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This gaming PC might not give you a rush each time you look at it, but it gets the job done quietly and without any drama.

Back in the day, Dell’s XPS desktops were fire-breathing gaming machines. They could take on the best from Falcon Northwest, Alienware, Origin, and the rest of the “money is no object” boutique builders.

Judging by the redesigned XPS Tower Special Edition, Dell remains committed to that division between its brands. Instead of an all-out battlestation, this refreshed XPS offers a rock-solid gaming experience that runs coolly and quietly in an extremely understated design.

Chassis and ports

The big news with the XPS Tower Special Edition is its retooled chassis. The frame is now 27 percent smaller than the previous one, measuring just 15 inches tall and 14 inches deep. Dell’s achieved this shrinkage by moving some of the drive bays and putting the power supply over the CPU area.

Alaina Yee

Despite the tight design and single case fan—a 120mm spinner that sits atop the system at the back—airflow doesn’t seem to be an issue. (Skip ahead to the “Acoustics and thermals” section for how the machine performs during stress testing.) Tinkering with the system’s hardware is easy, too. When you pop off the side door via an easy-to-pull hinge on the back of the system, you can see two things: the power supply assembly and the GPU. If you pull on two more latches, you can release the power supply, which is attached to an arm that swings out from left to right. Getting access to the CPU is as simple as moving the PSU and its metal assembly out of the way.

For later expansion, you get just two empty 3.5-inch drive trays: one on the bottom of the chassis, and one that attaches where you’d normally expect a front intake fan. There’s also M.2 slot on the motherboard that supports PCI Express.

Alaina Yee

In exchange for the limited number of bays, the system can handle up to 10.5-inch GPUs—or nearly every high-end video card available. A notable exception would be the Titan X Pascal, but given that the included power supply is 460W, you wouldn’t be able to support one on the included PSU anyway. The 225W limit for the GPU via its dual six-pin PCIe power connectors is enough for a GTX 1080 (which has a TDP of 180W), but it’s not enough for a Titan X (TDP rating of 250W).

The hardware

Two versions of this computer exist: the XPS Tower and the XPS Tower Special Edition. The two models look the same visually aside from the color of the diamond-cut faceplate: The standard version’s is piano-black, while the Special Edition’s is gray. 

Monica Lee

Our review unit is the base configuration with a GPU upgrade. This config starts at $1,000 for a Core i5-6400, Radeon RX 480 GPU, 8GB of DDR4/2133 RAM, 1TB 7200rom hard-disk drive, and support for 802.11ac wireless. This variant with a GTX 1070 Founders Edition card bumps up the price to $1,250. That’s a reasonable figure, though of course you could build a similar system for less if you did some careful deal-hunting. (You won’t be able to replicate the precise, compact layout of Dell’s tower, though.)

Performance

With a mid-range Core i5 CPU and GTX 1070, the Dell XPS Tower Special Edition is a decent gaming machine (especially given its price). Its hardware does have some limitations, however, which are especially noticeable when compared to PCs with Core i7 chips. Overall, though, it still provides a mighty fine experience. Let’s dig in.

3Dmark Fire Strike

Because the XPS Tower Special Edition is meant for gaming, we hauled out 3DMark’s Fire Strike as our first benchmark. It’s a synthetic test that everyone knows and loves because it scales well and does an excellent job of replicating real-world results. It also takes into account both CPU and GPU power, which reflects clearly in this Dell desktop’s results.

PCWorld

Though the XPS Tower has a stock GTX 1070, it didn’t perform quite as well as the other GTX 1070 systems we’ve seen. Its mid-range Core i5 processor constrains overall performance—relative to the top dog in our comparison, which paired a swift Core i7-6700K with a GTX 1070, the XPS Tower was 22 percent slower. Even AVA Direct’s Avant Tower, which uses a mini version of the GTX 1070, outperforms this Dell desktop thanks to its speedier CPU.

Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor 4K

PCWorld

In this particular game and at this particular resolution, the XPS Tower Special Edition’s Core i5 chip doesn’t play as much of a role as during 3DMark’s Fire Strike test. Dell’s tower sits right in the same pocket as the Avant Tower—slightly behind the Cerise, but roughly in the same neighborhood. We did see a slightly bigger gap open up in our 1920×1080 benchmark, with a 11 percent drop in performance between the Dell and the Cerise. (The Cerise ran at 132.08 fps vs. the Dell’s 116.57 fps.)

That said, the XPS Tower still delivers a great gaming experience at either resolution. For context, our PCWorld Zero Point machine’s GTX 980 just managed to hit the golden minimum of 60 fps at 2560×1600, while the Alienware X51 (a more space-constrained desktop) eked out just over 30 fps.

Rise of the Tomb Raider

To ramp up the pressure a little more (and to see how the XPS Tower would do in a different game), we next fired up Rise of the Tomb Raider. This game’s a little over a year old at this point, but still gorgeous and plenty rough on a GPU.

