Dell XPS 16 (2024)

 

 the Dell XPS 16 (2024)

The Dell XPS 16 laptop on a desktop in white.
Credit: Reviewed / Matthew S. Smith
The XPS 16 we reviewed came equipped with a 16.3-inch, 3840 x 2400 OLED touchscreen and Dell’s revamped keyboard layout.

Dell’s XPS 16 is part of the company’s newly consolidated XPS line. The Dell XPS 13, 15, and 17 have collapsed into just two laptops: the Dell XPS 14 and XPS 16. This strategy isn’t unique to Dell. Most laptop makers, including Apple, HP, Asus, Acer, and Lenovo, have shifted focus away from 13-inch and 15-inch laptops towards putting 14-inch and 16-inch screens in the same sized chassis.

The Dell XPS 16 we tested has several important upgrades over the base configuration, including a mobile Nvidia RTX 4070 mobile graphics card and a 3840 x 2400 OLED touchscreen. These improvements set the price to nearly $3,400. However, it’s currently on sale from Dell for $2,899, and Dell’s price cuts usually remain in effect indefinitely.

Entry-level pricing starts at a far more reasonable $1,899 (or $1,699 at the time of writing). That snags you an Intel Core Ultra 7 155H processor, Intel Arc integrated graphics, 16GB of memory, a 512GB solid-state drive, and a 1080p, IPS, non-touch display that tops out at 120Hz. The base XPS 16 won’t prove as quick as the model we tested, but its less powerful hardware should extend battery life.

Dell offers two colorways: platinum and black. Both colorways are available across all XPS 16 configurations at no additional charge.

Dell XPS 16 (2024) specs:

  • Price as configured: $3,339.00
  • Processor: Intel Core Ultra 7 155H, 16 cores and 22 threads (six performance cores, eight efficient cores, two low-power efficient cores), max clock speed 5.1GHz
  • Graphics: Nvidia RTX 4070 8GB GDDR6X (discrete, max 60 watts), Intel Arc integrated graphics
  • RAM: 32GB LPDDR5X at 7467MHz (soldered)
  • Storage: 1TB NVMe PCIe 4.0 SSD
  • Display: 16.3-inch, 3840 x 2400, 90Hz OLED touchscreen
  • Connectivity: Wi-Fi 7, Bluetooth 5.4
  • Ports: 2x Thunderbolt 4 / USB Type-C with DisplayPort Alternate Mode and Power Delivery, 1x USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C with DisplayPort Alternate Mode and Power Delivery 1x 3.5mm combo audio jack, 1x microSDXC card reader
  • Camera: 1080p front-facing webcam with IR camera for Windows Hello facial recognition
  • Weight: 4.8 pounds (2.20 kilograms)
  • Battery: 6-Cell, 99.5Whr
  • Dimensions: 14.10 x 9.50 x 0.74 inches
  • Special features: Quad-speaker sound system, backlit keyboard, touch-sensitive function key row, integrated fingerprint reader
  • Warranty: 1-year limited laptop warranty, includes hardware and software with onsite support

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What we like

Dell’s design is beautiful

A close-up of the Dell XPS 16 laptop's keyboard on a desktop.
Credit: Reviewed / Matthew S. Smith
The interior of the XPS 16 is wrapped in soft-touch material that makes it pleasant to rest your palms on.

Dell became a leader in laptop design with the release of the original XPS 13 in 2015 and today, nearly 10 years later, models like the XPS 16 keep Dell ahead of its peers.

The XPS 16 encapsulates everything we appreciate about Dell’s XPS design. It pairs an attractive silver exterior with a sleek, grayish-white interior that looks modern, yet unique. While the exterior is solid aluminum on both the top and the bottom, the interior uses a soft plastic finish that feels warmer and more inviting than the cold, bare metal most competitors use.

We can sum it up with one word: cozy. The XPS 16, at least in the platinum colorway, is an unusually inviting and friendly laptop. Some competitors, like Lenovo’s Yoga line, have moved in this direction with rounded corners and chamfered edges that soften up the design. But the XPS 16 is unmatched.

Of course, there’s also a black colorway, and we expect it would have a more serious vibe. Still, the inviting interior and rounded design remain.

It’s a banger for entertainment

Dell’s marketing for the XPS 16 doesn’t pitch it as any particular type of laptop. It’s not a workstation, it’s not a thin-and-light, and it’s not a gaming laptop. But this may be a positive, as the laptop’s well-rounded approach makes it great for entertainment, no matter what that means to you.

