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Dell XPS 15 review: Core i9-8950HK + Nvidia graphics + 4K HDR + 32GB RAM = beast

Dell XPS 15 review: Core i9-8950HK + Nvidia graphics + 4K HDR + 32GB RAM = beast

I’ve all the time been a fan of Dell’s XPS 15. Frankly, there aren’t loads of moveable PCs on the market that use Intel’s H-series processors that aren’t branded as gaming PCs or workstations. That is nonetheless extra alongside the strains of an ultrabook, however with numerous energy to again it up.

The mannequin that Dell despatched me features a Core i9-8950HK processor, 32GB RAM, an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050Ti GPU, and a 15.6-inch 4K HDR show. It’s a dream to make use of and it in all probability has all the energy you want after which some.


CPU Intel Core i9-8950HK (12MB cache, as much as four.8GHz, six cores) GPU Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050Ti with 4GB GDDR5 Show 15.6 inches, 2,160×three,840, InfinityEdge, Dell Cinema, 400 nits, 178-degree viewing angle Physique 14.06×9.27×Zero.45-Zero.66 inches, four.5 kilos RAM 32GB 2x16GB DDR4-2666MHz Storage 1TB PCIe Strong State Drive Battery 6-cell 97WHr built-in Ports
  • Thunderbolt three
  • Two USB three.1 Gen 1 Sort-A
  • SD card reader
  • Energy port
  • HDMI 2.Zero
  • three.5mm combo audio
OS Home windows 10 Residence Audio Stereo audio system professionally tuned with Waves MaxxAudio Professional; 2W x 2 = 4W complete Worth $2,549.99

That is the top-end mannequin of the XPS 15. You will get it with a Core i5 and a 1080p show, and it begins at $999.99.

Day one


The design of the Dell XPS 15 is strictly the identical because it was within the mannequin I reviewed final yr, and I’m unsure if that’s a superb factor or a nasty factor. There are options that different XPS laptops have now that this doesn’t, and I used to be explicitly informed that that’s as a result of this machine is a refresh, not a redesign.

A type of is not any IR digital camera for facial recognition, one thing that you simply’ll now discover on the XPS 13, XPS 13 2-in-1, and the XPS 15 2-in-1, all units that have been launched previous to the present XPS 15. This system does have a fingerprint reader within the energy button to the top-right of the keyboard.

One other factor that bugged me is that it nonetheless makes use of a 130W barrel charger, whereas the XPS 15 2-in-1 ships with a USB Sort-C charger with the identical wattage. You should use the Thunderbolt three port on the XPS 15 for charging, and the XPS 15 2-in-1 charger works simply positive with this. I simply assume that in 2018, we should always be capable of use one cable for charging all of our units.

But when a redesign means taking over all the options of the XPS 15 2-in-1, I’m completely satisfied that Dell left it as is. Whereas I actually liked the facility and portability that comes with Intel’s Kany Lake G chips which have devoted graphics on the die, the machine wasn’t with out compromises. The keyboard was actually shallow and it took some time to get used to, and the laptop computer solely had 4 USB Sort-C ports. The clamshell XPS 15 maintains the complete vary of ports that it’s all the time had.

The left aspect of the system is the place you’ll discover the charging port, together with USB three.1 Gen 1 Sort-A, HDMI 2.Zero, Thunderbolt three, and the three.5mm combo audio jack. The Thunderbolt three port can help a full 40Gbps knowledge switch and you should use it to energy two 4K screens or a single 5K monitor. HDMI 2.Zero may also be used to help a 4K show.

On the fitting aspect, there’s a full-size SD card reader and one other USB three.1 Gen 1 Sort-A port. There’s additionally a battery life indicator with 5 LED lights. Simply press the button and it’ll say how a lot battery is remaining. That is helpful for whenever you’re taking the system on the go and also you need to see how a lot juice is left, particularly because the battery life on this machine is just not nice, however I don’t assume it’s helpful for a lot else. It will be rather more helpful if it truly labored whereas the gadget is charging.

