Dell XPS 15 9510 Review: OLED, RTX, and all of your favorite acronyms
Dell XPS 15 9510 Review: OLED, RTX, and all of your favorite acronyms
After getting a big redesign last year, Dell’s latest XPS laptops are mostly spec bumps. In fact, that’s exactly what it was with the XPS 17 9710. With the Dell XPS 15 9510, it’s that and a bit more.Obviously, the spec bump means it now comes with Intel’s 11th-generation processors. With the GPU, that also means that for the first time, it comes with NVIDIA GeForce RTX graphics. However, there’s also now an option for an OLED touchscreen, something that was removed last year with the move to 16:10. It’s a solid upgrade.Dell XPS 15 9510 SpecsCPU11th Generation Intel Core i7-11800H (24MB Cache, up to 4.6 GHz, 8 cores)GraphicsNVIDIA GeForce RTX 3050 Ti 4GB GDDR6 [45W]Body13.57×9.06×0.71in (344.72×230.14x18mm), 4.31lbs (1.96kg)Display15.6″ OLED 3.5K (3456×2160) InfinityEdge Touch Anti-Reflective 400-Nit DisplayMemory16GB, 8GBx2, DDR4, 3200MHzStorage512GB M.2 PCIe NVMe Solid State DriveBattery6-Cell Battery, 86WHr (Integrated), 130W USB Type-C chargerPorts(1) USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C with (DisplayPort/PowerDelivery) (1) 3.5mm headphone/microphone combo jack (2) Thunderbolt 4 (USB Type-C) with DisplayPort and Power Delivery (1) Full size SD card reader v6.0 (1) Wedge-shaped lock slotKeyboardEnglish keyboard, black, backlit, Fingerprint ReaderConnectivityKiller Wi-Fi 6 AX1650 (2×2) and Bluetooth 5.1Camera720p at 30 fps HD camera Dual-array microphones IR cameraAudioStereo woofer 2.5 W x 2 and stereo tweeter 1.5 W x 2 = 8 W total peakMaterialCNC machined aluminum with carbon fiber or woven glass fiber composite palm restColorFrost exterior, Arctic White interiorOSWindows 10 HomePrice$2,400.99
Design: Frost and Arctic White makes the Dell XPS 15 sexier
Dell’s XPS lineup has had a pretty similar look for ages. Typically, it has a grayish-silver exterior with a black carbon fiber palm rest. For a while, the sides were also black, although that changed to silver with the latest designs. This is the standard Dell XPS design; for example, if Dell came out with some new model, this is the design it would use.However, there have been variants, such as the XPS 15 Dell sent me. This one comes in a color called Frost, and the interior is a color called Arctic White. This look has been available on the XPS 13 and the XPS 13 2-in-1 for a while, but it’s new to the XPS 15.
The XPS 15 with Frost exterior and Arctic White interior is a winner, and it’s a shame this isn’t considered the standard for the lineup. You can’t get this look on the XPS 17.
Indeed, the Dell XPS 15 is a beautiful machine and a delight to use. It’s made from a single block of CNC-machined aluminum, and the new color options are a welcome change.
Like we saw on the XPS 15 9500 last year, there’s no more USB Type-A. Indeed, Dell, Apple, and Microsoft are all ditching USB Type-A on their premium PCs, in favor of USB Type-C. On the left side, there are two Thunderbolt 4 ports, either of which can power dual 4K displays or one 8K display. You can also use it to connect to an external GPU, super-fast external storage that gets 40Gbps data transfer speeds, and more.
On the right side, there’s a 3.5mm audio jack, a full-size SD card slot — a rarity in laptops these days — and another USB Type-C port. The USB Type-C port on the right, on the other hand, is only USB 3.2 Gen 2, meaning it gets 10Gbps speeds instead of 40Gbps. It does support DisplayPort and Power Delivery, so you can still power a monitor or charge the device from either side.
