Summary and Conclusion
Performance Summary: Strictly from a benchmark perspective, the Dell XPS 15z's results were a mixed bag. It doesn't do well in highly-taxing, cutting edge gaming benchmarks, but it sails through common processing chores, particularly those focused on CPU performance. But real-world, daily use cases are a bit different. Unless you're looking for high FPS numbers and nothing else, this Dell machine is about as good as it gets in the 15.6" form factor. What the benchmarks have difficulty showing is just how quick this machine feels during desktop-duty, and how well it multi-tasks. Of course, our test unit was pushing $1600, but even the $999 base model is well spec'ced. Having Optimus onboard also means that the battery life will improve when not running GPU-intensive apps, that require the use of the discrete GPU.There's just no question that the XPS 15z is a beautiful laptop. Yes, it looks a bit like the MacBook Pro, but is that really a bad thing? Dell has still made this design their own, and the keyboard / trackpad experience is currently among the best available. The 1080p display is excellent and as is the machine's weight and overall form factor. It just plain looks great, and the build quality is exceptional.
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). But to be honest, those quibbles can be overlooked fairly easily at under $1k. The $1599 build that we tested hits a nice sweet spot; a 1080p panel is tough to find on a 15.6" machine, and it really makes a world of difference. Having 8GB of DDR3 memory is also a huge plus, and of course, the extra CPU horsepower certainly help when churning through multiple applications.
The bottom line is that at it's price point, we doubt you'll find a superior 15.6" machine out there right now. Dell has done just about everything right with this one. Plus, it's fast. Really fast in everything save for hardcore gaming. For the vast majority of consumers, it'll do everything they need and more, and look great while doing it. The Dell XPS 15z is great buy, from top to bottom.