A new year, a new
Dell XPS 15 generation. I bought the mid-2022 Dell XPS 15 9520 a few weeks ago, and have been using it ever since in order to gather my thoughts and impressions on this 2022 update, and share them with you in this review.
The XPS 15 hasn’t changed much over the last many years, and on a first look, it hasn’t changed much this generation either. However, with Intel 12th-gen hardware inside now, this XPS 15 9520 is noticeably faster than before, and somehow more efficient on battery use as well.
That aside, mostly everything else is the same as before, although Dell have refined a few small details that we’ll touch on throughout the article.
Having used this for the last few weeks, I still have some nits with the design and ergonomics, but I see the value and the appeal this offers to the average pro user looking for a premium and competent all-purpose computer. This is expensive and surely not as powerful as other options you could get for the same kind of money, but the overall package of capabilities, features, and ergonomics are still hardly matched by any of the alternatives out there. We’ll get in-depth down below.
Specs as reviewed – Dell XPS 15 9520
Dell XPS 15 9520 mid-2022 generation
Screen 15.6 inch, 3.5K+ 3465 x 2160 px, 16:10 aspect ratio, 60 Hz, OLED, glossy, touch, 400-nits
FHD IPS matte and 4K IPS touch variants also available
Processor Intel 12th-gen Alder Lake H45, Core i7-12700H, 6PC+8Ec/20T
Video Intel Iris Xe + Nvidia GeForce GTX 3050Ti 4GB (35-45W)
Memory 32 GB DDR5-4800 (2x 8 GB DIMMs), up to 64 GB
Storage 1x M.2 PCIe x4 gen4 SSD (WD PC SN810), 2x M.2 2280 slots
Connectivity Wireless 6E (Intel AX211) 2×2, Bluetooth 5.2
Ports 2x USB-C with Thunderbolt 4 (left), 1x USB-C 3.2 with data/charging/video (right), SD card reader, audio jack, Lock
Battery 86 Wh, 130W USB-C charger with quick-charging
Size 345 mm or 13.57” (w) x 230 mm or 9.06” (d) x 18 mm or 0.71” (h)
Weight 4.3 lbs (1.95 kg) + .44 kg (.97 lbs) for the charger+cables, EU version
Extras white backlit keyboard, glass touchpad, HD webcam with IR, quad up-firing speakers – 8W of power, finger-sensor in the power button
Dell offers this series in multiple configurations, starting at a Core i5-12500H with 8 GB of RAM, a 56 Wh battery, and a FHD+ matte screen base model, and topping at a
Core i9-12900H with 64 GB of RAM, 3050Ti graphics, and a 4K+ touchscreen. We’ll discuss the various options and their particularities throughout this article.
Design and construction
On the outside, this XPS 15 9520 feels and looks much like the previous generations, so there are plenty of sources to go over for a better understanding of what this represents.
For me, this is the Windows-based alternative to consider for the MacBook Pro 16. It’s the same kind of premium craftsmanship, design, and attention to detail. It’s also a compact form factor with excellent screen options, good inputs, punchy audio, and versatile performance and daily-use capabilities.
The dimensions of this laptop speak for themselves, and you can tell its portable format by the size of the bezels around the screen. I don’t have a MBP 16 around for comparison, but you’ll find plenty of pictures comparing the two online. I did have that new ZenBook Pro 16X, and you can see that the XPS 15 is a thinner and smaller computer. The ZenBook Pro is more powerful, though, as you’ll find out from our review that’s coming in the next few days.
Size aside, Dell gives you the option to choose between two color schemes for this XPS 15 generation, the same that have been offered for years now: silver exteriors and either a black or a white interior, with a woven carbon-fiber-like finishing. The lighter option might not be available everywhere, though.
I’ve used the dark variant finishing on multiple XPS products over the years, but this is the first time I got my hands on the white XPS 15, and thing is, I kind of preffer it now. It doesn’t show smudges as easily, nor on the arm-rest or the keys, the exterior is a lighter shade of silver than on the dark color scheme, and it’s somewhat unique looking for this sort of laptop.
The downside with the color-matched white keyboard is the poor contrast when the white key backlighting switches on. We’ll go over that in the next section.
As far as the build quality goes, the XPS 15 series has always felt material, solid made. However, I noticed some squeaky noises on this unit, coming from the bottom D panel when lifting up the laptop from a corner or side, the kind I don’t remember noticing in the past. I also noticed a slight squeaking noise coming from the hinges, noticeable both when picking up the screen and opening up the laptop, but also when adjusting the angle. Luck of the draw I guess, with nowadays’s QC, and I call hope is that these will adjust and wear off over time.
On the other hand, I noticed that Dell implemented stronger magnets with this generation in order to keep the screen more tightly shut over the main body. Previously, the lid separated easily from the main chassis when I was picking up the laptop, but that’s no longer the case with this update.
My other nits with the XPS 15 design are somewhat subjective. For me, a screen that goes back flat to 180 degrees would be a must on an all-purpose laptop nowadays, and the screen on the XPS 15 still only goes back to about 140-150 degrees or so, which is not always sufficient for couch or lap use. I also find the metallic edges and the front lip a little too sharp for my liking, biting into my fingers and my writs with daily use. Plus, those crude aluminum edges smudge and dent fairly easily, so make sure to treat your laptop with care if you care about maintaining its pristine looks over time.
On top of that, I still don’t understand why Dell insists on having an always-on light in the power plug and a charging indicator on the front, just under the clickpad. They’ve had these for years and I never liked them.
In fact, all these are standard quirks of the XPS lineups, either this 15-inch model or the 13 or 17-inch variants. I’d appreciate it if they were addressed, but at the same time, they haven’t prevented me from using my XPS 13 more often than other ultrabooks over the years. So I don’t consider them deal-breakers, just aspects to be aware of and accept in your decision.
The miniaturized IO of this XPS 15 generation is a potential deal-breaker for pro-users, though, and something I’d expect Dell to eventually steer away from, as Apple did with the recent MacBook Pros. Right now, you’re only getting USB-C connectors (two on the left, one on the right – all with full Thunderbolt 4 support, video, and charging), an SD card reader, and an audio jack. Sure, there’s also a USB-C to HDMI/USB-A adapter included in the box, but I would much preffer having at least a USB-A slot on a laptop of this sort. I’m not asking for much, just add one more USB-A slot.
One final aspect I’ll briefly mention here is the thermal design of this laptop. The XPS 15 draws fresh air from the underside, through the vents on the sides and the open-back intakes over the fans and cooling module, and then pushes out the hot air through radiators and exhausts hidden underneath the screen’s hinge. The majority of the hot air is diverted down and away and doesn’t go into the screen, but at the same time, this design is somewhat choked by the slim-profile rubber feet implemented on the bottom of this laptop, in order to keep the overall profile slim and minimize the perceived fan-noise. We’ll get in-depth on these aspects in the Performance and Emissions sections down below.
All in all, the 2022 XPS 15 9520 is pretty much identical to the XPS 15 9510 generation, with the premium and compact format, but also the same ergonomic quirks. I’d still love for Dell to address them on a future revamp of this XPS lineup, but that’s not coming this year.
Keyboard, Trackpad, and Fingerprint Sensor
The inputs on the 2022 XPS 15 series haven’t changed either, and they’re a mixed bag by today’s standards.
The keyboard is the same shallow-stroke kind we’ve seen on XPS laptops for generations. Personally, I enjoy this sort of short actuation keyboards and I’m perhaps positively biased a little bit towards the XPS experience since the XPS 13 has been my ultraportable of choice for the last years, but this sort of typing feedback might not be overall for everyone, and is perhaps no longer quite on-par with other options in this space, such as the current ThinkPad X1 Es, the ZenBooks, the HP ZBooks, and the new Apple MacBooks. To each its own, though, as the typing experience is highly subjective for each of you.
There’s little to nothing to complain about the layout (except perhaps for the half-sized Up/Down keys) and how the plastic keycaps feel to the touch, or especially how they don’t show any smudges on this white color variant. I also like the font Dell are using on their keyboards, and the uniformity of the backlighting.
However, when you put white keys and white LEDs, you end up with poor contrast and readability in certain light conditions.
Dell implements a light sensor that keeps the lighting off in bright environments, and at the same time, the readability is OK at night or in very-dim rooms. However, in in-between conditions, I often find it hard to tell the keys apart, to the point where I had to manually disable the backlighting quite often. It’s hard to tell that from pictures, but I’ve added some down below to help illustrate what I’m talking about.
That aside, I’ll also add that some light still creeps out from underneath some of the keycaps, but for the most part, the illumination is uniform and well done. It times out when not used, it switches on quickly with a swipe over the clickpad, and includes a physical indicator for Caps Lock.