PCWorld

Cinebench R15

PCWorld

Looking at the results makes us want to call an ambulance for the XPS Tower. Nobody was expecting it to pull off miracle performance, but even the Haswell i7 processor in our zero-point machine gave that i5-6400 (which is two generations newer) a good wallop. Overall, the XPS Tower will handle day-to-day tasks fine, but if you’re going to task it with heavier work that taps all of the CPU cores—it’s not going to outperform even older Core i7 chips. That point is also pressed in our next test.

Handbrake Encoding

For an idea of how a system will perform during longer CPU-intensive tasks, we turn to Handbrake. It’s a free encoding program that relies entirely on the CPU and scales well with core count.

PCWorld

While the Core i5-6400 can run at a boost speed of 3.3GHz when it means business, it hummed along at a steady 3GHz for this test. For context, that’s 1GHz slower than the Core i7-6700K in the Cerise build, and that CPU also has four additional logical cores. The difference in time between the two systems ended up being 26 minutes, which is substantial since the XPS took 64 minutes to complete the test.

Acoustics and Thermals

I have to admit, when I looked at this tower after opening it up, it seemed ill-designed for thermals. Air flow seemed restricted, and that huge power supply sits directly over the CPU. (It also seems to block the case’s only exhaust fan.) I was sure this puppy would run nuclear-hot if I pushed it hard enough…but I was wrong.

I should note that this system does sport a 65W CPU, so it shouldn’t get that hot in the first place. Still, the air-cooler Dell installed worked quite well.

On the GPU front, the GTX 1070 climbed to a maximum temperature of 82 degrees Celsius when we looped Unigine’s Heaven 4.0 benchmark for a few hours. It ran at a steady 1,784MHz the whole time, too, which is above Nvidia’s listed boost clock for the stock version of this particular GPU.

Final thoughts

The XPS Tower Special Edition may not look like much, but if you’re looking for a no-hassle machine that’s VR-capable, upgradeable, and both quiet and stable from day one, it fits the bill.

Overall, the XPS Tower Special Edition is a bit like a Honda Accord. It might not give you a rush each time you look at it, but it gets the job done quietly and without any drama. About the only thing that would improve it is the option of an SSD for all configurations, not just the most expensive, but luckily, you can always upgrade the storage yourself.

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Dell Xps 13 9310 (Late 2023) Review: Tiger Lake Is Here

Pros

Excellent build and performance

Fantastic keyboard

Improved thermals

Cons

Can still run hot

Still only two ports

Still expensive

Our Verdict

The latest refresh of the Dell XPS 13 packs a scintillating display and a wonderfully tactile keyboard into a fancy metal frame, and like the previous generation, it runs hot but doesn’t suffer for it in quite the same way.

The latest Dell XPS 13 9310 is a spec refresh of the previous 2023 flagship model, the Dell XPS 13 9300. 

This time around buyers are offered machines with the newer 11th-gen Tiger Lake Intel processors, instead of the 10th-gen Ice Lake chips. Memory is also faster (4267MHz LPDDR4x versus 3733MHz LPDDR4), meaning that everything should run a whole lot more smoothly here – Intel claims a performance and battery efficiency boost of up to 20%. 

As before, displays are available in Full HD (1920×1200), and 4K Ultra HD (3840×2400) options, giving you a larger-than-usual 16:10 aspect ratio. The same great edge-to-edge keyboard that we loved from the Dell XPS 13 9300 is present and correct here, too.

The real question is, will the 9310 get all hot and bothered like the 9300 did? The short answer is no – performance here does not appear to be hindered by thermal issues in the same way that the 9300 was, but that’s not to say that the new XPS 13 isn’t a hot (and noisy) machine. 

We’ll address everything in detail in due course, but the main takeaway here is that the 9310 does improve on the 9300’s main drawback. 

Design & Build – More of the same

Dell has really been pushing the envelope in terms of cramming as much processing power as possible into increasingly small and slender laptop chassis over the years, and the Dell XPS 13 9310 is just the latest example of this trend. 

The same fetching checkerboard/kevlar-type pattern that we’ve seen on Dell XPS laptops for the last few years has gone nowhere, and the same slightly smooth, rubbery feel this material has gives the whole package an air of prestige. 

It actually boasts the same dimensions as the 9300, which is largely good news. This is a very slim and lightweight laptop – it weighs just 1.2kg, and can be easily tucked away into a satchel or backpack.

The aluminium chassis is very slim, as is the almost non-existent bezel, which just makes the vibrant, colour-rich screen pop even more. The Dell XPS 13 9310 simply looks stunning. 

This is also bad news – it might boast a skimpy profile, but the XPS 13 9310 is skimpy in terms of ports. You get just two Type-C USB ports, a microSD card reader, and a headphone jack, and that’s your lot. 

Admittedly, those USB-C ports come packing Thunderbolt 3 technology, so you can connect the XPS 13 9310 to external displays and the mains adapter through either port. While this does mean that one port will likely be hooked up to the mains most of the time, you can buy a dock that’ll let you expand your connectivity options if you wish. 

