Dell XPS 15z £899
29th Jun 2011 | 16:10
Ridiculous power in a beautiful and highly portable body
Dell XPS 15z review: Overview
Here at TechRadar, we had some serious geek chills when we reviewed the Dell XPS 15. Combining powerful Intel Core performance with a slick customisable body, beautiful screen and excellent usability, we defy anyone not to enjoy the impressive computing experience it offers.
So when Dell came to our office with the shiny new XPS 15z, we immediately had to don the waterproof pants. The stakes have been upped with a surprisingly slender chassis, but Dell hasn't made any sacrifices in terms of performance, thanks to a second generation Sandy Bridge Core i7 CPU ably backed up by 8GB of RAM.
Just a quick glance at the gorgeous design and it's obvious that the Dell XPS 15z is a special laptop. A sleek brushed metal design has been used throughout the £899 PC, with a darker tint to the interior. Gone is the jutting lip at the rear. The big booty of the XPS 15 has slimmed right down, while the thickest part of the body measures just 27mm.
Fans of the XPS 15 will know that its one downside is its chunky build, so this slender finish makes the Dell XPS 15z a great deal more portable. This is further bolstered by the 2.6kg weight, compared to the XPS 15's 2.8kg frame.
The aluminium lid is incredibly thin yet solid, unlike the lids of the Samsung 9 Series laptops. The 15-inch display does shimmer if the lid is pushed hard in places, but we're confident that it could absorb a decent punch without suffering any damage. Of course, punching this beauty is the last thing we'd do.
Inside the Dell XPS 15z, the PC's keyboard sits in the middle of the chassis and looks great, with curved metallic keys. They don't travel far when hit, but they're firmly set and well separated from each other, which makes typing comfortable. Even better, they glow when used in low light so you aren't squinting to see.
Other interior features are limited to the power button, which sits centrally above the keyboard, the wide touchpad and two speakers, which sit either side of the keyboard. It's a minimalist laptop design that works too well for words.
Dell XPS 15z review: Specifications
Once you finish drooling over the gorgeous body, you'll probably want to turn the Dell XPS 15z on. As soon as Windows boots up, you'll notice how incredible the screen is. This launch laptop is a 15-incher, but Dell told us it's planning both smaller and larger models for release soon.
With a full HD 1080p resolution, everything looks sharp as a tack. Even the tiniest fonts are readable, while viewing angles also impress. But flick through your photos and you'll be truly wowed. Images are rendered beautifully, with rich colours and perfect contrast bringing everything from landscape shots through to family scenes to vivid life.
You can carry around a lifetime's worth of photos on the 750GB hard drive, as well as thousands and thousands of songs and plenty of films. There's also a slot-loading DVD drive.
Entertainment is definitely a key selling point of the Dell XPS 15z, between the brilliant display and the powerful built-in speakers. We don't usually big up a laptop's speaker system as, frankly, they're often rubbish, but the other half actually told us to shut up when we blasted some music on them. Thankfully we could barely hear her complaints over our playlist.
As expected, 802.11n Wi-Fi support allows speedy wireless browsing, with dual-band support. You also get an SD Card reader, two USB 3.0 ports and a SATA port that doubles up as a sleep-and-charge USB. If you want to hook up an external display or projector, DisplayPort and HDMI connections are available.
You also get a built-in HD webcam on the Dell XPS 15z that can shoot photos and video up to 1280 x 1024 resolution. We appeared sharp during web chats, although there is slight motion blur.
Dell XPS 15z review: Performance
As previously mentioned, the Dell XPS 15z packs in an Intel Sandy Bridge processor, specifically a Core i7-2620M running at 2.7GHz. With a mighty 8GB of DDR3 RAM on board also, we had high hopes for our benchmarking tests.
Running Cinebench, we realised the full extent of this laptop's power. It's one of the most capable machines we've tested, able to multitask with any number of resource-hungry applications. Even the most demanding editing software runs perfectly.
Dedicated Nvidia GeForce 525M graphics make for great multimedia performance on the Dell XPS 15z also. HD movies stream smoothly, you can edit all of your media and even the latest games run well. But more intensive titles may need their detail levels tweaked to get an acceptable frame rate. Basically, this laptop can do it all and won't become out of date any time soon.
With all that power we expected the Dell XPS 15z to heat up quickly. However, the chassis remained cool at all times even after hours of use, with all of the settings turned right up.
We also expected the battery life to suffer, despite the XPS 15 lasting a long time between charges. However, our tough Battery Eater benchmark, which runs the battery down by playing HD video on a loop with the settings turned up to maximum, still came out at a very impressive 214 minutes.
If you simply use the Dell XPS 15z for browsing the web or belting out that novel you've been meaning to write, it'll last for five hours easily.
Battery Eater 05: 214 minutes
Dell XPS 15z: Verdict
As big fans of the Dell XPS 15, we were looking forward to checking out the XPS 15z. The powerful specs and slender new body on this 15-inch laptop are immediate draws, forming a combination that could be a real winner if executed right.
The slimmed-down chassis is solidly built and desirable, with a gorgeous minimalist design. The Dell XPS 15z is slender and light enough to carry around when needed, while the battery lasts for over three and a half hours even when playing HD video on the highest power settings.
Usability is another highlight, thanks to the firm isolation-style backlit keyboard and wide touchpad. A whopping 750GB of storage means you can carry around everything you need, and there are plenty of ports to keep you connected.
If you need a PC laptop to consume your media, the full HD screen and powerful integrated speakers are a perfect means of enjoying films and photos.
You're not just limited to watching, however. With a powerful Sandy Bridge processor and dedicated Nvidia graphics on board, you can edit your home movies and indulge in some frantic gaming sessions any time you like.
After racking our brains for ages, the best we can come up with is the power cord, which is a little too short. If we wanted to get really picky we'd complain that the screen doesn't tilt back far either, but the excellent viewing angles make it a moot point.
Quite simply, the Dell XPS 15z is one of the best portable laptops we've had the pleasure of reviewing. Masses of power tucked into a slim and portable chassis, with an excellent keyboard and a sharp and vibrant screen. If you're looking for a capable laptop and can afford the £900 price tag, look no further.