Speaking of the clickpad, the XPS 9520 inherit the large glass surface previously seen on the XPS 15 9510/9500 past generations, and it looks like they were able to address the bugs that were reported in the past.
I actually didn’t encounter any erratic behavior last year when I retested the XPS 15 9510 several months after launch, and haven’t noticed anything weird on this XPS 15 9520 either. Swipes, taps, gestures, palm rejection, all worked just fine on this unit, and even the physical clicks performed consistently, without the miss-clicks that I noticed in the 9510.
That’s no guarantee everything’s been fixed and you should expect your experience to be flawless, as QC inconsistencies might still affect some units. I’m just reporting on my experience with this retail unit that I got, which worked smoothly and without fault during these last weeks.
As far as biometrics go, there’s IR integrated into the webcam on this XPS 15 9520 series, as well as a finger-sensor in the power button, with Hello support. Call me lucky, but both worked as intended out-of-the-box on this unit as well. Doug, on the other hand, is still having issues with them on his brand-new XPS 9720 (hopefully he’ll have a review up for you in the near future).
Dell offers three screen options for this 2022 XPS 15 9520 series:
matte non-touch with FHD+ 1920 x 1200 px IPS panel, with 600+ nits of brightness and 100% sRGB colors;
glossy touch with 3.5K 3465 x 2160 px OLED panel, with 400 nits of brightness and 100% DCI-P3 colors;
glossy touch with 4K 3840 x 2400 px IPS panel, with 500+ nits of brightness and 100% DCI-P3 colors.
Our unit is the 3.5K OLED panel, but we’ve also
reviewed the 4K IPS panel here. Both are touch and about a 300 USD/EUR premium over the regular FHD matte display.
This OLED is simply stunning to look at, with excellent colors, blacks, and contrast. It does suffer from a slight amount of black crush, though, so I’d still lean towards the 4K IPS for creative purposes and color-sensitive work. That 4K panel also gets brighter, something to consider if you plan to use your laptop outdoors or in bright environments, as this OLED is only 400 nits and will struggle in those conditions, especially when considering the glare produced by the Gorilla Glass that’s on top of the display.
For everyday indoor use, though,
this OLED panel option is awesome. Those reflections, though… it’s hard for me to get used to them coming from the matte displays that I’ve been constantly using on my personal devices over the years.
Here’s what we got in our tests,
with an X-Rite i1 Display Pro sensor:
Panel HardwareID: Samsung SDC414D (156XG01);
Coverage: 100% sRGB, 100.0% Adobe RGB, 97.2% DCI-P3;
Type: 10-bit with HDR400;
Measured gamma: 2.28;
Max brightness in the middle of the screen: 390.97 cd/m2 on power;
Min brightness in the middle of the screen: 3.58 cd/m2 on power;
Contrast at max brightness: infinite;
White point: 6400 K;
Black on max brightness: 0.0 cd/m2;
PWM: Yes (see below).
Calibration is very good out of the box, with minor Gamma and White point offsets that can be further corrected. Bleeding is a non-problem with the OLED panel, and uniformity is solid, both in color and luminosity.
I was expecting some scaling issues with the non-standard resolution, but I set my unit on 200% scaling and didn’t notice anything funky. However, just like all Samsung OLED with touch and a digitizer layer, there’s a slight graininess mesh noticeable on white backgrounds (when browsing or reading/editing text) – it’s not as pronounced as on lower-resolution OLED screens, though, as this digitizer mesh is denser and smaller with the 3.5K resolution.
That aside, I’ll also add that this OLED panel is the better option for casual gaming on this XPS 15 generation. It’s still 60Hz refresh, but the response times are faster than on the IPS alternatives. And I’ll insist on casual gaming, as the XPS 15 is not primarily a
gaming ultraportable by any means.
As for potential burn-in, that should be fine with this generation of Samsung OLEDs, but I’d still look into the particularities and best practices of OLED laptop screens, just to set the right expectations before going with one of these.
Flickering is one other aspect to consider here. As explained in
this article from NBC, this panel option uses PWM at low frequencies all across the brightness spectrum. Now OLED flickering is not the same as IPS PWM flickering, but those sensitive might still struggle with this panel option, and if you know you’re sensitive to panel flickering, you’d better go with one of the IPS options instead.
For the other panel options, as mentioned earlier, the 4K IPS panel is a brighter and more hassle-free option, and the one I’d get for creative use and programming. This also allows for more content to be displayed with a 200% scaling, thanks to the higher resolution and lacks the grainy digitizer mesh that’s affecting the OLED, as well as the PWM flickering. Furthermore, this option supports touch and is about the same price as the OLED.
As for the base-level matte FHD+ panel, this is significantly more affordable and the brightest option here, thus the ideal choice for outdoor use and bright environments. It offers fair blacks, contrast levels of around 1400:1, and fair color coverage, although not wide-gamut as on the other panels. Plus, this option is the most efficient of the three, something to consider if battery life with the laptop unplugged from the wall is important for your use cases.
Hardware and performance
Our test model is a mid-specced variation of the Dell XPS 15 9520, built on an Intel Core i7-12700H processor with Iris Xe graphics and an Nvidia RTX 3050Ti 35-45W dGPU, 16 GB of DDR5-4800 memory, and 1 TB of fast gen4 SSD storage.
What we have here is a retail model bought locally. We tested it a few months after this was launched, with the mostly mature software available as of late June 2022 (BIOS 1.3.0, MyDell 126.96.36.199 app, Nvidia Studio Driver 512.96). Still, some aspects might still change with future software updates.
Specs-wise, this is built on an
Intel Alder Lake H45 hardware platform, with the mainstream Core i7-12700H processor on our configuration. This is a hybrid design with 6 Performance Cores and 8 Efficiency Cores, and this Dell implementation is the most efficient Core H 12th-gen we’ve tested so far, as you’ll find out from the Battery section further down.
The i7 in this XPS 15 is not as fast as on full-size laptops, though, as this is a thin design with quiet fan profiles, and thus the processor only runs at around 45-50W sustained in demanding loads. We’ll get to that in a bit.
For the GPU, this generation of the XPS 15 comes with an Nvidia RTX 3050Ti chip, with a TGP of 35W and the ability to run at up to 45W with Dynamic Boost. RTX 3050 40W and Iris Xe only options are also available.
For memory, there are 2x DIMMs on this laptop, which support up to 64 GB of DDR5-4800 memory. Our configuration gets 2x 16 GB of memory, in dual-channel.
For storage, there are 2x M.2 2280 PCIe gen4 slots inside. Our unit shipped with a WD PC SN810 1 TB drive, which is a middling gen4 SSD, but fast enough for daily use and productivity. It performs faster with the laptop plugged into the wall than on battery use.
Internally, very little has changed compared to the 2021 XXPS 15 9510. That means the RAM and the SSDs are upgradeable on this series, but everything else is soldered. Accessing them is a simple task, requiring you to remove the back panel that’s held in place by a couple of Torx screws. None of them are hidden behind rubber feet. I haven’t opened this sample, instead, the picture below is
sourced from here.
And here’s the XPS 15 9510, for comparison.
As far as the software goes, there are a couple of Dell apps preinstalled by default, such as MyDell/Update, and multiple Support Assistants. I’d recommend reinstalling a fresh copy of Windows and only installing MyDell in order to get access to auto-updates and the different power modes. In fact, the MyDell has been updated from the previous generations, integrating mostly everything under a unified umbrella.
You’ll also find excellent control options in the BIOS, including various configuration tweaks and battery settings if you activate Advanced Setup mode. No other OEMs offer this kind of BIOS control in the ultraportable space!
As for the power modes, these are found in MyDell under Power >> Settings >> Thermal. The options are Ultra Performance, Optimized, Cool, and Quiet, and they’re pretty self-explanatory. Optimized is fine as a multi-purpose everyday profile, Ultra Performance just offers a little more oomph on the GPU size, and Quiet keeps the fans at sub 30 dB while limiting the performance.
I found little use for the Cool mode, though, as that offers the power settings of the Quiet mode, but with much louder fans – so limited performance, loud fans, and lower temperatures. Perhaps it would make sense if you must use the laptop in an ultra-hot environment or outdoors, in direct sunlight.
The laptop feels very snappy with daily multitasking, video streaming, text-editing, and the likes, and it tends to keep quiet while on battery on Optimized, so you don’t necessarily have to go with the Quiet profile for that. The fans are active most of the time while the laptop is plugged-in, but they’re very quiet and barely noticeable even in a silent room. I haven’t noticed it on my unit, but some XPS 15 users have reported a higher-pitch fan sound on theirs, noticeable with daily use loads, and we’ll discuss that in the Emissions sections further down.
Performance and benchmarks
On to more demanding tasks, we start by testing the CPU’s performance by running the Cinebench R15 benchmark for 15+ times in a loop, with 2-3 seconds delay between each run.