That might stick in the craw when you consider how much you’re being asked to shell out in the first place, but at the same time, if you want the extra connectivity that a big gaming laptop offers, you’ll more than likely be spending a greater amount of money for something with an equivalent-quality display – more than what you’d need to spend on a suitable dock, at any rate. 

Keyboard & Trackpad – Smooth operator

The keyboard is excellent, just as good as it is on the XPS 13 9300. Everything is nicely spaced, and big enough for people of all handspans to get comfortable with. Travel is 1mm, enough to create a pleasing sensation of depth.

You’ll be able to rattle of sentences at a fair old clip in no time here. Again, the power key incorporates a fingerprint scanner, a design choice that’s at once aesthetically pleasing, practical, and space-efficient. 

The trackpad is the ideal size and is responsive enough to allow for effortless navigation with one finger without having to faff around in the settings. 

Screen & Speakers – Crispy boi 

Dell offers Full HD and 4K Ultra HD variants of the XPS 13 3910. Both versions promise an impressive 500 nits of maximum brightness, full coverage of the sRGB colour space, and 90% of the DCI P3 space. In other words, high levels of detail, high levels of brightness, perfect for editing photos. 

The XPS 13 9310 model Dell sent is the Ultra HD bad boy. It’s one of the nicest laptop displays on the market – 3840 x 2400 pixels crammed into a 13.4in display gives you a whopping pixels-per-inch count of 338ppi. For context, the MacBook Pro 13in (2023), an excellent laptop with an excellent display, offers 232ppi.

Sure, 4K resolution across 13in is a bit excessive, but when excessive looks this good, who cares? And some will simply require it for certain work.

As for those claims of max brightness and colour gamut coverage, using a SpyderX Pro colorimeter, I recorded 519 nits of brightness at full whack. At 50% brightness, I saw 201 nits, and at 65 nits at the lowest setting. 

In more practical terms, photos, videos, Netflix streams, games, all look stunning. If anything, the colours are perhaps too bright and vibrant, with greens, in particular, feeling a little oversaturated out of the box. 

The 13.4in touch display is protected by a layer of toughened Corning Gorilla Glass 6, too. While you can’t really use the XPS 13 9310 as a tablet – the hinge doesn’t rotate through 360 degrees – it’s good to know that the display is protected against your finger jabs for those times where you’d rather poke at the screen than use the trackpad. 

The two 2.5W tuned speakers are good, with hi-res YouTube and Spotify streams sounding nicely balanced. There is, inevitably, clipping at high volumes, but when music is played at sensible levels, it sounds wonderfully clear and crisp. 

It’s a shame that they’re downward-firing speakers. That’s not so much of a big deal if the laptop is sat on your desk, as the sound will bounce off of that hard surface, but if you’re watching or playing something on the sofa or in bed, a lot of that noise is lost.

It’s just as well that the XPS 13 9310 doesn’t weigh much – you can prop it up on one hand easily enough.

Specs & Performance – Hot to trot 

Earlier I touched on the fact that the XPS 13 9310’s predecessor could get a bit hot under the collar, and would pack up when placed under the strain of multiple Chrome tabs, Slack and Spotify all going off at once. 

I can happily say that the latest XPS 13 laptop does not suffer from this quite so badly in terms of performance, at any rate. That said, it will run hot after several hours, and you’ll both feel that when you’re typing, and hear it, when the laptop’s two fans kick in.

This is just when doing the basics, i.e. word processing, checking emails, YouTube playlists and running Slack, as well as when you’re doing something a little more demanding. Sadly, the XPS 13 3910 is a noisy machine.

The processor on the model I tested is an 11th-gen Intel Core i7-1165G7 which features four cores, and a base clock speed of 2.8GHz, boosting up to 4.7GHz. 

RAM-wise, your options are either 8GB or 16GB of 4267MHz LPDDR4x memory, and your storage choices are either 512GB or 1TB M.2 PCIe NVMe SSDs.

While there is no option to take any XPS 13 9310 models with dedicated graphics, all processors do come with integrated Intel Iris Xe Graphics. This boasts a big improvement compared with Intel’s older UHD integrated graphics, and you’ll likely see this when playing lighter games like League of Legends and Rocket League. You want to play Metro Exodus with ray tracing? Think again.

I was able to play games of Civilization 6 all the way into the Modern Age and beyond without experiencing any major chug, but that was only with all of the graphical bells and whistles dialled down and things like shadows turned off. 

How much power can you expect to squeeze out of the laptop’s 52Wh battery? I was able to easily get seven to eight hours of work off the battery (in the balanced ‘better performance’ mode), with around 20-30% left.

Running a continuous video playback test with the display’s brightness set to 120 nits, I recorded just over 10 hours. That’s very good, considering the processing power of the XPS 13 9310 but many laptops can go a lot futher.

