Dell XPS 15 (2019) Review: OLED Display Beauty, 8-Core Beast

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Dell XPS 15 (2019): Design And Build Quality

Dell did not look to reinvent the wheel with its 2019 refresh of the XPS 15 we previously reviewed, and instead focused on the hardware and features. That is not a bad thing in our opinion—we're all for change, but change simply for the sake of change often has little value. However, the 2019 XPS is not a straight carbon copy of the previous iteration.

dell xps 15 2019 with windows 10

This is the first XPS 15 to wield an optional OLED display. While the form factor and overall design language is largely unchanged, the OLED screen on this year's model is absolutely gorgeous. It's also fairly bright—we measured the peak brightness at 630-712 lux, depending on which part of the screen is being measured. That type of variance is normal and, to our eyes, undetectable even with an all-white background (which is what we use to measure brightness).

Dell XPS 15 InfinityEdge Display

One of the strengths of OLED is being able to view content at an extreme angle with little to no degradation in image quality. Indeed, images look colorful, sharp, and crisp on the XPS 15, even when viewed from the side. We do not have a colorimeter on hand to measure this, but according to Dell, the OLED display offers up 100 percent coverage of the DCI-P3 color space, along with a 100,000:1 contrast ratio.

This means it should be suitable for professional graphics work. Technically, the OLED display option also supports high dynamic range, or HDR (Dolby Vision), though at a rated 400 nits (a different rating than lux), the brightness level is not quite high enough to truly do HDR justice. Nevertheless, movies and videos look fantastic on the XPS 15.

The other major change to the 2019 XPS 15 is the webcam, or more precisely, its location. Yes folks, proper webcam placement finally comes to the XPS 15! For users who do a lot of video conferencing, trimming those nose hairs before hopping into a video chat is no longer a recommended courtesy for the person you are beaming your mug too (depending on how long your nose hairs are, of course).

Dell XPS 15 Webcam

This is something Dell already addressed this with its XPS 13, which once upon a time also shared the same unfortunate bottom-up view. But just like the smaller version, the larger XPS 15 positions the webcam up top now using the same incredibly small 2.25mm (down from 7mm) camera array.

The webcam on the XPS 15 uses the same 4-element lens "assembled with extremely precise machinery to ensure that all points of the image are in focus." It also shares the same drawback as the XPS 13—no support for Microsoft's facial recognition feature in Windows Hello. Baby steps, folks.

Dell XPS 15 Lid

New features aside, the 2019 XPS 15 is a familiar beauty. The CNC machined aluminum chassis in platinum silver brings the same professional look and stout feel as we are now accustomed to, with subtle visual enhancements such as a mirror finish around the border of the lid, and a Dell's logo tastefully imprinted.

Dell XPS 15 Trackpad and Palm Rest

When flipped open, we see the same carbon fiber palm rest. This has a soft-touch feel to it, and the basket weave pattern gives the laptop some character. The mostly black interior also offers a pleasant contrast to the sliver exterior.

Dell XPS 15 Keyboard

Familiarity also extends to the keyboard and typing experience. The tenkeyless chiclet-style keyboard is unchanged, with keys offering 1.3mm of travel. Key action trends closer to stiff than mushy. There's also sufficient spacing to make so-called "fat-finger" typos an uncommon experience. Typing on the XPS 15 is not on the same level of comfort as some of Lenovo's laptops, like the ThinkPad X1 Carbon, but it's at least serviceable. It also boasts a white-LED backlite for punching out TPS reports in the dark.

Dell XPS 15 Ports Left
Dell XPS 15 2019 Ports (Left Side)

Dell XPS 15 Ports Right
Dell XPS 15 2019 Ports (Right Side)

We get the same port selection this time around too. On the left side of the XPS 15, there is a power jack, USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-A port, HDMI 2.0 output, a Thunderbolt 3 port (4 lanes of PCI Express Gen 3 supporting power delivery, Thunderbolt 3 40Gbps bi-directional, USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-C, and DisplayPort 1.2), and a 3.5mm audio jack.

Over on the right side, there is an SD memory card slot, another USB 3.1 Gen 1 (5Gbps) Type-A port, battery gauge button and indicator, and a Noble wedge-shaped lock slot.

dell xps 15 bottom speakers

The XPS 15 pipes audio through a pair of 2W speakers positioned towards the rear of the laptop. There is enough volume to fill a small room, and at full blast, we didn't perceive any distortion. Sound quality here is a mixed bag, however.

Overall, the XPS 15's speaker system is about what you would expect from a laptop—they trend towards tinny and lack the kind of deep punch that you might find on a set of external speakers, or a pair of decent headphones. If you are hosting a party, you'll want to beam music via Bluetooth to a smart speaker, if you own one. That said, there is room to improve the out-of-box listening experience by fiddling with the MaxxAudioPro software. There are a few dials to play with, such as MaxxBass and Details, and an equalizer. You can fine tune the EQ on your own, or try your luck with one of nearly two dozen preset profiles. The EQ offers marginal improvement to the audio quality, though it does not work miracles.

Now let's tour the software...

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