On the Ultra Performance mode, the Core i7 processor peaks at around 75W for a second, then gradually drops and stabilizes at around 45W of sustained power in this mode, with temperatures of ~95 degrees Celsius, and quiet fans at only ~37 dB. Despite the much higher PL settings, power and thermal throttling limit this CPU implementation and only allow it to perform at about 65-70% of its potential in an unrestrained full-size design (such as in the
Acer Predator Helios 300 or the Legion 5i Pro tested here).
Initially, the P Cores run at 95-100 degrees Celsius, but the average temperatures drop to 90-95 degrees once the system eventually stabilizes at around 45W.
I also noticed that some of the Performance cores do run hotter than the others in this test, such as Core 3 and Core 5. The difference between the cooler and hottest Cores is small, though, within 3-5 degrees, so not a concern imo.
One more aspect worth mentioning is how the fans are designed to react slowly to an increased load, in order to prevent aggressive and potentially annoying fan spikes. This, however, impacts the performance in sustained loads, as the scores drop as the heat builds-up, and then gradually increase for a few runs, before finally dropping again once the 45W Power Limit kicks in.
There’s no default way to push the fans faster, and there’s no default ability to undervolt the CPU with either XTU or Throttlestop. Some workarounds allowed tweaking on the previous XPS models, such as using DellFanCmd to manually control the fan or
. Update: As per @Uncleweb’s reply in the comments, “Intel has removed CPU voltage control from their 12000H mobile CPUs. This feature is shown as Not Available in ThrottleStop. Previous generation CPUs that were Locked by the Dell BIOS could be unlocked. That is no longer possible with 12th Gen. Intel is forcing their customers to spend a lot more money for a laptop with a 12900HK CPU so they can get access to CPU voltage control.” these tricks to enable undervolting
Repasting might also improve the overall CPU behaviour, but I haven’t tested any of these on my loaner review unit.
What I did is push up the back of the laptop from the desk, as this improves the airflow into the fans. The P cores run at around 55W and 100C for a few minutes, and then Power Limit still kicks in and the system still ends up stabilizing at 45W, but with lower temperatures in the 80s C. The fans are perceived a little louder in this case, at 39-40 dB at head level, due to the increased space on the bottom of the laptop that allows for the noise to escape out easier.
Switching over to the Optimized doesn’t change much, as this mode only affects the GPU vs the Ultra Performance profile. Somehow the CPU scores a little higher in this mode than on UltraPerformance, though.
Cool mode is a weird power mode, as this favors lower temperatures by pushing the fans to 43 dB at head-level, but also sets a sustained power limit of only 30W. As a result, this mode offers solid CPU performance for 10-30 seconds, but then ends up trailing the other power modes in the multiple runs. The sustained temperatures are excellent in this case, though, in the mid to high 60s C with the laptop sitting on the desk, and low 60s with its back pushed up.
Quiet mode limits the noise to sub 30 dB and limits the CPU at 30W sustained. The power drops much quicker than on Cool, and the overall CPU performance on this profile ends up at about 70% of what’s possible on the Ultra Performance profile.
Finally, the laptop runs at ~45 W of power when unplugged, on the Optimized mode, which is surprisingly good for battery use.
All these findings are detailed in the chart and logs published down below.
To put these in perspective, here’s how this i7-12700H implementation fares against other i7/i9 or AMD implementations.
I’ve included the Core i7 XPS 15 9510 for comparison, which shows the significant YOY gains in multi-threaded CPU performance. I’ve also included a full-power i7-12700H unit for a reference of what the chip can do in an unlimited design. And then, a few other implementations available in various modern portable designs, both Intel and AMD, showing the limitations of the XPS 15 9520 implementation vs. other options. That shouldn’t come as a surprise, as the XPS 15 series has never excelled at raw performance.
We then went ahead and further verified our findings with the more taxing Cinebench R23 loop test and in Blender, confirming our above findings.
We then ran the 3DMark CPU profile test, on Ultra Performance and Ultra Performance with the back raised, to signal the differences.
Finally, we ran our combined CPU+GPU stress tests on this notebook, on the Ultra Performance profile, once more with the laptop on the desk or with its back raised up. 3DMark stress runs the same test for 20 times in a loop and looks for performance variation and degradation over time. While on the desk, this XPS 15 9520 failed the test, while when pushed up, it was able to barely pass it. This further suggests that the cooling is somewhat choked with the laptop sitting on the desk, and you should either bump the back off the table or use an external cooling pad to help this design when running sustained loads, either for your work or games.
Next, here are some benchmark results. We ran the entire suite of tests and benchmarks on the Ultra Performance profile
with the laptop sitting on the desk, at FHD resolution, for consistency with our past reviews. Here’s what we got.
3DMark 13 – Fire Strike: 10213 (Graphics – 11853, Physics – 11266, Combined – 4691);
3DMark 13 – Time Spy: 4854 (Graphics – 4605, CPU – 7007);
Uniengine Superposition – 1080p Extreme: 2674;
Uniengine Superposition – 1080p Medium: 8184;
Handbrake 1.3.3 (4K to 1080p encode): 50.51 average fps;
PassMark 10: Rating: 6354 (CPU: 25674, 3D Graphics: 10992, Memory: 2769, Disk Mark: 40131);
PCMark 10: 6672 (Essentials – 10533, Productivity – 9012, Digital Content Creation – 8492);
GeekBench 5.4.3 64-bit: Single-Core: 1691, Multi-core: 10918;
CineBench R15 (best run): CPU 2265 cb, CPU Single Core 240 cb;
CineBench R20 (best run): CPU 5260 cb, CPU Single Core 644 cb;
CineBench R23: CPU 13133 cb (best single run), CPU 12587 cb (10 min run), CPU Single Core 1665 cb;
x265 HD Benchmark 64-bit: 32.44 s.
And here are some workstation benchmarks, on the same profile:
Blender 3.01 – BMW scene – CPU Compute: 3m 15s (Turbo);
Blender 3.01 – BMW scene – GPU Compute: 46s (CUDA), 22s (Optix);
Blender 3.01 – Classroom scene – CPU Compute: 7m 28s (Turbo);
Blender 3.01 – Classroom scene – GPU Compute: 1m 47s (CUDA), 55s (Optix);
Pugetbench – DaVinvi Resolve: 790;
Pugetbench – Adobe After Effects: crashed;
Pugetbench – Adobe Photoshop: 1013;
Pugetbench – Adobe Premiere: 731;
SPECviewperf 2020 – 3DSMax: 59.09 (Turbo);
SPECviewperf 2020 – Catia: 32.02 (Turbo);
SPECviewperf 2020 – Creo: 62.22 (Turbo);
SPECviewperf 2020 – Energy: 10.42 (Turbo);
SPECviewperf 2020 – Maya: 197.78 (Turbo);
SPECviewperf 2020 – Medical: 17.24 (Turbo);
SPECviewperf 2020 – SNX: 12.52 (Turbo);
SPECviewperf 2020 – SW: 110.72 (Turbo).
V-Ray Benchmark: CPU – 8364 vsamples, GPU CUDA – 472 vpaths, GPU RTX – 610;
Let’s discuss these.
For starters, it’s important to understand that the XPS 15 is a thin-and-light design with limited power profiles and quiet fans, so the Intel 12th-gen hardware is not going to perform in the same way as in a full-size implementation here.
Even so, the CPU scores are fairly low with the laptop sitting on the desk, both in brief loads such as 3Dmark or Geekbench and in sustained loads such as Blender/Handbrake. For comparison, ultra-compact designs such as the
ZenBook 14X or ROG Flow Z13 return higher peak CPU performance, and higher-sustained performance as well. Furthermore, laptops such as the Razer Blade 15 2022 or the Asus ZenBook Pro 16X, end-up faster as well.
However, things change once you push up the back of the laptop in order to favor better cooling. More on that in a bit.
First, though, it’s important to acknowledge that even if somewhat limited, the XPS 15 9520 is a significant step-up in performance from the
previous 2021 XPS 15 9510 model. We’re looking at a 10-15% increase in IPC and single-core performance, a 20-30% increase in CPU multi-threaded performance, and even a slight 5-7% increase in GPU scores as well.
But here’s what happens when you help the cooling on this design. These results are on the same Ultra Performance mode and FHD resolution, but this time with the back of the laptop pushed up by abut two inches.
3DMark 13 – Fire Strike: 11150 (Graphics – 11988, Physics – 25354, Combined – 4717);
3DMark 13 – Time Spy: 5139 (Graphics – 4684, CPU – 11437);
Uniengine Superposition – 1080p Extreme: 2708;
GeekBench 5.4.3 64-bit: Single-Core: 1659, Multi-core: 11215;
CineBench R20 (best run): CPU 5465 cb, CPU Single Core 645 cb;
CineBench R23: CPU 14203 cb (best single run), CPU 13181 cb (10 min run),
x265 HD Benchmark 64-bit: 31.13 s.
