The Dell XPS 15: Go Big and Go Home with the Smallest 15″ Laptop on the Planet!

When I got my 2015 13″ MacBook Pro retina, Kev inherited my “old” 2012 15″ MacBook Pro retina. So when I read the Dell XPS 15’s reviewer guide and saw that Dell was calling it the “smallest 15-inch laptop on the planet”, heck yeah I was skeptical! But I had the means to do a quick and dirty size comparison, and guess what? Dell wasn’t exaggerating.

At 14″ wide by 9.1″ deep by *0.79″ thick, the XPS narrowly beats the MBP’s 14.1″ by 9.6″ by *0.83″. Weight-wise, the Dell XPS 15 is 4 pounds 8 ounces, and the MBP is 4 pounds 9 ounces. Even though they are close, I have to admit that the results of my measurements surprised me. Bear in mind that the XPS I was sent is the one with the bigger battery, SSD, and touchscreen, so there is an even lighter version available that is closer to 4 pounds. So long story short, if you have a laptop bag that was specially made to fit a 15″ MacBook or smaller laptop, you’ll have no problem using it with the Dell XPS 15.

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But size isn’t everything. The Dell XPS 15 I was given to try also has the InfinityEdge touchscreen that I raved about in my Dell XPS 13 review, and its 15.6” UltraSharp 4K Ultra HD (3840×2160) screen also has a better resolution than the 15″ MacBook Pro retina’s (which is 2880 x 1800).

Screen and size comparison of the 15 MBP r to 15 Dell XPS

I’ve only been using the Dell XPS 15 for about a week, so I’m not yet ready to fully review it, but I do want to take you on a walk-around tour of the laptop. Let’s start with the unboxing experience. Click any of the photos to start a slide show.

Pulling the lid off the black box containing the XPS was an ahh moment. The Dell XPS 15 has a body that is clad in CNC aluminum, and it is beautiful.

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When you pull the laptop from the box, you reveal the quick start guide and warranty information.

If you are used to carrying a 13″ or below laptop, the Dell XPS 15 might feel positively huge, but if your current laptop is 15″ or larger, you’re going to really like what you see (and feel).

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On the right side of the computer, you’ll find a Kensington lock slot, a USB 3.0 port, and an SD card reader slot.

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On the left side of the laptop are the power port, a USB 3.0 port, an HDMI port, a Thunderbolt 3 port, and a headphone jack. The Thunderbolt port is notable, because it offers 8x the transfer speed of USB 3.0, it can charge your device, and it can power up to two 4K displays.

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There are no other ports or buttons on the exterior of the laptop.

The bottom of the laptop is also clad in CNC machined aluminum. The little trapdoor in the middle of the back covers the serial number and express service code. There are two long rubber strips that will keep the laptop from sliding.

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Opening the laptop reveals the carbon fiber composite palm rest with soft-touch paint. It’s visually stunning, and the only complaint that I have about the soft-touch paint is that it shows fingertip or palm grease with a little bit of use; I find myself compulsively wiping it down. As you’d expect from a top of the line laptop, the keyboard is full-size and backlit, with chiclet keys that have 1.3mm travel. The precision touchpad has a seamless glass integrated button.

And then, there’s the glorious screen. As with the Dell XPS 13, the bezel around the InfinityEdge display is minimal. On the XPS 15 the bezel measures 6mm on the top and sides, and it is 2.2cm wide (0.87″) thick on the bottom. Directly to the left of the Dell symbols is where the widescreen HD 720p webcam is housed.

The specs for the Dell XPS 15 I was sent to try are as follows:
XPS 15 9550 with Windows 10 Home 64 bit
Memory: 16GB (2x8GB) 2133Mhz DDR4 Memory 16GB
Keyboard: Backlit Keyboard, US English ENGKB
Video Card: NVIDIA® GeForce® GTX 960M with 2GB GDDR5 DISC
Driver: Dell Wireless 1830 Driver (Windows 10) 1830 [
Hard Drive: 512GB PCIe Solid State Drive
Wireless: DW1830 3×3 802.11ac 2.4/5GHz + Bluetooth 4.1
Cable: PowerCord 2.5A 1M
Warranty: 1 Year Ltd Hardware
Primary Battery: Dell 84 WHr 6?Cell Lithium?Ion Battery
Processor: 6th Generation Intel Core i7 6700HQ Quad Core (6M Cache, up to 3.5 GHz)
FGA Module: XPS151605_1623_P/XPS151701_1623/US/CA/BTO FG0125
Processor: Intel® Core™ i7 Label CI7SML
Display: 15.6″ 4K Ultra HD (3840 x 2160) InfinityEdge touch UHD
Security Software: McAfee LiveSafe 12 Month Subscription
Power Supply: 130W AC Adapter 130AC
Price: Approximately $2099.99

Want to learn more about the Dell XPS 15? You can by clicking here. I’ll have a full followup in about a month or so, but in the meantime I have powered down my 13″ MacBook Pro retina, and this will be my primary computer.

Disclosure: Dell has sent me this XPS 15 to use, review, and keep; I am under no obligation to provide them with a positive review, nor are they able to censor my impressions.

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About the Author

Judie Lipsett Stanford
Judie is the co-owner and Editor-in-Chief of Gear Diary, which she founded in September 2006. She started in 1999 writing software reviews at the now-defunct; from mid-2000 through 2006, she wrote hardware reviews for and co-edited at The Gadgeteer. A recipient of the Sigma Kappa Colby Award for Technology, Judie is best known for her device-agnostic approach, deep-dive reviews, and enjoyment of exploring the latest tech, gadgets, and gear.