Should I buy the Dell XPS 15?

Dell XPS 15
(Image credit: Dell)

The latest version of the Dell XPS 15 – like many of the versions before it – is an easy pick for our lists of best laptops for video editing and best laptops for photo editing out there at the moment. It's powerful, it looks great, it has a bright and crisp screen, and more besides... but is it the best laptop for your needs?

If the Dell XPS 15 has found its way on to your shortlist of potential purchases, we're here to tell you everything you need to know about it. By the time you've finished our guide to the laptop, you should be in a position to make an informed decision about upgrading.

What are the specs of the Dell XPS 15?

(Image credit: Dell)

When you go shopping for a Dell laptop, you know there are going to be multiple configurations available, and that's the case with the Dell XPS 15. These configurations are refreshed on a fairly regular basis as well, so we'd recommend you going to the Dell website and having a look at what's available right now. You can often also pick up laptops with slightly different specs from third-party retailers too.

At the time of writing, you can get the latest Dell XPS 15 with a choice of 12th-gen Intel processors: an Intel Core i5-12500H (12 cores, up to 4.5GHz, 18MB cache), an Intel Core i7-12700H (14 cores, up to 4.7GHz, 24MB cache), or an Intel Core i9-12900HK (14 cores, up to 5.0GHz, 24MB cache). Those chipsets can be paired with 16GB, 32GB or 64GB of RAM. Obviously that covers a wide range in terms of power, performance, and what the laptop can cope with – from everyday computing to high-end tasks – so pick your budget and your choice of components accordingly.

  • CPU: 12th-gen Intel Core i5-12500H / i7-12700H / i9-12900HK
  • Graphics: Intel Iris Xe / Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050 / Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050 Ti
  • RAM: 16GB / 32GB / 64GB
  • Screen: 15.6-inch, 1920 x 1200 / 3456 x 2160 / 3840 x 2400 pixels
  • Storage: 512GB / 1TB / 2TB
  • Ports: 1 x USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C, 2 x Thunderbolt 4 (USB Type-C), 1 x 3.5 mm headphone/microphone jack, 1 x SD card
  • Connectivity: Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.2
  • Camera: 720p
  • Weight: up to 2.1 kg (4.62 lbs)
  • Size: 344.4 mm x 230.1 mm x 18.54 mm (13.56 inches x 9.06 inches x 0.73 inches)

One area the Dell XPS 15 can't really stretch to is top-level gaming and creative tasks: the GPU choices top out at an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050 Ti. That's a decent mid-ranger when it comes to graphics performance, but you're not going to get the very best frame rates on the very latest games. For the Dell XPS 15, the slimline looks and relatively low weight are more important than gaming grunt.

Storage starts from a very respectable 512GB and goes up to a rather impressive 2TB, with a 1TB option in between. That gives you scope for storing large media files and libraries on the Dell XPS 15, though bear in mind that the price of the laptop can start to rise quite quickly as you add more NVMe SSD storage. You get the best Bluetooth 5.2 connectivity on board, as well as Wi-Fi 6 – that's not quite as good as Wi-Fi 6E, but you're nevertheless going to be well covered for wireless internet for years to come.

What are the key features of the Dell XPS 15?

(Image credit: Dell)

The Dell XPS 15 comes in two halves: the 15.6-inch screen on the top and then the keyboard and the rest of the laptop attached to it. Part of the appeal of this laptop is how good those two halves look at how well they complement each other – in terms of aesthetics it's one of the best Windows laptops around, and it has a keyboard and trackpad that are comfortable and responsive in use.

As with the internal components, there are several screen configurations available here, so you're going to have to figure out what your budget is and which one you want to go for. The resolutions start at 1920 x 1200 and go up from there, with a maximum brightness of 500 nits on offer, and a refresh rate stuck at 60Hz no matter what panel you choose (gamers take note). There are touchscreen and OLED upgrades available for the display, which is surrounded by ultra-thin bezels on all sides.

The dual 2.5W stereo woofer and 1.5W stereo tweeter speakers (so 8W total peak) give you plenty of audio goodness, whether that's from movies or music or podcasts. We wouldn't say the sound system is one of the most outstanding reasons to buy this particular laptop, but then it's by no means a reason not to buy it either. The speakers perform a little better than you might expect from their size and configuration, and you can't really ask for much more than that.

When it comes to the key features of the Dell XPS 15 and what makes it such an appealing buy, it's really just the basics done very well: the quality of the screen, the overall look and style of the laptop, the typing and the trackpad experience, and the amount of power you can set up under the hood. There's no flashy innovation here, but then again there doesn't really need to be one – it's just an all-round, premium-level laptop.

What else do I need to know about the Dell XPS 15?

(Image credit: Dell)

We've touched on the aesthetics of the Dell XPS 15 already, but it's important to emphasize that the lightweight aluminum and carbon fiber finish makes this one of the most well built and portable laptops you can get your hands on at the moment. Of course there are smaller models available too – not least the Dell XPS 13 – but you're then going to have to put up with less screen room and a lower resolution. The laptop comes with a platinum silver exterior and a black interior.

The 720p webcam has Windows Hello support and there is a fingerprint button built into the keyboard too, giving you a choice of different ways of logging into Windows that are easier than typing out your password every time. Windows 11 itself is another reason why you may or may not want to make the Dell XPS 15 your next upgrade: by this stage you've no doubt decided whether you prefer Windows or macOS when it comes to your workflow and the applications you rely on.

As with every Dell machine you get a smattering of Dell software on board, including a utility called Dell Performance that aims to optimize and enhance your computing experience. It gives you a choice of four different modes – quiet, performance, cool and optimized – depending on what sort of balance you need between power, fan speed (and fan noise), and battery life. If you've had previous experience with a Dell laptop then you'll know what to expect in this regard.

Note that the 86Wh battery fitted inside the Dell XPS 15 isn't the biggest, and so this isn't the sort of workhorse laptop that you can be confident of taking away from a power source for an entire day or two – and battery life of course gets worse as you pick a brighter, higher resolution screen. We haven't tested the battery life of the Dell XPS 15 for ourselves, but this is perhaps not the laptop to get if you're away from your desk all of the time – although Dell reckons you can get up to 13 hours of video streaming from the lowest spec model in the range.

Read more:
Best Dell laptops
Best Dell monitors
Best 17-inch laptops
Best 2-in-1 laptops

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David Nield

Dave is a freelance journalist who has been writing about all kinds of tech for more than two decades, covering everything from laptop reviews to data security news to guides to how to use the latest apps. When he's not busy trying to hit a specific word count and deadline, he enjoys long walks in the countryside, movies, and the occasional football match. He's based in Manchester, UK.