Blender 3.01 – BMW scene – CPU Compute: 7m 08s (Ultra Perf, raised);
Pugetbench – Adobe Photoshop: 1024;
Pugetbench – Adobe Premiere: 794.
Thing is, while the laptop sits on the desk, the cooling is choked-up on this XPS 15 by the slim rubber feet that prevent the flow of fresh air into the fans. Paired with fan profiles designed to react slowly to any temperature peaks in order to prevent unwanted fan spikes with daily use, that means that the CPU quickly peaks up at 100 degrees Celsius with benchmarks, and power/thermal throttling kicks in as a result, as shown in the Cinebench loop tests earlier.
Bumping the back of the laptop off the desk allows for the hardware to run at higher power for a longer time. That’s especially affecting the quick-burst results such as 3DMark or Geekebench in a massive way, bringing the XPS 15 on par with other ultra-portable Intel 12th-gen designs we’ve tested so far. However, these short-duration tests are somewhat misleading, as in the end the hardware stabilizes at about the same among of power and similar capabilities, as shown in the longer tests such as Cinebench R23 loop, Blender, or the Puget loads, where the differences are much smaller.
Long story short, you should leave this article with two main conclusions. First off, the XPS 15 is a thin design with some power/fan limitations that you’ll have to accept. Thus, it doesn’t perform as fast as other Intel 12th-gen implementations on the same hardware in sustained loads, nor on the CPU side, or on the GPU side, where we’re looking at 3050-class chips with 35-45W designs, and not the full-power options available on other laptops.
On top of that, I would recommend placing this laptop over a cooling pad or at least bumping the back off the table in order to help the cooling when running demanding loads or games. On one hand, that’s going to help the performance with short duration activities, and on the other, it will allow the specs to run at significantly cooler temperatures with sustained workloads or games.
The XPS 15 is not primarily made for gaming and even runs on Studio Edition drivers, but considering the versatility of this series and the fast response/refresh of the OLED display, I’d still expect many of you to run games on it time and again.
Hence, we ran a couple of DX11, DX12, and Vulkan titles on the Ultra Performance mode on this Core i7 + 3050Ti configuration, at FHD+ resolution, with Ultra and Medium graphics settings, and with either the laptop on the desk or bumped up to help then cooling.
For starters, here’s what we got on Ultra settings.
XPS 15 9520, on desk
i7-12700H + 3050Ti 35-40W
FHD+ on Ultra Performance mode
XPS 15 9520, raised back
i7-12700H + 3050Ti 35-40W
FHD+ on Ultra Performance mode
XPS 15 9510
i7-11800H + 3050Ti 35-40W
FHD+ on Ultra Performance mode
(DX 11, Best Looking Preset) 101 fps (54 fps – 1% low)
105 fps (56 fps – 1% low)
Far Cry 5
(DX 11, Ultra Preset, SMAA) 60 fps (49 fps – 1% low)
68 fps (58 fps – 1% low)
56 fps (49 fps – 1% low)
Far Cry 6
(DX 12, Ultra Preset, TAA) 48 fps (35 fps – 1% low)
54 fps (37 fps – 1% low)
Red Dead Redemption 2
(DX 12, Ultra Optimized, TAA) 43 fps (34 fps – 1% low)
41 fps (31 fps – 1% low)
Shadow of Tomb Raider
(DX 12, Highest Preset, TAA) 53 fps (26 fps – 1% low)
55 fps (27 fps – 1% low)
49 fps (24 fps – 1% low)
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
(DX 11, Ultra Preset, Hairworks On 4) 62 fps (42 fps – 1% low)
64 fps (45 fps – 1% low)
58 fps (42 fps – 1% low)
Battlefield V, The Witcher 3 – recorded with Fraps/in-game FPS counter in campaign mode;
Far Cry 5, Middle Earth, Strange Brigade, Red Dead Redemption 2, Tomb Raider games – recorded with the included Benchmark utilities;
Red Dead Redemption 2 Optimized profile based on
Most games run alright on this configuration at FHD+ resolution, but for recent AAA titles, you’ll have to cut on the details. You could also run some titles closer to the native 3.5K resolution, but expect a significant performance hit. I haven’t even tested it.
In fact, if you’re going to game on this laptop, I’d recommend trimming down the details.
Here’s what we got on Medium settings at FHD+ resolution on the same Ultra Performance profile. I also added a couple of similar portable alternatives tested recently, for comparison.
XPS 15 9520 –
Core i7 + 3050Ti 35+W
XPS 15 9510 –
Core i7 + 3050 35+W
ZenBook Pro Duo –
Core i7 + 3050Ti 35+W
ROG Flow X13 –
Ryzen 9 + 3050Ti 35+W
ROG Flow Z13 –
Core i9 + 3050Ti 35+W
(Vulkan, Medium Preset, no DLSS) 108 fps (78 fps – 1% low)
118 fps (79 fps – 1% low)
107 fps (82 fps – 1% low)
126 fps (89 fps – 1% low)
Far Cry 5
(DX 11, Normal Preset, TAA) 76 fps (56 fps – 1% low)
72 fps (54 fps – 1% low)
72 fps (59 fps – 1% low)
74 fps (57 fps – 1% low)
72 fps (48 fps – 1% low)
Red Dead Redemption 2
(DX 12, Balanced – first option) 52 fps (37 fps – 1% low)
50 fps (34 fps – 1% low)
47 fps (35 fps – 1% low)
48 fps (32 fps – 1% low)
46 fps (30 fps – 1% low)
Shadow of Tomb Raider
(DX 12, Medium Preset, TAA) 59 fps (36 fps – 1% low)
52 fps (26 fps – 1% low)
68 fps (56 fps – 1% low)
69 fps (48 fps – 1% low)
68 fps (45 fps – 1% low)
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
(DX 11, Medium Preset, Hairworks Low) 108 fps (39 fps – 1% low)
92 fps (59 fps – 1% low)
105 fps (59 fps – 1% low)
102 fps (78 fps – 1% low)
98 fps (59 fps – 1% low)
The XPS 15 9520 is a little faster than the previous generation, despite running on the exact same GPU. It’s also competitive against similarly-powered options such as the ZenBook or the ROG Flow units. At the same time, this is no match for something like a
ROG Zephyrus G14, a Razer Blade 15, or even a Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme, which offer higher-tier specs with superior performance capabilities. So make sure to properly adjust your expectations when opting for the XPS 15.
With these out of the way, let’s go through some of the performance logs on each profile.
On the Ultra Performance mode, the hardware runs at up to 60W of combined CPU+GPU power. That translates in up to 45W allocated to the GPU in all the titles that we’ve tested, which scaled well with Dynamic Boost, and 15W going to the CPU.
As far as the temperatures go, with the laptop sitting flat on the desk we measured between 68-35 degrees Celsius on both the CPU and GPU in the tested games. These are solid temperatures, especially considering the fans keep fairly quiet, at uop to 43 dBA measured at head-level.
Bumping the back of the laptop off the desk is hardly going to impact the performance, as the laptop already runs at its 60W crossload design to begin with, but will lower the internal temperatures to 60-65 degrees. The fans are perceived a little louder on this mode, as the noise easily escapes from underneath the chassis, at up to 45 dBA at head-level, but I’ve also noticed that once the temperatures drop, the fans also end up spinning a little slower and quieter in some titles.
Opting for the Optimized mode is another option worth considering if you’re looking at quieter fan noise. This reduces the crossload power to 55W, with only 40W going to the GPU and 15W going to the GPU, while the fans end up spinning at around 40 dBA with the laptop on the desk, and 42 dBA with its raised up. The performance takes a minor hit in this mode, and the internal temperatures are similar to what we mentioned above.
Quiet mode is also an option you could go with at 30 dBA , but this limits the GPU power quite significantly and leads to increased CPU temperatures. Not really something I’d consider here.
Gaming on battery power on the Optimized mode is possible, though. By default, the system sets up a 30 fps cap to your games, which meant a 20W power cap on the GPU and 2+ hours of game time in Witcher 3. Not bad.
Noise, Heat, Connectivity, speakers, and others
The thermal design of the Dell XPS 9520 hasn’t changed in any significant way from the 9510 generation, although some of the thermal plates that cover the VRMs and various accessories are slightly different. Here’s the cooling on the XPS 15 9520.
And here’s the cooling on the XPS 15 9510, for comparison.
I’ll also add that Dell seem to have done a fair job pasting the CPU/GPU on this unit, without any overspilled paste. We ran all our tests and findings with the default paste, but repasting could impact the temperatures and even the performance to an extent, just be aware that repasting will void your warranty in most markets.
