Dell XPS 15z Battery Life, Heat and Noise

September 6, 2011 by Charles P. Jefferies Reads (197,083)
Editor's Rating

Ratings Breakdown (1-10)

    • Software & Support
    • 8
    • Upgrade Capabilities
    • 4
    • Usability
    • 7
    • Design
    • 8
    • Performance
    • 8
    • Features
    • 8
    • Price/Value Rating
    • 6
    • Total Score:
    • 7.00
    • Rating 1 to 10, top score 10

Heat and Noise
The XPS 15z has a single fan exhausting warm air out the rear of the notebook. Off the bat I like the fan location; it is out of the way and does not disturb right- or left-handed mouse users. The fan is noticeable when on and has a slight whine. Overall I think the fan is louder than it needs to be at higher RPMs.

Despite being so thin the XPS 15z remains relatively cool to the touch all over, even under full benchmarking load.

Battery Life
I measured 6 hours, 20 minutes of life during our standard battery rundown test (Windows 7 Balanced power profile, 70% screen brightness, wireless on and refreshing a web page every 60 seconds). This is an excellent time for a 15.6-inch notebook. The SSD and Nvidia Optimus graphics-switching technology certainly helped as did the dual-core processor (as opposed to a quad-core).

Potential buyers should note that the XPS 15z’s battery is integrated and not user-swappable. This might not be a problem for most people, but some frequent travelers like to buy an extra battery and swap them out when one battery dies … that isn’t possible with the XPS 15z.

Battery life test results (higher scores mean better battery life):

Conclusion
The XPS 15z impresses in most areas and falls short in a just a few. Its thin metal chassis has excellent quality and the 1080p display is top notch. Performance is stellar for most applications including some gaming and it still manages over six hours of battery life. The biggest downside of this notebook is the lifeless keyboard, which just isn’t fun to type on. Additionally the speakers could be better, the screen’s glossy surface creates a lot of reflections, and upgrading this notebook is very tough.

Then there’s a matter of price; the XPS 15z starts at $999 but ours came out to a tick over $2,000 stocked with top-shelf components. The base notebook is almost certainly the better value; just make sure you get the 1080p display. The XPS 15z is certainly a recommendable notebook; if the keyboard were better, it would be almost perfect.

Pros:

  • Nice design and quality
  • Beautiful 1080p screen
  • 6+ hour battery life

Cons:

  • Not-so-great keyboard
  • Hard to upgrade


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