I’ve tested every laptop under the sun and this Dell XPS model shines brightest (literally)

My first writing gig was for a magazine called LAPTOP. It’s still around, and as the name implies — they review a lot of laptops. For many years, I tested laptops in every print issue and then for many more years at the online site. You learn pretty quickly that laptops come in all shapes and sizes, and they are also wildly different in terms of build quality, screen quality, and features. It can take hours researching different makes and models, especially since the components inside most laptops change frequently and the configurations change even more often.

Fortunately, there’s a bit of predictability when it comes to the companies making laptops. For starters, if you have never heard of the laptop company, that’s a bad sign. The materials will likely be cheap and not last that long, and you might even have frequent compatibility issues. Name brand laptop companies like Lenovo, Apple and Dell are known for high quality products that last for years and work nicely right out of the box.

I tested a Dell XPS 9530 15-inch model recently (here’s a link to the base model), and this really hit home when I watched a few movies on the device, played Halo Infinite, and tried running multiple apps all at the same time. The unit I tested has 16GB of RAM and a 15.6-inch screen, and the one thing that really stuck out during my tests is that the screen is a marvel for games and movies. (You can review all of the specs for the machine I tested by clicking this link.) 

First, about the movies. I played a trailer first for the new National Geographic show called Queens which is coming out in a few weeks. The YouTube video I watched was in 4K and the screen really lit up with some rich colors and textures. It looked like a television screen to me, fluid and smooth — something I’d watch on a plane or long car trip for sure. The sound on the XPS is also stellar in that I could hear lines of dialogue clearly when I watched the movie The Marvels on Netflix and also when I watched an old show called Labyrinth. This is not always true on lesser laptops like those from the no-name brands. Dialogue on those laptops sounds mushy at best.

Halo Infinite played smoothly as well — and I’m not even much of a gamer anymore. I connected an Xbox controller using a USB to USB-C adapter and noticed the game had barely any lag, even though this is obviously not a gaming laptop. For graphics the XPS uses an Intel Arc A370M with 4 GB GDDR6, so not exactly a powerhouse like you will find on some machines. I didn’t notice any problems, though, and felt like the XPS kept up fine compared to my Xbox One playing the same game in the next room.

To test the machine further, I loaded several apps all at once, including two browsers, the Steam and EA game clients along with the game Halo Infinite and other games running, and a handful of business apps including Microsoft Word. I will admit there was finally some lag when I loaded an entire book manuscript into Word at the same time (all 150 pages). Scrolling through the doc, I noticed the laptop was about ready to start begging for more RAM, and envisioned how loading it with 32GB of RAM would have made this unusual scenario a little easier to pull off.

It wasn’t a realistic test, especially with so many competing apps running. In most normal conditions, the XPS ran like the business machine it is meant to be. I like the keyboard okay — I prefer a 13-inch laptop which seems to fit my typing style better. Having three USB-C ports is a nice perk, considering some laptops only have two at your disposal.

In the end, my favorite thing about the XPS is the screen — bright, colorful and clear for just about any purpose. Including running business apps all day, like most of us do. Maybe too much.