Dell XPS 15z General Performance

Given the components, there aren’t many surprises in the performance metrics. The combination of i7-2620M CPU and GT 525M GPU delivers a solid showing. Here’s how things break down, for those that like charts. We’ve highlighted the 15z in bright green, the XPS 15 in black, an AMD A8-3500M in red, and the Toshiba L775D A6-3400M in orange. We’ve also included some results with the XPS 15z running alternate modes in dark green (e.g. using the IGP for PCMark 7 or testing at 1080p at medium details in the games).

PCMark 7 - PCMarks

PCMark 7 - Lightweight

PCMark 7 - Productivity

PCMark 7 - Creativity

PCMark 7 - Entertainment

PCMark 7 - Computation

PCMark 7 - Storage

Starting with PCMark 7, the 15z places about where you’d expect, though it’s interesting to note once again how Intel’s HD 3000—and more importantly Quick Sync—boost performance in several areas to result in a 15% increase in overall performance. NVIDIA’s latest drivers appear to better recognize when to defer to the HD 3000, but we forced all of the tests to run on the GT 525M or the HD 3000 for the above results. As expected, the dual-core CPU generally finishes behind quad-core offerings, and anything with an SSD walks away with the performance crown. We’ll see the SSD factor once more in PCMark Vantage below, while the other benchmarks are CPU-centric.

Futuremark PCMark Vantage

Cinebench R10 - Single-Threaded Benchmark

Cinebench R10 - Multi-Threaded Benchmark

Cinebench R11.5 - Multi-Threaded Benchmark

x264 HD Benchmark - First Pass

x264 HD Benchmark - Second Pass

Interestingly enough, PCMark Vantage actually puts the 15z ahead of several other systems with quad-core CPUs. Either the test doesn’t scale with more threads as well as the latest iteration, or some driver updates are helping the 15z to surpass the competition—or perhaps a little of both. The single-threaded Cinebench result also confirms that the 2620M is a very fast CPU for lightly threaded workloads, while the remaining multi-threaded tests let the quad-core Sandy Bridge laptops spread their wings.

Futuremark 3DMark 11

Futuremark 3DMark Vantage

Futuremark 3DMark Vantage

Futuremark 3DMark06

Wrapping up with some synthetic graphics tests, the GT 525M generally comes in just slightly behind the GT 540M but ahead of Llano’s HD 6620G and HD 6520G. AMD’s Radeon HD 6630M, incidentally, tends to offer slightly better performance than the GT 540M, at least when there’s enough CPU performance backing it. We’ll have a closer look at an Intel CPU with the HD 6630M in an upcoming review. So far, there aren’t any surprises—unless you consider the fact that the GT 540M is barely any faster than the GT 525M to be a revelation?

Dell XPS 15z: A Good Copy or a Cheap Clone? Dell XPS 15z Gaming: Another Midrange Mobile GPU
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  • ptuttle - Friday, September 2, 2011 - link

    The problem was even when i was using a mouse with it, it would still do the same thing while i was typing. I don't beleive it was from brushing up against the touchpad either. When i would be typing the cursor would move around almost like it was from the vibration. Dell finally admitted that it was a defect in the system so they know what the problem is, they just haven't fixed it.
  • ptuttle - Friday, September 2, 2011 - link

    I will admit that performance wise the system was very nice, my main complaint was the touchpad. I mainly used it for business and while on a business trip i would play some games on it while stuck in a hotel room. I played some league of legends on it and got 60fps in medium settings. Rift would play in Medium/High settings at 30-40fps. So performance is nice they just need to fix some of the issues such as the touchpad.
  • tipoo - Friday, September 2, 2011 - link

    Its nice that you included the decibel reading for this laptop, I've wanted to know that in a few laptop reviews, thanks. It would be nice to have some reference points though, for instance you said the MBP gets louder at load but how loud is that? Did you test it with the decibel meter? And which is quieter during basic tasks like web browsing?
  • JarredWalton - Friday, September 2, 2011 - link

    I don't have dB results from the MBP, at least not for the same environment and equipment. I've heard the MPB15 in person under load, though, and it's pretty darn loud subjectively. At low loads, I think I hear the spinning HDD as much as the fan. 31dB is pretty close to the limit of my SPL meter, as well as my environment.
  • tipoo - Friday, September 2, 2011 - link

