Dell XPS 15: Specs, design, and everything you need to know!
Dell’s XPS lineup has become one of the most recognizable brands in the laptop world. For a few years now, they’ve been some of the best laptops you can buy, pushing the envelope with how compact and powerful they can be. Part of that lineup is the Dell XPS 15, a 15.6 inch laptop that has a lot to offer.
The latest model, the Dell XPS 15 9510, packs some serious specs, including up to an Intel Core i9-11900H and an NVIDIA GeForce 3050 Ti, something you just can’t find in many other laptops of this size. If you want to know all about the latest Dell XPS 15, you’ve come to the right place.
Let’s start with the specs, arguably the most important of a laptop. Here’s a quick rundown of what the Dell XPS 15 has to offer:
|Dell XPS 15|
|Size (WxDxH)||13.57 x 9.06 x 0.71 in (344.72 x 230.14 x 18 mm)|
That should already give you a good idea of what the Dell XPS 15 is all about, but let’s dive deeper into it.
Dell XPS 15 performance
The Dell XPS 15 gives you a few options to tailor the performance to your needs. It starts with the processor, and you get to choose from three of Intel’s 11th-generation 45W processors. These are some of the most powerful processors you can get on a laptop, especially the higher tiers. The base configuration includes an Intel Core i5-11400H, a CPU with six cores and 12 threads. If you choose this processor, you’re also going to get Intel UHD Graphics, 8GB of RAM, and 256GB of storage by default. You can upgrade to 512GB of storage, but this is the most limiting of the configurations.
If you choose either the Intel Core i7-11800H or the Core i9-11900H, your options expand significantly. These are both octa-core, 16-thread processors, and they can boost to higher speeds too. But choosing one of these options also means you get a discrete GPU from NVIDIA. You can get either an NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3050 or a 3050 Ti if you get the Core i7 processor, or only the 3050 Ti if you get the Intel Core i9 processor. They’re not at the top of the range, but with this configuration, you can already use the Dell XPS 15 not just for workloads like video editing, but you can also feasibly play modern games on it without a problem.
RAM and storage options also expand significantly once you upgrade the processor. You’ll get a minimum of 16GB of RAM, which you can upgrade all the way to 64GB to make this an incredibly powerful machine. With that much RAM, games with lots of assets, large coding projects, and other workloads become a breeze. And if you don’t want to pay the upfront cost, the Dell XPS 15 has user-accessible SODIMM slots, so you can buy your own RAM later for the upgrade.
Finally, there’s the matter of storage, which starts at 512GB if you go for one of the more powerful processors. You can upgrade this all the way to 8TB, meaning you’ll be able to store documents, music, and apps for years to come. Even movies and games will fit comfortably on a drive this big, so you have nothing to worry about. And just like the RAM, if you don’t want to pay for the extra storage at checkout, you can buy your own SSDs to upgrade later on.
There are a lot of options to choose from here, and of course, the price varies a lot too. You’ll notice it the most when you upgrade from the base configuration. Upgrading the processor, RAM, graphics, or storage (above 512GB) will upgrade all the other components as well. While the Dell XPS 15 starts at $1,299, it shoots up to $1,899 if you want any meaningful upgrades.
Dell XPS 15 display and audio
Like with the rest of the specs, the Dell XPS 15 gives you a few options for the display as well. The size and format is always the same – it’s a 15.6 inch panel with a 16:10 aspect ratio. That’s already a good starting point since taller screens give you more screen area and are better for productivity.
The base configuration is a Full HD+ panel with a resolution of 1920 x 1200. Along with that, it covers 100% of the sRGB color gamut, and has a maximum brightness of 500 nits. What it doesn’t have is touch support, which can be a bummer.
However, you have two fantastic upgrade options available. First, there’s an Ultra HD+ panel with a resolution of 3840 x 2400. This is not only an incredibly sharp display for its size, but it includes other benefits, like covering 100% of the Adobe RGB color gamut. This includes far more colors than sRGB, so complete coverage of this spectrum means you get much more accurate colors, which is especially important for things like video editing. This panel also comes with touch support, and it keeps the 500 nits of brightness so you can see it comfortably outside. It also supports HDR.
The last option (and potentially the most special) is an OLED panel with touch support. You can equip the Dell XPS 15 with an OLED display with a resolution Dell calls 3.5K, or 3456 x 2160 to be precise. The pixel density is slightly below Ultra HD+ here, but it’s very unlikely you’ll notice it considering the size of the screen. On the other hand, an OLED panel offers a much higher contrast ratio than the LCD options — 100,000:1 on the OLED versus 1600:1 on the Ultra HD+ model. The OLED panel also has a response time of 2ms, whereas the other panels have 35ms. This panel has 400 nits of brightness, and it covers 100% of the DCI-P3 color gamut. That’s slightly less impressive than Adobe RGB, but it’s still fantastic for content consumption.
