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Dell XPS 15 2020 Review

Small adjustments lead to significant changes. That’s the lesson Dell taught me this year. First, with the XPS 13, and now with the new XPS 15 ($1,299 to start, $2,349 as reviewed). It kept the winning parts of the laptop, such as the beautiful industrial design, the discreet Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 1650 Ti GPU, and the jaw-dropping 4K display. However, Dell didn’t stop there. The company somehow managed to make the laptop 5.5% smaller than the previous model while at the same time making the keys and touchpad significantly larger. Today, we are here with our Dell XPS 15 2020 review.

Last updated on September 26, 2020 5:36 am
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Last updated on September 26, 2020 5:36 am

And while that may seem less critical, the four-border InfinityEdge bracket has made it one of the highest resolution screens on the market. Plus, armed with an Intel’s 10th Gen processor and discreet Nvidia GeForce GPU, the Dell XPS 15 2020 is a serious force to be reckoned with and a worthy addition to the Best Laptops and Best 15-inch laptop pages.

Specifications

Dell XPS 15 2020
Price:$2,399
CPU:Intel Core i7-10750H
RAM:32GB
Storage:512GB PCIe SSD
Display:15.6-inch, 3840 x 2400 (4K)
GPU:Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 Ti Max-Q
VRAM4GB
Battery life:8-hours
Size: 13.6 x 9.1 x 0.7-inches
Weight: 4.5-pounds

Dell XPS 15 2020 review: design

When I opened the box of the XPS 15, I was immediately impressed. I don’t know if it was the packaging that felt premium or just the sheer beauty of the laptop, and I felt like I had dug up a long-buried treasure. Noteworthy is the platinum silver CNC-aluminum lid and chassis. And the shiny Dell logo engraved in the lid is a nod to sophistication. When opening the lid, you’ll be treated to a black carbon fiber palm rest.

Dell XPS 15 2020 Review

A giant touchpad occupies the center of the palm rest and sits underneath the keyboard, flanked by a pair of speakers. The power button is located in the top right corner of the Fn key row and also serves as a fingerprint scanner. And while I love the silver and black, I hope Dell will roll out silver and Frost White version of the notebook, similar to its smaller brother, the XPS 13. Or I’d like to see a gold or rose gold color of the laptop.

In case you have files you want to protect, the Dell XPS 15 has two security points. You have the fingerprint scanner in the power button and the IR webcam, both of which are compatible with Windows Hello. Just follow the steps to set up Windows Hello, and you’ll have the option to unlock the laptop with your finger or your face.

Most current laptops don’t have legacy ports or slots. That’s why I was surprised to see a full SD card reader prominently displayed on the laptop, right next to the USB Type-C port and headphone jack. On the left, you get a pair of Thunderbolt 3 ports and a wedge lock slot. You need a dongle if you want to connect a mouse. Luckily Dell provides a USB Type-C to Type-A adapter.

Weighing in at 4.5 pounds, 13.6 x 9.1 x 0.7 inches, the XPS 15 is comparable to the competition, including the HP Spectre x360 (4.5-pounds, 14.2 x 9.8 x 0.8-inches) and the 16-inch MacBook Pro (4.3-pounds, 14.2 x 9.8 x 0.8-inches). The new XPS 15 2020 is 5.5% smaller than the previous model.

Keyboard and TouchPad

Like the XPS 13, the Dell XPS 15 has bigger keys on its large keyboard. Despite the larger size, the keys are perfectly spaced and offer decent feedback. That made the time I spent writing this review quite comfortable. When I did the 10 fast finger type test, I reached 75 words per minute, which is slightly more than my usual 70 wpm average.

Dell XPS 15 2020 Review

At 5.9 x 3.5-inches, this touchpad is the largest I have ever seen or touched. It is 62% larger than the previous model. My fingers barely touch the edges, and navigating websites and documents was a smooth experience. The palm’s rejection is top-notch, with the cursor remaining while I’m using the keyboard. Windows 10 gestures, such as scrolling with two fingers and tapping with three fingers, were agile and accurate.

