Forward-looking: Dell's latest XPS 15 laptop features a taller display and USB-C Thunderbolt 3 ports instead of the usual port setup. The company also resurrected the XPS 17 with much more powerful internals in a slimmer body, as well as a modicum of upgradeability that seems all but lost these days.
Dell's XPS lineup was due for an update, and today the company unveiled a redesigned XPS 15 with some of the biggest changes it has seen in the last five years. Alongside it, an all-new XPS 17, a 17-inch laptop that can go head to head with Apple's MacBook Pro 16.
It looks like Dell is going the Apple way and removing all legacy ports in favor USB-C with Thunderbolt 3 support (x4 PCIe connections). Both the new 17-inch version and its smaller sibling have two of these on both sides, as well as a UHS-III compliant SD card reader that photographers will no doubt appreciate. Other than that, Dell includes a USB-C to USB-A 3.0 and HDMI 2.0 dongle in the box, which is also a plus.
For networking, there's only the Killer AX1650 Wi-Fi, which supports Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.1 and comes with 2x2 MIMO antenna configuration.
Another improvement that many users have been expecting for a while now is a slightly taller, 16:10 display with very thin bezels. As before, you can choose between a Full HD+ screen that offers better battery life and a 4K UHD+ panel that comes with HDR400 support. Dell claims 100 percent coverage of the Adobe RGB spectrum and 94 percent DCI-P3 for this display, which is great for people who need a mobile workstation for photo and video editing.
Dell says it built the XPS 17 to be "the most powerful XPS laptop ever made." To that end, the company equipped it with 10th generation Comet Lake H CPUs, and you can opt for the quad-core Core i5-10300H, the six-core Core i7-10750H, or the eight-core Core i7-10875H. There's also the option to have a Core i9-10885H for those of you who need as much power as possible.
The powerful CPUs are paired with anywhere between 8 and 64 GB of dual channel DDR4 RAM. But more importantly, Dell has made it so that you can upgrade it yourself by purchasing SODIMM modules. The XPS 17 comes with 256 GB and 2 TB of SSD storage that populates only one of the M.2 slots, so you can upgrade that as well -- by simply removing the bottom cover.
For those of you who don't do anything that requires dedicated graphics, there's a version that only sports the integrated Intel UHD Graphics 630. If going discrete, you can choose between the GTX 1650 Ti and the GeForce RTX 2060, the latter being ideal for machine learning workloads and featuring a more advanced NVENC engine.
The XPS 17 has received an upgrade in the cooling department, using vapor chambers and a dual fan setup for a system that's able to dissipate up to 90 W of heat. As with the previous XPS generations, there's Gore insulation underneath the keyboard cover to keep it relatively cool to the touch.
Just like Apple refuses to upgrade the 720p webcam on MacBook Pros, Dell has gone with the same recipe for both the XPS 15 and the XPS 17 -- with the added benefit of Windows Hello authentication support. There's also a dual-array microphone, two stereo speakers that fire through no less than 7,622 holes drilled on both sides of the keyboard, and a mini-woofer.
Despite making the XPS 17 almost as thin as the LG Gram 17 (0.77 inches versus 0.7 inches), you can fit a 97 Wh battery inside. You can also opt for a smaller, 56 Wh battery as a compromise for people who need to carry it around often and are willing to sacrifice battery life to shave some weight. The maxed out configuration weighs around a pound more than the base configuration, which is already a hefty 4.65 pounds.
Something else to note is that the XPS 17 sporting dedicated graphics come with a USB-C charger that's rated for 130 W, which is beyond the limit in the official spec. Apparently, Dell's charger won't deliver that much power unless it detects that it's connected to a Dell laptop.
Dell hasn't disclosed an exact shipping date for the XPS 17 9700, but we do know it'll cost north of $1,499. As for the updated XPS 15, it is available today in the US and Canada starting at $1,299, and it's set to arrive in more regions in the coming weeks.