Dell took to Computex 2019 with some wild new designs for some of its flagship 2-in-1 laptops and gaming laptops … oh, and its flagship 15-inch laptop got a refresh that’s more powerful than ever, too. That’s essentially how it feels to cover the Dell XPS 15 of 2019: it’s a footnote to a far more exciting sentence.
The XPS 15 webcam has finally been moved to its rightful place, and the internals have received a sizable boost over last year. But, that’s just about all that’s going on with the laptop this year.
You’re sure to see a more powerful XPS 15 than ever before, but that’s really about it, which simply isn’t as exciting as totally new directions for its other flagship products debuting at Computex.
Price and availability
Dell is calling for an entirely appropriate $999 (about £790, AU$1,450) for the starting XPS 15 configuration in 2019. That price gets you a decent amount of power: a 9th-generation, quad-core Intel Core i5 processor (CPU), 8GB of 2,666MHz memory (RAM) and a 256GB PCIe solid-state drive (SSD) behind a 15.6-inch FHD (1,920 x 1,080) display.
Of course the star of this show would be the fully kitted out configuration, which Dell has yet to detail pricing on. A maxed out XPS 15 for 2019 comes with an 8-core Intel Core i9 CPU, Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 graphics (4GB GDDR5), a whopping 64GB of RAM and a 2TB SSD behind an OLED 4K UHD (3,840 x 2,160) multitouch display.
You’ll likely be able to access those enhanced Nvidia graphics somewhere in between the extremes of the available configurations, as has been the case in the past. We do know that the minimum amount to get that gorgeous OLED display will be $1,899 (about £1,500, AU$2,730) – not bad considering most laptop OLED configurations cost upwards of $2,000.
So, you’re looking at getting an impressive amount of performance out of this year’s XPS 15 for not much more than an XPS 13 currently costs. Dell has not yet to disclose availability information for the XPS 15 beyond that it’s “coming soon.”
Design and display
While we’re ecstatic to see that Dell has finally moved the webcam from beneath the display to above it, we’re deflated to realize that just about nothing else regarding the design has changed. If Dell had already invested in moving this crucial design element, why not take this opportunity to revisit other facets of the XPS 15 look and feel?
For instance, we could do with either top-firing stereo speakers or a number pad on the keyboard to make up for that seemingly wasted space on either side of the keys.
Instead, we’re getting the same design as the last one or two iterations of this laptop: an aluminum-clad lid and base with a black carbon fiber palm rest surrounding the keyboard. There’s nothing outwardly wrong with this design … it just looks and feels dated besides the entirely fresh-looking- and-feeling XPS 13 and XPS 13 2-in-1 for 2019.
That said, Dell did improve upon the keyboard this year, though only in modifying the font on the keys to something less robotic-looking and much closer to the hipness that is Helvetica. Still, the travel remains at 1.3mm and the feedback force feels strong after our brief testing. The trackpad remains unchanged as well, still glass-coated and as smooth and accurate as ever.
The real focus for Dell was clearly in getting an OLED display into its leading ‘prosumer’ laptop, which was a valiant effort. The massive 100,000:1 contrast ratio is apparent immediately upon looking at the display, with blacks that simply blend into the laptop’s thin bezels.
Dell tells us this display will help content creators with its 100% DCI-P3 color gamut, though it’s a bit less bright than other options at 400 nits max, leaning on that enhanced contrast ratio to pick up some slack left behind by the decrease in brightness.
Of course, the laptop remains weighing just 4 pounds (1.8kg) with the standard display and 57 Watt-hour (Whr) battery and now 4.5 pounds (2kg) with the OLED display and a 97Whr battery. Likewise, the laptop remains thin – just 0.66 inches (17mm) across the board. Of course, ports remain the same at two USB 3.1 ports, one USB-C port with Thunderbolt 3 and PowerShare, an HDMI 2.0 port, an SD card reader and a headset jack.
Not much can be said of the performance that the new XPS 15 puts out, but we can get a good idea based the laptop specs . The combination of Core i9 power across eight cores and GTX 1650 graphics is going to make this laptop a beast at rendering high resolution images and video content.
Likewise, the laptop’s gaming performance will be enough for the professional that wants to enjoy a Fortnite session every now and then on their lunch breaks – or for a college student that wants to both play PC games on the weekends and be taken seriously by their teachers in class. Plus, the option for that much RAM just demands multitasking worthy of the hardware.
As for battery life, Dell is promising up to 20 hours and 30 minutes of general runtime on an FHD model, more than 13 hours with the 4K model and more than seven hours on the OLED display. These numbers seem rather outlandish to us, but only a full review will tell.
The Dell XPS 15 for 2019 certainly addresses what was probably the laptop’s most glaring flaw, that being the webcam placement. On top of that, Dell did update the internals extensively in almost every category.
However, we can’t help but be left wanting after seeing and briefly testing out this revision. There is plenty more than can be done to perfect Dell’s 15-inch laptop, and Dell hasn’t taken that opportunity this year. That is, simply put, a real downer.
We’ll save any further praise or condemnation for a full review, but what you’re looking at is a 15-inch laptop that’s set up to nail the basics and not much more.
Check out all of TechRadar’s Computex 2019 coverage. We’re live in Taipei to bring you all the breaking computing news and launches, plus hands-on reviews of everything from fresh laptops and desktops to powerful new components and wild overclocking demonstrations.