The Bottom Line
May 25 2011 - Dell's latest laptop, the 15z, comes in the form of a super thin notebook PC that sports an aluminum chassis and optional full HD display. The laptop measures at only 0.97-inches thick, which is incredibly thin for a 15.6-inch notebook. And while it's nice to have this size screen in such a portable chassis, the overall design falls slightly short of the competing MacBook Pro. However, the Dell XPS 15z does have a discrete graphics card and an abundance of memory. And with a starting price of just $999, this notebook can fit into many budgets, which is definitely a positive attribute.
- Aluminum Chassis with Magnesium Alloy Palmrest
- Optional Full HD Display
- Lack of an Optional Blu-ray Drive
- Average Hard Drive
- Not Fully Customizable
- Intel 2nd Generation Core i5-2410M
- NVIDIA GeForce GT 525M 1GB Graphics Card
- 6GB DDR3 1333MHz Memory
- 500GB 7200RPM Hard Drive
- 9-In-1 Media Card Reader
- 1.3 MP HD Webcam
- 8 Cell Battery
- HDMI 1.4, Two USB 3.0 Ports, One USB 2.0/eSATA Combo
- 15.15" x 10.25" x 0.97" @ 5.54 Pounds
Review - Dell XPS 15z Laptop Computer
It's no coincidence that the Dell 15z resembles a MacBook Pro laptop. After all, Dell does tout this latest release as being the "thinnest 15" PC on the planet." It seems that Dell is marketing the XPS 15z directly to users looking for a sleek and stylish notebook or MacBook fans that simply can't live without a pure Windows-based machine. The laptop is only .97 inches thick so it definitely is thin and it also features a chiclet keyboard and ports that scream Apple.
The Dell XPS 15z starts at $999 making it an affordable mobile solution for even stricter budgets. For this price, you get a 15.6-inch notebook with an aluminum chassis and a 720p WLED display. However, for $100 more you can upgrade to a 1080p display which is a worthy option in my opinion. Having the higher resolution screen enables the notebook to be more versatile from gaming to multimedia, which makes it more enjoyable overall.
Since $999 is an aggressive starting price for the XPS 15z, Dell included a more economical Intel Core i5-2410M processor A Core i7-based configuration is also available for $500 more with an Intel Core i7-2620M that is faster and has more cache. Basically, if you are looking to stay under $1,100 the Core i5 model is fine, but if budget allows the Core i7 system will offer enhanced performance.
One unfortunate aspect is the fact that Dell only has "Ships Fast" versions of the 15z available on their website at this time. This means only slight customizations are available so you can't pick and choose which options you upgrade. Instead you have a choice of one of five available configurations with minor tweaks available.
The standard $999 configuration does have a nice amount of memory with 6GB of DDR3 1333MHz RAM coming standard. Some models do have 8GB, though, so if you're looking for a notebook that is more future proof, the additional memory may come in handy.
But is the Dell XPS 15z a good gaming notebook? Of course a notebook of this size won't be a complete frame rate buster. But the system does come with an NVIDIA GeForce GT 525M 1GB graphics card for $999 or a 2GB GeForce GT 525M can be found in the $1,499 XPS 15z. Both cards features Optimus technology for improved battery life. The GT 525M has 96 CUDA cores and a texture fill rate up to 9.6 billion/sec. Many games benefit from reduced or disabling anti-aliasing, but if you're looking for an extremely portable notebook, the XPS 15z will let you play the latest titles casually.
Storage space, however, is simply average on the Dell XPS 15z. A 500GB 7200RPM hard drive is standard for $999 although a 750GB model is available. It would be quite nice if the laptop could be customized with a hybrid hard drive as the targeted demographic (users on the go) would benefit from a hybrid drive or even a solid state drive.
Surprisingly enough, the Dell XPS 15z also comes with an eight-cell battery which offers decent battery life. Unfortunately, the XPS 15z isn't available with a Blu-ray drive, which is a shame if you get the upgraded HD display. And it's not as if Dell abandoned the idea of an optical drive completely, because an 8x DVD-writer is included.
Overall, the Dell XPS 15z is a nice option if you're always on the go and need an ultra thin notebook. For those casual gaming sessions in a hotel, the Dell XPS 15z performs well. However, if you can deal with a slightly thicker profile on a laptop PC, there are better options out there with a higher end video card and more customizable features.