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2020 Dell XPS 15 9500 review: Dell’s best keeps getting better

The 2020 Dell XPS 15 builds on a solid foundation, history and just keeps getting better.

Techaeris Rated 9.6/10

The XPS line of laptops from Dell has been one of their top-selling premium lines for years now. The company takes great care in making sure this line is the best of the best, and the new 2020 Dell XPS 15 9500 keeps getting better.

Dell has prided itself on the XPS line, and this year the 2020 Dell XPS 15 9500 is joined by a bigger brother, the XPS 17. While we don’t have the XPS 17 in-house, we wanted to mention it because it shows the dedication and the care the company has put into this lineup. Please read on for the full review of the 2020 Dell XPS 15 9500 and find out why it’s earned a 2020 Techaeris Top Pick award.

Specifications

The 2020 Dell XPS 15 9500 sent to us has the following features and specifications:

  • Processor: 10th Generation Intel Core i7-10875H processor (16MB Cache, up to 5.1 GHz, 8 cores)
  • GPU: NVIDIA® GeForce® GTX 1650 Ti 4GB GDDR6
  • RAM: 16GB DDR4-2933MHz, 2x8G
  • SSD: 512GB M.2 PCIe NVMe Solid State Drive
  • Display: 15.6″ UHD+ (3840 x 2400) InfinityEdge Touch Anti-Reflective 500-Nit Display
  • Connectivity: Killer Wi-Fi 6 AX1650 (2×2) and Bluetooth 5.0
  • Audio: Stereo top-mounted speakers
  • Battery: 6-Cell Battery, 86WHr (Integrated)
  • Keyboard: Backlit
  • I/O
    • USB-C 3.1 with power delivery & DisplayPort
    • Full-size SD card reader v6.0
    • 3.5mm headphone/microphone combo jack
    • Wedge-shaped lock slot
    • 2x Thunderbolt 3 with power delivery & DisplayPort
  • Dimensions
    • Height: 0.71″ (18 mm)
    • Width: 13.57″ (344.72 mm)
    • Depth: 9.06″ (230.14 mm)
    • Weight: 4 lbs. (1.83 kg) for non-touch with 56Whr battery; 4.5 lbs. (2.05 kg) for touch with 86Whr battery

What’s In The Box

  • 2020 Dell XPS 15 9500
  • USB-C to USB-A dongle
  • Power cable and adapter
  • Documentation and Warranty
2020 Dell XPS 15 9500 laptop review
The Dell XPS line is always looking good.

Design

The design of the 2020 Dell XPS 15 9500 isn’t too far off from previous generations. This is a good thing because the XPS line has always been known for its clean, minimal, and forward design. The first thing I noticed when unboxing our review unit was the weight. We have the touchscreen version with the bigger battery so we’re talking 4.5 lbs. here.

So our version isn’t exactly the lightest thing in the world, but it’s also not awful. It’s still portable; it’s just going to feel like you do have something substantial in your bag or backpack. Much of that weight has to do with the all-aluminum construction of the chassis. It’s a solid build and feels very robust.

Flipping the 2020 Dell XPS 15 9500 on its top reveals the bottom where you will find 8 screws that give you access to the internals. There are also two vent ports on the right and left for airflow. There is a larger slatted vent along the bottom that is also for cooling and airflow. The long rubber strips along the bottom serve as feet to help push the hot air out. The XPS logo is also displayed on the bottom.

2020 Dell XPS 15 9500 laptop review
Two USB-C/Thunderbolt 3 ports and the Kensington lock.

Flipping the 2020 Dell XPS 15 9500 back upright, the lid only has the familiar Dell logo on the front. If you look at the laptop’s front lip, you’ll notice an LED light bar that indicates charging. The back hinge of the laptop is also attractive and really well built.

Looking along the laptop’s right side, we find one USB-C/Thunderbolt 3 port, SD card slot, and a headphone jack. Looking along the laptop’s left side, you will find 2 more USB-C/Thunderbolt 3 ports and a Kensington lock. So not a lot of port options, but most manufacturers are heading this direction.

2020 Dell XPS 15 9500 laptop review
Full size SD Card slot.

Opening the 2020 Dell XPS 15 9500 up reveals that carbon fiber deck and the display, keyboard, and ample trackpad. The webcam is located at the top and is pinhole-sized. The display’s bezels are nearly invisible, and all of the materials used here are top-notch.

Overall, the 2020 Dell XPS 15 9500 has a very familiar design language, not a bad thing. It is a bit heavier than some of the competition, but not so much that it would be a deal-breaker. Dell’s XPS designs have been really great, and they don’t disappoint with this version of the XPS 15.

Display

Dell calls the display on the XPS lineup its InfiityEdge display. These are very familiar to us as they’ve been using them for several years now. Still, it never ceases to impress me just how sleek these displays look. The bezels around the entire display are pretty much razor thin.

The display on the 2020 XPS 15 9500 is among the best I’ve seen on a laptop. Our review unit came with the top of the line 4K, 500-nit, touch-enabled version, and it is fantastic. I’m especially a fan of the 500-nit brightness. This allows you to use this laptop outside with very little issues from sunlight. Even working outdoors, this display is clearly visible and does not get washed out.