The OLED touchscreen on the XPS 16 is gorgeous. OLED displays are widely available even in laptops sold under $1,000 these days, but the XPS 16’s 3840 x 2400 touch-capable OLED panel ensures the display covers all the bases. It looks outstanding when viewing Netflix, a 4K movie, or playing games, and can accept whichever input you prefer. Touch is often not the preferred input for Windows apps but is convenient for navigating YouTube, especially when lying on a couch or watching in bed.

Dell’s 4K OLED display offers a 90Hz refresh rate, and the 1200p IPS panel (which we didn’t test) increases that to 120Hz. The bump in refresh rate is appreciated and provides some advantage in motion clarity over a 60Hz refresh rate, though it’s not immediately apparent. I’d prefer to see a 120Hz panel on a laptop in this price range—even at 4K resolution—but, given that the XPS 16 isn’t sold as a gaming laptop, a 90Hz refresh rate is acceptable.

The XPS 16’s alluring display is paired with four powerful upward-firing speakers. They produce clear, crisp, full sound with reasonable bass and a high maximum volume. Dolby Atmos spatial audio is supported, though it failed to deliver the superb spatial effects available from a quality Dolby Atmos soundbar.

That aside, we enjoyed the XPS 16’s speakers and the experience is competitive with laptop audio leaders like the Lenovo Yoga 9i and Apple MacBook Pro 16 M3 Max.

Processor performance is strong, yet battery life holds up

The 16-core, 22-thread Intel Core Ultra 7 155H processor in the Dell XPS 16 performed well. Geekbench 6, a synthetic CPU benchmark, returned a single-core score of 2,362 and a multi-core score of 13634. The single-core score is relatively mediocre, but the multi-core score is strong. It rivals the Asus ROG Zephyrus G16, which scored 13212, and outpaces last-gen 16-inch laptops like the Asus Vivobook Pro 16, which scored 12348.

Cinebench R23, another synthetic CPU benchmark, showed similar results. The XPS 16 achieved a single-core score of 1703, which is average, but a multi-core score of 17873, which easily beats most productivity laptops and rivals slim gaming laptops like the Asus ROG Zephyrus G16, which scored 14971, and Lenovo Legion Slim 5, which scored 17143. The XPS 16 also delivered impressive scores in other benchmarks, like the Basemark 3.0 browser bench.

A large 99.5-watt-hour battery powers the Dell XPS 16 and is capable of great battery life. The laptop endured 12 hours and 37 minutes of our standard battery test, which loops through web browser tabs with the display at 200 nits of brightness. The XPS 16 easily defeats similarly equipped slim gaming laptops like the Razer Blade 16 and Asus ROG Zephyrus G16: both lasted less than eight hours on a charge.

It’s all-in on future-proof connectivity

The XPS 16 that we reviewed had two Thunderbolt 4 ports and one USB-C 3.2 port. These ports are compatible with DisplayPort alternate mode and USB Power Delivery, so owners can connect any of them to a USB-C monitor or use them to power the laptop with the supplied USB-C power adapter.

USB-A is missing, however, so an adapter is required to connect older USB devices. The laptop also lacks DisplayPort, HDMI, and Ethernet. It has a 3.5 mm combo audio jack and a microSD card reader, at least.

Sticking with Thunderbolt 4 and USB-C means owners are more likely to need an adapter, which is another thing they’ll have to pack. Still, the commitment to modern connectivity is a plus. Thunderbolt 4 is compatible with USB-C, so owners can plug a USB-C device into any of the three data ports and not worry about the details. A USB-C to USB-A and HDMI adapter is included in the box, a handy extra Dell often ships with XPS laptops.

Dell doesn’t skimp on wireless connectivity. Every XPS 16 comes with an Intel Killer Wireless Wi-Fi 7 adapter, which also supports Bluetooth 5.4. These are the most recent iterations of each wireless standard. They’re not really required for a laptop in 2024 because most people don’t even own a compatible Wi-Fi 7 router or Bluetooth 5.4 devices yet, but this ensures the XPS 16’s wireless connectivity won’t feel obsolete three to five years down the road.

What we don’t like

The touch-sensitive function row is love-it-or-hate-it

A close-up of the Dell XPS 16 laptop's keyboard.
Credit: Reviewed / Matthew S. Smith
The touchbar that replaces the physical function row and numerous other keys is sure to be polarizing.

Anyone who opens the Dell XPS 16 will immediately notice something unusual: the function row, ESC, and Delete keys are missing from the keyboard. Instead, they’ve been replaced with a row of touch-sensitive, backlit buttons.