Most of the fresh air comes in from the bottom with this design, through the open intakes over the fans and heatpipes, and the hot air is pushed out through vents hidden under the hinge. This splits the hot air, sending some of it down and to the back and away from the user, but a little still goes into the screen, as shown in the thermal readings down below.
For the most part, the cooling design on this XPS 15 9520 is perfectly capable of keeping the internals at bay. Even with the laptop sitting on the desk, the components rarely go over 75 degrees Celsius with mix-use. High-stress CPU loads are a different matter, of course, as shown above. Furthermore, bumping the back of the laptop off the desk greatly improves on the internal temperatures, and affects the chassis temperatures as well.
As far as noise levels go, on Ultra Performance I measured fan levels of 43 dBA with the laptop on the desk and 45 dBA with the back bumped up, both at head-level, 50-60 cm away from the laptop. Overall, both the thermal readings and the fan-noise levels are similar to what we measured on the XPS 15 9510 of last year.
I should also add that there’s no default way to manually adjust the behavior of the fans, but you can do it with third-party software if you want to. Don’t expect significant changes, as I find these standard profiles quite well balanced.
One final observation is that Dell sets up a slow response time for the fans in this XPS 15. This means that they’ll react slowly and gradually to a high load, which has both a positive and a negative effect. The positive is that you’re not going to experience annoying pulsating fans with daily use, when you launch an app that spikes up the CPU. The negative is that at times, the CPU is going to run at high temperatures before the fans catch up and start spinning. Based on our tests, that’s not a concern with daily use, and I’ve only experienced it within the 10-30 seconds of launching a demanding load or test; this, however, means the heat is going to build up faster into the system than if the fans were more responsive. All in all, though, I prefer this kind of setting over an overly-aggressive fan profile.
When it comes to everyday use, the XPS 15 9520 keeps very quiet, with the fans staying mostly idle with casual use even on the Ultra Performance profile, with the laptop either plugged in or running on battery. They will occasionally kick on with multitasking, and they are rather annoyingly high-pitched when they do at their lower rpms; that aside, it will also take a while for them to turn back to idle, as a result of the lazy fan settings explained above. For the most part, though, I’ve rarely even noticed the fans in this laptop during these weeks, and you can also switch over to the Quiet profile if you want to force them to keep idle most of the time even with daily multitasking.
I’ll also add that I haven’t experienced coil whine or electronic noises on this unit, but that’s not a guarantee you won’t get any with yours, so make sure to carefully test and listen for any abnormalities within your return window.
As for the external temperatures, I have no complaints with daily use, even with the mostly passive cooling. Yes, the laptop runs a bit warm to the touch, but the chassis doesn’t go above mid-30s Celsius in the warmest spots.
*Daily Use – Optimized Mode – streaming Netflix in EDGE for 30 minutes, fans at 0-30 dB
With games, the keyboard and armrest stay within comfortable limits on the Ultra Performance mode, but with hotspots in the higher-40s in the middle of the keyboard around the Y, T, 6 keys, just on top of the hardware. You’ll rarely come in contact with those parts during use, so I’ll give the overall thermal performance a pass here. That hotspot is smaller than on the previous XPS 15 generation, and the underside runs even cooler.
I noticed that the bottom of the screen barely warms up on this design, though, while it ran at higher temperatures on the XPS 15 9510. The hinge design diverts the hot air back and away from the laptop in both cases, so perhaps the differences in panels partially explain these, with the OLED running cooler than the 4K IPS.
*Gaming – Ultra Performance mode, on desk – playing Witcher 3 for 30 minutes, fans at 42-43 dB
*Gaming – Ultra Performance mode, raised up – playing Witcher 3 for 30 minutes, fans at 44-45 dB
For connectivity, there’s WiFi 6E with Bluetooth 5.2 through an Intel AX211 module on this laptop, an update from the previous generation. This chip is still soldered-in as far as I can tell. It performed well with our setup, both near the router and at 30+ feet with obstacles in between, where the previous design struggled to some point. That’s good news if you plan on using the laptop in places with dodgy wifi signal, far away from your router.
Audio hasn’t changed. It’s still handled by a set of quad speakers that fire through those cuts on the sides of the laptop and through the grills that flank the keyboard. They’re definitely louder and higher-quality than what you’ll get with most of the other Windows laptops, at 85+ dB at maximum level and even some bass for this class. You’ll hardly want to use these at higher volumes, though, as they push noticeable vibrations into the chassis and even some rattling with certain songs.
I haven’t properly tested this, but it’s worth mentioning that audiophiles are complaining about the quality of the audio DAC implemented with the XPS series, which hasn’t changed from the previous generations and won’t pair well with top-tuier high-impedance headphones. Something to keep in mind and consider in your decision.
I’ll also mention that there’s an HD camera placed at the top of the screen, with IR, but without any kind of shutter, and the microphones are placed on the front lip, above the camera. These mics are OK for calls, even if they’re facing up and not towards you, but the camera quality is mediocre at best, even in good light. An updated camera is long due here.
There’s a 86 Wh battery inside this XPS 15 9520 higher-tier configuration, which is adequately sized for a laptop of this size.
I wasn’t expecting much in efficiency based on our other tests of 12th-gen Core H laptops, but this XPS 15 proved to be a pleasant surprise, running more efficiently than everything else we’ve reviewed. As far as I understand, Dell were able to better optimize the activity of the P and E-Cores than other OEMs, and that shows in real-life use.
Here’s what we got, with the screen’s brightness set at around 120 nits (~60 brightness).
10 W (~8 h of use) – text editing in Google Drive, Quiet, screen at 60%, Wi-Fi ON;
9 W (~9-10 h of use) – 1080p fullscreen video on Youtube in Edge, Quiete, screen at 60%, Wi-Fi ON;
8.5 W (~10 h of use) – Netflix fullscreen in Edge, Quiet, screen at 60%, Wi-Fi ON;
15 W (~5-6 h of use) – browsing in Edge, Optimized, screen at 60%, Wi-Fi ON;
40 W (~2+ h of use) – gaming – Witcher 3 with 30 fps cap, Optimized Mode, screen at 60%, Wi-Fi ON.
This configuration ships with a mid-sized 130W charger, adequately sized for this hardware, which plugs in via USB-C. It’s a dual-piece design with long cables, but it doesn’t include a cable strap so you’ll need to use some sort of third-party strap to prevent the cables from tangling up in your backpack.
However, keep in mind that there are also 56Wh battery variants of the XPS 15 9520, mostly the lower-tier FHD models with Iris Xe graphics. Those also ship with a smaller 90W charger.
As final side notes, the charger and the cables are all-white for this color variant (and black for the other color option). Furthermore, both the left-side and the right-side USB-C slots allow for charging on this design.
Price and availability- Dell XPS 15 9520
The XPS 15 9520 is widely available all around the world at the time of this article, late-June 2022.
The base model with a Core i5-12500H CPU, Iris Xe graphics, 8 GB of RAM, a 256 GB SSD, the FHD+ matte screen, and a 56 Wh battery starts at $1449 MSRP in the US, and around 1500 EUR here in Europe. The RAM and storage are upgradeable, so you could consider this variant if on a tighter budget, if you prefer a matte screen and if don’t need a dGPU, even if you need to accept the tradeoff in battery life. You’ll also want to upgrade the RAM and storage yourselves if you go this route, so plan a budget for that.
The configuration tested here, with the Core i7-12700H, the 3050Ti, and the OLED touchscreen starts, at $2299 or 2200 EUR and goes up as you add more RAM and storage. Other upgrades are available, and most of them are quite pricey. I can see why you’d want to preconfigure your unit with the right screen, RAM, and SSD from Dell, but I wouldn’t go with the i9-12900H upgrade, that’s just not worth the 300 USD/EUR premium in this sort of an ultracompact design.
I appreciate that this series is
highly configurable on Dell’s website, where you’ll also find occasional discounts that might bring those MSRP prices down.
You’ll still find the XPS 15 9520 listed in other online stores as well, though, with competitive prices for some of the standard configurations.
Follow this link for more details.
Final thoughts- Dell XPS 15 9520
Here we go, another 7500 words later, time to draw some conclusions on this XPS 15 9520.
Little has changed on the XPS 15 series in the last few years, but this 2022 update is actually more significant than the previous YOY updates were. That’s because of the 12th-gen Intel Alder Lake implemented hardware, which translates into a significant boost in performance with daily use and sustained loads. So if you’re looking at this laptop for programming, engineering, or media creation work, you’ll be able to finish up your tasks 10-30% faster on the XPS 15 9520 than on a similarly configured 9510.
On top of that, the 9520 is surprisingly efficient with light use and everyday activities, which is a rarity among Alder Lake laptops. Somehow, this Core H XPS 15 is even more efficient than the
Core P XPS 13 Plus (reviewed here). That means 5-8 hours of daily use and 10 hours of video are possible on a single charge, which is no small feat.
