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Monday, August 19, 2019

The Best High-End Windows Laptop?

For times when you don’t want to pick up that 6-inch slab to dismiss yet another irrelevant notification, a smartwatch can come in handy by allowing only certain notifications through and keeping the rest away. And of course, when you want to go on a run or want to work out, the smartwatch can intelligently track your progress. Clearly, I find smartwatches more useful and less distracting than smartphones and in this review, we will see how well the new Amazfit Verge (Rs 11,999) by Huami justifies these expectations.

Huami’s Amazfit, backed by Xiaomi, has put out a couple of compelling smartwatches in the past including the Bip and the Stratos, and now the Amazfit Verge joins the clan with a richer and better display, a sportier look, and a relatively more appealing price tag.
Amazfit Verge Specifications

Let’s get the ball rolling by learning about the specifications and the box contents of the Amazfit Verge smartwatch.
Processor    1.2GHz Dual Core Processor
Storage    4 GB
RAM    512 MB
Display    1.3-inch 320x300 pixels
Water Resistance    IP68 without swimming protection
Sensors    air pressure, geomagnetic, ambient light, gyroscope, heart rate sensor, accelerometer
Connectivity    Bluetooth 4.2 BLE+BR/EDR,
Wi-Fi 2.4GHz 802.11b/g
Battery    390 mAh
Price    Rs. 11,999
Amazfit Verge Box Contents

The box of the Amazfit Verge snuggly wraps its content and feels solid and durable, while the graphics on the outer leaf are very appealing. The contents include:

    Amazfit Verge smartwatch
    Charging “cradle” aka dock
    Manuals

amazfit verge review

The Verge has a different fucntion for the button (which we’ll talk about in the later sections) compared to the Bip and the Stratos. I wish this was more apparent in the user manual so that users, at least the new ones, felt more confident about the purchase. Other than this, I am quite happy with what we get in the box.

Let’s move further and get to know about the build and the features of the Amazfit Verge in detail.
Amazfit Verge: Design and Build

amazfit verge review

The Amazfit Verge, from the very first look, seems designed for sports. The circular 1.3-inch display is housed in a plastic casing, with separate halves for the top and bottom shell. Despite the use of polycarbonate reinforced by glass fiber, the build feels very firm and stable and designed for action.

The Home button lies on the side of the Amazfit Verge along with a tiny microphone for calls. The button has a shallow travel and does not feel very posh, even though it is fairly tactile. On the other side, there’s a modest loud-speaker which can be used to listen to music or take calls when you’re on the move.
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Speaker
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Home Button and mic

Amazfit has also guaranteed protection from dust and splashes of water with an IP68 rating, which means you need not take the watch off in the shower or while out in the rain. However, the watch gets no mention of protection against swimming, so it is advised to avoid using it in the pool.

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On the front, the Amazfit Verge uses an AMOLED display protected by Gorilla Glass 3, making the smartwatch suitable for more some rugged usage. Despite the anti-fingerprint coating, the display can be smudged very easily, especially because you must cover the display with your palm to unlock it. The display also houses an ambient light sensor which is used to automatically adjust the backlight of this AMOLED display.

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Coming to straps, the Amazfit Verge uses Silicone watch bands which you can bend or stretch easily without fearing that it might break. The buckle on the strap is made of good quality plastic and the strap loop has a single tooth (see below) to prevent it from sliding off when worn. This, however, also makes taking off the watch somewhat inconvenient.

These straps are removable but the angled design of the tiny lugs might restrict you from choosing just any third-party band. This is unlike both Amazfit Stratos and Amazfit Bip which allow easy replacement of the factory-made straps. Further, even Amazfit itself does not sell replacement bands so this can be a bit troubling for certain users.

amazfit verge review

Design-wise, the Amazfit Verge feels very durable and well-built and although it is thicker than a centimeter, it feels very light on the wrist at almost 46 grams. While the Amazfit Verge does not feel as premium as the Stratos, the polycarbonate design gives it a sportier look. It might fail to grab other people’s attention but the utilitarian design is less intrusive compared to other heavier and metal-clad smartwatches when it comes to sports or fitness activities.