Wireless connectivity here is the same as before – Bluetooth 5, and Wi-Fi 6 (11ax). The Wi-Fi radio is a Killer AX1650 module, and using WiFi Analyzer, I saw speeds ranging between 721Mbps and 1201Mbps when connected to a Netgear Orbi RBK750 mesh network.

Price & Availability

Dell XPS 13 9310’s are currently available to buy from Dell’s UK store. 

At the other end of the spectrum, a Dell XPS 13 9310 with a Core i7-1165G7, 16GB of RAM, 1TB of storage, and a 4K Ultra HD display will set you back £1,949.

NB: at the time of writing, it wasn’t possible to buy a Dell XPS 13 9310 with a Core i7-1185G7 processor and a 1TB SSD from Dell.

In the US, you can pick up Dell XPS 13 9310 models with 256GB and 2TB SSDs, as well as 512GB and 1TB drives. 

This XPS 13 9310 with a Full HD display, Core i7-1165G7 processor, 8GB of RAM, and 256GB of storage can be had for $1,399.99. 

This version with a 4K Ultra HD display, Core i7-1185G7 CPU, 16GB of RAM and a 512GB SSD is yours for $1,899.99. Taking the same model with a 1TB drive sees the price crawl up to $2,049.99, while going all the way and getting the 2TB beast sees you paying $2,349.99.

However, the US models have a much cheaper option at $999 thanks namely to a lower power Core i3 processor.

Not sure this is quite what you’re after? Read our best laptop guide to see how the XPS 13 9310 stacks up against the competition. 

Verdict

The Dell XPS 13 9310 is a stylish and powerful device, offering buyers the best performance they can expect from a 13in ultrabook. 

Not only does the XPS 13 9310 offer superior performance, but it also mitigates its predecessor’s main flaw, and is a smoother operator for it. 

That said, the XPS 13 9310 is expensive, and depending on your situation and needs, you may be tempted to plump for something slightly less powerful and a lot less pricey, or go for a fully-fledged gaming laptop around the same price point.

Specs Dell XPS 13 9310 (late 2023): Specs

Windows 10 Home

13.4-inch Full HD (1920×1200) / 4k Ultra HD (3840 x 2400) LCD touchscreen display with anti-reflective coating

Intel Core i5-1135G7 (4 cores, 2.4GHz, up to 4.2GHz), Intel Core i7-1165G7 (4 cores, 2.8GHz, up to 4.7GHz), Intel Core i7-1185G7 (4 cores, 3GHz, up to 4.8GHz)

8GB, or 16GB 4267MHz LPDDR4x RAM

256GB, 512GB, 1TB, 2TB (SATA SSD)

2 x USB 3.0 Type-C (Thunderbolt 3 with power delivery and DisplayPort, 4 lanes of PCI Express Gen 3)

MicroSD card reader

3.5mm headphone jack

2 x 2.5W Speakers

720p-megapixel webcam

802.11ax Wi-Fi 6

Bluetooth 5

4-Cell Battery, 52 Whr

296 x 199 x 14.8-11.6mm

1.2kg

Dell Xps 17 3D: Speedy, And In Stereo

Dell updates the XPS 17 with Intel’s spiffy new Sandy Bridge CPU and stereoscopic 3D capability, but the latter is better for 3D Blu-ray than for gaming.

It seems like only yesterday that a Dell XPS 17 last passed through the PCWorld Labs, yet here we have another one. That always seems to happen when a new CPU generation launches. Toss a capable GPU and 3D stereoscopic capability into the new model, and you have a feature-rich desktop replacement.

The display provides the 120Hz refresh rate and IR emitter necessary for stereoscopic 3D. We used it with an aftermarket set of Nvidia’s 3DVision glasses, and everything works quite well. Driving the display is an Nvidia GeForce GT 555M mobile GPU. Dell has beefed up the resolution of the display to true 1080p.

Most of the other features are comparable to those of the earlier XPS 17, including dual hard drives, four USB ports (the two on the rear are USB 3.0 capable), 802.11n, a Blu-ray drive, and both HDMI and mini-DisplayPort digital video output connectors.

Our test system’s performance in standard desktop apps was stellar, producing one of the highest scores we’ve seen from a laptop on WorldBench 6, an impressive mark of 151. The new Intel CPU, coupled with a staggering 16GB of main memory, were no doubt major factors. You’ll pay for this power, however: The XPS 17 3D starts at $1450, and the configuration we reviewed will run you $2389 (prices as of February 2, 2011).

The Nvidia GT 555M is newer than the 445M that Dell used in the last-generation XPS 17 L701X. Since the screen is now true 1080p, however, the 555M needs to drive 44 percent more pixels than the older laptop’s 1600 by 900 display had. That means lower frame rates in games, so you may want to dial down the resolution a bit if you’re playing current-generation titles. The performance of the GT 555M seems only slightly better, as in 3D Mark 2011 this laptop garnered a score of 1307 versus the mark of 1286 from the older XPS 17.