Add in the particularities that Dell have refined over the years and always attracted potential buyers towards the XPS series, such as the premium design and build quality, the excellent configurability, and the unmatched post-sale services (in the US and most big markets, not everywhere), and you end up with a multi-purpose notebook that’s going to attract a lot of attention once more. That’s despite the fact that this is pretty much a hardware bump of the previous generation, with minor other tweaks.
However, I still have my nits with the XPS 15 series, such as the limited screen angle, the aggressive edges, or the poor camera. And I hope Dell are able to get their quality-control and reliability in check for this generation, and address some of the inconsistencies of the past models.
On top of these, the XPS 15 is expensive, and even more expensive now in the 2022 generation than in the past. This variant tested here goes for 2500++ USD/EUR, and that kind of money can get you a lot of other good alternatives, all of them with more powerful specs, and either larger or smaller sizes, based on what you’re looking at. The
ROG Zephyrus G14, the Razer Blade 14 and Blade 15, the MSI Prestige 15, the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme and ThinkPad Z16, or the HP ZBook Studio are just some of the other thin-and-light options available out there.
At the end of the day, though, you’re not getting an XPS 15 for its sheer performance, but rather for the well-balanced multi-purpose package that it is. Aim for a mid-tier configuration and wait for some Dell discounts later in the year, and this will make sense for many of you. Just make sure you understand and accept what this can and cannot do, and decide accordingly on whether this is right for you or not.
This wraps up my review of the mid-2022 Dell XPS 15 9520 series, and I’d love to hear your thoughts, questions, and feedback down below, so get in touch.
Andrei Girbea Andrei Girbea, Editor-in-Chief
. I've a Bachelor's in Computer Engineering and I've been covering mobile technology since the 2000s. You'll mostly find reviews and thorough guides written by me here on the site, as well as some occasional first-impression articles.
July 6, 2022 at 4:23 pm
It is surprising that the Asus Zenbook Pro x16 is thicker than this XPS bit has soldered ram. I wanted a machine a bit bigger than this XPS and was intrigued by the Asus but then saw that it uses soldered ram. The Flow X16 you reviewed seems like a good one but I do not need the foldability.
Anyway, excellent review as always and thanks.
July 6, 2022 at 4:30 pm
Yeah, I'm finishing up my writing on the Pro 16x and I'm not happy with the size, it's just too bulky and heavy for that sort of a laptop imo. Just curious, Why do you want something bigger? what's the rationale?
July 6, 2022 at 8:58 pm
For me, because my laptop is my primary work and entertainment machine. I do a lot of quantitative modelling and the screen size plays a big role in productivity and comfort. Also I do not work at a desk much. So this size is roughly about as big as I can tolerate on my lap comfortably. If possible, I would like to try a 17 incher that is light enough to carry about, but those are kind of rare. I am aware of the XPS17, which seems good but expensive. Other ultra portables like the Lg Gram 17 is too under powered CPU-wise for my work. Much of my work also uses vertical space as well, so I am not keen to use anything 16:9.
July 7, 2022 at 9:40 am
Got it, thanks for explaining. Have you considered the ROG Flow X16? It's 16-inch 16:10 and smaller then the ZenBook
July 10, 2022 at 7:19 pm
Intel has removed CPU voltage control from their 12000H mobile CPUs. This feature is shown as Not Available in ThrottleStop. Previous generation CPUs that were Locked by the bios could be unlocked. That is no longer possible with 12th Gen. Intel is forcing their customers to spend a lot more money for a laptop with a 12900HK CPU so they can get access to CPU voltage control.
July 11, 2022 at 8:44 am
Thank you for this, updated!
July 12, 2022 at 12:30 pm
Does an old XPS trick(adding thermopad over heat pipes to make bottom cover to work as passive radiator to reduce noise and improve thermals) work with newer models?
The bottom cover is still a massive metal plate, or thin metal+plastic frame as in many others?
Any options for undervolting?
July 12, 2022 at 3:04 pm
yeah, the thermopad should help. No undervolting options for 12th-gen i7, as explained by Uncleweb in a separate comment
March 18, 2023 at 7:34 pm
I tried adding thermal pads over top parts of heat pipes…and results are a mixed bag. This trick definetly lowers noise… but not thermals. At first it works – metal case in contact places become hot even in idle mode, burning under load(thats tradeoff I was aware of). Idle temps are definetly lower than Idle temps without, in office work laptop become dead silent. But in test environment inertial fan controls fights against performance. In CB23 I could get 14000-14500 in multi and 1750 in single vs 13000-13500 and 1650 without. And XPS could finish Single core test without running fans at all. But in 3dmark I sometimes get lower results than without thermal pads. Probably cause there is not enough time for fans to start working on full speed, cause start is temperature related.
July 17, 2022 at 9:57 pm
I could not find any review of IPS version with FHD+ screen (1920×1200) in entire web… Did I miss something? Is it exactly the same as in 9510 or no info on that point?
July 18, 2022 at 10:49 am
Pretty sure it is the same as on the 9510
July 20, 2022 at 6:41 pm
Great review as usual! I'm a bit conflicted though because the previous gen is significantly discounted at the moment, a similar configuration can be had at 30-40% cheaper, quite tempting. Since the hardware is more or less the same would you say that the 2021 is a better buy even with weaker and less efficient CPU?
July 20, 2022 at 6:49 pm
Depends on what you're going to use the laptop for. for everyday activities, the upgrade to 12th gen hardware won't matter much, but for demanding CPU loads, it would. Up to you.
July 24, 2022 at 10:25 am
Thanks Andrei. I have decided to get last year model because I'm a bit price sensitive… I just hope not regretting missing Alder Lake that much. 😂
July 24, 2022 at 10:27 am
I think at the current price difference, the 9510 is the better value option. Sure, Alder Lake is significantly faster, but that's mostly impacting demanding CPU loads.
August 1, 2022 at 8:27 pm
Yes I have the newer model and tbh I'm dissapointed with it, if you really must get this laptop get the 9510
July 24, 2022 at 7:46 am
Hoping I'll get a response to this, I am currently trying to decide between the Dell XPS 15 9520 running Intel Core i9-12900HK. So I could control the CPU voltage? for better performance?
I also have an M16 Zephyrus GU603ZW from Best Buy I think it is the same model you reviewed.
I'm a student in multimedia, so I will be using it for lots of typing, and 4k Video editing, and personally want something that I can organize my thousands of photos and videos on my old HDD external hard drives. Maybe even transfer them to new SSD hard drives but the older external hard drives work just fine.
Both devices have their pros and cons for the things I want to do. The keyboard on the Dell is better and easier to type on, the build is amazing and not early 2000's looking like the Asus, and the OLED screen is amazing. However, the Zephyrus screen is actually not as bad when compared to the OLED on the Dell, unlike the Razer Blade 15 display FHD which was just way too dim in comparison.
Long story short, what laptop would you recommend that will last me for the next four years in school in terms of value, performance, upgradability, and longivity with what I use it for? Won't be able to afford another laptop until school is over so it's important I make the right decision. However, having both sitting in front of me with the return window about to close in a few days I still can't trust to make the right choice.
The only other laptop I see that I think would be perfect for me is the X16 Rog FLow but I can't find it for sale anyway in the U.S market, it's sold out on Best Buy as well. Looking forward to your response since you have used and reviewed both devices.
July 24, 2022 at 9:52 am
they're not really the same kinds of laptops. With the M16 you're getting better performance and cooling, especially in taxing loads. The XPS 15 is fine for daily use, runs quiet and looks/feels exquisite. Rather expensive at this point for the specs you're getting IMO. Perhaps an XPS 9510 might be another option to consider, as those are greatly discounted these days.
July 24, 2022 at 7:05 pm
In your review you mentioned the drivers in the XPS were better suited for creator applications, while the M16 is definitely gaming. So will the XPS be better for 4k video editing, plus both its ram slots and ssd is upgradable where else the Asus you said had a 8gb slot that wasn't.
So longevity wise the XPS would be better right ? And 4k video editing they both would perform similarly since their cpu is similar ?
I'm not as techy as you are so I don't quite understand. When you say better performance that's only cause the 3070 ti performs better than the 3050 ti but you wouldn't need the 3070 for video editing anyway?
July 25, 2022 at 8:06 am
The GPUs in the M16 are both running at much higher power, so if you're looking at the 3050Ti version of the M16, it would still outmatch the XPS by a fair margin. The 3060/3070Ti are no competition in games and GPU-demanding loads.
For video editing, though, the GPU won't make that much of a difference. See the Puget Premiere/DaVinci benchmarks for comparison.
August 1, 2022 at 8:24 pm
I get 4 hours battery life on the 9520 while browsing the web at around 40% brightness I have confirmed that this is acceptable performance with Dell support. I am very confused by all these reviews claiming to get 9 hours+ battery life from this laptop.
