Dell XPS 15 9500 review

The Dell XPS 15 9500 unequivocally offers the most refined Windows experience on a notebook

For long, Dell’s XPS lineup has been the benchmark to beat in the laptop category and the range is revered as the go-to choice for anyone who wants a premium Windows machine. To that note, the company’s latest XPS 15 9500 carries forward the lineup’s legacy and offers what is in my books, the best Windows experience. Of course, the laptop’s price isn’t for the faint-hearted so in this review, let’s take a look at whether the excellently-specced Dell XPS 15 9500 is worthy of your bucks or not. 

Design and Ports

Take a minute and try and picture the fanciest laptop you’ve ever seen and I’m willing to bet that Apple’s MacBooks would’ve crossed your mind. That said, if there’s any Windows machine which can hold a candle to Apple’s offerings, it’s undoubtedly Dell. To that note, the all-new XPS 15 9500 comes toting a stylish albeit understated design. As a result, while the laptop leaves a longing impression, the design doesn’t scream for attention either. Lest I forget, the laptop imparts an exquisite in-hand feel too, which can be accredited to the unit’s all-metal construction. Coupled with the laptop’s tidily chamfered edges and tastefully etched logo on the lid, the new XPS 15 9500 is as good looking, as it is robust. 

I’d also like to add that the Dell XPS 15 9500 is quite portable too and despite weighing a little over two kilograms, the laptop never weighed my backpack down. Furthermore, the unit is extremely sleek at 18mm as well and therefore, you will have plenty of space to pack other EDC essentials along with the notebook. 

That said, the Dell XPS 15 9500 is a bit lacking in terms of ports and the unit features one USB-Type C v3.1 port with PD support, a headphone jack, a full-sized SD card reader and two Thunderbolt 3 ports with PD support. Thankfully, the company does bundle a dongle with the retail packaging of the laptop which adds a Type-A and a full-sized HDMI port at the expense of a Type-C port. Still, I feel that the laptop would have benefited immensely had it shipped with one more Type-A port. 

Keyboard, TrackPad and Webcam

As beautiful as the Dell XPS 15 9500 is on the outside, the laptop looks ravishing once you open the lid too. With the lid up, you’ll notice that the lower half of the deck features a carbon-fibre texture which doesn’t just work in favour of the laptop’s aesthetics, but it also paves way for a comfortable typing experience. The keys have been spaced out properly too and offer ample travel as well. Furthermore, the keyboard deck (as well as the display’s hinge) is void of any flex either, so all things considered, the Dell XPS 15 9500 offers a fantastic, wobble/flex-free typing experience. 

Same goes for the trackpad too, mind you. The Dell XPS 15 9500 offers a ginormous trackpad which is compliant with Windows Precision drivers. As a result, I could seamlessly jump in and out of apps, and use other multi-finger gestures effortlessly on the unit. And, for those wondering, there is a fingerprint scanner embedded underneath the power button which works well and unlocks the machine spryly. You can also use Windows Hello to get into your home screen which works just as well but offers a more effortless approach.  

Seeing how we’re all working from home, I had to partake in a handful of video calls as well. To that note, the 1080p webcam on the Dell XPS 15 9500 did a serviceable job.

Display and Audio

Dell has hit the ball out of the ballpark with the XPS 15 9500’s display. While you can spec the laptop with a non-touch 1080p panel, the model sent to me for review ships with a 4K touch-screen display with a 16:10 aspect ratio. The screen also comes with DisplayHDR 400 certification, offers a peak brightness of 500 nits and covers 100 percent of Adobe RGB and 94 percent of DCI P3 colour gamut. All this is enveloped between razor-sleek bezels which attribute to the laptop’s 92 percent screen-to-body ratio.

It should come as little surprise then, that the Dell XPS 15 9500 offers a fantastic media consumption experience. Colours pop on the panel and thanks to the screen’s ample brightness levels, I could comfortably use the machine in a well-lit room too. The viewing angles are superb as well, and I didn’t notice any discolouration when viewing the screen off-axis either. Furthermore, the touch sensitivity of the screen was to my liking as well and thanks to the display’s fortified hinges, the panel didn’t wobble whenever I tapped it. Rest assured, you will have a gala of a time watching your favourite shows and movies on the Dell XPS 15 9500. 

And, that’s not all as the speakers add to the XPS 15 9500’s excellent media experience. The unit offers what are quite possibly, the loudest speakers I’ve heard on any laptop. In fact, when compared side-by-side with a 16-inch MacBook Pro, the ones on the XPS 15 9500 stood out as they offered a louder output and much richer audio. 

Performance and Battery Life

The Dell XPS 15 9500 is specced to the brim and the laptop ships with Intel’s 10th gen Core i7-10750H processor, 32GB of DDR4 memory, a terabyte of M.2 PCIe NVMe storage and Nvidia’s GTX 1650Ti GPU with four gigs of VRAM. Suffice it to say, the laptop performs like a champ and I could easily manage my workflow on the XPS 15 9500 without facing any hiccups.

To that note, I mostly rely on Microsoft’s Office utilities to get by my day and at any given time, I usually have a couple of tabs open in Chrome, along with Slack and a Word document on my screen. The XPS 15 9500 easily crunches through these tasks and I noticed that the laptop didn’t slow down when I was using Adobe XD and Spark alongside the aforementioned apps either. Clearly, my workload isn’t as intensive which is why I ran a slew of synthetic benchmarks to give you a better idea about the laptop’s performance, the results for which can be found below. As you can tell, while the TimeSpy score is nothing to write home about, the laptop scored well in CineBench R23 and correspondingly, CPU-heavy apps will benefit immensely on the XPS 15 9500. 

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I ran some games on the machine too and while the laptop ships with a capable GPU, it’s not the best for AAA gaming on the fly. While I could push e-sports titles like Counter-Strike: Global Offensive on the unit, anything heavier say, Apex Legends and the laptop would struggle to offer 60fps consistently unless I dropped down the graphics presets. What’s more, the laptop’s fans can get quite noisy and the keyboard deck gets a bit too warm to the touch as well. Clearly, the Dell XPS 15 9500 isn’t geared for AAA gaming but, the laptop is competent enough for casual gaming on the go.

Thankfully, much like its predecessors, the Dell XPS 15 9500 also offers fantastic battery life to boot. The model I tested netted close to six hours of backup off a single charge, which is good enough for when you’re on the road. In our Battery Eater Pro test, the laptop drained completely in a little over 1.5 hours which once again, is a solid number, especially when you factor in that the laptop ships with a 4K display. 

Final Verdict 

The Dell XPS 15 9500 costs Rs 1,90,495 in India and for the price, is easily among the most premium Windows machines in the country. Be it its fantastic 4K display, its luxurious finish or the capable set of innards powering the unit, the XPS 15 9500 excels in more ways than one. While you could outfit a laptop or a PC with more powerful specs for less, the Dell XPS 15 9500 is greater than the sum of its parts and it unequivocally offers the most refined Windows experience on a notebook.

Editor’s rating: 4 / 5

Pros: 

  • Stunning 4K display 
  • Luxurious design 
  • Fantastic keyboard and trackpad 
  • Capable performer 

Cons: 

  • Fans get quite noisy 
  • Port selection could’ve been better