At 1080p, the XPS 17 3D ran Far Cry 2 at 49.93 frames per second, while in the racing title F1 2010 it managed just 18 fps in DirectX11 mode. In Just Cause 2, a graphics-intensive DX10 title, it eked out 18 fps as well. On the other hand, in Metro 2033 it reached 25 fps, only a little slower than the older XPS 17, which was running at a lower resolution. We disabled antialiasing in all game tests.

Playing 3D Blu-ray movies, though, works very well aside from the substantial reduction in brightness and contrast. The effect is particularly startling in the IMAX 3D Blu-ray title Deep Sea 3D. We also viewed standard Blu-ray high-def movies, and those looked great. In all cases, you really want to sit in the sweet spot, as the color shift and brightness drop-off are both very noticeable as viewing angles change.

The keyboard seems to be a slight step backward. The keys offer a gentle sculpting, making it easy to settle fingertips into them, but the surface seems slippery–it’s too easy for fingers to slide to another key and mistype while touch typing. The arrow keys and PageDn/Ins cluster keys are way too small, as well.

Weighing 9 pounds, 11 ounces with the power brick, and measuring nearly 2 inches thick in places, this is no HP Envy 17. Still, if you’re looking for a capable, premium desktop replacement that can do everything, the Dell XPS 17 3D fits the bill.

Dell Xps 15 9500 Review: Buy This Laptop Instead Of A Macbook Pro 16

The Dell XPS 15 9500 is finally the MacBook Pro killer it’s always wanted to be, with a gorgeous display, better keyboard and trackpad components, and strong productivity performance. We miss USB-A, though.

Timing is everything in the PC business, and the Dell XPS 15 9500, an overdue refresh to the company’s high-end workhorse, arrives just in time for it to be truly considered the “MacBook Pro killer” it’s always aspired to be.

This review is part of our ongoing roundup of the best laptops. Go there for information on competing models and how we tested them.

On this model, gone is the 16:9 display aspect ratio that was prevalent for some years—fine for watching YouTube, not so great for productivity. In its place is a 16:10 aspect ratio, 15.6-inch panel running 4K+ with HDR400 and Dolby Vision support. The result is a stunning all-screen look that is likely to set the style for other laptop makers to emulate.

Dell

XPS 15 9500 Specs

The Dell XPS 15 9500 wouldn’t be a Dell XPS 15 without top-shelf parts. As you can see from the spec list that follows, it’s first-class all the way. Note that the eval unit we tested has a Core i7 CPU, which we think is a better choice overall than the 9th-gen Core i9 in the Dell XPS 15 7590 we tested last fall. The Core i9 chip seemed to push that laptop’s thermals over the edge.

CPU: Intel 10th-gen 8-core Core i7-10875H

GPU: GeForce GTX 1650 Ti

Display: 4K UHD+ 3840 x 2400 Sharp IPS panel with touch

Networking: Killer WiFi 6, Bluetooth 5

Weight: 4.5 pounds, plus 1.5 pounds for the 130-watt power brick

Battery: Rated at 85 Watt-hours

Ports: For ports, pictures tell the story best. On the left side of the laptop you get a wedge-shaped lock port and two Thunderbolt 3 ports.

Gordon Mah Ung

The left side of the XPS 15 9500 features (from left to right) a Noble lock port and two Thunderbolt 3 ports.

Gordon Mah Ung

Sorry, USB-A

Gordon Mah Ung

What’s the difference between Dell and Apple? You get an HDMI and USB-A dongle in the box with the XPS 15 9500. All Apple gives you with the MacBook Pro 16 is the power supply and a smug look.

Fortunately, Dell mitigates this a little by including a USB-C dongle with a USB-A and HDMI adapter in the box. Dongles are yet another accessory to juggle, but a free dongle is better than none at all. You can guess what Apple does.

IDG

We found the Dell XPS 15 9500’s built-in UHS-III reader (left) outperformed SanDisk’s Extreme Pro UHS-II USB reader (right) in performance on a UHS-II-rated SanDisk Extreme Pro SD card.

Dell XPS 15 Card Reader Performance

Gordon Ung

Which webcam looks the best to you? The Dell XPS 15 9500 (top left), the MSI GS66 Stealth (top right), the XPG Xenia 15 (bottom left) or the low-bezel mount Gigabyte Aero 17 (bottom right.)

Dell XPS 15 Webcam

Webcams are no longer the throwaway feature they were last year. In the XPS 15 9500, it’s a 720p-resolution unit (as are the vast majority) that’s integrated into the top bezel. The module also supports infrared and works with Windows 10’s biometric Windows Hello feature. If you don’t want to use your face to login, there’s also a fingerprint reader built into the power button.

Overall, the webcam delivered image quality similar to that of most current laptops in normal lighting. Unless you’re doing a video conference in a cave with Colonel Kurtz, it’s just fine.

