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Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 Review

Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 Review

Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 review Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 laptop review 27The Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 is a hybrid machine in more ways than one. While portables that try to balance laptop and tablet operation are commonplace, it’s ground-breaking to see machines that include Intel processing power and AMD graphics on a single chip. With the Dell XPS 15 2-in-1, though, that’s exactly what we’ve got. We’re going to put it through its paces in our Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 review to find out if these two traditional enemies can work together and justify its £2,179 UK price and $2,199 US cost.

Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 Review – Components

The key component inside the Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 is the Intel Core i7-8705G. It may be branded with the blue team’s name, but it combines Intel processing cores with AMD’s superior graphical hardware.

The processing portion of the chip is a quad-core design with Hyper-Threading, which means it will address eight concurrent threads. It’s got a 3.1GHz stock speed that boosts to 4.1GHz, and it’s paired with 16GB of memory.

Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 review Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 laptop review 13Graphical grunt comes from an AMD Radeon RX Vega M chipset. This part has 20 compute units and a peak boost speed of 1,011MHz, and it has 4GB of dedicated memory.

We haven’t seen a hybrid machine like this before. However, the Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 does sidle up against some more conventional notebooks.

The Razer Blade Pro is a slim, stylish 17.3in machine designed for work and play, and its £2,099/$2,299 price nearly matches the Dell. That machine featured a Core i7-7700HQ processor and a GTX 1060 6GB graphics chip. That’s exactly the kind of specification that you’ll find on a host of machines with 15.6in screens, too, and prices that undercut the Dell.

Elsewhere, the Dell’s specification includes a 512GB SSD, dual-band 802.11ac wireless and Bluetooth 4.0.

And, as ever, plenty of different configurations are available. If you want to save some cash, hundreds of pounds or dollars can be saved by opting for a Core i5 processor, smaller SSDs or screens with more conventional 1080p resolutions.

Need more news on the latest kit? Click here to check out the latest headlines.

Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 review Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 laptop review 06Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 Review – Design

The Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 mixes classic Dell design with sensible additions that enable this machine to function as an excellent hybrid device.

The anodized aluminium lid and carbon fibre keyboard surround are design elements that have made the trip to the 2-in-1 from Dell’s standard XPS machines.

The move to a hybrid design means that Dell uses large aluminium hinges on this machine, and they work well – they’re sturdy, but it’s always easy to move the screen around between laptop and tablet positions. Build quality is great elsewhere, too, with no give in the panels and a robust screen.

It’s rare to find a hybrid device that has this kind of build quality, and it bodes well for taking the Dell on the road.

Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 review Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 laptop review 03The dimensions are decent, too. The Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 weighs 1.97kg, which compares well to conventional 15.6in laptop. It’s only 16mm thin, which means it’s pretty easy to slip the Dell into a bag or a backpack. In that sense, it’s just like carrying around a conventional, mid-sized laptop – and far easier to carry around than the 17.3in Razer Blade Pro, which weighed just over 3kg.

On the left-hand side of the Dell’s body you’ll find a battery indicator and a microSD card slot. There are pairs of USB 3.1 and Thunderbolt 3 connectors around the Dell’s edges, and they function as DisplayPort outputs and for power delivery. Cleverly, the power button doubles as a fingerprint reader.

The included stylus works with precision across the touchscreen. However, the Dell’s 15.6in screen is crammed into a 14in chassis. Positively, that does mean tiny bezels – but that also means that the webcam is installed beneath the screen, which means anyone on a video call gets a great view up your nose.

Don’t expect any wired networking on the Dell XPS 15 2-in-1, either. Dell does include an adapter with this machine, but it’s only got a full-size USB port – and no Gigabit Ethernet socket.

Click here for our full archive of laptop reviews!

Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 Review – Ergonomics

Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 review Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 laptop review 20The Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 has an interesting keyboard. Dell has packed the keyboard with magnets. using technology that is allegedly inspired by ‘maglev’ trains.

It’s an outlandish claim, but it does make sense when you delve a little deeper. Instead of using a conventional membrane design or the scissor system used by Apple’s latest laptops, the Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 features a magnet beneath every button.