Now, let’s take a look at how the display functions. Spoiler alert: if you’ve been using an older Amazfit smartwatch, you might feel jealous.
Amazfit Verge Display

amazfit verge review

Earlier smartwatches from Amazfit performed really well but were plagued by poor readability and color reproduction of the reflective display. The company now seems to have learned its lesson with the Amazfit Verge which uses an AMOLED display, which is instantly much more appealing and striking than the displays on Stratos and Bip. This 1.3-inch circular display features a resolution of 360×360, which makes it really sharp and easily legible.
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Amazfit Verge (left) vs Amazfit Stratos (right) indoor

Owing to the use of AMOLED technology, the display is very bright, has an excellent color reproduction including deep blacks. The vibrant and saturated colors of the UI icons and other elements complement this great display and I loved how beguiling the official watchfaces look on this display. Depending on the watchface, one can also activate always-on display which displays the time and some other basic info at a lower brightness. This can help help you save the battery when you just want to check the time, and also reduces unneccessary wakes.

amazfit verge review

The AMOLED display is very responsive but there’s no haptic feedback in response to the touch. Any observable lag is due to the limited hardware and software resources and not due to any latency in touch. The display is embedded with an ambient light sensor which helps the smartwatch manage the brightness automatically. Under water, or in the shower, the watch is usable but there’s no special mode for using it with gloves.
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Startos’ reflective display fares well but not better than Verge’s AMOLED outdoors

Amazfit Verge scored full marks when it comes to the quality of this display, which has colors to put budget smartphones with LCD displays to shame.
Amazfit Verge Performance

Coming to the meat of our review. Here’s what using the Verge is like:
Software Features

The Amazfit Verge runs a custom UI which, as per the product description page, is based on Android. The interface cleanly laid out, with large menu icons and intuitive navigation – although there are no tutorials offered by the company and the users will have to figure it out by themselves.

Like other smartwatches, the Verge lets you customize watchfaces and choose from among the 11 pre-existing ones by long pressing on the home screen. Swiping upwards from the bottom opens up notifications, while swiping in the opposite direction shows the quick settings panel where you can toggle options including sleep mode, airplane mode, volume, brightness, settings, and the option to restart or shut down the smartwatch.

amazfit verge review

Moving forward, swiping from right to left opens a vertically-scrolling menu. This includes a host of features such as Health, Heart Rate, Sports, Sleep, Activities, Phone, Alarm, Timer, Stopwatch, Compass, and Settings. Health shows general stats like the numbers of steps walked, floors climbed, and a history of data from the past week. The Sports option lets you start logging of 12 different types of physical activities manually but as I mentioned before, swimming is not included. Furthermore, the Activities menu shows an overview of your workouts in the past.

All these options are laid out in two columns and the display shows you a 2×2 grid at a time. Each option has a slender animation in which the icon (or the UI element) shrinks slightly and then comes back to its original size with each tap. Moreover, elements like Heart Rate have their own interactive animations to show progress. Each tracking-related feature shows you a summary of the data from the past week, which is displayed on the beautiful display using dedicated colors per option. Besides this, the watch also supports widgets so that individual features can be accessed directly, the number of widgets is limited to two, which is slightly disheartening.

amazfit verge review

The Amazfit Verge lets you store and play music files through the speaker – or a connected Bluetooth headset. The speaker, coupled with the mic, is also useful for calling. These features are very elaborate, especially calling, which includes a full numeric keypad for dialing phone numbers. During calling as well as while playing music, one can find a dedicated option to manage the volume. Additionally, you can also control the music playback on your smartphone with the Verge.

When it comes to the fitness features, Amazfit Verge has detailed real-time tracking including the workout time, steps taken, distance traveled, heart rate, average speed, battery percentage, and even the route, captured with GPS, in case of outdoor runs. However, while tracking an activity, you cannot tweak or access other options apart from the volume and the brightness. If you wish to use a Bluetooth headset, you must connect it before starting the activity, as there’s no way to change it in the middle of the session.

amazfit verge review

The Home button is useful for unlocking the locked display and to exit any menu and take you back to the watchface while using the Amazfit Verge. This is in contrast with the Bip which uses its single button for going a step back, as well as from Stratos, which uses the main button to select an option and the other two to scroll through the menu.