I’m a big fan of this new design. The redesign that came with the Dell XPS 15 9500, which was the first the laptop received in five years, was a winner. Adding the Frost exterior and the Arctic White interior is the cherry on top.
It’s also not too heavy at 4.31 pounds, although it actually starts at 3.99 pounds with a smaller battery. It’s heavier than, say, the Surface Laptop 4 15, but they’re very different machines. We’ll talk more about that in the performance section.
Display: The Dell XPS 15 has a 16:10 OLED screen
The size of the screen is 15.6 inches, but as of last year’s Dell XPS 15 9500, it’s 16:10 instead of 16:9. That means it’s a bit taller. Personally, I feel like 16:10 at 15.6 inches is the sweet spot. Since the screen is taller, and therefore not as wide, I feel like a 13 inch 16:10 laptop can feel a bit narrow. This size feels perfect.
One sacrifice Dell had to make with the XPS 15 9500 is the OLED model. After all, that’s the nature of new things. There simply wasn’t an OLED option available yet. Now, OLED has made its return. Indeed, the Dell XPS 15 9510 might be mostly a spec bump, but it does have those new configurations like the 4K OLED display, or the new color option.
From my display testing, it gets 100% sRGB, 94% NTSC, 96% Adobe RGB, and 100% P3. That’s awesome. It really doesn’t get better than that. If you care about color accuracy and editing media like photos and video, it’s a phenomenal screen.
However, it’s not all that different from the standard 3,840 x 2,400 LCD. That’s because Dell just makes really great displays on its Dell XPS laptops. I remember the first time the company introduced an OLED screen on the XPS 15. It was at a briefing in New York City, and I got to see the 4K OLED and non-OLED options side-by-side. While I’m always a sucker for a good OLED display, it was clear an OLED option really isn’t necessary because the non-OLED variant is so good already.
They’re the same price though, so it’s up to you. Personally, I’d still go for OLED, but it’s not like you’d be making a bad decision with non-OLED. Also, you need to go OLED in order to get the Frost exterior and Arctic White interior.
Of course, it has Dell’s trademark InfinityEdge display, meaning it has super-narrow bezels for a more immersive experience. While it’s beautiful and makes for a pleasant experience, there’s one compromise that has to be made. The webcam is 720p, and to be fair, when this laptop was designed, people didn’t care about webcams. It’s only in the last 18 months that webcams have become an issue with so many people working from home.
Keyboard and touchpad: It’s made of woven glass fiber
Honestly, I praise the exterior of the device, but the interior is oh so nice. The one with the black interior has a keyboard deck that’s made of carbon fiber with a woven yet smooth finish. The Arctic White keyboard deck is made of woven glass fiber, and it’s textured. It’s absolutely beautiful, and also pleasant to the touch. Also a nice touch is all of the accessories come in white too, including the 130W charger.The keyboard itself is pretty solid, and I think Dell has made some improvements over the last few years. The resistance feels just right, and the sensitivity compensates the resistance perfectly. I don’t find myself making mistakes because I accidentally hit something that was too sensitive or something like that.
As far as consumer laptops go (the business market is another level), the Dell XPS 15 9510 definitely has one of the best keyboards around.
The keyboard is flanked by the stereo speakers. Indeed, this thing comes with dual 2.5W speakers and dual 1.5W tweeters, the other two of which are located on the bottom of the sides. The Waves MaxxAudio Pro sound quality is phenomenal, and that’s all part of Dell Cinema, which includes CinemaColor, CinemaSound, and CinemaStream. It’s all about creating an amazing streaming experience, and Dell gets the job done.
Also on the keyboard is a fingerprint sensor, and that’s the top-right key. Sadly, Dell doesn’t scan your fingerprint when you first press it like other OEMs do. With the XPS 15, you have to touch it after the PC boots up.
Let’s talk about the Microsoft Precision touchpad though, because this thing is massive. I absolutely love how Dell takes advantage of all of the available real estate on the keyboard deck to make a nice and roomy touchpad. It’s something Apple does on its MacBooks, and Windows OEMs don’t do so much. Honestly, I find the Dell XPS lineup is the only one that’s truly aiming to compete with Apple.