Dell XPS 15 2020 review: display

The Dell XPS 15’s display is one of the highest resolution displays I’ve seen on a laptop, thanks to Dell’s innovative InfinityEdge technology. This time, Dell has found a way to get rid of that stubborn chin, drastically reducing the boundaries on all four sides. That means I was staring into a 15.6-inch display of durable Corning Gorilla Glass 6 with a 16:10 aspect ratio, bringing the resolution to an impressive 3840 x 2400. What’s more, it’s 5% larger than its predecessor, and Dell somehow managed to fit it into a smaller chassis.

When looking at the High Note trailer, it is clear that the color red was made for actress Tracee Ellis Ross. Whether it was her sparkling sequined dress or her chic power suit, the color burst off the screen, playing up the pink tones in Ross’ light brown skin. Crisp details showed the birthmark through the actress’s right eye and the delicate stringing of rhinestones on her pretty hat.

The screen can reproduce 132% of the sRGB color gamut, which is vivid than the premium laptops average of 123%. That result is also better than the 114% of the Apple MacBook Pro, but not the ridiculous 258% of the Spectre. In terms of brightness, the 434-nit XPS is not a weaker bulb, exceeding the average of 367-nit and the MacBook Pro (429 nits). But the HP Spectre was by far the brightest at 483 nits.

If you have to adjust the color temperature of the screen, the Dell PremierColor software is the right choice. You get nine presets (Vibrant, Internet, Custom, HD Video, SD Video, Cinema, Low Blue, Photo, and Low Blue Light. While I prefer the Vibrant, which is already the default preset, Cinema is also fun, while the Blue Light settings are useful for reading at night. The touch screen of the XPS 15 is not only spacious but also fast and responsive.

Dell XPS 15 2020 review: audio

This is the quality of sound I want from a first-class laptop. Dell loaded the XPS 15 with four top-firing speakers powered by Waves NX 3D audio. Between those four, you get a pair of primary speakers and two tweeters. These may be the best speakers I’ve heard on a top laptop, and that’s because the Dell XPS 15’s multiple speakers allow for a better spatial 3D audio experience.

As I listened to Laura Mvula’s “Phenomenal Woman,” the funky track filled my apartment with a loud sound. And I’m not exaggerating about how well the sound is carried. I left the laptop on top of the couch, went downstairs, and still heard the song clear and loud. Some of the finer details were lost, but it was still imposing. The sound is not only loud, but it’s also clean. If so, it’s cleaner than any laptop speaker I have listened to. Even at full volume, the synthesized components of the tracks were accurate, as were the keyboard and bass guitar.

My only complaint is that the bass is not as advanced as the highs and mids. Dell can solve this little problem by figuring out how to add a subwoofer to the mix next time. But as it is now, few laptop speakers can compare to the XPS 15.

Dell XPS 15 2020 review: graphics

Like its predecessor, the new XPS 15 features a discreet Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 Ti Max-Q GPU with 4GB of RAM, which is excellent for photo and video editing or spreadsheets. You also get an integrated Intel’s UHD Graphics GPU for less demanding tasks like writing a review or watching videos. In case you want, the XPS 15 can be a good gaming laptop in no time. The laptop reached 135 fps (frames per second) on the 1080p Dirt 3 benchmark, blowing beyond the 63fps premium laptop average and the Spectre (118fps, GeForce MX150 GPU). At 4K, the XPS’s frame rate dropped to 70 fps, but that’s well above our 30-fps playability threshold.

Dell XPS 15 2020 Review

In the GTA V test, the XPS 15 scored 42 fps at 1080p, which is just a few frames behind the 45 fps. At 4K, it corresponds to the average of 38 fps. The laptop achieved 48 fps on Sid Meier’s Civilization VI: Gathering Storm benchmark at 1080p, shattering the 17 fps category average. At 4K resolution, we saw a frame rate of 29 fps, which slipped beyond the average of 14 fps.

Dell XPS 15 2020 review: performance

The Dell XPS 15 2020 is one of the first laptops I have touched with Intel’s 10th Gen Comet Lake H series processors. One thing is for sure that 2.6 GHz Intel Core i7-10750H processor is not too crazy. I saw an episode of Astronomer’s Club on Netflix with 35 additional Google Chrome tabs open in the background with Twitch, YouTube, and TweetDeck, and the XPS 15 never stuttered.