Speakers

With the XPS 15 9500, Dell actually integrates four speakers: two side-firing in the base, and two speakers that fire up through 4,532 holes drilled through the keyboard deck. This gives the XPS 15 9500 legitimately the best audio we’ve heard in a small laptop in a while. No, this won’t match the annoying beat coming from the back of a lowered Honda Civic, but it gets decently loud with a good balance of highs, mids and lows. It could use a touch more bass, but we suspect that’s asking too much of a laptop this thin. As it is, the laptop is loud enough that you can feel the vibrations through the keyboard deck on your palms if it’s turned up to moderately high volume. (We’re not sure what could be done except add vibration insulation, which would make the laptop thicker and heavier.)

The speakers are branded Waves Nx. Dell says they were tuned by Grammy-award winning producer Jack Joseph Puig to improve its immersive sound. Whether that’s just marketing fluff we can’t say, but it does indeed sound very immersive, thanks to the combination of the sound coming at you from the top and the sound reflecting off a surface.

Gordon Mah Ung

The trackpad gets huge on the new XPS 15 9500. 

Keyboard and Trackpad

The parts of the laptop you touch most are the keyboard and trackpad. On the XPS 15 9500, you thankfully get a standard butterfly switch instead of the company’s MagLev keyboard. That means good travel and fairly stable keys when depressed. 

So is a large trackpad better? That’s hard to say. A larger trackpad means you don’t need your finger to be as precise or as focused in its movements as it would have to be on a smaller surface area. Your fingers also physically have to move farther. Overall, Dell has done its homework on tuning the trackpad.

Display

Dell

The XPS 15 9500’s panel is Dolby Vision and HDR400-certified.

Before we go on to performance we do want to call out the display, which has more acronyms than a Ph.D. student who never left the university. The panel is UHD 4K+ with a 16:10 aspect ratio. It’s not an off-the-shelf design either: While a typical 4K panel has a resolution of 3840×2160, the XPS 15 9500 features a native resolution of 3840×2400. The  panel will hit 100 percent of Adobe RGB and 94 percent of DCI P3 color gamut. It meets VESA’s Display HDR 400 spec, and it’s also Dolby Vision-certified.

The screen is touch-enabled and sheathed in Gorilla Glass for protection. It has an anti-reflective coating to minimize glare, while still sporting that glossy look and feel people want.

Finally, the screen features Eyesafe technology, which reduces blue light emissions that keep you up at night—while still looking natural (more primitive blue-light reduction techniques look about as subtle as a fake sunset scene from a 1980s TV show). The screen is very bright and rated at 500 nits, which is about what we measured as well. 

One thing we should mention: When you unplug the XPS 15 9500 from the power brick, the screen will go black for a few seconds before coming back on. The reason is harmless but still likely to annoy people: Anytime you switch a Windows laptop from displaying HDR content, it will automatically switch back to standard color gamuts when on battery to reduce power consumption. You can turn off this behavior by switching off HDR completely, or unchecking the Don’t allow HDR games and apps on battery option from the display properties.

XPS 15 9500 performance tests

We’ll kick off our performance testing of the XPS 15 9500 with Cinebench R20—which is an updated, harsher version of the older Cinebench R15 we’ve typically used. Both are valid measurements of CPU multi-core performance at 3D modelling (one lighter-duty and one heavier-duty), and they give you a general idea of how the laptop could perform in other tasks that are heavily multi-threaded.

For pure CPU tasks, the Core i7-10875H in the XPS 15 9500 represents well. It’s right there with Gigabyte’s much larger Aero 17, which uses the same CPU, and is awfully close to the 8-core Core i9-10980HK in the MSI GS66.

Overall, this is a great showing for a 4.5-pound, 15-inch laptop, as it can hang with more gaming-focused and better-cooled laptops in CPU operations. The only fly in the ointment is the Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 with its Ryzen 9 4900HS, which is an even smaller and lighter laptop that generally whups laptops using Intel.

IDG

IDG

First you probably noticed that Dell’s “Ultra Performance” setting didn’t make much of a difference in CPU tests. But in this GPU load, we see a big difference.

Second: The result should be no surprise. Every laptop in this chart except the XPS 15 9500 are primarily gaming laptops, with big, hairy GPUs. They also tend to make more noise and generally have screens better for gaming, but poor for content creation.

Why are we even comparing the XPS 15 9500 to gaming laptops? Because people often do, just as they would do with the MacBook Pro 16. If that MacBook Pro 16 were in this list, it would be at the bottom or near the bottom.

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XPS 15 9500 battery life

The XPS 15 9500 gets its revenge in perhaps the most critical test of all for a laptop: battery life. For that we loop a 4K video at a fairly bright 250 to 260 nits, in airplane mode and with earbuds in place.

The XPS 15 9500 simply crushes those gaming laptops, with about 10.5 hours of video playback. Incredibly, that’s with a 4K panel—which typically eats a third of run time—and an 84-watt-hour battery. Many of the gaming laptops you see here are packing much bigger gas tanks. The MSI GS66 Stealth runs the maximum allowed on an airplane: 99.9 Watt-hours. So yes, the XPS 15 9500 gets the last laugh.

