I was pleasantly surprised by my test drive of the new Dell XPS 15 (2020) laptop. Featuring 10th Gen Intel processors (with Tiger Lake on the way) and discrete Nvidia graphics this machine packs powerful workstation-level performance into a sleek and stylish package.
It really is the perfect laptop for engineering students looking to make a statement while still having the capacity to power through their work.
With my review complete I was more than happy to let my desktop gather dust for a few days the XPS 15 just delivered everything I wanted.
The all-new and improved Dell XPS 15 is a masterpiece of modern design, with its stunning InfinityEdge display taking center stage.
This iteration of the XPS 15 has a sleek, ultra-thin bezel, creating a near edge-to-edge viewing experience and allowing for maximum viewing real estate.
With the InfinityEdge display, movies and games come to life in stunning, immersive detail. It’s no wonder why this impressive display is the true crown jewel of the Dell XPS 15.
That substantial upgrade is met with some shrewd modifications to the keyboard, touchpad and chassis that make Dell’s efficient workhorse more enjoyable to use.
The Dell XPS 15 2020 is a powerful productivity machine, offering great performance in a slim package and boasting a stunning display.
Battery life could be improved, especially on the 4K model, and it can become quite noisy under heavy workloads.
However, overall it is one of the most desirable laptops on the market, offering all the features that are needed for getting work done competently and stylishly.
Dell XPS 15 2020 Review: Price And Availability
The Dell XPS 15 2020 – one of the most powerful and efficient laptops to date – was released in May 2020 and carries a starting price tag of $1,079.
It boasts a 10th Generation Intel Core i5-10300H processor, 8GB of RAM, a 256GB SSD, as well as dedicated Intel UHD Graphics for superior performance and a stunning 15.6-inch 19200 x 1200 WLED-backlit InfinityEdge display.
With its improved thermals, powerful components, and attractive design, the XPS 15 is an exceptional option for those who need a lightweight machine that can handle the most demanding tasks.
Stepping up to the pricier $1,305 (a $354 savings from the original $1,659 configuration) gets you a beefed-up Core i7-10750H processor and a discrete Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 Ti graphics card to bring your gaming experience to life.
For an extra $180, you can double the system’s RAM and storage capacity to 16GB of RAM and a whopping 512GB SSD. No matter which configuration you choose, you get an impressive laptop with the latest technology.
The Dell XPS 15 2020 is a shining example of laptop design done right. Its slim and lightweight profile, complete with a smooth silver aluminum lid and 0.71-inch sharp edges for a clean look, makes for a stylish, modern laptop any user can appreciate.
Inside, the soft-touch keyboard deck provides a comfortable typing experience, while still maintaining the sleek aesthetic of the laptop’s exterior. The XPS 15 2020 refines one of the best laptop designs and podcasters ever made to near-perfection, living up to the legacy of the renowned Dell XPS 13.
The XPS 15 has been totally redesigned to maximize the available space, resulting in larger keycaps, a much bigger touchpad, and slim, front-firing speakers that are all perfectly spaced out on the deck.
But the most revolutionary change is the new 4-sided Infinity Edge display, which places an extremely slim bottom bezel for an even more immersive viewing experience than ever before.
Furthermore, the improved size and number of pixels of the 15-inch screen gives it a resolution quality never seen before on previous iterations.
The Dell XPS 15 proves to be an incredibly portable laptop, weighing just 4.5 pounds and measuring 13.57 x 9 x 0.7 inches comparable in size to the 16-inch MacBook Pro, which is 14.1 x 9.7 x 0.64 inches and 4.3 pounds, despite its larger display.
In addition, it is also about on par dimension-wise with the Microsoft Surface Laptop 3, which is 13.4 x 9.6 x 0.6 inches, but slightly lighter at 3.4 pounds. Importantly, the weight of the XPS 15 is further reduced to 4 pounds if you opt for a non-touchscreen and smaller 56Whr battery.