The XPS 15 makes use of a silver-colored aluminum shell, simply as most XPS units have, and it has a carbon fiber palm relaxation. The palm relaxation feels cool and tender to the contact, and it’s fairly snug to make use of.

The underside of the laptop computer can also be made from aluminum and it may be eliminated by taking out 10 Torx screws. There’s additionally a flap on the underside that when opened, will reveal info on the system, such because the serial quantity, the service tag, and so forth.


As soon as once more, Dell nailed it with the show. The mannequin that the agency despatched me features a 15.6-inch 4K show, though it’s additionally obtainable in 1080p. You’ll need the latter when you want higher battery life. Keep in mind, the place battery life is worried, the XPS 15 struggles as a result of it has a 45W CPU, a strong GPU, and a 4K show. 4K has 4 occasions as many pixels as 1080p, in order that’s much more energy that it’s utilizing.

The display is what Dell calls InfinityEdge, which means that it has slender bezels. It’s meant to offer a extra immersive expertise, and it achieves that. My fundamental grievance is that when once more, it’s utilizing the identical chassis as its predecessor and the XPS 15 2-in-1 truly has smaller bezels than this. The opposite grievance is that the webcam continues to be under the display.

I’ve requested Dell why it places the webcam under the show and the reply is straightforward. A extra immersive expertise is extra necessary than the webcam. I used to be requested how typically I exploit the webcam and when my reply was by no means, it was fairly clear. If you’d like correct webcam placement, you purchase one in every of Dell’s enterprise merchandise.

After which there’s Dell Cinema, which is supposed to extend the extent of immersion from this gadget. For the display, it’s about CinemaColor. Which means it helps quite a lot of HDR codecs, and the standard of the show is simply higher, with Dell promising “the deepest blacks, the most dazzling brights and more vivid detail across the entire color spectrum.”

There’s additionally CinemaSound, which makes use of Waves MaxxAudio Professional for sound readability. And the third element of Dell Cinema is CinemaStream, which prioritizes your community for the content material that you simply’re streaming.

In the event you’re on the lookout for show high quality, the XPS 15 is among the many greatest you are able to do with out going OLED.

Keyboard, trackpad, and Home windows Good day

One of many issues that I respect concerning the lack of a redesign within the XPS 15 is that it has a full chiclet-style keyboard. On the XPS 15 2-in-1, Dell used what it referred to as a MagLev keyboard, which used magnets to make it really feel like a full keypress, however it actually didn’t work. That keyboard took a while to get used to, which was effective, besides if you switched to a different PC and again, you’d should get used to it yet again.

The keyboard is sort of snug to sort on, as most premium Home windows 10 laptop computer keyboards are today. It’s backlit too, though the backlight does go off should you’re not utilizing it for a number of seconds. The carbon fiber palm relaxation is a pleasant contact, and that’s been a staple of the XPS lineup for a while.

The trackpad is giant and clickable, which is all the time good. It helps all of Home windows 10’s gestures, which can also be appreciated. There’s actually nothing worse than utilizing a brand new laptop computer that doesn’t help contact gestures that you simply’re used to.

To the top-right of the keyboard is the facility button, which doubles as a fingerprint reader. That is the one design change from final yr’s mannequin, which has a devoted fingerprint sensor to the bottom-right of the keyboard. The dangerous information is that in contrast to some PCs like Huawei’s MateBook X Professional, it’s not truly studying your fingerprint if you energy the machine on. You’ll have to scan your fingerprint after turning it on, like a barbarian.


As traditional, the Dell XPS 15 packs the most effective specs that you simply’re going to seek out for its type issue. It has a Core i9-8950HK, one thing that’s extremely uncommon for a tool that’s not branded as being for gaming or as a workstation. The hexa-core chipset has a 45W TDP and it’s unlocked for overclocking.