    What about sound during mainstream tasks like web browsing, youtube, etc? My Dell is two years old and the fan becomes audible just with those tasks. In my experience with modern MBP's, during those things they are barely audible. I'd like to know how a more modern Dell system competes.
  • darwinosx - Friday, September 2, 2011 - link

    I don't know why you are so obsessed with comparing this to a MacBook Pro but the fact is many of us want nothing to do with Windows.
    You also say nothing about service and support and Apple blows Dell away here.
  • araczynski - Friday, September 2, 2011 - link

    but personally i find the speaker grill/mess by itself just completely making the thing look ugly. the rounded keys don't help, nor does the smaller keyboard. but hey, at least they got the body looking decent.
  • bji - Friday, September 2, 2011 - link

    I guess you're the editor so you can choose what you want to give an award to, but I didn't see a single thing about this laptop that definitively puts it above any of the other similarly spec'd laptops you have reviewed recently. And the keyboard on this Dell is the most laughable one I have seen on any computer in quite a long time. That alone would send this laptop to the bottom of the pile in my book.

    Also the styling is butt ugly. There is no creativity or, well, style. Just a generic looking shell and some ugly rectangular speaker grills and fan grills placed in conspicuous locations.

    Others in this forum have mentioned poor Dell support; I can't speak to that, but I don't think that a laptop with a history of poor support should get an editor's choice award.

    Glossy screen, with only one resolution upgrade option? How is this better than other laptops with a much better choice of screen resolutions + matte options? Answer, it is not.

    Can you please explain why you decided to pull out the editor's choice award for this model as opposed to the other laptops you have reviewed lately? It looks very arbitrary, and with so much going against this crappy Dell laptop, really leaves one wondering what is going on.
  • JarredWalton - Friday, September 2, 2011 - link

    Because ultimately, out of the dozens of laptops I've looked at in the past six months, I really enjoyed using the XPS 15z more than a lot of the others. Clevo? No thanks! Toshiba, Acer, MSI, ASUS... they all have areas I'm not happy about. Even if the design is similar to the MBP, that doesn't make it bad. It's a "poor man's MBP", and that's exactly what a lot of people would like to get. Good screen, good battery life, comfortable to use for every day tasks, and fast enough for anything beyond high quality gaming and serious number crunching. This is a laptop I'd like to hold onto and use as my "work laptop" if I could -- and I wouldn't say that about 90% of the laptops I test.
  • bji - Friday, September 2, 2011 - link

    Sorry to have to hound on this topic, but can you give some more specifics?

    The charts show that the Dell is middle-of-the-pack in performance; so that's not an advantage to the Dell. The Dell screen does seem to be good but the Clevo screen you reviewed recently was as good. In the article you lamented the thinness and flexiness of some of the enclosure and that would seem to be contrary to the position that the laptop is more pleasurable to use than others.

    Honestly, reading between the lines it really feels like you really just like the Macbook styling and design and are giving the Dell an editor's choice because it's "kind of like a Macbook".

    I believe you when you say that you like using the laptop more than 90% of others you have tested, and having myself bought a Clevo recently purely because of the specs and price, and then selling it at a loss two months later because it was just so unpleasant to use, I absolutely understand the value of that intangible quality of a laptop that makes it pleasurable to use. No matter how great a laptop performs or how good its specs are, if it's unenjoyable to use, it will sit on the shelf with other options taking preference wherever possible (I found myself constantly pulling out my 6 year old Panasonic Toughbook Y2 because I just couldn't stand to use the Clevo, and that convinced me that I needed to get rid of that Clevo ASAP, which I did).

    It feels like you've given the Dell an editor's choice based on personal preference, not a more objective conclusion based on the merits of the laptop itself. If someone was not enamored with Macbook design above all else, would they still prefer the Dell over another offering? Is there something about the Dell that makes it better than other PC laptops? If you had never seen a Macbook before and you were comparing this Dell to other PC laptops, would you still conclude that the Dell is better?

    I have nothing against Apple, or against PC laptops either; I'm not saying these things because I think that there is something inherently inferior (or superior) about a laptop that takes its styling cues from Apple. I just wonder what exactly there is about this Dell that earns it an editor's choice when I can't see anything in pictures or in the review that makes it obviously better than other PC laptops.

    BTW, the Samsung 7 series posted about recently really looks like a *much* better effort at imitating the Apple look and feel. I hope you get an opportunity to review one of those soon.

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