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Dell XPS 15 (2022) review: The right mix of power and portability

Dell’s XPS 15 has been one of the best laptops for creators for years, and the 2022 model is no different. It blends a four and a third pound chassis with the performance of Intel’s 12th-gen 45W processors and Nvidia’s GeForce RTX 3050 Ti graphics, all while delighting the user with a 3.5K OLED display and a powerful quad-speaker setup.

It’s not perfect. Dell continues to prioritize narrow bezels over a quality webcam, and that’s an issue in the age of working from home. Plus, the cost of parts is going up, and we’re seeing the price of devices keep up with that.

This year’s model is just a spec bump, with a faster CPU and faster memory, but certain things still caught me by surprise. Battery life was really good, something I never expect from a laptop with a 45W CPU and RTX graphics. Ultimately, it’s just a delightful laptop that I’m happy to recommend.

    Dell XPS 15 9520

    Dell’s XPS 15 blends power and portability with RTX graphics, 12th-gen Intel processors, and coming in a sub-five-pound package.

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Dell XPS 15 (2022) price and availability

  • The Dell XPS 15 9520 starts at $1,449 and is available now
  • It’s available in either Platinum Silver or Frost colors

Announced this spring, the Dell XPS 15 9520 is available for purchase now, and it starts at $1,449. That base model will include a Core i5-12500H, 8GB DDR5 memory, a 256GB SSD, and an FHD+ display. It won’t include dedicated graphics.

As usual, there are lots of options. You can get it with up to 64GB RAM and a 2TB SSD, and the display has two different 4K options (technically the OLED one is considered 3.5K), one of which is OLED and the other of which isn’t. The CPU goes up to a Core i9-12900HK, and the graphics card goes up to an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050 Ti.

There are two colors. One is Platinum Silver, packing a black carbon fiber keyboard deck. It’s the classic XPS look. The other is Frost with a white woven glass fiber keyboard deck.

Dell XPS 15 (2022) specs

CPU 12th Generation Intel Core i7-12700H (24MB Cache, up to 4.7 GHz, 14 cores)
GPU NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3050 Ti 4GB GDDR6 (40W)
Display 15.6-inch 3.5K (3456 x 2160) InfinityEdge OLED touch display, DisplayHDR 500, 400-nit, 100% DCI-P3 color gamut, 100,000:1 contrast ratio, 176° wide viewing angle +/- 88° / 88° / 88° / 88°, up to 0.65% anti-reflective, anti-smudge
Body 344.72×230.14x18mm (13.57×9.06×0.71in), 1.96kg (4.31lbs)
Ports 2x Thunderbolt 4 (USB Type-C) with DisplayPort and Power Delivery
1x USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C (DisplayPort / Power Delivery)
1x Full-size SD card reader v6.0
1x 3.5mm headphone/microphone combo jack
Wedge-shaped lock slot
1x USB-C to USB-A v3.0 & HDMI v2.0 adapter ships standard
Storage 512GB PCIe 4 x4 SSD
Memory 16GB (2x8GB) DDR5 Dual Channel at 4800MHz
Battery 86Whr battery (built-in), 130W AC adapter (USB Type-C)
Audio Studio quality tuning with Waves MaxxAudio Pro and Waves Nx 3D audio
Quad-speaker design with 2.5W x2 woofers and 1.5W x2 tweeters = 8W total peak output
3.5mm headphone/microphone combo jack featuring Waves Nx 3D audio with head tracking
Dual microphone array optimized with Waves MaxxVoice supporting VoIP
Microsoft Cortana capable
Inputs Touch Display (optional)
2 Digital Array Microphones
Full size, backlit chiclet keyboard; 1.3mm travel
Glass surface Precision Touchpad
Windows Hello fingerprint reader in power button & HD (720p) Windows Hello camera in upper bezel
Ambient Light Sensor for display backlight control
Material CNC machined aluminum in platinum silver with carbon fiber composite palm rest in black
OS Windows 11 Home
Price $2,253

These are the specs of the unit that Dell sent me for review. As mentioned above, the base model starts at $1,449.

Design: There are no design changes

  • It has the familiar Dell XPS design, with a black keyboard and silver exterior
  • There are three USB ports, and it also includes an SD card slot

To be clear, the only things that have changed gen-over-gen are internal. If you knew what the Dell XPS 15 9500 and 9510 models looked like, you can safely skip this section.

Top down view of Dell XPS 15

The model that Dell sent me comes in Platinum Silver with a black carbon fiber palm rest. This is what I consider to be classic XPS. Back when there was only one colorway for the entire lineup, this was it. Since then, it’s expanded. The second one was Frost with a white woven glass fiber palm rest, and I have to say, that one is pretty sweet. That second option debuted with the XPS 13 and XPS 13 2-in-1, but it more recently came to the XPS 15. The XPS 17 only has the XPS classic look.