Ports And Connectivity
The Dell XPS 15 2020 is a powerhouse packed with features. With its three USB-C ports, two of which are powerful Thunderbolt 3 ports, you can rest assured that you have the latest and greatest technology for charging, connecting to external displays and peripherals, and transferring data quickly.
But that’s not all. You also get a full-sized SD card reader, a headphone jack, and an amazing USB-C to USB-A adapter in the box to get you started right away. That’s a fantastic value in one powerhouse laptop.
Apple’s 16-inch MacBook Pro has more Thunderbolt 3 ports for higher speeds and power output than the Dell XPS 15’s two, which makes it idea for power users who need a lot of simultaneous peripheral connectivity.
Additionally, the XPS 15 has an SD card reader, as well as a USB-A adapter, increasing the variety of ports, but for complex tasks, users may need to invest in a dock or dongle for even more connectivity options.
The Dell XPS 15 2020 takes things to a whole new level, combining the most notable feature of the new XPS 13 its 4-sided InfinityEdge display with razor-thin bezels with the high-definition 15.6-inch panel to create a stunning, 92.9% screen-to-body ratio perfect for those times when you really need to dive deep into work, study, or gaming sessions.
The lack of a bottom bezel ensures nothing will distract you from your activity, giving you an immersive visual experience you won’t forget.
The 15.6-inch OLED display on the Dell XPS 15 provided me with an abundance of beautiful, vibrant colors and a pristine viewing experience that was unparalleled. With the expansive screen real estate, I easily could have the application blissfully spread across the monitor, without the need to optimize the window sizes.
It almost felt as if the applications themselves were alive, as they stood out with their fantastic visuals and captivating colors. The rich, deep blacks together with the detailed pictures produced on the XPS 15’s display was an absolute pleasure to work with.
I was able to efficiently balance between reading and editing documents, watching videos and replying to messages on Slack, all with great ease and comfort.
Compared to my Dell S2417DG gaming monitor, the XPS 15’s OLED display comfortably came out on top.
Our light meter determined that the XPS 15’s average brightness is an impressive 434.2 nits—not only surpassing the 16-inch MacBook Pro’s 429 nits, but also trumping the Surface Laptop 3’s 380 nits! This makes it perfect for both work and play in any environment.
Our lab tests proved that the XPS 15 is capable of delivering excellent color performance, as it was able to replicate an astounding 132.2% of the sRGB color gamut! This exceeds both Apple’s MacBook Pro (113.9%) and Microsoft’s Surface Laptop 3 (101%), making Dell’s notebook your ideal choice for vivid visuals.
Our Dell XPS 15 2020’s touch screen was surprisingly smooth and responsive, allowing me to quickly scroll through web pages or pinch-zoom into pictures and documents with ease.
The Dell XPS 15’s speakers are truly top-notch; they fill a room with a powerful, resounding sound that’s incredibly heavy on low-end frequency. That punchy, biscous bass of Hayley Williams’ “Simmer” simply springs to life and you can’t help but tap your feet along.
Even when cranked up to the loudest volume, the XPS 15’s audio still maintains its remarkable clarity and richness. It’s by far the best sound I’ve ever experienced from a laptop.
When I switched to the heavier alternative rock of Dance Gavin Dance’s “Prisoner”, the bass was once again the highlight.
The towering wall of distorted guitars in the chorus of the song created an atmosphere of intense power and drive, providing the perfect backdrop for the trebly vocals.
The funkier guitar riffs in the verses were also as clear as a bell, providing the perfect contrast with the heavier segments of the song.
The Dell XPS 15’s audio performance is something to marvel at, with the help of Waves Maxx Audio Pro technology and Waves professional tuning, the sound is amplified to extraordinary levels.
Not only that, but with the included companion app you can tailor the speakers with a variety of EQ presets.
When I activated the Waves app, the XPS’s speakers sounded drastically louder and fuller – I found the presets such as Rock and Pop useful for giving an astonishing boost to their respective genres.
