Dell XPS 15 2-In-1: Battery Life, Acoustics And Thermals
Battery Life - How We Test:
Our custom HotHardware video loop test takes a 1080p HD video with a 16Kbps bit rate and loops it repeatedly, with 1 minute break intervals in between. A timer log file increments minutes of up-time, every minute -- along with the grand total -- before system shutdown is stored and logged. This is a lighter-duty test that is still a bit more strenuous than many office productivity tasks, but it's not nearly a taxing as the load the Battery Eater test we'll have next puts on a system.
Update, 4/4/2018 - 6:44AM: We have been re-testing the XPS 15 2-In-1 with respect to battery life and have thus far not seen any difference in battery life performance with respect to this test. We hope to offer additional test results with respect to battery life shortly, however.
Dell XPS 15 2-In-1 Acoustics & Thermals
Building a thin and light laptop while keeping heat and noise in check is an inherently challenging task, and it requires some major engineering chops to bring balance to the equation. So how does it all play out in regards to the XPS 15 2-in-1? Like any aspect of performance, it depends on what you are doing with the machine. Dell does however, employ a robust, dual heat-pipe cooling system in the XPS 15 2-In-1, and we observed very little throttling with the machine over successive benchmark runs.
For more mundane workloads, like surfing the web and tooling around with Google Docs or whatever productivity software / service you use, the XPS 15 2-in-1 runs virtually silent and just slightly warm to the touch.
Things can change in a hurry, however, when you start to stress the components. There is just no avoiding this in a system this thin with the level of horsepower that's crammed inside. The XPS 15 2-in-1 doesn't get obnoxiously noisy, but you can hear the fans working feverishly when playing games or running an intensive workload for an extended period of time. Above you can see our worst-case acoustics while gaming with the new Dell hybrid. Under modest content creation use cases, it's dramatically quieter, however, and its cooling fans operate at only a dull whir.
Heat output is mostly noticeable in the upper-left quadrant of the Dell XPS 15 2-In-1, which is likely where its Intel-AMD hybrid Kaby Lake G multi-chip module sits. A long ventilation system runs along the bottom of the laptop for cool air intake, while a thin slit along the rear edge of the machine at the bottom provides warm air exhaust. This cooling system is pretty effective; even when the XPS 15 2-in-1 heats up under load, it doesn't get scorching hot to the touch like we've experienced on some laptops. The laptop also benefits from a layer of thermal insulation called a "Gore" thermal barrier (Gore material from the makers of Gor-Tex), that keeps external areas of the machine (like the keyboard) relatively cool. This insulation covers select areas of the heat pipes over the CPU and GPU, and does a good job of providing a buffer between the toasty bits and the XPS 15 2-In-1's skin. As you can see, under heavy gaming workloads, the bottom of the machine registers a tepid 93ºF, while the top left corner of its keyboard also stays in check at 103ºF, which is just warm to the touch and not the least bit uncomfortable.