The middle is stamped with a shiny Dell logo, and that’s the flashiest part of the exterior. The sides are silver, a design that actually debuted with the XPS 15 9500 a couple of years ago; prior to that, the sides matched the black keyboard deck.

Side view of Dell XPS 15

It has all of the ports that you need, as long as they’re USB Type-C. There are actually three USB Type-C ports, two of which are Thunderbolt 4. Thunderbolt is the most versatile port there is, supporting 40Gbps transfer speeds and fully supporting USB4. The USB Type-C port on the other side, however, is USB 3.2 Gen 2, so you get 10Gbps transfer speed. You can charge the laptop with any of the three, and it’s actually nice to have a powerful machine like this that uses USB Type-C for charging. It’s somewhat rare since, for a time, Power Delivery only supported up to 100W.

Side view of Dell XPS 15

Also on the right side is a 3.5mm audio jack and a full-size SD card slot. If you’re a photographer, then you already know how important this is, and you probably already know that a full-size SD card slot is somewhat rare in laptops. But ultimately, this is a creator machine, so it has one.

The design of the Dell XPS 15 9520 is tried and true, and if you like it, you might want to jump on it. The Dell XPS 13 and XPS 13 2-in-1 both got redesigned this year, which means that the larger models likely aren’t far behind.

Display: The OLED is as sweet as always

  • The screen is 15.6 inches diagonally with a 16:10 aspect ratio
  • It comes in FHD+, OLED 3.5K, and non-OLED 4K

As you’d expect from something with “15” in the name, it has a 15.6-inch display, which has been 16:10 since the XPS 15 9500 came out. There are three options: 1,920×1,200, 3,456×2,160 OLED, and 3,840×2,400 IPS LCD. Dell sent me the OLED model, which is obviously my favorite.

Close up of Dell XPS 15 display

There’s something to remember about Dell’s OLED displays though, which is that you don’t really need them. Their non-OLED screens are so good that you won’t even see much of a difference. With OLED, you get true blacks because pixels are only lit up when they’re being used, and because there’s no backlight, those colors tend to also be more vibrant. However, you can also have a really great IPS LCD screen that could pass as OLED, and that’s what Dell offers.

Dell XPS 15 display test

The OLED screen on the model that Dell sent me obviously scored well on my display tests, supporting 100% sRGB, 94% NTSC, 96% Adobe RGB, and 100% P3. These are the best scores that you’ll find. But again, the other configurations are going to reach in the 90s as well.

Dell XPS 15 display test

Brightness maxed out at 405.7 nits, slightly exceeding the promised 400. As you can see, black doesn’t go up as brightness increases, a benefit of OLED.

The point that I’m trying to get across is that Dell puts really great displays on its XPS laptops. OLED is fantastic as always, and FHD+ is for if you really need the extra battery life.

Close up of Dell XPS 15 webcam

As always, Dell is committed to having the narrowest bezels around for the most immersive experience. Indeed, it has prioritized that above all else, even chopping down the chin a couple of years ago when it moved from a 16:9 display to 16:10. Unfortunately, that also means that there’s still a 720p webcam when the rest of the market is moving toward higher-quality 1080p webcams thanks to the boom in working from home.

Keyboard: It has a massive touchpad

  • Dell uses one of the largest touchpads on any 15-inch Windows laptop
  • The fingerprint sensor still requires you to wait for the PC to boot

As mentioned above, the palm rest is black carbon fiber, and the keyboard is a matching black, using Chiclet-style keys. The keyboard is both comfortable and accurate, although it does leave something to be desired over say, a ThinkPad X1 Extreme, given that ThinkPads are renowned for having the best keyboards. One thing I will say is that while it’s not quite as quiet, I do like the force curve a bit more. To me, Lenovo’s ThinkPads have too long of a key-depth, and they sometimes don’t feel modern.

Top down view of Dell XPS 15 keyboard

One thing I absolutely love is the big old touchpad that Dell chose to include. It’s about as big as it gets in a 15-inch laptop, and the only other OEM I see trying to make large touchpads is Apple. It’s great to see on the Windows side. I will say that the big touchpad can feel a bit wobbly at times, and I think a haptic touchpad in its place would be a nice change. Perhaps we’ll see that in a future iteration. In the meantime, I’ll absolutely take this big touchpad as a win.

Speaker on the Dell XPS 15

The keyboard is flanked by the speakers, and Dell actually has four, two of which are underneath the laptop. It has a total of two 2.5W woofers and two 1.5W tweeters, making for an excellent audio experience. They’re tuned with Waves MaxxAudio Pro and Waves Nx 3D, and combined with the beautiful OLED display, this is a great machine for media consumption.

