If you couldn't tell already, it's definitely refresh season around here and Dell has been sure to keep news about their comprehensive refreshes coming through in a steady trickle. On the docket today are the well-received XPS 14 and XPS 15, and the revisions are a little broader than you might expect. We reviewed the XPS 14z, XPS 15, and XPS 15z, and the message came in loud and clear: "z" is in, and that's "z" as in "z-height."

Well, the letter "z" itself is being eschewed, but that's due largely to Dell pushing both of these new entries as ultrathin notebooks, with the new XPS 14 qualifying as an ultrabook. Styling cues are now taken from the XPS 13 ultrabook, a system we reviewed and found to be generally solid aesthetically but suffering from some thermal issues.

The XPS 14 will come in two basic flavors distinguished by the material used on the lid. The mainstream model will be constructed primarily of machined silver aluminum with a magnesium soft touch palm rest (just like the XPS 13), while a model with integrated mobile broadband trades the aluminum lid for a black leather display back. You also get a 1600x900, 400-nit display covered in edge-to-edge Gorilla Glass and a backlit chiclet keyboard, and Dell has dispensed with the optical drive from the XPS 14z. CPU duties are handled by Ivy Bridge ultra low voltage i5 and i7 processors, but there's only one SO-DIMM slot so memory maxes out at just 8GB of slow DDR3-1333 in a single-channel configuration. On the plus side, though, it's also configurable with an mSATA slot for SSD caching, and even better: optional NVIDIA GeForce GT 630M graphics with 1GB of fast GDDR5 that should help it push that 900p display. Given the slim form factor of the XPS 14 (20.7mm thick), it's reasonable to expect they're using the 28nm GF117 instead of the 40nm GF108 for the GPU.

Not to be left out, the XPS 15 will also be enjoying the same chassis styling as the XPS 14 and its progenitor, the XPS 13, with the same aluminum and magnesium construction, backlit keyboard, and glass clickpad. The XPS 15 bumps the 900p display up to a full 1080p, 350-nit display with the same Gorilla Glass finish, but CPUs get a big boost to either an Intel Core i5-3210M dual core processor or an Intel Core i7-3612QM 35W quad core. We get the same combination of mSATA SSD and 2.5" mechanical hard disk option as the XPS 14, too, although we now have two SO-DIMM slots capable of supporting up to 16GB of DDR3-1600. The XPS 15 also benefits from an integrated slot-loading optical drive, offering either a standard DVD-RW or a blu-ray reader. Graphics get a boost with the XPS 14's GeForce GT 630M with 1GB of GDDR5 now coming standard, with a potential upgrade to the Kepler-based GeForce GT 640M with 2GB of GDDR5, an upgrade that should actually give the XPS 15 enough horsepower to do some light gaming at 1080p (at least if our review of the same GPU in the XPS One 27 is anything to go by).

In an unfortunate sign of the times, while both notebooks will supposedly offer an impressive amount of battery life (up to 11 hours on the XPS 14 and 8 hours on the XPS 15), they also feature integrated batteries that are not user-replaceable.

Both notebooks are available today, starting at $1,099 for the XPS 14 and $1,299 for the XPS 15.

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  • Striderevil - Sunday, July 1, 2012 - link

    Setting them up to work and sync is a pain on each device. Having a Windows PC for business applications is just easier and more flexible to use. Also you don't have to pay for updates which in any successful business that's conscious of their overheads this is a major plus. This is why many still run Windows XP.
  • KPOM - Wednesday, June 27, 2012 - link

    I have Windows 7 64-bit installed on my Mac. I'd use it at work in an instant over my "brick-era" HP Elitebook if IT would let me. There really is no technical reason most companies can't support a BYOD device with minimum specs. Macs can run Windows, and most companies are still running XP (mine evolved all the way to Vista), so it isn't as if most enterprise software needs the latest and greatest.

    I understand the security needs (we have encryption and remote lock software installed), but again, in a separate partition that's easy to do.
  • Striderevil - Sunday, July 1, 2012 - link

    Mac charges more for the same hardware, more for normal updates which are expected and free on Windows, syncing and setting up anything is a process on a Mac OS. I understand why it does this. It wants to market itself as a designer premium brand but for large companies and small business if I have a choice between 50 Windows PC's or Macs who do you think I would go for? If I have to communicate with business in the East who are even more money conscious most if not all use Windows. And most are non IT.
  • euler007 - Wednesday, June 27, 2012 - link

    Just looking at different paper on my desks right now, I see eight engineering software commonly used by my engineering department that is not supported. Every software used daily by my design department is not supported.

    Same as it as always been, since the media work on macs they assume everyone should be able to. We don't all work with photoshop.
  • themossie - Tuesday, June 26, 2012 - link

    Would like to see them make a slimmed down version of the old Studio XPS 16's unique styling. Don't want all laptops looking the same...
  • Spunjji - Tuesday, June 26, 2012 - link

    Meh comment is meh.
  • Taft12 - Tuesday, June 26, 2012 - link

    If these can be had for $600-800 once Dell sales and coupons start flowing, they sound pretty damn good. Since SSD prices have fallen off a cliff the past few weeks, mSATA is a solution to a problem that doesn't really exist anymore. Too late there. Single channel memory is no biggie, the performance hit is <1% for almost everything unless someone can show me otherwise.

    Thank you for the good resolution on these models! (should my thanks go to Dell or Apple?)
  • MacTheSpoon - Tuesday, June 26, 2012 - link

    The old XPS 15 was butt-ugly, it's true, and this is certainly much better looking. But no R+GB screen, no more JBL speakers...the sound and screen were two areas where the old XPS 15 really differentiated itself from the competition. I guess I'll wait for the reviews, but it looks like a pretty big step backwards in some very important ways. Including the battery.

    All they really had to do was make the old machine a little quieter and ditch the two-tone plastic, in my opinion.
  • themossie - Wednesday, June 27, 2012 - link

    At least the XPS 14 gets 900p... Didn't realize they were downgrading the screen/speakers - what a deal breaker. Those made the XPS 15 (and the Studio XPS 16 before it, see my comment a few up) such impressive machines.

    Still like the styling of the Studio XPS 16 more though :-) (written from one)
  • JohnUSA - Tuesday, June 26, 2012 - link

    These new laptops still come with the horrible and irritating chiclet keyboards that Dell stupidly still supplies.
    Throw all these models in the garbage.
    I will be interested in new Dell laptops when Dell starts offering good, usable and logically placed keys on their keyboards.
    Their new chiclet keyboards have smaller keys, therefore a user mistypes a lot, and then Dell combined many keys to have dual functions that can be used only with the irritating new Fn (Function) key, which forces the user to use two hands instead of just one finger.
    Whoever designed these horrible chiclet keyboards must be executed.

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