It’s a bewildering decision. Apple fully embraced a similar concept with the MacBook’s (now defunct) Touch Bar, which didn’t meet expectations. Dell’s touch-sensitive buttons, which aren’t as customizable, feel even more limited and less useful than the Touch Bar.

It’s not all bad. The touch-sensitive keys are more attractive than a standard function row and contribute to the laptop’s minimalist design, which also doesn’t physically define the borders of the touchpad.

Still, it’s a feature that shoppers need to ponder. Many people won’t need to access the function keys frequently and likely won’t be bothered by the change. But some users rely on them for specific keyboard shortcuts, in which case the touch-sensitive function row could become annoying. Opinions will vary depending on how you use your keyboard and the keyboard shortcuts you rely on.

Function row aside, the Dell XPS 16’s keyboard and touchpad are good but unremarkable. The keyboard is enjoyable to use overall but doesn’t stand out in tactile feel or layout. The touchpad is large and responsive, but not more so than other similarly priced Windows laptops or, of course, Apple’s MacBook Pro 16.

It’s a bit chunky

The Dell XPS 16 is sleek and attractive, though not particularly slim or light. It measures up to 0.74 inches thick and weighs 4.8 pounds when equipped with an OLED touchscreen. It’s thicker than the Asus ROG Zephyrus G16 gaming laptop. The MacBook Pro 16 is nearly identical in weight but a bit thinner at 0.66 inches.

Toting the XPS 16 around town won’t prove troublesome if you have an accommodating laptop bag but it’s more than what’s comfortable to carry in my medium-sized Timbuk2 messenger bag, which is similar in size to other common shoulder bags. The weight is also noticeable when picking it up and can make it feel awkward to handle.

Graphics performance is good, but limited compared to a gaming laptop

Shoppers could be forgiven for thinking the Dell XPS 16 is a gaming laptop, as our test model came equipped with an Nvidia RTX 4070 GPU. However, the XPS 16’s RTX 4070 has a maximum power draw of just 60 watts, which is far from the maximum available graphics power of 115 watts that the mobile 4070 is rated for. That leads to reduced performance.

The XPS 16 produced a 3DMark Time Spy score of 9373 which, though good, is roughly 25 percent less than an Asus ROG Zephyrus G16 with an RTX 4070. The 2023 Razer Blade 16, also with RTX 4070 graphics, won by a similar margin.

The XPS 16’s reduced GPU performance was evident in games. Shadow of the Tomb Raider averaged 128 frames per second (fps) at 1080p resolution and the highest detail settings, while Cyberpunk 2077 averaged 76 fps at 1080p resolution and the Ultra preset. Those are playable results, but the Asus ROG Zephyrus G16 was a tad faster. It averaged 141 fps in Shadow of the Tomb Raider and 89 fps in Cyberpunk 2077.

That marks the difference between the Dell XPS 16, which is meant for general use and productivity, and a slim gaming laptop. Slim gaming laptops will outperform the XPS 16 in games when equipped with similar hardware.

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Should you buy the Dell XPS 16?

Yes, it’s pricey, but it’s worth it

The Dell XPS 16 laptop on a desk next to two white speakers and desk supplies.
Credit: Reviewed / Matthew S. Smith
The Dell XPS 16 as configured costs around $3,400 when it’s not on sale.

The Dell XPS 16 is a solid jack-of-all-trades. It’s attractive and enjoyable to use, scores well in benchmarks, and achieves over 12 hours of battery life per charge. The display is among the best available in any laptop and the speakers are equally excellent.

Even its flaws are a matter of taste. Some shoppers will hate that it lacks USB-A ports and an Ethernet jack, but those who’ve come to terms with dongles will like that it has two Thunderbolt 4 ports, one USB-C, and cutting-edge wireless connectivity. The capacitive touch function row will bother some, but others will prefer how it looks.

Price is the biggest obstacle. The model we tested rang up at $2,900. That’s $900 more than a comparable Asus ROG Zephyrus G16 and similar to the Razer Blade 16. The XPS 16’s performance, though often close to these alternatives, falls behind them overall. Slim gaming laptops offer less battery life, however.

That leaves the XPS 16 in a good spot. It’s not as portable as a thin-and-light productivity laptop, but faster. It’s not as quick as a slim gaming laptop, but more portable. Shoppers can certainly find better performance at this price, but the XPS 16 is a solid pick if you want a luxurious 16-inch laptop that does everything well.

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5/5 - (1 vote)

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