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Home / Technology / Dell's latest XPS 15 has a speedy processor and gorgeous display, but it's not a slam dunk

Dell's latest XPS 15 has a speedy processor and gorgeous display, but it's not a slam dunk



If I drew up a diagram of the perfect traditional laptop, a maxed-out Dell XPS 15 7590 would come pretty damn close.

Intel Core i9 processor faster than my current PC desktop, a 15-inch 4K OLED panel bright enough to read outdoors, 64GB of RAM for serious multitasking, 2TB of blazing fast NVMe solid state storage, and GeForce GTX 1650 graphics powerful enough for some portable gaming as well. All of the inside aluminum and carbon-fiber clad chassis with a Windows Precision Touchpad and well-spaced backlit keyboard, plus all the most important ports: two USB 3.0, one Thunderbolt 3 / USB-C, one HDMI, a 3.5mm jack , and to SD card slot.

Did I mention it's one of the largest batteries you can carry on a plane ̵

1; 97Wh – to keep it all charged?

In other words: it's the ultimate version of the laptop already own. In 2017, I bought XPS 15 because it looked like the perfect Windows alternative to the MacBook Pro, with enough performance, battery life, ports, and occasional gaming.

After a month of testing, there's no question: the new 2019 model is even more than the laptop that Wowed me two and a half years ago. Dell did not fix anything that was broken, and did where it belongs: the thing came to its senses and moved the awkwardly angled nose-webcam up to the top bezel where it belongs. Aside from slightly more cushion in the keyboard and a slightly whiter aluminum finish, the industrial design is exactly the same.

But I recommend investing in a beefed


My personal XPS 15 9560, next to the new XPS 15 7590.

It's not that the OLED screen is not Gorgeous, or the Core i9 is not powerful. They are absolutely. OLED laptops are at their best when it comes to my heart when I stream a 4K HDR movie on the exceptionally clear, clearing bright OLED non-touchscreen that Dell offers starting at the $ 1,949 mark. This is a conservative number – Tom's Hardware measured 626 nits on average, which would explain why I had no trouble writing a chunk of this review in the sunlight outdoors when I watched them on this laptop.

But actually finding 4K HDR movies in Windows is a different story. Netflix works great as long as you're using Microsoft's edge browser, but I was shocked to find the state of Windows and 4K / HDR is still so poor: Blade Runner 2049 in Vudu, Google Play Movies & TV, Movies Anywhere, FandangoNow, and Microsoft's own Movies & TV app, I discovered none of them support HDR on Windows PCs, 4K support, and those that did not Do not recognize the XPS 15 as 4K-ready. Similarly, you can not recognize this as a possibility.


and I was pleasantly surprised how much gaming this non-gaming laptop can do. Borderlands 3 and Murderhau at 1080p resolution anymore; but with the 2019 model's GeForce GTX 1650, both Borderlands and The Witcher 3 look great at 1080p and medium detail, with occasional dips below 60 frames per second. Overwatch at 4K resolution in a pinch, too.

You really want a laptop with an RTX 2060 or better? The XPS 15 maxes out at the GTX 1650. But I still felt comfortable playing the graphics-intensive Shadow of the Tomb Raider at 1080p and medium settings, where the deep blacks of the OLED panel made spelunking through dark caves a delight – instead of the muddled gray – you can not see a black screen in the dark regions of a game.


You may just imagine how beautiful that looks with OLED …


… or how dark this cave feels.

This is not a criticism of Dell or this laptop, just something you should know: a laptop-sized 4K OLED screen is still a giant battery hog, to the point you can not expect all-day battery life even from a 97 watt-hour battery pack. One of the biggest reasons I bought the 2017 model so I could get seven to eight hours of real-world battery life with its comparatively flat 1080p LCD panel, but no matter how much I have not been able to get more than 5.5 hours of work done on the OLED model – and sometimes just four hours. We just saw it better from the 15-inch HP Specter X360 with OLED. The Dell does it all for a full 4K HDR movie at high brightness with some charge left in the tank.

When the industry figures out how to put a truly HDR-capable 4K 120Hz OLED screen in a laptop with enough horsepower to run at that resolution and refresh rate, it's going to be something special. But for now, it's still hard to come to terms with the huge battery life of the OLED panel.

Dell XPS 15 that's actually designed to be a core i9 chip inside its frame. I did not exaggerate when I called this laptop's Core i9-9980HK more powerful than my desktop: I run a Skylake Core i5-6600K, and this chip not only has twice the cores (eight), four times the threads (16), and up to a 5GHz boost clock, it visibly launches apps (and giant browser windows filled with tabs) much faster than my aging desktop PC.

But it gets notably hotter than my XPS 15 from 2017, to the point it can be uncomfortable to use on a lap for extended periods. And if you stress the Core i9 and the GeForce GTX 1650 at the same time, they seem to require more cooling and power than the XPS 15's unchanged design can offer. Using MSI's Afterburner system monitoring app, I saw the core in the middle of a game, something I suspect might come up in similar intensive tasks. The Witcher 3 Locked at 60 fps, though PCWorld 's Gordon Mah Ung says the throttling was not as bad when encoding 4K video.) Windows would therefore sometimes throw warnings that the 130-watt AC adapter is not providing enough electricity.


The keyboard and touchpad are still responsive and well-spaced, though I did have one weird issue where two-finger scrolling can freeze.

And those were not the only glitches I saw. I've got several screenshots of the two review units, and occasionally the speakers had gotten much quieter than before, even though I saw the system's (surprisingly excellent-sounding) Waves MaxxAudio virtualization was quietly turned on. Once or twice a day, I'll use my Chrome browser with Dell's otherwise impeccable touchpad, and suddenly two-finger scrolling will fail to work. And I've had the entire system hang on a laptop, using one of Dell's own USB-C docking stations.

That's why I'll give you the family and friends: if you buy XPS 15, Dell's premium support to go with it. With my personal laptop, I had to replace the Wi-Fi radio, then the entire motherboard, to fix hardware issues that Dell did not catch by itself. It's not too hard for me to solve those problems because I'm paying for the premium support and Dell is quickly becoming a technician to my house.

XPS 15 as well, and the.

XPS 15 as well, and the

I wouldn 'I wouldn' like to see the fingerprint reader on one of my units, but not the other. Xbox 15, because my personal machine has been a solid workhorse ever since the initial repairs, but I would not pay $ 2,500 + for the configuration I tested. I'd wait for a $ 1.500 for a Core i7 with a 1080p screen, the Nvidia chip, 16GB of RAM, 512GB of storage, and two years of premium warranty.

And if you're looking for the siren song of OLED, you may want to spend a moment in the Intel Control Panel disabling a feature called "Panel Self Refresh," which is supposed to prolong battery life, but instead made me spend hours wondering why the screen would flicker every so often. Thankfully, that turned out to be a really simple fix.


Buy now my next Dell XPS 15, i want to see this design with a new one. Not a laptop or one with fewer full-size ports, as they tend to be – they are fine as they are. But I would not mind a laptop with a second Thunderbolt 3 port on the other side of the laptop for charging, and a thermal design that can actually keep a Core i9 and game-capable GPU cool. Maybe a carbon-fiber-coated magnesium alloy frame for less booklet? I'd gladly take it to RTX 2060-class chip as well.

And now we're adding to the wishlist Dell replaced the proprietary 130W power brick with the company's more versatile USB-C version, too.

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