On the Verge, you can go a step back by swiping the screen from left to right. Lastly, in order to lock the screen, you can cover it with your palm and a double tap on it when it is locked, unlocks the watch.

The Settings menu can be a bit challenging initially, especially because the text is too long in many options, but once you set up the basic settings as per your preference, you will only need to visit this page occasionally.

Overall, the UI feels fluid most of the times but it might get jittery if you open a lot of in-built apps at the same time, sometimes even resulting in a crash and reboot. The visible lag, whenever it appeared, is due to the underwhelming dual-core processor, and only 512MB of RAM, as we will see later.
Fitness Tracking

The main elements for tracking your health and fitness on the Amazfit Verge include a massive heart rate monitor on the back. It also supports continuous heart rate monitoring but there is no option to choose the intervals for intermittent tracking. The smartwatch shies away from gimmicky features like Blood Pressure or SpO2 monitoring and focuses on the essential ones. When it comes to tracking sleep, it captures the duration of light and deep sleep zones and any instance of you waking up at wee hours. Besides night sleep, the smartwatch can also track naps during the day.

The Verge is capable of tracking a host of indoor and outdoor activities. I have mentioned in the previous section most of the variables it shows during and after the physical activity. The smartwatch can also capture parameters like the average length of your stride while running, which is good for serious runners.

When it comes to the accuracy, the Amazfit Verge captures data such as heart rate, number of steps, or other vital stats during exercises with a significant amount of detail and accuracy. This information can be accessed with greater detail using the official Amazfit Watch app. The only crucial element absent from the smartwatch is the feature to track swimming-related activities but apart from that, I have not experienced any random or unexpected spike in this tracking data, and this holds good even when you’re moving.

While Amazfit cannot capture data related to exercises automatically, it does have an option to prompt you every time it senses the beginning and the end of physical activities. During my week-long usage for the review, however, I failed to witness the feature actually working, and had to toggle the option manually.

This data output by the Amazfit Verge is comprehensive enough to let you plan your workouts effectively or get better sleep. It’s also extremely reliable in most cases.
Hardware

Amazfit Verge is equipped with a 1.2GHz dual-core processor which runs decently in tandem with the 512MB RAM most of the time but might feel underpowered at times. One might have a jittery experience upon opening a lot of inbuilt apps at the same time. Besides the processor, the accelerometer is useful for tracking movements during sleep and also wakes the display when you lift or flick your wrist, which can be turned off in the Settings.
Watchfaces and Apps

While the Amazfit Verge comes with only 11 inbuilt watchfaces, it allows you to use third-party watchfaces. Amazfit Watchfaces is my go-to destination from where I download unofficially developed watchfaces for free. Since the Amazfit Verge is fairly new, the number of available options is smaller compared to Bip or Stratos but the developers have ported a fair amount of watchfaces from Stratos, which also has a circular dial. Here you can download the watchfaces in WFZ format and transfer them to the watch directly by connecting it to a computer via the USB charging cradle.
amazfit verge review
Third-party watchfaces

While there is decent support in terms of watchfaces, the Amazfit Verge does not support installing apps – despite being based on Android (although the company does not explicitly mention that the UI is built upon Google’s Wear OS). So, if you’re looking to expand the functionality of your smartwatch or customize it beyond watchfaces, you might want to pass on the Amazfit Verge.
Amazfit Verge Connectivity

Apart from Bluetooth to connect with the smartphone or wireless headphones and speakers, the Amazfit Verge features (2.4GHz only) Wi-Fi which can be used to transfer data including music files quickly to and from the connected smartphone. Additionally, Wi-Fi can also come in handy for finding the newer updates for the smartwatch.

