Dell XPS 15z laptop review

Has Dell created the best MacBook Pro alternative?

Image 1 of 5 Dell XPS 15z Keyboard
Image 2 of 5 Dell XPS 15z disk drive
Image 3 of 5 Dell XPS 15z
Image 4 of 5 Dell XPS 15z Lid
Image 5 of 5 Dell XPS 15z Trackpad

For

  • Almost everything
  • Brilliant screen
  • Tons of power

Against

  • What's to hate?
  • Slightly shallow keyboard
  • No Blu-ray

Dell's XPS 15z is one of the best 15.6-inch Windows laptops we've ogled. It's super skinny and comes packing high-octane multimedia goodies

Touted as one of the thinnest laptops money can buy, Dell's XPS 15z is one of the best laptops out there if you don't fancy filling Steve Jobs' pockets with even more greenbacks.

Now that the MacBook Pro has been updated with Intel’s speedy Sandy Bridge technology, you might be drawn in by its alluring combination of brains, brawn and sexy silver chassis.

But if you’re still on the fence over the steep price, or simply can’t make do without Windows, let us offer this slick new alternative: the Dell XPS 15z.

Dell XPS 15z: Features

Using a similar brushed metal design to Apple’s portable, the XPS 15z has an appealing stripped-down look that most laptops would kill for.

The chunky rear that bulked up Dell’s XPS 15 portable has been slimmed down, and now the thickest part of the body measures just 27mm.

This slender new look has also improved the weight. At just 2.6kg, you can carry this machine around all day without jerking your arm free of its socket. So far, so very similar to the MacBook Pro.

Build quality is also comparable, thanks to the tough magnesium alloy chassis. The aluminium lid is incredibly thin yet solid, and we're confident that it could take a pummeling without damaging the screen.

Even the XPS 15z’s keyboard looks fantastic, with its funky curved metallic keys. They're firmly set and well separated from each other in the popular ‘isolation style’, which makes them perfect for touch-typing.

Best of all is the subtle backlighting – another great feature shared with the MacBook Pro - which came in handy during those late-night web browsing sessions.

Our only complaint is that the keys don’t travel far when hit, which makes the board feel a little stiff.

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Dell XPS 15z: Screen

One of the best features of the new MacBook Pro is the vibrant screen, which is perfect for design work or simply kicking back with a film. The Dell XPS 15z doesn’t slack in this area either, with its bright 15.6-inch display.

A Full HD 1080p resolution means everything is razor sharp, from photos to movies to feature-packed websites. If you love watching High Definition movies, this is the laptop for you.

Photos are rendered beautifully, with rich colours and perfect contrast bringing your treasured moments to life. Of course, our blurry shots taken in the pub still looked a bit iffy, not helped by an abundance of gut overhang.

Unfortunately the screen is rather reflective thanks to the glossy coating, which hinders outdoor use. However, viewing angles are strong so you can happily enjoy a movie with a friend, without having to cram your heads together.

Dell XPS 15z: Performance

The Dell XPS 15z packs in an Intel Core i7 Sandy Bridge processor like the MacBook Pro, but also finds room for a mighty 8GB of RAM. You’ll have no problem with multi-tasking your applications, and shouldn’t need to upgrade for years to come.

Even the most demanding editing software runs perfectly thanks to the dedicated nVidia GeForce 525M graphics card, and you can play the latest games (although may have to turn down some detail levels on more demanding titles).

With all that power on board, we expected the XPS 15z to turn into a portable furnace after a few hours of use. However, the body stayed impressively cool, even with all of the settings turned right up.

We also managed to watch movies for three and a half hours before the battery gave up, and dragged out almost five hours of life by limiting ourselves to web browsing. The MacBook Pro lasted about the same length of time in our tests.

Dell XPS 15z: Specifications

You can carry around a huge media collection on the 750GB hard drive, the same amount of storage as a top-end MacBook Pro. There's even a slot-loading DVD drive, impressive given the compact size.

Even more impressive are the powerful built-in speakers, which can easily fill an average room with great-sounding music.

You can browse the interwebs at top speed thanks to built-in 802.11n Wi-Fi, with dual-band support.

You get plenty of ports including USB 3.0 and eSATA, and a built-in HD webcam that can shoot photos and video. We appeared sharp during web chats, although there is slight motion blur.

Dell XPS 15z: Verdict

Quite simply, this is one of the best portables we've had the pleasure of reviewing. Masses of power are tucked into a slim and portable chassis, with an excellent keyboard and a sharp and vibrant screen.

If you're looking for an alternative to the MacBook Pro, this is as close to a Windows version as you’re likely to get, at a price that’s much easier to swallow.

Dell XPS 15z availability: Out now,

Link: Dell

Dell XPS 15z price: £1199 (config changes depending on price)

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