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Home / Technology / Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 Test: Meet the child of Intel and AMD's Unholy Association

Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 Test: Meet the child of Intel and AMD's Unholy Association



This new Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 is the first convertible in the XPS 15 series, but that's not the most interesting thing about it.

Since 2010, the Dell XPS 15 has been a reliable, 15-inch performance workhorse and lightweight gaming option for users who are not impressed by the exaggerated designs of dedicated gaming laptops. Last year's model, for example, impressed with the strong performance of the discrete GeForce GTX 1050 GPU. But discrete GPUs have many disadvantages. They take up space, consume a lot of energy, and generate a lot of heat which affects both portability and battery life.

Intel has tried to offer an alternative with its integrated graphics processors. For most applications they were a great success. But gamers, certain creative professionals, and others who need strong video performance are often still willing to go with the discrete GPU.

And that's where we come to the most interesting thing about the product we're reviewing today: Kaby Lake-G, which combines an Intel CPU with an AMD graphics chip in an unlikely collaboration. It's still essentially a discrete GPU, but bringing these parts together in this way has advantages.

Kaby Lake-G promises graphics performance on par with that of medium or better discrete GPUs with significantly less space and less heat. It's also interesting to see how AMD and Intel are producing such a product together. And since many aspects of this machine are identical to the standard Dell XPS 15 laptop, our tests focused mainly on Kaby Lake-G (as well as the new, slightly slimmer 2-in-1 form factor).

Specifications [19659031] As with other Dell laptops, there are many possible configurations for this XPS 15. We'll start with the specific configuration we're looking at and then go into the other options.

Specifications at a Glance: Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 Laptop
Worst Best As discussed
Screen 15.6-inch FHD (1920 × 1080) InfinityEdge Touchscreen 15.6-inch 4K-UHD (3840 × 2160) Infinity Edge Touchscreen 15.6-inch 4K UHD (3840 × 2160) Infinity Edge Touchscreen
OS Windows 10 Home, 64 bit
CPU Intel Core i5-8305G Intel Core i7-8705G Intel Core i7-8705G
RAM 8GB DDR4-2400MHz 8GB DDR4-2400MHz [19659037] 16GB DDR4-2400MHz
Hard Drive 128GB M.2 2280 SATA SSD 256GB M.2 2280 SATA SSD 256GB M.2 2280 SATA SSD
GPU Radeon RX Vega GL 4GB HMB2 and Intel UHD 630
Networking Killer 1435 802.11ac 2 × 2 Wi-Fi and Bluetooth
Ports Two Thunderbolt 3 with PowerShare, DC-In, and DisplayPort (four lanes of PCI Express Gen 3 );
Two USB-C 3.1 with PowerShare, DC-In & DisplayPort;
3.5mm headphone jack
Size 113.9 × 9.2 × 0.63 inches (354 × 235 × 16 mm)
Weight 4,36 kg
Battery 6-cell 75WHr
Warranty 1 year
Price $ 1,299 $ 2,199 $ 2,199
Other Benefits IR front camera, fingerprint sensor on front Power Switch, Four Microphones, Stylus (Included)

CPU and GPU

Let's start with the Kaby Lake-G processor. The top features of this Dell notebook come with the 14nm Intel Core i7-8705G, a quad-core eight-threaded processor derived from the Kaby Lake architecture. Critical specifications include a 65W TDP and an 8MB L3 cache. Cores operate at a fundamental frequency of 3.1 GHz (4.1 GHz maximum). The same chip is found in the Kaby Lake G version of the HP Specter x360 15, a direct competitor.

That's all well and good, but the distinguishing feature is graphics. Like similar Intel chips, it has an integrated GPU – the Intel UHD Graphics 630, to be exact. But this one is positioned as a "hybrid" chip, which means that it also has a Radeon RX Vega M GL GPU with 4 GB HBM video memory next to it.

The AMD GPU has a base frequency of 931 MHz and a maximum dynamic frequency of 1011 MHz. We also consider 20 compute units and a memory bandwidth of 179.2 GB / s. Both GPUs are always active, so this is not a standard switching situation, but is used for different tasks in some situations. Software preinstalled on the computer lets you specify which apps use which GPU at what time.

This is a fascinating experiment, and we will shortly know exactly what works and does not work. But first: the other important specifications.

Everything Else

Thanks to this new chip, the 2-in-1 is a bit slimmer and lighter than what we've seen on previous XPS 15 models. Our unit measures 13.9 × 9.2 × 0.63 inches (354 × 235 × 16 mm). Weight for the top specification starts at 4.36 pounds. In other words, it's a bit smaller in some places but it's in the same general ballpark as its sibling.

This machine comes with either a 1080p (1920 × 1080) or a 4K (3840 ×) 2160) display, both 15.6 inches and touch sensitive. It's not much different from what we've seen on other XPS 15 devices, but it's still one of the best displays on a mainstream laptop.

Color accuracy is good with 100 percent Adobe RGB, but not with MacBook Pro in this regard. Only creative professionals in certain areas, such as video and photo editing, would notice the difference for the most part. On the other hand, the contrast ratio is 1500: 1, which surpasses most competitors. It's not an OLED TV, of course, but it's hard not to be impressed in the context of other laptops.

Dell promises 400 nits maximum brightness, and our tests have proven this to be true. Below the display is a 720p webcam that is also Windows Hello compliant with infrared. There are four built-in microphones, and Dell claims that you can talk to the device up to 14 feet away.

Our review sample included 16GB of DDR4-2400MHz RAM and 256GB of M.2 2280 PCIe SSD memory, stereo speakers, Killer 1435 802.11ac 2 × 2 network adapters for Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, and 75-Wh Battery pack.

Ports include two Thunderbolt 3 ports with four PCI Express Gen 3 lanes, DisplayPort, DC-In and Powershare, and two USB-C 3.1 ports. There is also a 3.5mm headphone jack, a microSD card reader and a Noble-Lock slot.

Yes, that's right, there is no USB Type A port. It looks like we need to get used to these types of laptops, but that would be much easier if peripheral companies made peripherals using USB-C. There is still not enough out there so dongles, hubs or adapters will be part of your daily work routine.

Other Available Configurations

All default configurations ship with Windows 10 Home 64-bit. The machine starts at $ 1,299.99. For this you get the Intel Core i5 i5-8305G with 6M cache instead of the faster i7-8705G with 8M cache in our review unit, only 8GB RAM instead of 16GB and a 128GB SSD instead of 256GB. It also comes with the 1080p display instead of 4K.

If you upgrade from $ 200 to $ 1,499.99, you can use up to 256 GB of flash memory, but the other specifications remain unchanged. Add another $ 200 to reach $ 1,699.99, and you get the i7-8705G, but you're still at FullHD and 8GB of RAM.

The top-end configuration is our test unit at $ 2,199.99, with all the above, but with the 4K panel and 16GB of RAM. The top-end configuration can also be delivered in black and silver, while all other configurations come in silver only.

Listing image by Samuel Axon


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