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Should I dump my old XPS 15 for a new one?

We’ve reviewed enough XPS 15s over the years to give you some context for how much of an improvement the new 9500 delivers over prior generations. The results aren’t as obvious as you’d think.

Although last year’s XPS 15 7590 is actually faster, that’s because it features a Core i9 CPU. Note that this year’s model seems to give you about the same performance from a Core i7. 

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While the XPS 15 9500 gave up ground in the longer HandBrake encode test to larger gaming laptops, the performance against its own cousins is actually quite good. Here you can see that it’s actually as fast as last year’s Core i9-based 7590.

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For graphics, the picture gets a little more muddled. The previous XPS 15 7590 eats the new XPS 15’s lunch, and the two-year old XPS 15 9570 is tied with the new XPS 15 9500 even when set to Ultra Performance. This particular test result focuses solely on GPU performance and excludes CPU performance from its score, so we’re a bit surprised by the result here.

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Dell XPS 15: Should you buy?

There’s a lot to unpack with the XPS 15 9500. CPU performance is very good—it doesn’t significantly move the needle over the previous model, but you’re getting more bang for buck from the current Core i7 over the earlier, pricier Core i9 configuration.

On gaming performance, it looks like the XPS 15 9500 actually takes a step back for unexplained reasons. However, disappointing gaming doesn’t mean bad encoding, so video editors can rest easy. Gamers: Buy an Alienware.

The primary focus of this generation of XPS 15 is the outside, an upgrade that was long overdue. The keyboard and trackpad are quite good, the sound is probably the best on a PC laptop this size, and the screen is gorgeous with its no-bezel look. It’s slim and relatively light even with its 130-watt USB-C power brick. It is, basically, probably the perfect laptop for content creators on the move.

Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated what award music producer Jack Joseph Puig has won. He is a multi-Grammy Award winner. PCWorld regrets the error.

Dell Latitude E6320 Review: Business

This laptop not only gets the job done, but also has a lot of thoughtful features that harried businesspeople will appreciate.

The Dell Latitude E6320 isn’t the prettiest ultraportable laptop, but it definitely gets the job done. It’s a solid performer, and it has a lot of little features that business professionals will definitely appreciate. Spill-proof keyboard? Check. Business-rugged design? Check. Fast-charging battery? Docking station connector? Bright LED screen? Check, check, check.

In WorldBench 6 benchmark tests, the Latitude E6320 earned an excellent score of 125. That mark is high for the ultraportable laptop category (though at least one other ultraportable, the very expensive Sony VAIO SB Series, achieved a score of 144), and understandable considering the Latitude’s Core i7 processor.

The Latitude E6320 didn’t fare quite as well in our graphics tests–also understandable, considering that it has no discrete graphics card. Of course, the E6320 is hardly a multimedia-oriented machine, so graphics performance isn’t a high priority.

In Far Cry 2 at high quality settings and a resolution of 1024 by 768 pixels, the E6320 managed only an unplayable frame rate of 12.3 frames per second. It wasn’t until we ramped the quality settings down to ‘low’ that it produced a playable frame rate of 30.9 fps. While that is hardly impressive graphics performance, it is on a par with that of other laptops in the Latitude E6320’s category. The Sony VAIO SB Series reached a frame rate of 30.3 fps at high quality settings and a resolution of 1024 by 768 pixels–but it has a Radeon HD 6630M discrete graphics card and costs about $2500.

The business-oriented E6320 has a sturdy case design–after all, it is “business rugged.” It sports Tri-Metal casing (instead of your typical plastic chassis), reinforced metal hinges, and a spill-resistant keyboard. Unfortunately, it’s also heavier than it looks: Although it’s only 4.6 pounds with its six-cell battery, the average weight of the past five ultraportables we’ve tested is more than half a pound lighter.

Despite being a business machine, the Latitude E6320 is still somewhat svelte; the cover features a black brushed-aluminum panel and a matte-silver magnesium-alloy bumper. The aluminum panel, which tapers off at the sides, is a bit of a fingerprint magnet. The laptop isn’t superslim, but it is small, measuring 1.2 inches at its thickest, and 8.8 inches wide by 13.2 inches long. Our review model came with a six-cell battery, which generated 6 hours, 11 minutes of battery life in our tests. The battery is a little too big for the laptop, so it sticks out the back about an inch or so. It doesn’t get in the way of the hinge or ports, though, and it doesn’t push the laptop up at an angle; it just adds an extra inch to the back of the ultraportable.

The backlit keyboard has regular-style keys, but each is slightly raised, higher than the thin border around it. This design gives the keyboard a semi-Chiclet look; it also means that the key faces are smaller than they’d normally be on a regular keyboard. This shape makes typing more difficult, and the keyboard feels cramped.