Packing a 10th Gen Intel Core i7-10750 processor with 32GB of RAM and a 512GB SSD, the Dell XPS 15 2020 is nothing short of a true multitasking beast.
While testing the laptop, I was able to juggle across multiple Chrome tabs in split-screen mode, video call, text friends on Slack, and jam to Spotify music tracks – all at the same time – without any lags or hitches.
Plus, the laptop’s integrated cooling system prevents the build-up of heat, ensuring smooth and efficient performance even during heavy workloads.
The Dell XPS 15 scored 6,174 on the Geekbench 5 performance test, coming in a bit behind the Core i9-powered MacBook Pro 16-inch (7,250).
However, the XPS 15 acquitted itself well on the older Geekbench 4 test, with a score of 25,934, thus outperforming the AMD Ryzen 5 3580U-powered Surface Laptop 3 by more than double at 11,612.
This indicates that the Dell XPS 15 still delivers extensive power and performance, despite its lower Geekbench 5 score.
The XPS 15 proved to be a strong performer when we tested it with HandBrake to transcode a 4K video to 1080p. It completed the task in 10 minutes and 6 seconds .
While not as quick as the 8 minutes of the MacBook Pro 16-inch, it was still significantly faster than the Surface Laptop 3, which took nearly 25 minutes to complete the same test. The quickness of the XPS 15 in this task suggests that it should easily handle other video-editing tasks with relative ease.
The Dell’s laptop 512GB SSD truly dazzles with its performance, as we witnessed its speeds first hand when transferring 5GB of files in just 7 seconds, resulting in a speedy 708.9 MB/s rate.
This was far ahead of the Surface Laptop 3’s 256GB SSD, which only achieved 282.7 MB/s. While the Surface Laptop 3 is not a direct comparison with the Dell model, the 16-inch MacBook Pro with its 512GB SSD showed even more impressive speeds with a Blackmagic disk speed test revealing write speeds of 2,805 MBps and read speeds of 2,540 MB/s.
This really goes to show the power of Dell’s laptop in terms of data transfer speeds.
Video Graphics Performance
Our XPS 15 is outfitted with a discrete Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 Ti GPU, thus supplying Dell’s slim workhorse the power it needs for gaming and graphics.
The XPS 15 delivered exceptional performance in the recent blockbuster game, Shadow of the Tomb Raider, achieving an impressive 29 frames per second at the highest setting and 1080p resolution.
This was barely enough to edge out the Radeon Pro 5300M of Apple’s 16-inch MacBook Pro, which ran at just 27.2 fps. Dell’s laptop was also a winner in the less demanding game, Dirt 3, where it hit an astonishing 134 fps at 1080p and 69 fps at 4K resolution.
This crushes the performance of the integrated AMD Vega 9 in the Microsoft Surface Laptop 3, which had a paltry 56 fps at 1080p.
Keyboard And Touchpad
The Dell XPS 15’s keyboard has been an absolute pleasure to type on. With its tactile soft-touch coating, 9.7% larger key caps, and lightning-quick 1.3mm travel, I was able to type for hours without developing any hand fatigue.
Even when taking a typing speed test on 10FastFingers, my performance was exactly where I had hoped it would be, typing at a rate of 90 words per minute with 96% accuracy.
It is rare for me to not want to go back to a mechanical keyboard for my usual desktop setup, but I found myself utilizing the XPS 15 as my sole work machine for multiple days without wanting a different setup.
The XPS 15’s touchpad underwent a sizeable transformation, now boasting an expansive 5.9 x 3.5 inch surface area, a 62% increase compared to its predecessor.
During my time with the device, I found the touchpad incredibly responsiveness and delightfully easy to use. Scrolling through web pages and executing pinch to zoom gestures were effortless, and more advanced three-finger features, like app switching and multitasking mode, were activated instantly.
With such a huge leap in size and sensitivity, the new XPS 15 touchpad offers a smooth, seamless user experience.