August 2, 2022 at 9:24 am
IDK how you'd get 9 hours of browsing , but 4 sounds a bit short. Are you using Chrome? Just for tests, try using Edge and see if it makes a difference.
August 2, 2022 at 10:28 am
Literally doing nothing, I had the laptop since July but hadn't had a chance to test why to me it appeared to have a crap battery as I have never bought a new laptop, a powerful one and an OLED screen, I was treating myself.
It however bugged me that my 8th gen dell 13-inch could go for ages and I could run that not only at 30% brightness and it work and look fine but higher so I eventually sat down to test things it could be and discovered relatively quickly it was the screen. Below 40% brightness doing nothing I'm getting at least 10 hours (doing nothing) as soon as I hit 40% 20 minutes use equals a 7% dop in battery usage.
I spoke to an online dell rep about this, they did various tests to tell me everything was ok but we eventually got to a Windows battery test and it confirmed what I had been saying that I was at best getting 4hours 30 min battery life at 405 brightness.
I asked if this was acceptable and he said yes, I confirmed this with him and said I wanted to be sure before I start telling people about this laptop.
Now when you actually look at the specs, there are plenty of new and old laptops you could get for close to the same performace for half the price, hell I have seen a nice new Asus OLED laptop you can get new for about 1/4 the price but it isn't a 1/4 performance.
I am very anti-buying Apple products who Dell likely sees as one of their competitors and for the price I paid I could get a very nice 14inch mac that destroys this laptop.
I honestly can't understand all the good reviews its getting
August 2, 2022 at 12:23 pm
well, 400-nits is a lot brighter than we test, and a lot brighter than I personally use my computers at. I got around 5-6 hours of daily use at sub-150-nits, which isn't bad for the kind of hardware available here.
Aside from the 4.5 hours of battery life at 400+ nits, and the high price, are you happy with the laptop?
As for reviews, well, they're subjective and express the opinions of each writer. It's up to the reader to put everything together and decide on what's worth buying or not. I can't comment on other articles, but I stand by my impressions gathered here.
August 2, 2022 at 1:13 pm
I didn't realise I was talking to the author of this article, thanks for the reply.
Am I happy with the laptop is a hard question to answer, I would say no but then the grass is always greener on the other side right.
I bought the laptop with a number of assumptions, I thought with the new 12th gen intel, OLED screen and 3050ti (I know that drains battery) I had found the perfect excuse now to buy a brand new laptop as this appeared to be the do it all laptop while having a 10-hour or more battery life. A laptop that I would not have any obvious need to upgrade for a long time. I still actually feel this way about my 8th gen 13-inch dell laptop, if you manage your expectations it is fantastic for what it is and will last you the day.
I knew not to expect the best processor performance and the best GPU performance due to the form factor and considering I play a lot of games 5-10 years old it plays them well and at high resolution which looks lovely on the OLED and I'm sure DLSS will handle newer games for the 3050ti.
The speakers are great, in my mind, they don't need to be better, these are speakers I would happily listen to for the rest of my life.
The screen again is lovely and in theory, I'd be happy with this forever it's just a shame I can't use it above 30% brightness without serious battery drain and I'd argue the screen only looks good at between the 60%-75% range.
The weight of the laptop makes it nice and portable but the battery life destroys making this a useful laptop outside of the home.
I spent £2200 on the laptop, though when I am having video calls you wouldn't know it as it has either the same or in my opinion worse camera than my 13-inch dell laptop.
I look around at other less pretty cheaper laptops with similar specs but running with higher clocks and wonder have I mugged myself off. Hell if I wanted a stay-at-home laptop I could buy a laptop with an RTX3070 in it for less money. As I said before buying this laptop actually made me consider getting an Apple laptop, something I thought I would never think about.
If the screen drain didn't exist I would happily pay £1600 for this laptop but due to the screen drain, I can't recommend this laptop to anyone unless they want a smart-looking and great sound laptop to keep at home although no one will know if you're taking a video call, lol.
Are nits affected by the brightness slider or is brightness constant even if you move it lower or higher?
If it is affected by it, where on the brightness scale does 150nits land, I'm gonna take a guess and assume its 30%?
August 2, 2022 at 1:25 pm
Thanks for the feedback. I haven't tested at every brightness setting, but per this log, 60% is around 120-150 nits. https://www.ultrabookreview.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/07/screen-uniformity.png Take it with a lump of salt, though.
Since you mention keeping the screen at 400-nits, that means max brightness. Is that how you're getting the 4.5 hours, I haven't entirely understood what you're doing on the laptop.
I no longer have this laptop around for further tests, but thing is, I was actually impressed by the efficiency considering the 12th gen Intel platform is otherwise a power hog and poorly optimized in most other laptops I've tested. I assume you are running the latest drivers and everything?
It would also help to check with HwInfo if your logs are similar to mine available here. This is for general browsing: https://www.ultrabookreview.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/07/daily-browsing.png . You'll also find text editing, youtube and netflix in the article. This can help figure out if any rogue process is eating through your battery life on your unit.
August 2, 2022 at 1:40 pm
Thanks for the png's, yes I have read other reviewers being uniquely impressed with 9520 efficiencies of the 12th gen chip compared to other laptop providers.
I didn't say I use it at max brightness, max brightness is too bright for me, where I would like to use it is between 60%-75% range but when I get to 40% the battery drain just goes mental. I think I have definitely confirmed it is the screen causing the drain as below this brightness the laptop performs how I had imagined it would.
August 2, 2022 at 2:17 pm
If it helps I'm getting around 5-6 hours of battery life with last year model but same specs as yours (11800H, OLED, 3050 Ti) for web browsing at around 40-50% brightness. Battery life for sure isn't the greatest with current Intel platform so I would look elsewhere if it's your priority.
August 2, 2022 at 2:31 pm
Thanks, Brian, you're one person I can add to my perspective on this laptop. My reason to avoid last year's model was because I heard 11th gen wasn't great at conserving energy and comparatively was worse than an AMD equivalent but I know Dell only does Intel so I decided to do what I thought was the sensible thing and wait until something comes out that fits my expectations. As it turns out I believe the screen is the issue when it comes to battery life, not the processor.
August 3, 2022 at 9:37 am
It's weird that as per my tests, the 2021 11th-gen XPS 15 lasted significantly less than the 2022 12th-gen XPS 15. I'd press on Dell if possible on this matter, ask to speak to a supervisor about the change in battery drain when increasing the screen's brightness. Per my experience with OLED laptops, the difference in battery drain should when using the screen at 30% or 100% should only be within a few Wh, not more.
You'd need evidence, though, such as Hwinfo logs showing power drain differences when increasing brightness.
September 18, 2022 at 10:07 am
I have a suggestion for battery life tests (not just for this specific laptop but for all laptops in general): testing how much it lasts during a Zoom call.
I'm sure a lot of us have Zoom or some other type of video calls, and it would certainly be useful to know how one can rely on the laptop's capabilities.
September 19, 2022 at 9:31 am
Thanks. Heavy browsing is indicative of multitasking performance, so a Zoom call with other apps running in the background would quality for that.
October 9, 2022 at 8:16 pm
Excellent review, thank you very much! Quick question, going from the 3050 to the 3050Ti currently would cost me an extra $250. Do you think it is worth it?
My gut says no, but would love your opinion. For the same $250 I also would get the Pro version of Windows 11. So it would be an upgrade to 11 Pro and the Ti for $250
I don’t plan on gaming. It will be 70% browsing/office applications and the other 30% will be photo editing.
October 10, 2022 at 9:55 am
No, not worth it if everything else is the same: screen, processor, ram, SSD,. battery.
October 12, 2022 at 12:55 am
Thank you very much! That is what I thought. I’ll save the money and go with the regular 3050.
October 12, 2022 at 12:52 am
Excellent review especially on details that were provided on battery. i am looking for your advise on buying this laptop. i am a HP user over a decade and planning to switch to Dell XPS only for its OLED. 4k streaming, browsing and 4k editing on adobe are my requirements. Will this laptop delivers good results?. Pls let me know. Thanks
October 12, 2022 at 8:34 am
Should be fine, as long as you understand the limitations of a powerful configuration inside a thin design.
October 14, 2022 at 4:44 am
Dell just dropped their price by $500 on the XPS 15 9520 i7 12700H and down $700 on the i9 12900HK. I just happened to stumble upon the 48 hour sale and snapped up one for $1523 (16 GB RAM, 512GB SSD, FHD+, i7 12700H). That i9 12900HK model is a bit ridiculous as I do not think it performs significantly better than the i7 12700H. Plus it was $200 more.
October 14, 2022 at 9:25 am
That's a good price to pay and you're right to recognise there will not be much of performance gain going to the 12900hk you can, however, undervolt it, in theory providing you with a better battery life.
