Dell’s MacBook Pro rival has had an upgrade.
Until the launch of the MacBook Pro 16-inch last year, Dell’s XPS 15 was our laptop of choice for creative pros (or its workstation-class sibling, the Precision 5540). Now Dell is attempting retake its crown with a designed model that’s both more and less than 2019’s model – and borrows a lot from its key rival.
Some XPS upgrades over the years have just added newer chips – and while the XPS 15 2020 does include Intel’s latests, 10th-generation processors – it’s design has been given an overhaul. The most obvious is the deeper display, which has a 16:10 aspect ratio and is higher-resolution than before: up from a 4K 3,840 x 2,160 to a 'UHD+’ 3,840 x 2,400. HD screen versions are also available, but these aren’t for Digital Arts readers.
The chassis has also been given some design tweaks. Some of these are focussed on usability – there’s a 62% larger trackpad, and redesigned keys that have flatter tops that are almost 10% larger for easier typing. The hinge has been reworked to make opening the laptop easier.
From the pictures we’ve seen, it’s clear that Dell has put a lot of effort into styling the XPS 15 – though we’ll reserve judgement until we see a review unit – and some changes are purely aesthetic.
For example, the bevel between the side and base has been made more rounded for the appearance of sleeker sides, which are now all-silver so the XPS 15 is all-silver when closed. However, this means there’s less depth for ports along the side – and Dell has followed Apple in dropping USB-A ports, though the XPS 15 does ship with a USB-C to -A adapter in the box. There are two Thunderbolt 3 ports, a USB-C port – all three of which can be used to power the XPS 15 – plus an SD card reader and a headphone port.
One change that’s clearly just borrowed from the MacBook Pro is the inclusion of a fingerprint reader in the Power button, to the top-right of the keyboard.
The XPS 15 2020 is available at launch with a four-core i5, or six-core or eight-core i7 chip options. An eight-core i9 version will follow. You can configure it with 8 to 64GB of 2933MHz RAM, up to 2TB of storage, Intel UHD graphics or an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 graphics chip (the latter, obviously).
The UHD+ screen’s specs are a 3,840 x 2,400-pixel resolution, multi-touch and the ability to output 100% of the Adobe RGB colour space.
No upgraded version of the XPS 15’s mobile workstation variant, the Precision 5540, has been announced at this time.
The XPS 15 follows a similar redesign of the XPS 13 back in January, and is joined by a 17-inch model. Dell hasn’t had a 17-inch XPS laptop since Blu-ray drives were ‘wow’ features – the size of a 17-inch laptop not really fitting with the XPS brand being for slim and light laptops.
Dell says that 2020’s XPS 17 delivers the kind of creative power you look to a 17-inch laptop for in a 19.5mm shell. It has many of the same specs as its 15-inch sibling, though with a larger UHD+ screen and chassis.
The key differentiation in terms of power is the option of Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060 graphics chip with 6GB of GDDR6 memory for much higher performance in 3D apps and others that can take advantage of the GPU.
2020 XPS price and availability
The Dell XPS 15 is available from 14 May. It starts at £1599/US$1299.99. The XPS 17 will start at US$1499 when it is released on 11 June. UK pricing is yet to be confirmed.
Dell has also launched a new line of Alienware laptops for gamers.