Both the Ultra HD+ and OLED displays are protected by Corning Gorilla Glass 6, and only available if you upgrade to the Intel Core i7 processor. They both add $400 to the cost, so it’s truly a matter of preference. If you need to do professional video editing with color accuracy, having Adobe RGB coverage is welcome, but the OLED panel is going to look fantastic for content consumption, gaming, or anything else.
The audio experience on the Dell XPS 15 is great across the board. This is a laptop with a quad stereo speaker setup, with two 2.5W woofers and two 1.5W tweeters. That’s a total of 8W of audio output, which is bound to give you an immersive experience be it for music or video.
As it packs powerful specs and high-end displays, the Dell XPS 15 also needs a beefy battery to stay powered away from an outlet. There are actually two different battery options for the XPS 15 depending on your configuration — a 3 cell 56Whr battery if you choose the Intel Core i5 model, and a 6 cell 86Whr battery for all the other models. Dell doesn’t say how long you can expect the 56Whr battery to last, but we do have three different estimates for the 86Whr model, based on the different display options.
If you choose the Full HD+ panel, you can get up to 13 hours and 20 minutes of video streaming at 1080p using the Netflix app for Windows. This test was run on a Dell XPS 15 with an Intel Core i7-11800H, 32GB of RAM, 1TB SSD, and NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3050 Ti graphics. The test was run with display brightness at 40% (150 nits) and using Wi-Fi.
If you choose the OLED panel, you can get up to nine hours and 13 minutes under the same conditions. The configuration used for this estimate is mostly the same, but with 16GB of RAM and 512GB of storage. Finally. the Ultra HD+ panel will get you up to eight hours and 42 minutes under the same conditions.
The Dell XPS 15 includes a 90W charger or a 130W charger, depending on your battery size as well. Both models should take about three hours to fully charge with the laptop powered off.
Design and build quality
When talking about premium laptops, one common thread is usually that they’re made from aluminum. That still applies to the Dell XPS 15, but there’s a twist here. The first thing you need to know is that the Dell XPS 15 comes in two color variants — Platinum Silver/Black and Frost/Arctic White. This is worth noting because different materials are used depending on the color you go with.
The Platinum Silver/Black model uses a darker shade of silver for the external shell, which is made from aluminum. This is more similar to something like Space Grey, which you on see Apple’s MacBooks, but Dell calls it Platinum Silver. The black is on the inside of the laptop, on the keyboard deck. Here, Dell uses carbon fiber, giving the Dell XPS 15 a very unique look. Not only is it a dual-tone design, it has a carbon fiber pattern you don’t see very often on laptops.
As for the Frost/Arctic White model, the exterior uses a lighter shade of silver (“frost”), but it’s still made of aluminum. The inside is the more interesting part since the keyboard deck uses a woven glass fiber composite material, which comes in an arctic white color. This variation in colors and materials isn’t something you see very often on laptops, so the Dell XPS 15 is certainly unique for that.
One thing worth keeping in mind is that the Frost/Arctic White model isn’t available for all the configurations, and it adds $50 to the cost of the laptop. The Platinum Silver/Black version is available in any of the available configurations.
Another thing that helps the Dell XPS 15 stand out is its size. Dell has consistently pushed the envelope for compactness in the XPS lineup, and you see it clearly here. The Dell XPS 15 measures 344.40 mm (13.56 in) wide, 230.30mm (9.07 in) deep, and 18mm (0.7 in) thick at its thickest point. That’s very small for a 15 inch laptop, and it’s especially impressive when it’s packing high-power components like the Intel processors and NVIDIA graphics.
The Dell XPS 15 is a bit heavy though, starting at 3.99lbs (1.81kg) for the base configuration. Depending on the specs you choose, it can go up to 4.50lbs, or 2.04kg.
Dell XPS 15 webcam quality
One thing that’s often overlooked in many laptops is the webcam quality, and unfortunately, the Dell XPS 15 isn’t an exception. As mentioned above, Dell has usually pushed to make its XPS laptops as compact as possible, and that comes with sacrifices. Some older models of the XPS family had webcams below the screen to shrink the top bezel as much as possible, for example.