The notebook held up on our synthetic tests. We started with Geekbench 4.3, a general performance test, with the XPS 15 reaching 25,934. It was enough to conquer the average of 17,203 premium laptops and the Spectre x360’s (Core i7-8565U CPU) 17,195. However, the MacBook was powered by its Core i9-9980HK CPU and reached 31,178.

The XPS 15 transcoded a 4K video to 1080p in 10 minutes and 6 seconds. This is much faster than the average of 18:44 and 21:13 of the Spectre. But the MacBook Pro was very fast with 8 minutes.

In the File Transfer Test, XPS 15’s 512GB PCIe SSD duplicated 4.97GB of multimedia files in 8 seconds for a transfer rate of 726 megabytes per second, exceeding the average speed of 657.3 MBps. The Spectre x360’s 1TB SSD was much slower at 424 MBps. The MacBook Pro’s 2 TB M.2 NVMe SSD reached a speed of 1,017.9 MBps.

Dell XPS 15 2020 review: battery life

4K laptops usually have a poor battery life, but the XPS 15 lasted 8 hours on our battery test (continuous web surfing over Wi-Fi at 150 nits of brightness). It’s shorter than the average of the 9:08 premium laptop, but again, for a 4K panel, this is great. Plus, it surpassed the Spectre x360 (7:46) and its 4K OLED panel. But the MacBook Pro 16-inch, with its lower resolution screen, clocked in at 10:55.

Dell XPS 15 2020 review: heat

With all those powerful specs, the XPS 15 can get a little hot under the collar. We ran a full-HD YouTube video for 15 minutes, after which we measured strategic points on the laptop. The temperature of the touchpad hit 86 degrees Fahrenheit, which is below our comfort threshold of 95 degrees. The center of the keyboard and chassis measured 103 and 99 degrees, respectively. Still, these results aren’t the deal breaker, considering how thin and light the XPS 15 is.

Price and configuration options

The base model of the Dell XPS 15 2020 starts at $1,299 and features a 2.5 GHz Intel’s Core i5-10300H processor with 8GB RAM, a 256GB PCIe SSD, an Intel’s UHD Graphics GPU, and a 15.6-inches, 1920 x 1200 (full-HD) display. The model I reviewed costs $2,399 and has a 2.6 GHz Intel Core i7-10750H CPU, 32GB of RAM, 512GB PCIe SSD, Intel UHD Graphics GPU, Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 1650 Ti Max-Q GPU with 4GB RAM, and a 15.6-inch, 4K (3840 x 2400) touchscreen.

The Dell can be configured with an Intel Core i9-10885H processor, 64GB RAM, and a 2TB PCIe SSD, but it will cost you a whopping $3,000.

Dell XPS 15 2020 review: Conclusion

The sum of all parts. It is a sentence that applies to the Dell XPS 15 2020. The laptop was already a great device, and Dell has found ways to improve an already winning formula. Equipped with a 10th Gen Intel’s Comet Lake H-Series CPU and Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 Ti Max-Q GPU, the Dell XPS 15 of $2,399 is powerful enough, ready to tackle any task you can throw at it. What’s more, Dell has somehow managed to add larger keys and a solid touchpad, while making the laptop smaller and smaller on all sides to house one of the highest-res displays on the market. And over 8 hours of battery life on a 4K panel isn’t too shoddy either.

But if you’re looking for a laptop with better battery life and performance, take a look at the 16-inch MacBook Pro. However, it will cost you a pretty penny for $3,899. But if you want a 15-inch powerhouse with a beautiful display, excellent audio, and a host of other top features, the Dell XPS 15 is the absolute must-have.

9.5 Total Score
Our Verdict

The Dell XPS 15 puts the bezels out of the way, serving up impressive power with excellent audio and a beautiful super high-res touch screen in a compact, premium frame.

PROS
  • Attractive premium chassis
  • Bright, super high-res display
  • Great overall and graphics performance
  • Good battery life for a 4K laptop
  • Excellent audio
  • Comfortable keyboard
CONS
  • Expensive
  • Runs a bit hot
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