Dell's redesigned XPS 15 is a bigger version of our favorite Windows laptop

Whenever people ask what my favorite Windows laptop is, I'm always quick to say the Dell XPS 13. It has very few flaws to speak of, with a stylish design, comfy keyboard, vibrant screen and fast performance. It's no surprise, then, that when Dell got to work redesigning the bigger XPS 15, it rebuilt it in the 13's image. The updated notebook, which goes on sale today, inherits many of the features we loved in its smaller sibling, including a carbon fiber weave and a nearly bezel-less display that allows the notebook to have a compact footprint. All told, the 15's weight starts at 3.9 pounds, with Dell claiming that it's the world's smallest 15-inch laptop and the lightest "performance-class" machine of this size.

And performance-class it is indeed. In fact, the XPS 15 was always intended to be a machine creative pros could use to get work done. It still is, at least if you shell out for one of the higher-specced models. At its best, it has a color-accurate 4K screen, quad-core sixth-generation Core i7 CPU, 16GB of RAM, a 2GB NVIDIA 960M GPU and either a 1TB hard drive or a 1TB PCIe SSD. Battery life is rated at up to 17 hours, but that's if you get a model with the 1,920 x 1,080 display, SSD and the larger 84WHr battery (instead of the 56WHr option). Even with a tricked-out 4K configuration, though, Dell is promising around 11 hours on a charge.

All told, it should give Windows users a solid alternative to the 15-inch Retina display MacBook Pro. Some might also argue it competes with Microsoft's just-announced Surface Book. And it does, at least in terms of performance: The 13.5-inch Surface weighs a similar 3.48 pounds, and will also be offered with an NVIDIA GPU, up to 16GB of RAM and a comparably high-res display. At their best, then, they cater to a similar user, offering similar specs in a similar price range. I would guess, though, that anyone who covets the Surface Book is taken with its distinctive hinge that allows users to flip the screen back into tablet mode or detach it altogether. The XPS 15 does none of that; it's a traditional clamshell laptop with a fixed screen. If you want a convertible, Dell's latest is not for you, and if you think Microsoft's design feat is a gimmick, the Surface Book doesn't have a leg up after all.


Wrapping up, Dell's smaller XPS 13, the machine that inspired the new XPS 15's look and feel, has also been refreshed. Nothing major, mind you: just fresh sixth-gen Intel Core processors and a bigger battery with runtime now rated at up to 18 hours on the lower-res 1080p model. It will now also be sold with more RAM and storage options, including a 16GB upgrade and a 1TB PCIe SSD.

Both the updated XPS 13 and the new XPS 15 are available today, with the 13 starting at $799 and the 15 starting at $999. Just keep in mind that in the case of the 15 in particular, that starting price includes modest specs, including a Core i3 processor, 500GB hard drive, integrated graphics and a relatively lower-res 1080p non-touch screen. For discrete graphics, you can expect to pay at least $1,199, with 4K models starting at a lofty $1,599.