Verge, as I mentioned above, also supports file transfers over USB and you can use the bundled charging dock to transfer music files or watchfaces to it. When connected with a PC or other smartphone (via OTG), the smartwatch shows a file system similar to a standard Android phone. I really like the mass storage option and it makes transferring watchfaces or music files very convenient.
Amazfit Verge Battery

Powered by a 390mAh battery, the Amazfit Verge is claimed to last around five days of moderate usage. In my usage, the watch stayed alive for over two-and-a-half to three days easily with continuous heart rate, always-on display and brightness cranked to full, and GPS monitoring switched on. With heart rate measurements set to manual and always-on display switched off, the battery life increases to almost four days, which is satisfying.

amazfit verge review battery

For charging, the Amazfit Verge takes no more than two hours while using a basic 10W charging brick. You can also charge it using your PC, and the time taken for the process is almost the same. So overall, I find the Amazfit Verge very pleasing in the department of power.
Amazfit App

The official Amazfit app (free, Android, iOS) can be used to see your fitness data and vital stats such as the data related to your physical activities, heart rate, and sleep-related information.

All of the data can be seen on daily, weekly, or monthly basis, and you can also drag your finger across the graphical charts to pan to a specific time. Besides showing your essential data, the app also lets you change the order of widgets and choose watchfaces. Moreover, there is an option to share this data on social media, or export it as binary files, as well as the option to link your Strava account for running and cycling data.
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Despite looking beautiful, the Amazfit app doesn’t have essential features such as the option to link Google Fit or Mi Fit data, even though logging in with your Mi account is supported. Further, you can neither change the frequency of automatic heart rate scans nor change the settings for gestures like lift-to-wake or automatic tracking from the app, which is disappointing. Besides that, what is crushing is that this data is not synced to the cloud.

Lastly, unlike other Amazfit watches, the Verge has not gained support from third-party companion apps yet. This means that we’ll have to wait to be amazed by Amazfit in terms of the supported features within the app, which is a shame.
Amazfit Verge: The Good and the Bad

The Amazfit Verge has fared really well during my usage and has shown almost accurate results when it comes to the fitness data. However, there are certain areas where it left me longing for more. So while there’s a lot to love and little to hate about the Verge, here are the pros and cons:
Pros:

    Sporty design
    Solid build
    Striking AMOLED display with great readability
    Decent fitness-tracking features
    Music playback support and controls
    Automatic brightness
    Speaker for music and phone calls
    Wi-Fi and USB for faster file transfer
    3rd-party watchfaces supported
    GPS with GLONASS

amazfit verge review
Cons:

    Complicated strap design
    No support for 3rd-party apps
    Not ideal for swimming
    Can run slow at sometimes
    Lack of controls in the smartphone app

Amazfit Verge: Limited Features but Excellent Performance

Amazfit Verge, in my experience, has turned out to be a great smartwatch for the price. Available in blue, gray, and white colors for Rs 11,999 on Amazon, the Verge undercuts its own sibling – the Stratos (Rs 13,999) – because of an attractive and rich AMOLED display, and a light and non-intrusive form factor. You can connect the Amazfit Verge to a computer as a USB mass storage, which is more appealing to me compared to the onboard Wi-Fi.

amazfit verge review

However, despite being built on Android, the interface omits support for additional apps – although unofficial watchfaces are supported. Furthermore, the compatible Amazfit app for Android and iOS lacks critical features for modifying the settings on the app and has poor sync capabilities, leaving the Amazfit Verge out by itself. Apart from this, there’s no support for swimming-related activities, which can be a deal-breaker for swimming enthusiasts or professionals.

All in all, the Amazfit Verge is on the verge of being the best smartwatch in the segment but lags behind the Samsung Gear Sport (Rs 14,000) due to its limitations mentioned above. With all its positives and negatives, the Amazfit Verge seems like an option worthy of your expenditure. The Gear Sport costs almost Rs 3,000 extra but for that extra outlay, it brings slightly improved fitness tracking, syncs fitness data with the cloud, and has third-party app support. Dell added the hexa-core Intel Core i9 to the XPS 15 (9570) last year, and took things to a whole new level. This variant with a stunning 4K screen, 32 gigs of DDR4 RAM and Nvidia GTX 1050Ti graphics is overkill in the name of a computer. Who really needs such power on the go and is it worth the astounding asking price of over Rs 2 lakh in India?

