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2x Dell XPS 15 review: Core i7 or Core i5?

A review of two Dell XPS 15 laptops

The Dell XPS 15s are deluxe laptops that look great. This is true for both models we tested, but we definitely prefer the version with Core i7 and GT 640M over the one with Core i5 and GT 630M. The i7 version costs more of course, but it's worth the extra money. The processor is quite a bit faster, and you can actually play games with that graphics card.

The Dell XPS 15 is a laptop that showcases what Dell is very good at, and that is creating high-quality products. This is a laptop that's not supposed to be the cheapest possible alternative, but one that is put together decently and performs adequately. Hardware.Info tested two models, one with Core i5 and GT 630M and one with Core i7 and GT 640M. 

The Dell XPS 15 is a 15-inch laptop and looks like a larger version of the Dell XPS 13 Ultrabook. This larger model doesn't carry the Ultrabook title, because Dell use standard, 35-watt mobile processors instead of energy-efficient ones.

The XPS 15 is constructed out of aluminium and a rubbery material. The laptop looks very sleek from all sides, and you don't even have all those stickers to sully the look. They are located under an aluminium cover on the bottom. Sharp lines and appealing design, those words come to mind when looking at the XPS 15. The keyboard, with backlit keys, also appears to be designed with aesthetics in mind. The keys are rounded, which takes a little getting used to. Like Apple's laptops, Dell has not included a separate numpad. The touchpad is large and smooth, and works fine.

When designing the sides of the XPS 15 Dell also put a lot of thought in form and not just function. On the left there are three USB 3.0 ports, an HDMI port and a Mini DisplayPort. A VGA connector is absent. If you have the GeForce GT 630M you can't use the digital connectors at the same time, but that is possible with the GT 640M. On the left Dell also placed a gigabit port and a network cable.

On the other side you'll find the DVD burner which doesn't have a tray, but just a slot you slide the disc into. There is a headphone and a microphone jack. The wireless functionality is provided by an Intel Centrino 6235. It has good specifications, and is compatible with 802.11n on both via 2.4 and 5 GHz bands. The maximum transfer rate is 300 Mbit/s. The adapter also provides Bluetooth and supports Intel Wireless Display, which Dell included software for.

Hardware.Info received two different versions of the XPS 15 for the review. One was equipped with an Intel Core i5-3210M, and the other with a Core i7-3612QM. The latter is a 35-watt version of the quad-core Ivy Bridge processor, also used by the Sony VAIO Z for example. It's clocked a bit lower than the normal 45-watt Core i7 3610QM, which makes it more energy-efficient and slightly slower. Still, compared to the Core i5 it is fast.

Dell has two options for graphics, either a GeForce GT 630M with 1 GB or a GeForce GT 640M with 2 GB of memory. The GeForce GT 630M in the test had 1 GB of GDDR5 memory, running at 2/4 GHz and connected via a 64-bit bus. The GT 630M has 96 CUDA cores with a graphics clock of 625 MHz and processor clock of 1250 MHz. The GeForce GT 630M is faster than the Intel HD Graphics of the i5 processor, but it has limited additional value in a laptop with Full HD display. The Core i7 version had the GeForce GT540M. It has far more Cuda cores at 384, and the graphical clock is set at 405 MHz with the processor at 810 MHz. The 2 GB GDDR5 RAM is connected via a 128-bit bus and runs at 2/4 Ghz. 

The battery inside the Dell XPS 15 is relatively large, and has a capacity of 65 Wh. This translates to a very good battery life, about six hours under light loads. When you make it work harder a single charge will last you almost 2.5 hours.

To find out how these two Dell laptops perform and which one is the one to get, read the full review on Hardware.Info.

Dell XPS 15

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