2020 Dell XPS 15 9500 laptop review
Class-leading display!

Colors are vibrant and punchy, while blacks are deep and inky. Whites are clean and crisp, making text pop off the display. While we do have the 4K version on our review unit, I think, if you’re looking to save a bit of cash, you could get the FHD display, and you’d be just fine.

The 4K display is great for photographers and videographers who want those pixels for editing. It’s also awesome to watch 4K movies on. If you do a lot of entertainment consumption on your laptop, then the 4K display might make sense for you too.

Because Dell uses that InfnityEdge technology, it allows them to pack an ample size 15.6″ display into a smaller footprint. Overall, the display on the 2020 Dell XPS 15 9500 is one of the best on a 15″ laptop.

Software/Ecosystem

Windows 10 is what you will find on the 2020 Dell XPS 15 9500. There’s not a lot to say about Windows 10, it works well, and Microsoft is doing a decent job of keeping it relevant.

Many laptops come with a huge amount of bloatware, but thankfully, the 2020 Dell XPS 15 9500 isn’t too bad. There are a few pre-installed annoyances, and the main annoyance is McAfee. I know that laptop makers always get in bed with the anti-virus makers on lucrative contracts. But I don’t like it. McAfee’s pop-ups are annoying, and we should be past pre-installing this software by now.

Overall, Windows 10 is excellent; there are a few bloatware pieces but not a ton, and McAfee sucks.

Love the keyboard and trackpad!

Performance

Our 2020 Dell XPS 15 9500 came outfitted with the 10th Generation Intel Core i7-10875H processor. There is also 16GB of DDR4 RAM along with the NVIDIA GTX 1650 Ti for graphics processing. I would have preferred 32GB of RAM, but 16GB should be enough for most. 16GB of RAM would be the bare minimum I’d recommend.

This configuration was more than powerful enough to handle basic computing like word processing, web browsing, streaming video, email, and PowerPoint. This configuration also handles video and photo editing just fine. As I mentioned, 32GB of RAM would probably have been better for video and photo editing, but you can get away with 16GB.

The keyboard feels very nice with good travel. I love the chiclet keys, and the backlighting is great to have in low light conditions. The trackpad is also top-notch. I’ve always loved Apple’s trackpads and hated Windows PC trackpads, but PC has caught up, and the trackpad here is on par with Apple’s.

There are various ways to configure your 2020 Dell XPS 15 9500, and I always recommend you get at least 16GB of RAM, at least an i7 processor and if you can afford dedicated graphics, then go for that. While sinking money into a 4K display sounds good, you really want to beef up your processing and RAM before you go nuts on the display.

Overall, our configuration performed very well. It breezed through basic computing tasks and did very well in Affinity Photo and DaVinci Resolve. If I had configured this laptop, I would have bumped the RAM to 32GB, but other than that, this configuration is amazing.

Lovely XPS design.

Speakers/Sound

The speakers on the 2020 Dell XPS 15 9500 are pretty amazing. The speakers are top-mounted, which was an excellent decision. I think all laptops should have top-mounted speakers because that alone drastically improves the sound.

We were able to enjoy streaming movies and YouTube with pretty decent sound for a laptop. The low-end isn’t spectacular, but there is some there. The mids and highs are pretty great, and the overall sound is more than acceptable for just about everything.

There is also a headphone jack on the 2020 Dell XPS 15 9500 which should make video editors happy. Overall, the sound is above average for a laptop and we love the top-mounted speakers.

Camera

The integrated 720p webcam on the 2020 Dell XPS 15 9500 is nothing to write home about. Sadly, most laptop cameras aren’t super great. It does the job for Zoom and Skype calls, but I think all laptop webcams need improving.

Battery Life

I had no issue getting a full day of battery from the 2020 Dell XPS 15 9500. This was while doing basic computing stuff, no video or photo editing. There was some streaming from YouTube and Apple Music on the background. Battery life goes down once you start intensifying the workflow. Adding in video and photo editing will drain your battery much faster. Overall, I’m okay with the battery life here; it competes with other laptops on the market.

Price/Value

The Dell XPS 15 9500 starts at US$999 and can go way up from there. I think there is a lot of value in Dell’s XPS line of laptops, and this is one you should consider.

Wrap Up

Dell has really put in a lot of effort into its XPS line of computers, and it really shows. This is their flagship lineup, and the Dell XPS 15 9500 shows exactly why it is the very best Dell has. I have no problem recommending this laptop to just about anyone.

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2020 Dell XPS 15

Starting at US$999

Design

10.0/10

Display

9.5/10

Software/Ecosystem

9.5/10

Performance

10.0/10

Speakers/Sound

9.5/10

Camera

9.0/10

Battery Life

9.5/10

Price/Value

9.5/10

Nailed it

  • Dell's XPS displays just keep getting better
  • That XPS design is still fresh and relevant
  • Outstanding performance
  • The speakers and sound are first class
  • Pretty great battery life with normal use
  • The bezels are super slim

Needs work

  • It does weigh a bit more than the competition
  • Gets pricer the more features and options you pack in
  • 720p webcam
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