Answering the first question, Dell told us it’s meant for video creators, design professionals and those who require ‘all the power’ to get through their regular work day. For instance, lab professionals, data scientists, mechanical engineers and architects can easily use all that computing power to good use. As for the price tag, well that’s just the reality of buying high-end PCs in India and anyone who has bought a high-end MacBook would sympathize. We’ll soon see whether the XPS 15 9570 is worth the price:
Dell XPS 15 9570 Specifications

As mentioned, we had the top-end configuration of the XPS 15 9570. You can also get it with a Core i7 8750H hexa-core processor along with the 16GB of RAM. Here are the rest of the common specs between the two models:
Display    15.6" 4K Ultra HD 3840 x 2160 InfinityEdge IPS display

Processor    8th Generation Intel Core i9-8950HK Processor (12MB Cache, up to 4.8 GHz, 6 cores)

RAM    32GB 2x16GB DDR4-2666MHz
Storage    Samsung PM981 1TB PCIe SSD
GPU    NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050Ti with 4GB GDDR5
Wireless Connectivity    Killer 1535 802.11ac 2x2 WiFi and Bluetooth

Ports    2 USB 3.1 Gen1, 1 Thunderbolt 3, 1 HDMI 2.0, 1 Noble Lock, 3.5 mm combo jack, SD Card reader, Battery indicator, Fingerprint sensor (Power Button)
Battery    6-Cell 97WHr Integrated
Price    Rs 2,15,190 (Dell.com)

Since we got a review unit of the XPS 15, the box contents were limited to the laptop and its charger.

Dell XPS 15: Design and Build Quality

If you have seen the older 2017 model of the XPS 15 or the 2018 XPS 13 9370, you would be more than familiar with the design and build quality of the XPS 15 9570. The laptop is densely packed, built using top-notch materials and the assembly leaves little to be desired. It’s easily one of the best-looking premium laptops in the world, and that includes the new Apple MacBook Pro.

While the top and bottom of the laptop are crafted from a single block of aluminum, Dell has gone for its signature carbon fiber material for the middle section, which includes the top of the keyboard deck. This soft, almost-rubberised material extends to the very top of the keyboard deck, wrapping around the Function row and just ending at the hinges. As a result, using the XPS 15 is quite unlike any other laptop.


Overall, the XPS 15 brings superb construction but opening the laptop with one hand is not the easiest thing. That’s because the lid itself is quite a bit thinner than the base, as is the case with most laptops and you have to pull the lid up exactly from the middle.

As you would expect, there’s little to no flex in the display or the keyboard deck. This is one densely built laptop. That also means it digs into your wrists rather dramatically. If you have sensitive skin, which gets cuts easily, you may want to hold off on pressing down on the keyboard deck with your wrists. The sides of the laptop too present some problems as the aluminum can end up snagging against your skin if you handle it a little too aggressively.

When talking about the bezel-free design of the display, one has to mention the placement of the webcam, which is bang in the middle on the chin of the screen. We’ll show you a couple of samples to highlight just how bad this is. Dell has decided to place it back on the top of the display for the 2019 Dell XPS 13 model, so the 2018 XPS 15 9570 might be the last XPS to have the chin-cam.

While Dell advertises this laptop as a thin-and-light productivity machine, the reality is it’s anything but light. At nearly 3.5 kg, it’s clearly a very heavy machine, even in the premium segment. The dense build and the materials makes it feel heavier in the hand, so it’s not the most portable laptop in hand.

Dell XPS 15: Display

The 4K IPS panel on the XPS 15 9570 is simply stunning. The brightness, viewing angles and color reproduction is just brilliant, and the bezel-less look just makes everything seem a lot more immersive.

This being a 4K panel, you will have to adjust the Windows scaling to get UI elements in the right size for your eyes. Out of the box, Windows puts everything in 200% scaling, which makes little sense given the screen real estate on offer here. I turned it down to around 150% for the best viewing and productivity experience for multiple windows.