In fact, Dell’s 15-inch XPS machines have all the time used Intel’s H-series processors. Final yr’s XPS 15 used a seventh-generation Kaby Lake CPU, and the XPS 15 2-in-1 makes use of an eighth-generation Kaby Lake G chipset. So right here’s the distinction. The Core i7 in final yr’s XPS 15 was quad-core, and naturally, there was no Core i9 SKU. It wasn’t a Okay-series chip both, which means it wasn’t unlocked. The eighth-generation chip within the XPS 15 2-in-1 is absolutely the identical CPU as a seventh-generation H-series processor; nevertheless, it features a 4GB AMD GPU on the die.

So this yr’s processor is hexa-core and hyperthreaded, with a 12MB cache and a base clock velocity of two.9GHz and max turbo frequency of four.8GHz. It’s probably the most highly effective cellular Core processor that Intel gives.

There’s additionally the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050Ti GPU, which is a mid-range graphics card. Actually, something above that may in all probability fall into the gaming class. Microsoft’s 15-inch Floor Ebook 2 does have a GTX 1060 with 6GB GDDR5 reminiscence, however that PC has a 15W U-series CPU. Word that Nvidia might be saying its cellular RTX 20-series GPUs at CES this yr, so the GTX collection might sound dated in a number of weeks.

So far as real-world efficiency goes, every thing was a breeze. Principally, I exploit PCs for typing articles, and naturally, there have been no points there. However I additionally used the XPS 15 for modifying video and for enjoying some video games like Star Trek On-line. Video modifying went easily for 1080p 60fps footage, however 4K 60fps choked somewhat bit. So far as enjoying video games goes, stick with extra mainstream video games. For those who pull up Gears of Warfare four and jack up the decision and body price as a lot as you possibly can, you’ll run into hassle.

The XPS 15 is a powerhouse, however solely within the limits of its type issue. A gaming laptop computer would serve you higher for enjoying video games, nevertheless it may weigh twice as a lot. The identical goes with modifying video and a workstation PC. What you’re getting is probably the most energy you will get in a four.5-pound laptop computer.

For benchmarks, I used PCMark eight. First up is the Residence check, which checks widespread duties like net shopping, video chat, informal gaming, and so forth.

The XPS 15 didn’t carry out fairly as nicely on benchmarks as I might have thought, given the highly effective CPU. Nonetheless, I suppose it lags behind gaming PCs because of the GPU. Subsequent up is the Artistic check, which checks extra GPU-intensive duties like mainstream gaming, video modifying, and extra.

This check is about the place I’d anticipate it to be, higher than 70% of outcomes however nonetheless under gaming PCs which have extra highly effective GPUs. Lastly, we’ve the Work check, which checks productivity-related duties like writing and spreadsheets.

As you possibly can see, the Work check does a lot better, and that’s as a result of this check is checking issues that run on the CPU extra. And sure, this can be a highly effective CPU.


I’ve all the time liked Dell’s XPS 15 lineup, as I’m all the time prepared to sacrifice battery life for extra energy. I’m by no means that removed from an influence outlet anyway. If that sounds such as you, then the XPS 15 is your dream machine.

The most important draw back is that you simply’re not getting a few of the new options that we’re seeing in different new XPS machines, like an IR digital camera for Home windows Good day or the slimmer bezels that include the XPS 15 2-in-1. I’m actually wanting ahead to subsequent yr’s XPS 15 to see if when these new options are included, if Dell additionally consists of the issues that aren’t so nice, just like the MagLev keyboard.

However finally, this actually is a implausible machine. Except for the apparent energy, it additionally has an unimaginable consumption expertise. Dell Cinema provides HDR to the beautiful 4K show and the audio high quality is phenomenal. For something from modifying video to watching video, the XPS 15 will get the job achieved, and it does all of it in a four.5-pound package deal.

You possibly can test it out on Dell’s web site right here.


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