Heat And Noise
Despite its slim design and powerful discrete GPU, the XPS 15 can get noisy when multitasking and running multiple applications at once.
Its fans can reach jet-plane-like levels of sound and the keyboard and underside can reach near-uncomfortable temperatures of up to 100 degrees Fahrenheit when measured with a heat gun.
Anything below 95 degrees Fahrenheit is considered a comfortable temperature for the laptop.
The rapid transition to virtual and remote workplaces due to the COVID-19 pandemic has made video-conferencing a necessity. As such, it would be really great if mainstream laptops could improve the quality of their webcams.
Regrettably, when I tested out the Dell XPS 15 2020’s camera, I was dismayed with how it produced a pixelated and blotchy image of my face.
It was quite ironic considering it reproduced the hues of the Spider-Man poster behind me with unerring accuracy.
It is not enough for a good webcam to take sharp photographs; the quality of the image must be up to the mark to aid effective and professional virtual conversations.
Dell should be commended for introducing the incredibly thin top-bezel webcam last year, effectively eliminating the dreaded ‘nose cam’.
This webcam remains an adequate option for everyday video calls, however if you’re wanting to ensure your colleagues get a crystal clear image of you, then it’s best to invest in one of the leading webcams as an additional purchase.
The Dell XPS 15 2020 can last through up to eight and a half hours of regular use on a single charge, so you don’t have to worry about being close to a power source while you’re busy working.
In our regular battery test, which involves continuous web surfing over Wi-Fi with the screen set to full brightness, the Dell laptop managed to last 8 hours and 1 minute. While this is quite a satisfactory result for a 4K laptop, it falls short of other popular models in its category.
The 16-inch MacBook Pro is an impressive powerhouse of a laptop, boasting an impressive 10 hours and 55 minutes of battery life with its 2072 x 1920 display.
This is nearly three hours longer than the battery life of its rival, the Microsoft Surface Laptop 3, which maxes out at 8 hours with its 2496 x 1664 screen.
This makes the MacBook Pro an optimal choice for users who need to be able to take their laptop on the go and have ample amounts of battery life during their sessions.
The XPS 15 2020 has a comparable battery life to the 4K iteration of the XPS 13, as it achieved a run time of 8 hours and 14 minutes on our test.
Even more impressive, however, is the battery life of the 1080p Dell XPS 13, staying powered for a whopping 12 hours and 39 minutes.
With its lower-resolution, we expect that the XPS 15 will have an impressive score in comparison when we get the chance to test it.
The Dell XPS 15 2020 takes all the award-winning features of its predecessor and takes them to the next level. With its bezel-free InfinityEdge display, you can experience movies, gaming and content in a whole new way as its cinematic display ensures stunning visuals with vivid colors and sharp detail.
Not only does this provide for a eye-catching spectacle, but it also provides an abundance of screen space and extra clarity to help ease the process of getting work done.
The XPS 15 2020 is truly an upgrade of a classic fan-favorite laptop that promises outstanding performance that’ll satisfy even the most meticulous of laptop shoppers.
The Dell XPS 15 2020 comfortably offers superior performance, thanks to its large keycaps and touchpad, making it comfortable to use for long periods of time.
Best of all, it’s equipped with 10th Gen Intel CPUs and optional Nvidia GTX 1650 Ti GPU that can handle everyday multitasking, video editing, and gaming.
Its impressive loud speakers can also provide clear and rich sound that can fill small rooms with ease. Altogether, the 2020 XPS 15 provides users with a complete package in terms of performance and sound.
The Dell XPS 15 2020 is an exquisite laptop that has what it takes to take productivity, multimedia, and gaming sessions to the next level.
It’s reliable and powerful enough to handle all of your daily needs with ease, so you can rest assured knowing you’re making a smart investment for your future.
If you want a laptop that can do it all and provide great value for money, then the XPS 15 2020 is definitely worth considering.