October 14, 2022 at 2:09 pm
On Black Friday, Dell will have the same pricing.
Actually, the price was $1399. Sales tax and shipping brought it up to $1523. I cannot find any Windows laptop on the market at the moment that is at the same level as the XPS 15 9520 for $1399. That price is hundreds of dollars lower than Dell outlet laptops!
Battery life is not a concern for me; the unit is plugged into the outlet 99.9% of the time. So I stopped undervolting years ago. In fact, I found that I got best application performance by not undervolting.
For a moment I was going to select the i9 12900HK, but then I thought thermals. The heat far exceeds any increase in performance. So I just know that Dell hobble-throttled that i9 CPU.
March 20, 2023 at 8:19 pm
While on vacation out of the U.S. I also saw the Dell price drop on the XPS9520 and went minimal on the RAM and HDD, but did go with the itel i9 CPU option and touch OLED screen along with the top-end offer on the GPU, I maxed out the RAM with two crucial 32GB DDR 500 ram sticks and two 2TB Samsung Evo SSD's, one with WIN-11Pro the other Ubuntu 22.04. I'm very satisfied with it, considering I'm a solid Apple Mac Book Pro user.
March 21, 2023 at 12:26 am
About the RAM and HDD upgrade I did on my own after getting the unit, but ordered from Dell with the best GPU.
October 16, 2022 at 1:34 am
Dell XPS 15 9520
16 GB RAM
Iris Xe Graphics
Ultra Performance mode in MyDell settings (I'm not even sure if this setting is working; the fans are always quiet no matter how hard I try to push the system.)
NOTE: Discrete Graphics Disabled; if enabled then CPU performance drops to 97% = 27th percentile.
Here are cpu.benchmarks:
CONCLUSION: This XPS 15 9520 is more than sufficient for daily use, and even running multiple VMs inside Hyper-V or VMWare Workstation Pro.
November 25, 2022 at 12:06 am
"Doug, on the other hand, is still having issues with them on his brand-new XPS 9720 (hopefully he’ll have a review up for you in the near future)."
is there still any hope to have a review of the 9720 XPS 17 ?
November 25, 2022 at 12:15 pm
most likely not. Doug ended up returning his unit.
January 29, 2023 at 8:46 am
Hey,does this laptop support dell stylus pen or any others?thanks
February 15, 2023 at 10:29 pm
I would really like some advice and I'm feeling rather desperate at this point. I got the XPS 17, had trackpad issues, even with a replacement unit. I liked its snappy performance like waking from sleep, opening apps, etc. It was a good blend of power and portability though the battery life was slightly disappointing. One other thing of concern was that it ran VERY hot and loud even when idling. But the trackpad issue drove me insane and having 2 in a row with the same problem made me decide not to go XPS route.
Next, I tried the Mac Powerbook and as you pointed out, it's pretty much a spot on balance of performance, portability with excellent battery life. But despite earnest attempts to like the OS, the apps I use (mostly office suite including outlook) the functionality is stripped down and I didn't like the interface (I had a mac air years ago which I loved until failure so I thought I could get myself to like the PowerBook but to no avail).
So I returned that and currently trying out the Thinkpad P16. I love the number keypad and the keyboard experience is awesome. But it just isn't as snappy as the XPS and it's bothering me that for $3000 USD (at nearly half price) it wakes from sleep and opens app so slowly. To be fair, I got an i7 12th gen CPU with it vs. an i9 12 gen CPU on the XPS but would it make that much of a difference?
I am NOT tech saavy and getting a laptop that requires a lot of fiddling around for various performance/noise/heat combinations is more than I want to do. I want to only have to manage data on 1 computer, so I have a setup to dock the laptop to a thunderbolt dock and big screen for work. I don't game other than (lol) BloonsTD6 and this is unlikely to change in the future. I'm not a content creator and unlikely to become one. I don't do CAD etc. though sometimes my excel spreadsheets get huge. They slowed down my old desktop considerably (i5 7th gen Acer all-in-one which had 10 minute restart times that also drove me crazy). Despite my modest requirements, I'm trying to get a premium highly-specced laptop so that it will last me for many years. I love the number keypad. My eyesight isn't great esp in low light, I get motion sick easily, and I do a lot of reading on the laptop (kindle) and research on the web so smooth scrolling, brightness, and contrast are important to me.
So based on that information, is there a PC intel laptop you can recommend that feels snappier without the trackpad issues the XPS 17 has and hopefully has a number pad? Does the XPS 15 not have as many trackpad issues? Do I need a discrete GPU? If so, what level/tier would be helpful for my needs? Would a screen with a higher refresh rate than 60 Hz actually benefit me or would going with OLED be better for my eyes? Will the i9 really last longer performance-wise than an i7? Should I wait for the 13th gen intel CPUS?
February 16, 2023 at 10:57 am
First of all, that P16 shouldn't be slow to launch apps or wake up from sleep, the hardware is actually overkill for the requirements that you mentioned. And no, opting for the i9 over the i7 wouldn't have a notable impact. I'm having a hard time understanding what's causing that laptop to be slow.
To answer your questions at the end: I wouldn't go for an i9 and I wouldn't wait for 13th-gen. YOu don't seem to need a dGPU either. Also, I wouldn't necessarily go OLED due to potential flickering and the fact that most OLED are touch and have a graininess effect noticeable when reading texts and browsing – there are some non-touch OLED exceptions, such as the Gigabyte Aero 16, which would be worth a look. But I would favor a good IPS screen over an OLED.
What I would do at this point is give the LG Gram 17 a try. It's a 17-inch screen in a compact format, with a good IPS matte display. you'll find the review on the site. Get the i7-1260P 16GB RAM (or 32 GB RAM if available) configuration and get it from a store that allows returns, and see if it works for you. The hardware is slower than on the other laptops you've considered, but I think it should be fine for your needs. You have to give it a go and decide for yourself if it's good enough, though.
If that doesn't work, you could also consider the XPS 15, if you can ditch the Numberpad requirement. I've used the last two generations from 2021 and 2022 and haven't noticed anything fishy on my units – that's no guarantee you won't draw a short stick, though. I also didn't find it noisy or warm with daily use, as shown in the review. I wonder what caused your XPS to run hot at idle.
Finally, if none of these work, I'd probably go back to the XPS 17 and hope for better luck the third time? Or maybe the forth? I assume that returns aren't a big hassle and come at no cost where you are, so you're only losing the time required to setup the laptop each time.
If none of these work out for you, come back and we'll try to figure out a few more options. Good luck! :P
February 18, 2023 at 12:22 am
Thanks so much for your advice!
March 22, 2023 at 6:25 pm
I'm on the 3rd Dell XPS 17 and it finally came without any trackpad problems and I'm really enjoying it. I'm glad I gave it another try, as per your suggestion :). I changed some configurations, the most important of which was switching out the OLED with the lower resolution touch screen. Not sure if it's related at all, I'm just glad I finally found one that works like it should.
March 22, 2023 at 6:29 pm
Glad I could help!
May 1, 2023 at 1:12 am
Does this look like a problem to anyone?
Certain P-Cores, particular 1, 4 and 5 do have a very short-lived spontaneous spike to 100C. But it is questionable as I get different results from different monitoring software.
The system was running slow when running VMs inside VMWare Workstation Pro, but I pinned that down to adjusting the Speed Shift value. Adjusting the value down essentially corrected the issue.
Dell subcontract tech took a look at the images and said he sees nothing wrong.
Any feedback would be greately appreciated.
May 1, 2023 at 11:21 am
Differences of within 10 degrees aren't abnormal, but yours seem to be quite a bit higher. I haven't looked into it much, but I remember that this has been reported on XPS laptops in the past. If I remember correctly, the issue was a flaw with the CPU thermal plate being uneven and not making perfect contact with the entire surface of the CPU. Not sure if that's the case here, since you're mentioning the spikes are short duration. You'll want to do some more digging on this matter.
May 1, 2023 at 7:15 pm
The cores must be equally loaded before you can make any temperature comparisons. Run Cinebench R23 and see how your core temperatures compare. If there is still a significant difference then I would check the thermal paste.
ThrottleStop runs at a higher Windows priority. It is one of the best at reporting accurate core temperatures, especially when a CPU is fully loaded. Many other monitoring utilities will report lower temperatures that are not accurate.
Intel uses core temperature sensors that are only accurate to +/- 5°C. You can have a core reporting hotter than the actual temperature and the core beside it might be reporting lower than the actual temperature. An overall difference of 10°C is within the accuracy of these sensors. When the cores are equally loaded and there is a difference of less than 10°C, there is no way to know if there is an actual problem or if it is just sensor error.
May 1, 2023 at 11:37 pm
Thank you Andrei.