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Salivating over the new XPS 15 2-in-1? Here’s how you should configure it

Dell XPS 15-2-1 review

The XPS 15 2-in-1 is a computer we like a lot. It’s not perfect, but it’s forward thinking and risk-taking. It also delivers some impressive gaming performance in the shell of a sleek, thin laptop.

But not all configurations offered are ones you should buy. Most notably, we’d recommend staying away from the 4K model, which just happens to be what we received as our review unit. Using the 4K XPS 2-in-1 wasn’t a bad experience by any means — after all, the display is absolutely gorgeous, as to be expected.

However, there are two significant issues with it. The first is battery life.

Though it has a 75 watt-hour battery inside, our tests showed it had very mediocre battery life. It only lasted around five and a half hours in our video loop test, which is half that of the average competitor. For a machine that is sold as a “do it all” laptop, you’ll be disappointed when it quickly dies at a coffee shop without an outlet. We don’t know exactly how much better the 1080p version will be, but we’d guess it’ll get at least a couple more hours per charge.

Then there’s the price.

Even if the 4K model didn’t significantly hinder the battery life, it still won’t be worth the extra $400 for most people. In the case where it provides an overall lackluster experience, it’s really not worth the extra money. Throw in the fact that you probably won’t be able to play many games at 4K anyway — even desktops struggle to do that — it’s a clear cut case. Don’t buy it.

If you do decide the XPS 15 2-in-1 is for you, which configuration should you get? Well, most of the other options offer solid value for what you get. Since the same AMD Radeon RX Vega M graphics component is standard across the board, you’ll get the most gaming value out of the least expensive models offered.

The starting price is a $1,300 configuration, which has a slower Core i5 processor and less RAM, but you can still expect decent gaming performance out of it. There isn’t currently an option out there that competes with this level of configuration, unless you compromise the overall look and feel of the laptop (as in a cheap gaming laptop), or are willing to pay a lot more (as in the Surface Book 2).

The base model XPS 15 2-in-1 has a slower Core i5-8305G CPU and only 8GB of RAM, but for the price you’re still getting a quad-core processor and a very capable GPU. The $1,300 is not currently listed on Dell’s website, but it goes on sale on April 23. We think it’s worth the wait.

We think the slightly more expensive mid-tier options a good value as well. You should stretch for those if you plan to use the XPS 15 2-in-1 for productivity work, because you’ll need the added RAM and larger hard drive. Remember that Dell offers some customization, so you can jump up the hard drive on the base model. However, you must buy the $1,800 version if you want 16GB of RAM.

On the whole, less is more when buying the XPS 15 2-in-1. It’s an extremely capable, and experimental, 2-in-1 even in its most basic configuration, which means there’s less reason to go all-out. If you do need more, we recommend going for RAM and hard drive upgrades, but avoiding the wonderful, beautiful, and very, very expensive 4K screen.

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