Dell XPS 15 9520 review (2022 model, Intel 12th gen laptop)

42 Comments

  1. Stu

    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.

    • Andrei Girbea

      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?

      • Stu

        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.

      • Andrei Girbea

        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

  2. unclewebb

    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.

  3. y.v.

    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?

    • Andrei Girbea

      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

  4. y.v.

    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?

  5. Brian

    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?

    • Andrei Girbea

      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.

      • Brian

        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. 😂

      • Andrei Girbea

        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.

    • Matthew Goldsmith-Pollak

      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

  6. Par

    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.

    • Andrei Girbea

      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.

      • Par

        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?

      • Andrei Girbea

        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.

  7. Matthew Goldsmith-Pollak

    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.

    • Andrei Girbea

      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.

      • Matthew Goldsmith-Pollak

        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

      • Andrei Girbea

        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.

  8. Matthew Goldsmith-Pollak

    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%?

    • Andrei Girbea

      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.

      • Matthew Goldsmith-Pollak

        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.

    • Brian

      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.

      • Matthew Goldsmith-Pollak

        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.

      • Andrei Girbea

        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.

  9. vlad

    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.

    • Andrei Girbea

      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.

  10. Javier

    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.

    • Andrei Girbea

      October 10, 2022 at 9:55 am

      No, not worth it if everything else is the same: screen, processor, ram, SSD,. battery.

      • Javier

        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.

  11. John Victor

    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

    • Andrei Girbea

      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.

  12. bittricks

    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.

    • Matthew Goldsmith-Pollak

      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.

      • bittricks

        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.

  13. bittricks

    October 16, 2022 at 1:34 am

    Dell XPS 15 9520
    i7-12700H
    512GB SSD
    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:

    https://ibb.co/k556PxC
    https://ibb.co/0t1k2mN

    CONCLUSION: This XPS 15 9520 is more than sufficient for daily use, and even running multiple VMs inside Hyper-V or VMWare Workstation Pro.

  14. gnos28

    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 ?

    best regards

    • Andrei Girbea

      November 25, 2022 at 12:15 pm

      most likely not. Doug ended up returning his unit.

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