Performance and battery life: It’s the first Dell XPS 15 with RTX graphics
The model Dell sent me is far and above the base model, but it’s the one I’d say is the one you want. For all laptops, I tend to recommend 16GB RAM and 512GB of storage, and that’s what we have here. It also comes with a Core i7-11800H and an NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3050 Ti. Other graphics options are Iris Xe integrated graphics, and an RTX 3050.
If you’re looking for a 15 inch laptop, it’s important to know what you’re going to do with it. This isn’t the case for 13 inch laptops because frankly, pretty much all 13 inch laptops use the same internals — a 15W U-series processor and integrated graphics. They’re great for productivity.
But for 15 inch laptops, there are two completely different classes of laptops. There are those that use the exact same internals as 13 inch laptops, just with bigger screens. These are thinner, lighter, and get better battery life. Then there are those that have 45W H-series processors and dedicated graphics. These are thicker and heavier, but they’re more powerful.
The Dell XPS 15 9510 fits into that latter category, and that category can range from consumer laptops to gaming PCs to mobile workstations. To me, I think the XPS 15 is the best blend of performance and portability. It’s obviously heavier than, say, a Surface Laptop 4, which uses U-series chips, but it’s designed for more of a creativity use case.
In my testing, battery life was between five (exactly on one test) and five hours 33 minutes. This was while running Windows 11 and the battery on recommended settings. As usual, it was while doing regular work. I have to say, the battery life exceeded my expectations, although 86WHr is a pretty sizeable battery. It’s just that things like the 45W processor, the dedicated GPU, and the 4K OLED display are all things that will suck down battery life.
For benchmarks, I used PCMark 8, PCMark 10, 3DMark, Geekbench, and Cinebench.Dell XPS 15 9510 Core i7-11800H, RTX 3050 TiDell XPS 17 9710 Core i7-11800H, RTX 3060Dell XPS 15 9500 Core i7-10875H, GTX 1650 TiHP Pavilion Aero 13 Ryzen 7 5800UPCMark 8: Home3,9694,0373,6524,512PCMark 8: Creative5,7316,1004,8394,360PCMark 8: Work3,5713,5643,3223,977PCMark 105,9886,3795,1365,7583DMark: Time Spy4,8017,1583,7421,212Geekbench1,538 / 7,5141,561 / 8,7751,427 / 5,524Cinebench1,491 / 9,3991,515 / 11,6521,365 / 7,115
When choosing devices to compare benchmark scores to, I start with relevant PCs like the last-gen XPS 15 and the current-gen XPS 17, but I also look for PCs with similar PCMark 10 scores. I was a bit surprised to be adding a mainstream HP laptop with U-series processors and integrated graphics to the list, yet here we are.
Conclusion: Should you buy the Dell XPS 15 9510?
Dell’s XPS 15 has long been one of my favorite laptops. I’ve always found it to be the right balance of power and portability. It offered 45W H-series processors and dedicated graphics in a world where if you wanted those things, you’d have to look toward gaming laptops. In more recent years, laptops like these have become more common. NVIDIA launched its Studio program, and more OEMs are targeting creators with separate lines of PCs from their gaming laptops.
But while the form factor is becoming more common, the Dell XPS 15 remains on top. The XPS 15 9510 comes with new Intel 11th-generation 45W processors, along with NVIDIA GeForce RTX 30 series graphics, making it the first XPS 15 with RTX. On top of that, it comes with other perks, such as the return of the OLED display and the Frost and Arctic White interior. Not only is it a great PC, but it’s beautiful too.
The big downside of course, is it still has a 720p webcam. There was no way of getting around this though. This product just got a full redesign last year, so that means this design is planned for a few more years as well.
Other than that, the Dell XPS 15 9510 has everything you need. It’s got the power for heavier tasks when you need it, and the style for when you’re out and about.