Now the company has put the webcam back at the top, but to keep the bezels as small as possible, it had to shrink the webcam too. The Dell XPS 15 has a 2.25mm webcam, and it’s just 720p resolution. The problem with having a camera that small is that cameras require a lot of light, which you can’t get if the lens is too small. That means webcam quality unfortunately isn’t the best on the Dell XPS 15 and other XPS laptops.
The microphone setup is still solid though, featuring dual-array microphones to ensure other people can hear you clearly on a call.
Ports and connectivity
Finally, we come to the ports and connectivity options on the Dell XPS 15. Being that it’s a compact laptop and already packed with high-end specs, it’s fair to expect that some ports may be missing. By itself, the Dell XPS 15 has two Thunderbolt 4 ports on the left side of the laptop, and on the right, you get a USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C port with DisplayPort and Power Delivery, a full-size SD card reader, and a 3.5mm headphone jack.
That means you don’t get USB Type-A or a typical display output out of the box, but Dell includes an adapter that turns USB Type-C into both a USB Type-A and an HDMI 2.0 port. So, while you do need a dongle, at least it’s included. You can also use the Thunderbolt ports to greatly expand your options if you’re willing to shell out for a Thunderbolt dock.
As for wireless connectivity, you get a Killer Wi-Fi AX1650 module, which includes Wi-Fi 6 support with a theoretical transfer rate of up to 2400Mbps. It supports both 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands, but not the newest 6GHz band, which would be called Wi-Fi 6E. This technology is still in early adoption stages, so that’s not too surprising. This module also includes Bluetooth 5.1 support, so all your Bluetooth peripherals should work just fine, including support for Bluetooth battery indicators for newer devices.
Finally, let’s talk pricing. The Dell XPS 15 starts at $1,299, but there are lots of configuration options available, so it can go much higher. That base price includes an Intel Core i5-11400H processor, 8GB of RAM, 256GB of storage, and no dedicated graphics. It also comes with a Full HD+ display, a 56Whr battery, and only available in one color. The only thing you can change without affecting everything else is the storage, which you can upgrade to 512GB for $100 more.
Any other upgrades mean completely changing the internals, and thus, the price can increase significantly. Choosing an Intel Core i7 processor means you also get 16GB of RAM, 512GB of storage, and an NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3050 GPU. That configuration costs $1,899, and from there you can upgrade most components individually. Here’s the cost of the upgrades you can get, taking this configuration as the base.
|Category (Base configuration)||Upgrade||Upgrade restrictions||Cost (excluding discounts)|
|Processor (Intel Core i7-11800H)||Intel Core i9-11900H||Requires NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3050 Ti GPU||$335 (including GPU upgrade)|
|Graphics/GPU (NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3050)||NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3050 Ti||n/a||$100 (included with Intel Core i9 processor)|
|Display (Full HD+, 1920 x 1200)||Ultra HD+ (3840 x 2400)||n/a||$400|
|Display (Full HD+, 1920 x 1200)||3,5K OLED (3456 x 2160)||n/a||$400|
|Color (Platinum Silver/Black)||Frost/Arctic White||Not available with Ultra HD+ display||$50|
If you max out all the available upgrades, you’ll be spending as much as $5,049.99, outside of any discounts at the time of purchase. All the prices we’ve mentioned so far also include Windows 10 Home. If you want Windows 10 Pro, you’ll need to pay extra, but the price varies. If you have an Intel Core i5 or i7 processor, it adds just $60 to the price, but if you have an Intel Core i9, it adds $95.
If you’d like to buy the Dell XPS 15, you can fully customize your configuration on Dell’s website. You can also find a few preset configurations at Best Buy using the links below. Looking for alternatives? Check out the best Dell laptops to see other great options to choose from.
- With an Intel Core i7 processor, 16GB of RAM, and NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3050 Ti graphics, this version of the Dell XPS 15 can deliver a fantastic performance for gaming and other demanding tasks. It's a reasonably-priced configuration, too, and cheaper than buying from Dell directly.
- This model of the Dell XPS 15 ups the ante with a spectacular 3.5K OLED display that's super sharp and offers high contrast ratios. It also doubles the storage from the previous configuration, giving you 1TB, and keeps the same powerful specs otherwise. This one comes in Frost/Arctic White.
- If you need even more power, this model of the Dell XPS 15 upgrades to an Intel Core i9 and doubles the RAM to 32GB, while keeping the same stunning OLED display and 1TB of storage. It comes in a Platinum Silver/Black version, if you prefer it. It seems to be unavailable often, but it's worth checking out.