The display is rated for 100% Adobe RGB color gamut and comes with Dell PremierColor software, which is said to automatically convert low-fidelity content for more vibrant on-screen colors. Despite being a glossy panel, the XPS 15 9570 does a good job of keeping reflections away when lights are shining overhead. The peak 400-nit brightness is also great for outdoor use. I rarely found a situation where the display didn’t make things pop.

    The 4K IPS panel on the XPS 15 9570 is simply stunning

Since this is a 4K touch panel, interacting with your fingers and stylus is a possibility. I didn’t find myself using the touch functionality all that much, given that this is not a 360-degree form factor. Also, considering that the display does not fold out fully flat, you can’t really use the touch screen as a presentation or interactive tool in front of others.

The display supports 4K HDR content as well, so if your internet speed is up to the task, you can stream such content from YouTube, Netflix or Amazon Prime Video. It takes up a lot of bandwidth, but everything looks so stunning that you probably would be too engrossed to notice the data being consumed.

Watching videos on this laptop is a delight, and thanks to the high-end CPU, you can not only watch 4K videos with ease, but also edit them and see the output on the screen in the native resolution.

Another aspect that makes this laptop a joy for watching movies are the speakers, which produce rich sound with no distortion or clipping. I was surprised to see just how well the speakers managed to eke out all the detail from a flac version of Charlie Mingus’s The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady. It sounded terrific, unlike any other PC I have tried it on. Dell has added Waves MaxxAudio Pro for tuning the audio, which doesn’t really make that much of a difference. The speakers are plenty loud and have great sound right out of the box.
Dell XPS 15: Ports and Connectivity

The irony of premium laptops these days is that you will find all the computing power but few ports to connect accessories. Dell has gone with a more robust collection of ports for the XPS 15 9570.

On the left, you get a barrel-plug charging port, a full-sized USB type-A port (Gen 1 with PowerShare), a full-sized HDMI 2.0 port, a Thunderbolt 3 with PowerShare, DC-In & DisplayPort (4 lanes of PCI Express Gen 3) and the 3.5mm combo headphone/mic slot.

On the right, you will find a full-sized SD card reader, another USB 3.1 Gen 1 with PowerShare port, the signature Dell battery gauge indicator and a Noble lock slot for security.

That’s a whole lot of ports and you can hook up a dongle with VGA, or Ethernet to the Type-C port to extend this selection. Overall, I would rate Dell’s effort in this regard as higher than most other competition, especially the full SD Card slot, which will come in handy for photographers.

Dell has added the Killer 1535 802.11ac 2×2 WiFi and Bluetooth 4.2 instead of the Intel WLAN card into the XPS 15 9570. This offers great performance on most networks and the pre-installed Killer Wireless utility lets you intelligently allocate bandwidth to the applications that need it the most.

You can also connect an Ethernet cable with a dongle and let the system decide whether it wants to use Wi-Fi or the LAN for the internet. The Killer Wireless Control Center utility makes it possible for the Dell XPS 15 9570 to stream video faster than most other PCs I have used. You can open the app and easily set the priority for each app that’s using the internet, making streaming much faster than otherwise.
Dell XPS 15: Keyboard and Touchpad

The first thing I do when I get a new laptop is to type a lengthy stream-of-consciousness take on what the keyboard is like. I usually just open up Notepad and start typing everything I can think of when using the keyboard. In this case, the .txt file ran quite long as typing on this keyboard is just too good.

To Dell’s credit, the chiclet-style keyboard is one of the best you can use on a laptop these days. The keys have a good amount of travel, almost perfect for touch-typists and they don’t require too much actuation force to use.

The backlit keyboard does not have a full number pad, which you may have expected on a keyboard deck this large, but that’s something you have to live without. The carbon fiber palmrest makes typing for long hours less painful than a simple aluminum deck might have.

To complement the excellent keyboard, the large and spacious trackpad on the XPS 15 comes with support for Windows Precision drivers and all of Windows 10’s gestures, which are quite cool. The whole trackpad is clicky in the XPS 15, but there is also a demarcated area for left and right clicks. My only complaint about the trackpad is that it tends to collect oil and smudges from your fingers over time, which means you have to wipe it down every now and then, to use it without that sticky cursor feeling.