The magnet is designed to mimic the movement of normal keyboards while keeping the button travel down to a tiny 0.7mm. That’s about half as much travel as most laptop keyboards offer, and Dell says that this system allows them to make this machine even slimmer.

The keyboard’s low-travel buttons are fast and tactile, with a responsive action and pleasing amounts of consistency. The light, speedy keyboard is fantastic for motoring through documents, handling work and for browsing the web.

However, while the keyboard does have plenty of good points, the magnetic system doesn’t completely disguise just how little travel you get with the Dell XPS 15 2-in-1. It’s still obvious that there’s very little movement in these buttons, and that’s no good for any after-hours gaming. It could also put off users who want more physical response from their typing devices.

The Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 pairs its keyboard with an excellent touchpad. It’s glass-coated and works with Microsoft Precision, and it never gave us any issues.

Delve into our complete guide to the best laptops for every budget and use!

Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 review Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 laptop review gamingDell XPS 15 2-in-1 Review – Gaming Performance

The Radeon RX Vega M graphics chipset inside the Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 provided a surprising turn of speed in gaming benchmarks.

It managed a 43fps average in Battlefield 1 when run at 1080p, and it motored through Crysis 3 at 38fps at that resolution. In fact, it managed averages of 30fps or better in all of our test games run at 1080p.

The Vega chip inside the Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 will play most of today’s top games at solid graphics settings and at 1080p. At worst, you’ll have to tone down some of the textures. If you play less demanding games, like Fortnite, PUBG or League of Legends, then you won’t have any problems.

The Dell won’t play games at the screen’s 4K native resolution, but that’s to be expected from a slim machine with an integrated graphics core.

The AMD Radeon Vega silicon inside the Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 can’t match the dedicated GTX 1060 graphics chip inside the Razer Blade Pro. Dell’s machine scored 6,147 points in the 3D Mark Fire Strike test, while the Razer scored 9,480 – and that translated to a significant lead in gaming benchmarks.

The Dell was easily as quick as the GTX 1050, though. That chip was included in the Acer Nitro 5, and it could only return a score of 5,554 in the 3D Mark Fire Strike test.

All in all, then, it’s an impressive performance from the combined powers of Dell and AMD. We’ve never seen this much graphical power from an integrated core. It means that the Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 will be able to handle 1080p gaming alongside photo editing, video encoding and other productivity tasks.

Want a more conventional device? Here’s our full review of the normal Dell XPS 15!

Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 review Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 laptop review applicationsDell XPS 15 2-in-1 Review – Application Performance

The Intel Core i7-8705G uses the revised Intel Kaby Lake architecture to deliver excellent scores in our benchmarks.

Its Geekbench single-core result of 4,736 beat the last-generation Core i7 chip inside the Razer Blade Pro, and it actually proved faster than first-generation Ryzen desktop chips. It wasn’t even far behind Intel Coffee Lake desktop parts. Its multi-threaded score of 15,067 is good, too, with a lead over the Razer, which scored 13,776.

In the Cinebench benchmark the Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 scored 680cb. That is a little slower than the Razer’s chip, but it’s able to keep pace with most other mid-range processors.

The rapid processor was paired with an inconsistent SSD. That may explain why the Dell can’t keep up with the Razer in some tests. While the SSD’s read speed of 3,088MB/s is great, its write pace of 486MB/s is disappointing.

The Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 may not outpace other laptops in every application benchmark, but there’s still a lot to like . The quad-core i7-8705G has the single-threaded speed to easily handle web browsing and Office applications. It’s got the multi-threaded ability for more complex tasks, like photo editing, video work and design tools. If you need a light, versatile machine for portable productivity, the Dell is up to the task.

Dell claims that the XPS 15 2-in-1 has a fifteen-hour battery life, but it didn’t match that in tests. We couldn’t get the Dell to last more than seven hours. That’s double the longevity we record from notebooks with discrete GPUs. It’s a fine result, but you’ll have to be careful to coax the XPS through a whole day of usage.

