The new Dell XPS 15 9510 looks rather similar to those of the past few years. However, as we’ve learned with high performance laptops, this tends to suggest that a winning formula has been hit upon. So, is there anything overtly new about the new Dell XPS 15 or does it simply have refreshed internals?
Key specs of the Dell XPS 15 9510
15.6-inch, glossy, 3456 x 2160, OLED, 60Hz, touchscreen display; 2.3-4.6GHz Intel Core i7-11800H CPU; 16GB RAM; 512GB NVMe HDD; Nvidia RTX 3050 Ti; 86Wh battery; 2KG. SKU: 9510, Full specs here.
Design and Handling
The milled, aluminium chassis with composite, carbon fibre palm wrest is a winning combination and we’re not surprised Dell hasn’t thought to change it for many years. It’s incredibly solid and stylish and elevates Dell’s brand through its very existence. The screen flexes very little when a lateral force is applied. And yet the whole package weighs just 2KG. That’s impressive.
A few screen options are available, from Full HD non-touch to UHD touch-screens. Our review unit of the Dell XPS 9510 has a very impressive OLED with a sharp, UHD, 3456 x 2160 resolution. It’s glossy but also a touchscreen. Colours and contrast are naturally very impressive with noticeable chromatic vibrancy, black blacks and very bright whites. However, there was still some stepping in gradations. The OLED means that HDR content can really pop. However, it’s best suited to video. The 60Hz refresh rate really rears its head when it comes to fast motion – this is not a screen for fast and frantic gaming. But everything else looks fabulous.
The touchscreen technology works well, the glossy coating does an impressive job at repelling fingerprints and, to some degree, reflections too.
The keyboard is a white-backlit, low-travel, Scrabble-Tile affair that hits a great balance of firmness, accuracy and typing comfort. Our only real gripe is the half-height, up-and-down arrow keys… ugh! Note too that there’s no number pad The trackpad is enormous. While it’s smooth and accurate with good clicking, you have to stretch a bit to left-click or right-click on it.
Beside the keyboard are two speaker grilles. We don’t say this too often, but they sound amazing. There’s a rich, rounded sound from top to bottom. Somehow there’s bass, vocal fidelity is crisp and clear and they get very loud. The only issue is that, on treble-rich content, they can distort at the top end when at maximum volume. But fair’s, fair: for a 15-inch, 2KG laptop that’s just 18mm thick, they sound phenomenal.
Above the screen is a Windows Hello-friendly HD webcam (and infra-red partner sensor) for face-recognition Windows log-in. The power button (top right of the keyboard) also doubles as a fingerprint reader (and is also Windows Hello compatible).
The Dell XPS 15 9510 uses an 11th Gen. Intel Core i7-11800H processor, 16GB of DDR4-3200 RAM and a 512GB NVMe hard drive. These combined to score 6161 in PCMark 10 which is a little low compared to rivals sporting similar chips.
While this was likely, in part, due to the weaker GPU it also didn’t perform as well in the processor-focussed Cinebench rendering tests. It scored 1806 in R15 and 9539 in the longer R23 tests.
This is much lower than high performance laptops with the same CPU (like the latest Acer Predator Helios 300) but then the XPS brand is now focused on being for Creators, rather than gamers and has less-aggressive overclocking options.
When it comes to 3D performance, Nvidia’s 3050 Ti GPU doesn’t have a great reputation and our scores showed why. It managed 4398 in 3DMark Time Spy (an average of 26fps) which is 7fps above the elderly GTX 1650 we saw in the recent Acer Swift X. It’s also leagues behind the lowest RTX 3060 score of 6452 – which is an average of 45fps. It was a similar deal with 3DMark Fire Strike Extreme where the Dell XPS 15 9510 scored 5317 (average 25fps) which is again 7fps more than a GTX 1650 but 20fps behind an RTX 3060. It wasn’t able to run the difficult, ray-tracing Port Royal test.
Ultimately, it’s a bit better than using the integrated Intel Iris Xe graphics – which can play casual and old, competitive games… but not by much.
Connectivity of the Dell XPS 15 9510
It’s worth noting that even though there are only three USB ports, one is used by the power adapter. While that’s minimalist and Mac-Like, it will annoy those seeking more-practical connections. Dell also supplies a dongle which goes from USB-C to USB-A and HDMI 2.0. Inside there’s Wi-Fi 6 and BlueTooth 5.1.
At just 2KG and 18mm thick it’s thin, relatively light and very solid for a high-performance laptop – it will survive life on the road very well. Meanwhile the 86Whr battery lasted an impressive 8hr 1min in the PCMark 10 Modern Office test. That’s a full day out of the office.
Should you buy the Dell XPS 15 9510
At $3999 it’s not cheap although it’s worth noting that Dell has a habit of slashing the price in sales (right now it can be had for $3199). That can nudge the Value score up a little. But, while it wins for build quality and corporate friendly ergonomics (which is a big deal if your office has a preferred deal with Dell) there are certainly more attractive, cheaper options for many high-performance laptop buyers. The latest edition of the Acer Predator Helios 300 is particularly good value at $2698, but it’s not very corporate. You might get away with the excellent MSI GE66 Raider, if you keep the lights turned off. We haven’t seen many 15-inch laptops with OLED screens so far but they are available in high-end SKUs of some models. If that’s important to you check out the crazy Asus ZenBook Pro Duo. Beyond that there’s the Venom BlackBook Zero 15 Phantom which is more ultraportable but also has some great features. Ultimately, though, the Dell XPS 15 is something of an above-average high performance laptop at a premium price. We miss the days when XPS models routinely blew us away but the Alienware line is supposed to do that now. Still, this will please those who want a great screen, great speakers and robust build quality from a known-quantity mainstream manufacturer. And it still looks great.
Dell XPS 15 9510 results
Built like a tank and has good ergonomics. But it’s expensive and underpowered for the price.