Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Dell XPS 15 15.6-inch Gaming Laptop Review

Dell XPS 15 15.6-inch Gaming Laptop Review
Recently, Dell unveiled three new XPS laptops. The first laptop to be reviewed was the Dell XPS 17. Today, we're looking at the Dell XPS 15 for gamers who require mobility at an affordable price. The Dell XPS 15 is equipped with an Intel Core i5 processor, 4GB of DDR3 memory, and NVIDIA GT 420M graphics. The audio quality is exceptional on this laptop, gameplay is adequate, but battery life is disappointing with the base 6-cell battery. Overall, if you're on a budget, this notebook will get you gaming with medium settings. If you're an avid gamer, though, the larger Dell XPS 17 is worth considering.

Pros :

* Cost
* Available Options
* Stellar Audio
* NVIDIA Graphics with Optimus Technology

Cons :

* Disappointing Battery Life
* Heavy
* 720p Screen as Opposed to 1080p
* Lack of Blu-ray as a Standard Option

Description :

* Intel Core i5-460M Processor
* 15.6" HD 720p WLED Display
* NVIDIA GeForce GT 420M Graphics with Optimus Technology
* 4GB Dual Channel DDR3 Memory
* 500GB 7200RPM Hard Drive
* 8x CD/DVD Burner
* 56 WHr 6-Cell Battery
* Intel Centrino Wireless-N 1000
* JBL 2.1 Speakers
* Windows 7 Home Premium
* 15" x 10.4" x 1.3" @ 6.14 Lbs

Starting at $850, the Dell XPS 15 features a 720p 15.6-inch WLED display. Although this is a bit inferior to rival laptops equipped with full HD screens, there is an option to upgrade to a full 1080p display with facial recognition for $130 more. The exterior casing is made of silver anodized aluminum, and the interior features black palm rests and a black backlit keyboard. It is on the heavy side, though, weighing in at 6.14 pounds with the 6-cell battery.

Like most other pre-built systems, the Dell XPS 15 comes with Windows 7 Home Premium. The base system features an Intel Core i5-460M that runs at 2.53GHz with Turbo Boost up to 2.8GHz. This is adequate for mainstream gaming. Since the Dell XPS 15 is fully customizable, there is an option to upgrade to a Core i7, but the price tag is steep at $500.

Although an upgrade from the base NVIDIA GT 420M video card to the NVIDIA GeForce GT 435M 2GB graphics card would normally be recommended, it does require an upgrade to an Intel Core i7 quad-core processor as well. If you have the budget, it's fine, but many mainstream gamers do not. The NVIDIA GT 420M-based Dell XPS 15 can still be used with medium settings in the latest games, since it's a newly released graphics card with 96 shaders and a 128-bit memory interface. The NVIDIA GT 420M also offers Optimus technology.

Along with NVIDIA graphics, the Dell XPS 15 comes standard with 4GB of dual channel DDR3 memory. This is an average amount of memory for a laptop in this price range, but more memory is definitely a good thing to make it future-proof.

Luckily, storage is more than adequate with a base 500GB 7200rpm hard drive that offers decent speed with ample space. A solid state drive is available as a $550 option, but it's not worth the price unless you travel incessantly. Although load times of games improve with an SSD, that's about it. It won't give you any marked improvement once in the game.

The Dell XPS 15 gaming laptop PC also comes equipped with a 56 WHr 6-cell battery which makes battery life disappointing. If you want to game on the go, be sure to bring the AC adapter on any prolonged journey. What really stands out is the sound quality. Boasting JBL 2.1 built-in speakers, the Dell XPS 15 offers better audio than many other laptops in this price range. Since this laptop is geared for multimedia, though, it would be nice if a Blu-ray drive was standard. It's easy to overlook this issue, though, since the Dell XPS is priced aggressively.

Overall, the Dell XPS 15 is a decent 15.6-inch machine for the budget-conscious gamer. It offers flexible options, a fast hard drive, and 720p screen. Although gameplay is a bit cramped on any 15-inch notebook, the Dell XPS 15 is easy to tote around for on-the-go gaming. For gamers looking for smooth gameplay in a desktop replacement, though, check out the Dell XPS 17 or ASUS G73 Series