While the XPS 15 does not have an IR camera to enable face recognition for Windows Hello, it does have a fingerprint reader right on the power button, just where it should be. It works very well and is quite speedy. You need to scan your finger after you turn on the PC, which is fine by me, but some users may want the PC unlocked right after you touch the power button to turn it on – like in the Huawei Matebook X Pro.
Dell XPS 15: Performance

To say that the Dell XPS 15 chomped through everything thrown at it would be an understatement. It did that and had room for more too.

The Intel Core i9 8950K hexa-core processor is an absolute beast with no reservations, and you will rarely come across any generic computing scenario where it doesn’t beat the Core i7 8750H found in the base version of this laptop.

Let’s face it: the high price of this machine is largely down to the component cost of the Core i9, which Intel is undoubtedly selling at higher margins to its OEM partners. With a price gap of nearly Rs 80,000 between the two models, you just have to consider what you would be using the XPS 15 for. The Core i9 is definitely worth the extra money for its 4K editing chops and faster compute performance in design and engineering apps.
Dell XPS 15: Benchmarks

We also tested a few popular games from our Steam library on this PC, even though with a slow 4K screen and a 1050 Ti, it’s not meant to be a gaming PC.

In Monster Hunt: World, we got an average of 41-43 FPS at 1080p with Medium settings, which is not shabby at all. Admittedly, the experience was far from satisfying and there was some choppiness which could be down to the GPU used here. In High settings, we got around 31-32 FPS at 1080p resolution.

When it came to PUBG, the laptop gave us 30-32 FPS at High settings in 1080p resolution. The 4K screen made Vikendi look absolutely fantastic, although the game itself ran like dog on the PC in High settings, especially when you had enemies nearby or when you are trying to vault windows or transitioning between vehicles and running. The GPU simply couldn’t keep up with the beauty of the new PUBG map. Thankfully, we got around 45-55 FPS in Low graphics settings, which made things look less awesome, but the gameplay itself was much improved.

We put the machine through our usual array of benchmarking software. First up was PassMark, where the XPS 15 9570 finished up in the 96th percentile with an overall score of 5739.2.
Passmark score for the Dell XPS 15 9570

In CPU Mark, only the 16-core AMD Ryzen Threadripper managed to topple the Core i9 8950HK, which handily wiped out the rest of the competition.
CPU Mark score for the Dell XPS 15 9570

In Cinebench R15, the laptop got 72.93 fps in the OpenGL test, 521cb in the CPU score and 105cb in the single-core tests.
Cinebench R15 score for the Dell XPS 15 9570

In Unigine Heaven Benchmark 4.0, the XPS 15 got 70.6 FPS in the full HD full screen mode with 2XAA. It scored 1779 in the test with a max frame rate of 135.5 FPS.
Unigine Heaven score for the Dell XPS 15 9570

In 3D Mark Time Spy 1.0, the laptop scored 2484 in the graphics test and a superb 5438 in the CPU test, with an average of 15-18 FPS.
3DMark TimeSpy score for the Dell XPS 15 9570
3DMark TimeSpy score for the Dell XPS 15 9570

In Furmark, the XPS 15 9570 score 775 points with a max FPS of 15.
Furmark score for the Dell XPS 15 9570

We also ran CrystalDiskMark to check how well the 1TB PCIe SSD holds up and as you can see it delivers some astounding trasnfer figures and this shows in real world performance as well.
CrystalDiskMark score for the Dell XPS 15 9570

In real-world performance, everything was breezy, and the XPS 15 9570 seemed to be overkill for typing articles and editing and resizing photographs. Even so, everything seemed to flow much better with this laptop. There was no freezing up; no unexplained delays in loading up apps. Even the benchmarking apps worked with great aplomb.

Video editing went smoothly for 1080p 60fps footage, but 4K 60fps does tend to push the fans into overdrive. The laptop is not ready for full-time duty of 4K editing, which might be explained by the GPU used here.
Dell XPS 15: Battery Life

Dell has pushed the battery capacity to the absolute limit (legally speaking as laptops with more than 100 wHr batteries are not permissible in US flights) with a 97 wHr battery unit in the XPS 15. As a result, you get some really good endurance from this machine. I would say the Dell XPS 15 provides Ultrabook-like battery life with all the performance of a desktop PC, which is exactly what you want when you have such a large battery unit inside.

