Review of Dell XPS 15 (2021): OLED Screen, Process Upgrades

The Dell XPS laptops are some of the most popular, thin, and lightweight Windows computers for money. The 13-inch model has long been loved WIRED (8/10, Recommended WIRED), and the new 15-inch gets the same upgrade that its youngest sibling got this year: an OLED display.

That new 3.5K OLED touchscreen will help make the Dell XPS 15 one of the best 15-inch laptops on the market. It’s also powerful, thanks to Intel’s latest processors and multiple trackpads and keyboards. The only thing that hurts is the battery life.


Photo: Dell

The 2021 XPS 15 uses the same 11th generation Intel chips as the previous model. The big news here is the new OLED screen, which, we have to remember here, is optional. Like the XPS 13, you’ll have to choose the more powerful Intel i7 chips to get the OLED option. That means the screen on the base i5 model remains unchanged. That’s a 1920 x 1200-pixel FHD +screen.

If you choose the i7- or i9-based XPS 15, then you can choose between the 4K UHD screen and the new 3.5K OLED. If you want to know what is better… it depends. The resolution is much better on the 4K screen. I also believe the 4K model has a slight edge in terms of battery life, even if I compare last year’s 4K model to OLED here this year.

OLED is more expensive; the cheapest option is $ 2,100. The model I tested featured OLED, an 11th-generation Intel Core i7, Nvidia RTX 3050 Ti laptop GPU, 16 gigabytes of RAM, and a 512-gigabyte SSD. This configuration is listed at a cost of $ 2,200. From there, you can run it for up to $ 4,600 by choosing the i9 Chip, up to 64 gigabytes of RAM, and up to a whopping 8 terabytes of SSD space, with some more reasonable specs. configure in between.

While the base mode with i5 chip is good for basic computing needs, I would recommend the OLED screen and a faster chip if you can afford it. It’s a surprisingly bright screen, and the razor-thin bezels give it a memorable quality unmatched by the rest of the 15-inch laptops I’ve tested. Editing photos and videos on this machine was a real pleasure, to the point that I found myself taking photos so I could process them in Darktable on the XPS 15.

I also find that glossy OLED screens seem to be better in brightness than FHD screens. The 400-nit screen here is just fine with all but direct sunlight. The main problem with direct sunlight is that the high gloss surface gets fingerprints like crazy. If you keep it neat and clean, you won’t be able to issue sunlight and glare.

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