Dell XPS 15 (2019): Familiar Looks, Faster Performance
Dell often rides the bleeding edge, as it wastes little time arming its laptops and desktops with the latest hardware platforms available. At minimum, this means yearly refreshes of its popular product categories. So, right on cue, Dell has begun rolling out updated variants of its XPS 15 laptop with some nifty upgrades compared to the version we reviewed last September.
One of the biggest changes is the addition of an OLED display option. Just as we have been enamored by Samsung's display panels on its mobile phones, we hold Dell's InfinityEdge displays in similar regard, as being among the best around in the laptop space. An InfinityEdge panel is again on tap for the 2019 refresh, but for the first time, the XPS 15 can be configured with a brilliant 4K resolution (3840x2160) OLED screen.
The OLED option is not offered across the board, but on three separate customizable configurations starting at $1,949.99 (or $1,681.67 if going by the marked down web price). What we have in for review is a burlier setup priced at $2.649.99 (on sale for $2,479), also with an OLED screen.
This particular configuration comes with a 9th Gen Intel Core i9-9980HK processor, a whopping 32GB of DDR4-2666 memory, discrete GeForce GTX 1650 graphics based on NVIDIA's Turing GPU architecture, and a fast 1TB NVMe (PCIe 3.0) solid state drive. While not technically a desktop replacement-class laptop, the combination of parts on this laptop should be able to deliver performance in line with a relatively meaty tower PC.
We'll get into the performance figures in a bit, as well as a more detailed breakdown of the 2019 XPS 15. Before we do that, however, let's take a moment to look at the spec sheet...
|Processor||9th Gen Intel Core i9-9980HK 8-Core/16-Thread (2.4GHz - 5GHz, 16MB SmartCache)
15.6-inch 4K Ultra HD (3840x2160) InfinityEdge Non-Touch, 400 Nits, OLED
|Graphics||NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650
Intel UHD Graphics 630
||1TB M.2 PCIe 3.0 x4 NVMe solid state drive|
|Audio||Stereo speakers tuned by Waves MaxxAudio Pro (2x2W) w/ dual array microphones
||Killer AX1650 (2x2) Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) + Bluetooth 5.0,, Miracast capable|
Left: 1x USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-A, 1x HDMI 2.0, 1x Thunderbolt 3 (USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-C) w/ power delivery and DisplayPort, 1x 3.5mm headphone jack
Right: 1x SD card slot, 1x USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-A, 1x wedge-shaped lock slot
||HD (720p) w/ dual array digital microphones
||Windows 10 Home 64-Bit|
|Battery||6-cell (52WHr) built-in Li-Ion
|Dimensions||14.06 x 9.27 x 0.45-0.66 inches (357 x 235 x 11-17 mm)
||4.5 lbs (2 kg)
|Pricing||$2,649.99 MSRP (on sale for $2,479 as of publication)
From top to bottom, the XPS 15 as configured here is a fleshed out laptop brimming with premium hardware. Dell bills this as the "smallest 15.6-inch performance laptop on the planet," and while there is room for debate there, the 0.45-0.66-inch waistline is indeed slim. Dell is also referring to the overall size—the bezels on the InfinityEdge display leave very little space beyond the actual screen.
At around 4.5 pounds, the XPS 15 is a little heavier than some other thin and light productivity machines, though Dell has squeezed an impressive level of hardware inside a sub-5-pound laptop. Part of the heft is owed to the capacious 97Whr battery—some of the toned down configurations sport a smaller 56Whr battery pack, which shaves half a pound off the weight.
At a glance, it may seem curious that Dell opted for Intel's 9th Gen CPU line rather than the chipmaker's brand-spanking-new 10th Gen "Ice Lake" family built on a 10-nanometer manufacturing process. There's an easy explanation, though—performance. At the outset, Intel's 11 new Ice Lake CPUs scale to 4 cores and 8 threads of compute muscle. In contrast, the Core i9-9980HK in this machine is a beastly chip armed with 8 cores and 16 threads clocked at 2.4GHz (base) to 5GHZ (max Turbo), with a heaping 16MB of SmartCache.
While not a 10nm part, the Core i9-9980HK is a generational upgrade over the previous top option on the XPS 15 line, a 6-core/12-thread 8th Gen Core i9-8950HK clocked at 2.9GHz to 4.8GHz, with 12MB of cache.
Finally, let's take a second to talk about the Wi-Fi connectivity. Normally that is something we take for granted, but with Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) breaking cover, this is an area buyers should pay attention to when shopping for a laptop. The 2019 XPS 15 features a Killer AX1650 network card from Rivet Networks, which itself is based on an Intel Wi-Fi 6 chipset. In essence, this laptop is rocking next-gen connectivity out of the box.
Pertinent specs out of the way, let's have a look at the design and build quality of the XPS 15...