The All-New 2020 Dell XPS 15 and 17

The Dell XPS 15 has been my favorite laptop for many years. The new update looks amazing, but I personally can't buy one based on one simple flaw. 

What makes the current XPS so great? It's a beautiful laptop with a classic, thin chassis, a great keyboard and mouse, powerful components, useful ports, and a gorgeous 4L screen with incredibly thin bezels. 

Other than the removal of the "useful ports," the new XPS 15 (and all-new XPS 17) improve on the current model in almost every single way. 

First, let's get one thing straight: these laptops are much smaller than your average 15- and 17-inch laptops. In reality, they are more like 14- and 16-inch laptops. Why? Because they actually changed the aspect ratio of the screen from 16x9 to 16x10. This allows them to add a larger screen in a smaller footprint by removing the largest bezel at the bottom of the screen. 

The keyboard and mouse on the current XPS are fantastic, but they claim to have improved on them further in the new design. The trackpad itself is around 60% larger. The audio on the current XPS was never great, but they've now added much better up-firing speakers to the refresh. 

Obviously, the hardware has seen a big jump as well. You can now spec out the machines with Intel’s Core i9 10885H 45W chip, 64 GB of RAM, and 2 TB of storage. In the 15-inch model, you'll get a GTX 1650 Ti graphics card, and you can get an RTX 2060 in the 17-inch model. 

Thermal throttling has always plagued the XPS 15, but Dell claims to have upgraded the cooling system on the 15-inch model and added a vapor chamber on the 17-inch model for even better heat exchange. 

My only complaint with this refresh has to do with the ports. Dell has chosen to have only USB-C ports and an SD card reader. I understand that USB-C is the future, and I certainly want all of my laptops to have at least one such port, but I don't want to be forced to use a dongle or dock anytime I need to plug something into my computer. I've had extremely bad luck in the past with this:

The all-new Dell XPS 15 and 17 look like amazing laptops. I personally wish they had at least left an HDMI port and a single USB-A port, but I know I'm currently in the minority. The average laptop user probably only has a couple of peripherals they use on a regular basis, and it's easy to buy new USB-C variants. If this sounds like you, I think the new XPS 15 and 17 might be the best Windows laptops currently on the market. 

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18 Comments

Mr. T's picture

Regarding the USB-C only laptops, I share your grief.

Not only is it a problem with the adapters which, incidentally, tend to break as they stick out from the laptop, but also with the power delivery as USB-C connectors are less sturdy than most barrel connectors. Some laptops have only two USB-C ports, which often makes life difficult with all sorts of accessories like mice, keyboards, tablets, scanners, cameras, card readers and what not competing for the very limited real estate of your laptop's ports.

Unfortunately, as I have been travelling back and forth abroad on a weekly basis until these COVID times, with only hand luggage, I need a very portable laptop to have enough space for all the other necessary stuff like cameras, lenses toiletries and something called clothes that seem necessary too. ;-) Very portable these days means USB-C only, which again means some sort of hub — Ugh!

Oh, and maybe I should mention the benefit of right angle connectors, they are life savers when it comes to not breaking adapters/ports!

Fristen Lasten's picture

Nice Apple rant.

VINICIUS YUZO ZUCARELI's picture

At least it has a card reader!

If it had at least 1 USB A I would be ok with it all.

At least it comes with a adapter in the box from a reviewer I saw

Edison Wrzosek's picture

Dell laptops are a POS with some of the worst quality control I've encountered over 25 years of IT work.

If you're foolish enough to buy a Winblowz machine for creative work, never get Dell.

Best machine for the job is MacBook Pro 16", because of the hardware reliability and the OS, full-stop.

Lee Morris's picture

Tell that to Pye Jirsa who has had his Macbook break 5 times in a year.

Edison Wrzosek's picture

Then I’d say that person just was unfortunate and got a lemon, which happens, as statistically, Mac’s are far more reliable and long-lived than a commodity, crappy PC.

paul aparycki's picture

do you work in the mail room of apple, or do you clean their toilets?

Edison Wrzosek's picture

Oh that's original... Here's a likewise response, up yours.

Momchil Yordanov's picture

SD card slots are disappearing from the newer models like the CDs did in the last 5 or 6 years...

Alnoor Meralli's picture

Not having HDMI output and USB-A input is a huge disappointment. My 2 generations old XPS laptop (2017) with a display that supports AdobeRGB has been fantastic. When shooting tethered, I use its HDMI out to an external monitor whereas the D850 connects via USB-A. Never any issues with connections dropping when tethered; even if I turn my camera off and on multiple times the connection immediately re-establishes. It has full HDMI, USB-A (x2), USB-C, an analog audio jack and the SD card reader.

I have been using Dell XPS laptops and desktops going back to the Studio line in the mid-90s. They have always been spec'ed well with the latest processors and with interfaces so as not to require dongles and adapters. It would be unfortunate if Dell take the same direction as Apple, albeit for Apple it generates a high-margin revenue stream in adapters.

Ken Yee's picture

USB 3.2 at least I'd hope..

Evan Richardson's picture

It's called a trackpad, not a mouse

Patrick Snitjer's picture

I highly recommend the zbook studio g5's, especially with the hp thunderbolt dock. When settling down at a desk, one cable plugged in and you're connected to the whole network immediately (no need for those potentially bad usb-c cables you mentioned). And the G5 x360's offer a wacom-like pen touchscreen. Besides that, when buying the 'dreamcolor' screen, with an insane brightness of 600 nits, and 10 bit 100% adobe RGB yu would have an amazing screen. It can be a bit pricy though :)

Lee Morris's picture

I actually purchased this laptop a few years ago. The screen was horrible and had noticeable dimming on the edges. I returned it.

Patrick Snitjer's picture

Really? Yeah that sucks then. I own one myself (had a massive discount through my uni, like half-off) and I do see it, byt only slightly. Maybe I got lucky :)

Dass Ala's picture

I Personally recommend DELL Precision Mobile Workstations, I always use the 17", they heavy and bulky but they have all you want Lee Morris,

John Doe's picture

It’s ironical that people want the latest, beefiest computers with ports from the 80s. I’ve a late-2016 MacBook Pro that only has USB-C ports, and I bought couple of adaptors from Amazon to interface with every other device I own. No problem for the last 3.5 years of usage. Manufacturers can’t make everyone happy, they aren’t selling ice cream.