The Latitude E6320 isn’t port-heavy, but it has what you need in a business laptop: one USB 2.0 port, one USB 2.0/eSATA combo port, an ExpressCard reader, a SmartCard reader, an SD Card reader, a combination microphone/headphone jack, a gigabit ethernet port, and a Kensington lock slot. It also has two different display connectors (VGA and Mini HDMI), as well as a docking connector, in case you want to use it on a desktop with an external display.

Multimedia playback on the Latitude E6320 isn’t great. Though high-definition streaming video plays fairly smoothly, significant blockiness mars darker, transitioning scenes. Some artifacts are to be expected since the E6320 isn’t a multimedia machine, but the artifacts on this laptop are much more glaring than I normally see. Needless to say, I don’t recommend this computer for movie watching.

Ultraportables aren’t known for their loud, high-quality speakers, and the Latitude E6320 is no exception. Its speakers, which are located on the front of the machine, are so quiet that you’ll feel as if you’re listening to music through headphones–except the headphones aren’t on your head, they’re on the person sitting next to you, and their volume is turned way up.

The Dell Latitude E6320 may not be a multimedia powerhouse, but it is an excellent business laptop for a frequently traveling professional. In addition to being a good performer for basic business tasks, it has various little extra features that businesspeople will love. The ExpressCharge battery that charges up to 80 percent in under an hour, the spill-resistant keyboard that can withstand cups of steaming coffee, and the rugged exterior that lets people bang your laptop around at TSA checkpoints are just some of the features that will make your working life a heck of a lot easier.

Why The Ps5 Can Run Games Faster Than Series X

Last-generation games

Over the course of the PS4 and Xbox One generation of home video game consoles, games were often 30fps on either console and 900p and 1080p on PS4 and Xbox, respectively. This is a result of the power gap between the Xbox One and the PS4, the latter being significantly more powerful.

With the Pro versions of the Xbox One and PS4, the situation essentially flipped. 30fps continued to be the general default on both consoles, but the more powerful Xbox One X would often run at native 4K (or closer to native 4K), while the PS4 Pro would often render at resolutions closer to 1440p and then upscale the image to 4K.

In terms of backwards compatibility of PS4 Pro/Xbox One X and Xbox One/PS4 games on the PS5 and Xbox Series X, the nature of these games can lead them to sometimes perform better on PS5. Without any extra attention given to a title or a dynamic resolution scaler, Xbox One/PS4 games that ran at 30fps last-gen will continue to run at 30fps next-gen, and games that ran at 900p on Xbox One will run at 900p on Xbox Series X, just as games that ran at 1080p on PS4 will run in 1080p on PS5. The PS5 will be maintaining the same framerate at a higher resolution.

Because backwards compatible PS4 Pro/Xbox One X games on next-gen consoles don’t tap into the full power of the consoles, and because the visual difference in resolution of upscaled 1440p and higher native resolutions is far smaller than the difference between lower resolutions like 900p and 1080p, the Xbox Series X can perform worse, as its rendering at a higher resolution without much improvement to image quality.

This is a case-by-case basis and can be improved by later patches, but this is the situation today, and without any major marquee Xbox releases, fans and owners of the console will want to be aware of what actual performance is like on games they can play.

Current-generation games

Current-generation games are complicated beasts, often coming with multiple performance modes, and performance can be further impacted by what kind of display you’re using. That aside, games like Devil May Cry 5 and Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla, as evidenced by Digital Foundry and gamers across the internet, have been shown to generally perform better on PS5. The data doesn’t lie.

There are, also, definitely cases where the Series X outperforms the PS5, like in Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War where ray-tracing performance is stronger on Series X and 120fps is stronger on PS5. Regardless, though, why is the performance delta between the consoles so small? Isn’t the Series X supposed to be more powerful?

The answer is less complicated and less flashy than you may expect or want to hear. Developing for these new consoles is a difficult, slow switch on the developer side. Furthermore, the PlayStation has been the lead development platform for an entire generation, and Sony’s PS5 dev tools are an evolution of the PS4’s tools. With Xbox, Microsoft has continued to change things behind the scenes to make development across its ever increasing number of platforms easier.

The Future

Essentially any game, today, that runs better on PS5 could be patched to outperform it on Series X, but that’s not likely to happen, especially considering the massive catalog of backwards-compatible games. However, new games that come to the new consoles will likely, over time, see better and better performance on Series X.

It’s important, though, to remember that the visual difference between incredibly high resolutions, like 1800p upscaled to 4K and native 4K, is very small, while it’s often much more expensive to run games at native 4K than 1800p upscaled. If Series X games routinely come out with more aggressive resolution targets than PS5, it’s possible the slight boost to image quality won’t outweigh possible performance issues introduced by rendering at such a high resolution.

Ruben Circelli

Ruben is a Staff Writer at Make Tech Easier. Ruben has a B.A. in English from the University of Massachusetts Boston, where he graduated with honors and summa cum laude. Ruben is, in fact, a normal enough guy, even if his day job is writing about tech!

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