Under normal usage i.e. with 10-12 tabs in Chrome (including 4K videos), Photoshop and other essential apps running, the laptop easily lasted me a typical work day of 9-10 hours with some juice to spare when I got back home. This is excellent when you think about the power inside the XPS 15.

When it was put under stress, such as during benchmark testing and gaming, the Dell XPS 15 petered out in just over 5-6 hours. This is also quite good, and you are likely to get similar endurance when editing 4K video on this laptop. I would, however, always keep the power brick in my bag – for longer work days.

Charging speed for the Dell XPS 15 9570 is not exceptional. The laptop goes from 0 to full charge in just over 2 hours, which is not bad, but it’s not blazing either. We would like to see this being pushed up in the next-gen version, with some kind of fast charging tech, which would absolutely make the XPS 15 a long-lasting machine.
Dell XPS 15: Heat Emission

As with rival Core i9 systems, the Dell XPS 15 suffers from overheating and fan noise when put under intense workload. But in regular usage, the XPS 15 remains cool, calm and collected without overheating or too much fan noise. This is great because past generations of this laptop have been known to have coil whine and overheating issues.

The good cooling on the XPS 15 9570 allows you to push the CPU and GPU to run smoothly at with very minimum throttling and low heat emissions. The laptop hovers just over 40-degrees Celsius during gaming or benchmarks, but remains well under that mark when you are using it for regular everyday work.
Dell XPS 15: Webcam

Wondering how bad that webcam placement is? It’s pretty much the only real terrible thing about this laptop.

It makes you look unflattering, captures your grubby fingers and generally makes you look like a giant in front of a puny laptop. Here’s yours truly:
Dell XPS 15: The Good and The Bad

I really can’t find much wrong with the Dell XPS 15 9570. It’s certainly one of the best laptops you can buy right now. Even if you get the Core i7 variant with lower 16GB of DDR4 RAM, you are not short on power by any means. The only real dilemma here is about the price. Here’s the Dell XPS 15 in the balance:
Pros:

    Bright, vibrant display
    Stunning design and build quality
    Top-notch performance
    Plenty of ports
    Excellent WiFi and streaming performance
    Capable of 4K video editing
    Excellent keyboard and trackpad
    Superb speakers
    Healthy battery life


Cons:

    Heavy, with wide footprint
    Too pricey for Core i9 variant
    Webcam on the chin
    Sharp edges

Dell XPS 15: The Best High-End Windows Laptop?

When it comes to alternatives for the XPS 15, you will not find many in the market. At this price range, we are in workstation territory and edging into high-end MacBook Pro models.

Astoundingly, you will find the Dell XPS 15 9570 with Core i9 laptop on Amazon India for a scarcely-believable Rs 3,39,000, while Dell has listed it for around Rs 2,15,190 (+GST) on its official website. In comparison, the base variant comes for Rs 1,36,390, and still provides you with plenty of horsepower. In many ways, the Core i9 model is too niche for most users.

The other Core i9 model under Dell’s portfolio is the G7 gaming laptop, which we thought was an excellent notebook for gaming, but its thickness may not be for those looking for a portable workhorse. You can get it on Amazon India for Rs 1,56,300.

The MacBook Pro with the Core i9 is not even available in India, and it has its fair share of throttling and heating issues.
Dell G7 Internals

So the real question is whether the almost Rs 80,000 premium for the Core i9 is worth it for your use case. Honestly, I would say that if you buy the XPS 15 with Core i7 and a decent 4K monitor, you will still end up saving some cash to buy other accessories. Thanks to the Thunderbolt 3 port, driving the 4K display should not be a problem.

You may have noticed I didn’t really go into whether you should buy the XPS 15 or not. If you are looking for a high-performance productivity laptop with plenty of power in a thin package, then this is really your only option besides a MacBook Pro. And within Windows, you don’t have comparable options at all unless you go for high-end Lenovo ThinkPad laptops geared for business users.

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