of processing engines.

Dell's new 15-inch convertible wields Intel's 8th generation Kaby Lake G processors with Radeon RX Vega graphics. And for reference, we in fact took a look at Intel's new Hades Canyon NUC small form factor desktop, based on this same chip earlier this week. Forged from an unlikely partnership, Kaby Lake G represents a harmonious fusion of strengths from two tech rivals, with Intel providing the CPU horsepower for compute workloads and AMD throwing around its graphics muscle, packaged together in a single, slim multi-chip module design.

XPS 15 2 in 1 tablet stand mode

More specifically, the XPS 15 2-in-1 offers buyers a choice between Intel's Core i5-8305G or Core i7-8705G processors. These are both quad-core chips with HyperThreading support, the former clocked at 2.8GHz to 3.8GHz with 6MB of L3 cache, and the latter running at 3.1GHz to 4.1GHz with 8MB of L3 cache. Both also feature AMD's Radeon RX Vega M GL graphics engine married to 4GB of HBM2 memory. Not to be overlooked, the inclusion of AMD's Vega graphics architecture is a substantial upgrade over traditional integrated graphics solutions, in this case with the promise of delivering gaming performance roughly on par, or faster than an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 Ti GPU.

Beyond the CPU and graphics, Dell offers the XPS 15 2-in-1 with 8GB or 16GB of dual-channel DDR4-2400 RAM and 128GB, 256GB, 512GB, or 1TB of fast PCIe solid state storage. All of this drives a 15.6-inch InfinityEdge touch display, either in Full HD 1080p (1920x1080) or 4K Ultra HD (3840x2160), the latter serving up 100 percent coverage of the AdobeRGB color space for accurate color reproduction, while the 1080p version covers 100% sRGB.

We'll take a closer look at the XPS 15 2-in-1 in a moment, but first let's have a peek at its full spec sheet...

Editor's Update, 4/4/2018: We're continuing to explore battery life performance with the Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and have made some minor updates to our initial coverage already. We'll be circling back to the battery life section as appropriate in the days ahead as well.  

Dell XPS 15 2-in-1
Specifications & Features
Display 15.6" Ultrasharp 4K UHD (3840x2160) InfinityEdge Touch Display - 100% AdobeRGB Gamut Coverage
15.6" FHD (1920x1080) Infinity Edge Touch Display - 100% sRGB
CPU Intel Core i5-8305G (4C/4T) with Radeon RX Vega M GL Graphics (6MB cache, 3.8 GHz)
Intel Core i7-8705G w/ HT (4C/8T) with Radeon RX Vega M GL Graphics (8MB Cache, to 4.1 GHz)
Graphics Radeon RX Vega M GL Graphics - 4GB HBM2, Intel Integrated UHD 630
RAM 8GB or 16GB Dual Channel DDR4 2400
Storage 128GB, 256GB PCIe, 512GB PCIe, or 1TB PCIe SSD
Wireless Killer 1435  802.11ac (2T/2R) + Bluetooth 4.1, Intel 8265 802.11ac (2T/2R) for Vpro + Bluetooth 4.1
Thunderbolt 2 × USB Type-C ports
USB 2 × Type-C (via TB3), 3 × Type-A
Webcam/Mics 720p webcam with 4 array digital microphones; Windows Hello compliant IR camera and mics
Other I/O Stereo speakers Waves Maxx Audio Pro, audio jack, trackpad, MicroSD card reader, fingerprint sensor
Battery 75Whr - ~15 hours with FHD LCD
Dimensions/Weight Thickness: 9-16 mm (0.35" - 0.62”), 13.9" W, 9.2" D - 4.3 lbs
Price Starting at $1299 (April 23rd) - $2549 As Tested

Dell didn't mess around for this evaluation, choosing to send us its most decked out configuration with a 4K resolution display, Core i7-8705G processor, 16GB of DDR4-2400 RAM, and a deliciously capacious 1TB SSD to route data through the system's PCIe interface. Even the the operating system is plucked from the top shelf—Windows 10 Pro, rather than Home (and 64-bit, of course). It doesn't get any more fully loaded than this, at least as it pertains to the XPS 15 2-in-1.

Update, 4/11/2018 - We've now also assembled a full hands-on video review here for your pixel peering pleasure... 


Out of the box, the XPS 15 2-in-1 looks like a bigger version of the XPS 13 2-in-1, because that is essentially what it is (with upgraded hardware, of course). That's not a bad thing, either—the XPS 13 2-in-1 is one of our top choices in the convertible category, as it offers a premium blend of performance, aesthetic appeal, and flexible functionality.

XPS 15 2 in 1 with adapter

Those same traits carry over to the XPS 15 2-in-1 with its multi-purpose design, made possible by the 360-degree swing hinge. Granted, it makes for a rather large tablet when using the XPS 15 2-in-1 in that mode, but for artists and graphic designers who doodle (professionally or for recreation), the bigger display might come in handy for certain projects. That's especially true if opting for the 4K resolution option.

Either way, it's the only option from Dell right now for Intel's newfangled Kaby Lake G processors. Part of that decision might have been based on thermal considerations. The Core i7-8705G processor with Radeon Vega graphics has a 65W TDP, and it doesn't take long for the active cooling system to kick in when pushing the multi-chip module.

To keep things humming along, Dell outfitted the XPS 15 2-in-1 with a 75Whr battery. This should give the XPS 15 2-in-1 similar battery life to the smaller XPS 13 2-in-1, in a more powerful package—assuming that holds true, you can have your cake and eat it, too. According to Dell, the Full HD model lasts up to 15 hours, and up to 9 and a half hours for the 4K model we have in for review.

Now let's have a closer look at things...

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