The one area where the new Intel and AMD chip does make itself heard is in thermal tests. The XPS is silent when running more tasks, but pushing the chip or the GPU causes the fans to spin up. In this scenario it’s louder than most hybrids – but it’s also admittedly far more powerful. Finally, it’s also far quieter than most gaming notebooks and workstation laptops.

Thinking of a new system? Here’s our in-depth guide to AMD’s AM4 platform – and the best motherboards

Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 Review – Screen

The screen has excellent credentials. The 4K resolution delivers supreme sharpness and detail for complex, precise work, and the touchscreen has Gorilla Glass and an anti-reflective coating.

Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 review Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 laptop review 29Some of the Dell’s benchmark results are superb, too. The brightness level of 471cd/m2 is huge and high enough for use outdoors and under bright office lights. The black level of 0.3cd/m2 is great too – consequently ensuring that dark areas on the screen do look very dark indeed.

Those figures combine for a contrast ratio of 1,570:1. That’s superb: high enough to ensure vivid colours at every point on the spectrum. It’s tiny bit better than the Razer, which had marginally deeper blacks but poorer brightness.

The Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 displayed a great 99% of the sRGB colour gamut. It even handled 94.4% of the Adobe RGB gamut and 92.3% of the DCI P3 gamut – which bodes well for more demanding work tasks. Uniformity was good, too, with the backlight never varying by more than 10%. That’s an excellent result for any laptop.

The Dell delivered a slightly more ordinary Delta E of 3.77, and a marginally chilly colour temperature of 6,947K.

Consequently, those latter figures mean that the most demanding users won’t be sated by the Dell XPS 15 2-in-1, but they’re still better than the Razer.

Overall, the Dell’s screen is excellent: it has the contrast and brightness levels to excel in all environments, and its colour results are good enough for 99% of people. If you’re handling work on the road, even complex colour-related tasks, this screen won’t let you down. And, if you are one of the demanding creatives who does need even better colour figures, you’ll likely be using a desktop monitor anyway.

Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 Review – Conclusion

Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 review Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 laptop review 09The Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 is a fantastic machine. It’s easily one of best portables on the market. Furthermore, it’s also one of the rare systems that is equally as impressive in tablet and laptop modes.

It’s easy to use and has great build quality, and it certainly looks the part. The 4K screen delivers enough quality to sate the vast majority of users. The low-travel keyboard is great for demanding typing. As a result, this machine is fantastic for work.

The combination of Intel and AMD hardware works well. There’s enough processing ability to handle the vast majority of work tasks. There’s graphical pace for 1080p gaming and most work tools.

The battery life can’t match Dell’s claims, and the fans do sometimes get a little noisy. However those are the only issues, and they’re relatively minor.

Overall, then, our Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 review proves that this is a fantastic hybrid device – on the inside and the outside. It’s well-balanced, versatile and capable. It’s a tad expensive, but it justifies its cost with ample speed and consistent quality.

The model in our Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 review costs $2,199 in the US and £2,179 in the UK – and here’s its official site.  Discuss our Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 review on our Facebook and Twitter pages. And, if you need some more inspiration after reading the Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 review, check out our guide to our favourite laptops or go deep with our ultimate guide to 4K monitors – covering the technology, the terms and our top recommendations!

The Good

  • Hybrid chip delivers fantastic performance
  • Design is smart, sturdy and intuitive
  • Solid ergonomics for working
  • Screen has 4K resolution and great quality

The Bad

  • Battery life could be better
  • Occasional fan noise

The Specs

CPU: 3.1GHz Intel Core i7-8705G
Memory: 16GB 2,400MHz DDR4
Graphics: AMD Radeon RX Vega M GL
Screen: 15.6in, 3,840 x 2,160 IPS touchscreen
Dimensions: 354 x 235 x 16mm (WxDxH)
Weight: 1.97kg
Connectivity: Dual-band 802.11ac WiFi, Bluetooth 4.1
Ports: 2 x USB-C, 2 x Thunderbolt 3, microSD card reader, 3.5mm headset jack
Storage: 512GB NVMe SSD
Warranty: 1yr RTB

Summary
Review Date
Reviewed Item
Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

About Author

Mark Reed

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