Dell calls revamped XPS 15 the ‘smallest performance 15.6-inch laptop’

Dell’s XPS 15 has been one of our favorite full-size clamshell notebooks for a few years now. It’s eschewed fancy 2-in-1 features for a solid design, excellent performance, and solid battery life, and the 2018 refresh doubles down on the equation while creating the “smallest performance 15.6-inch laptop.”

Clearly, Dell focused on improving the performance and dialing in some of its most recent design concepts but kept the notebook’s primary strengths intact. Here’s what’s new with the latest XPS 15.

First up is one of the first notebooks we’ve seen that builds in Intel’s latest and greatest eighth-generation CPUs. As with the previous generation XPS 15, Dell is using the high-power “H” versions of the chips, with options ranging from the quad-core Core i5-8300U to the six-core Core i7-8750H and what we presume is the Core i9-8950HK (Dell did not specify the version in its release information). These processors will represent the fastest notebook options available and should retain the XPS 15’s performance advantages.

Next is the addition of an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 Ti GPU to the existing Intel integrated graphics and Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 configurations. In our testing, we’ve found the GTX 1050 Ti to offer meaningful performance improvements over its slower sibling, and that should enhance the XPS 15’s gaming and creativity application chops.

We can’t discount the XPS 15’s dimensions, either, which are a scant 14.06 inches wide by 9.02 inches deep, and between 0.45 and 0.66 inches thin. According to Dell, that makes the notebook the “smallest performance 15.6-inch laptop” around, and given its starting weight of 4.0 pounds it’s also one of the lightest. That doesn’t meant the XPS 15 suffers in the battery life department, either — it’s still available with a 97-watt-hour battery capacity that’s only three watts less than the 100-watt limit imposed by airlines. Dell says that results in the longest battery life for a 15-inch laptop at 21.5 hours.

Another significant performance improvement is tied to the notebook’s connectivity, where Dell has now equipped the USB-C port with the fastest version of Thunderbolt 3 with a full four lanes of PCIe Gen 3. That’s an upgrade from the two lanes of PCIe found in the previous version. Other ports include two USB-A 3.1 Gen 1 ports, a full-size HDMI port, and an SD card reader.

As with the previous versions, Dell has two display options for the newest XPS 15. There’s a Full HD (1920 x 1080 or 141 PPI) panel promising a 1,200:1 contrast ratio and 100 percent sRGB coverage, and a 4K UHD (3840 x 2160 or 282 PPI) touch display with 500 nits of brightness, a 1,500:1 contrast ratio, and 100 percent sRGB coverage. Both options use Dell’s InfinityEdge technology for tiny bezels, contributing to the notebook’s impressively small dimensions.

Here are the complete specifications for the new machine:

Dell XPS 15 (2018)
Screen size: 15.6 inches
Screen type: In-plane switching
Resolution: 3840 x 2160
1920 x 1080
Processor: Intel Core i5-5300H
Intel Core i7-8750H
Intel Core i9-9850HK
Graphics: Intel UHD Graphics 630
Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 with 4GB GDDR5
Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 Ti with 4GB GDDR5
Memory: Up to 32GB DDR4-2666MHz
Storage: Up to 1TB PCIe SSD
Up to 1TB HDD
Audio: 2x speakers
Waves MaxxAudio Pro
Camera: 720p webcam
Connectivity: Wireless AC
Bluetooth 4.2
Ports: 1x HDMI 2.0
2x USB-A 3.1 Gen1
1x USB-C with Thunderbolt 3
1x SD card reader
1x headphone/microphone jack
Security: Optional fingerprint scanner in power button
Battery: 56WHr
97WHr
AC adapter: 130W
Dimensions: 14.06 x 9.25 x 0.45-0.66 inches
Weight: Starting at 4.0 pounds (56WHr battery)
Starting at 4.5 pounds (97WHr battery)
Colors: Gray and black
Starting price: $1,000

Pricing for the new Dell XPS starts at $1,000. Availability is estimated to start in May.

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