The Dell XPS 15 is the perfect creator PC

Dell used to talk about that a lot more, putting the high-quality display, high-quality sound, and more under an umbrella called Dell Cinema. The branding might not be there anymore, but the quality still is.

Performance: Intel 12th-gen and RTX graphics are a winning combo

  • The Dell XPS 15 9520 comes with Intel 12th-gen H-series processors, and either integrated graphics, an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050, or an RTX 3050 Ti
  • Along with 12th-gen CPUs, the other upgrade includes DDR5 memory

As I mentioned earlier, all of the upgrades on this machine are internal. It now comes with Intel’s 45W 12th-gen processors, which in turn enable it to have DDR5 memory. It’s also offered with either integrated graphics, an RTX 3050, or an RTX 3050 Ti, and those options existed for its predecessor. The configuration that Dell sent me includes an Intel Core i7-12700H, an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050 Ti, 16GB DDR5, and a 512GB SSD.

Front view of the Dell XPS 15

Personally, I think the Dell XPS 15 is the perfect machine for creators. It’s got the best display, and it’s got just the right internals. But it actually doesn’t have to be. If you want something that’s just a bigger laptop and you don’t need the power, you can get it with integrated graphics. But specced out as it is in this model, I love it.

The Dell XPS 15 is what its predecessors have always been: the best at what they’re meant to do

In the battery testing that I’ll talk about in a bit, I used it for work. That’s my usual writing articles in the web browser, and then using apps like Slack, OneNote, and so on. But a lot of what I used it for included apps like Adobe Lightroom Classic and Photoshop, and that was on battery life with the power slider set to best power efficiency. The best way I can put it is that I didn’t have to crank up the dial at any point to get the performance that I needed.

Intel’s new 12th-gen CPUs have a hybrid architecture, with big cores and little cores. The big cores, or P-cores, handle tasks that need a boost in performance. For things that don’t, there are the E-cores.

Ultimately, the Dell XPS 15 9520 is what it has always been. It’s quite possible the best laptop. It’s a perfect blend of power and portability.

For benchmarks, I used PCMark 10, 3DMark, VRMark, Cinebench, Geekbench, and CrossMark. As you can see, I just keep adding more benchmarks.

Dell XPS 15 9520
Core i7-12700H, RTX 3050 Ti
Dell XPS 17 9720
Core i7-12700H, RTX 3060
Lenovo Legion 5 Pro
Ryzen 7 5800H, RTX 3070
PCMark 10 6,640 6,280 6,800
3DMark: Time Spy 4,535 6,250 9,963
3DMark: Time Spy Extreme 2,250 2,967
VRMark: Orange 4,745 8,689 12,249
VRMark: Cyan 2,753 2,752 9,093
VRMark: Blue 1,325 1,902 3,027
Cinebench R23 1,797 / 11,695 1,767 / 11,714 1,423 / 11,729
Geekbench 5 1,774 / 11,580 1,753 / 12,992 1,475 / 7,377
CrossMark overall 1,855 1,871
CrossMark productivity 1,735 1,702
CrossMark creatvity 2,053 2,157
CrossMark response time 1,671 1,624

Included in the comparison is the newest Dell XPS 17, which is meant to be a bit more powerful with its RTX 3060 graphics. I’ll have a review on that soon, although to be honest, don’t expect it to look a whole lot different from this one. It’s obviously a similar product that’s a bit bigger and a bit more powerful.

The model that Dell sent me comes with an 86WHr battery, which is the larger of the two options. Interestingly, battery life is pretty great. My lowest was four hours and 55 minutes and my best was six hours and six minutes, with an average of around five and a half hours. Again, I did leave the power slider on best power efficiency, something that I don’t always do. But performance was so good that I didn’t need to touch it. Indeed, it was quite impressive.

Should you buy the Dell XPS 15 (2022)?

The Dell XPS 15 9520 is the best at what it’s meant to do, but you should be aware of if your use case fits that.

You should buy the Dell XPS 15 (2022) if:

  • You want the best creator machine with a 15-inch display
  • You want the best experience when streaming movies and TV shows

You should not buy the Dell XPS 15 (2022) if:

  • You’re looking for a productivity machine (check out the XPS 13 instead)
  • You’re looking for a quality webcam

I think the biggest reason not to get the Dell XPS 15 is if you want a productivity machine. That’s what U-series processors and integrated graphics are for, and something like a Dell XPS 13 would actually serve you much better than an XPS 15 would. Of course, there’s also the issue of the webcam, which is something to be aware of.

    Dell XPS 15 9520

    Dell’s XPS 15 blends power and portability with RTX graphics, 12th-gen Intel processors, and coming in a sub-five-pound package.

The post Dell XPS 15 (2022) review: The right mix of power and portability appeared first on XDA.

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