Dell XPS 15 (9520) review: Still one of the best, only faster

Dell XPS 15 (9520)

MSRP $2,253.00

“The Dell XPS 15 is at the highest of its game and stays one of the best 15-inch laptop you’ll be able to buy.”


  • Streamlined and solid construct
  • Aesthetically perfect
  • Strong productivity and inventive performance
  • Above-average battery life
  • Excellent keyboard and touchpad
  • Superior OLED display
  • Outstanding audio


  • Expensive
  • Performance ceiling limited by thin chassis

We rated Dell’s XPS 15 (9510) as one of the best 15-inch laptop you would buy. It offered one of the best combination of a horny, well-built thin and light-weight chassis, solid performance, and a spectacular 3.5K OLED display. Unless you needed workstation or gaming performance, the XPS 15 was the of its size you would buy. Now, Dell has released the XPS 15 (9520), which retains all the things great concerning the previous model while updating to Intel’s Twelfth-gen platform.

I reviewed a midrange configuration of the XPS 15 with an Intel Core i7-12700H and the three.5K OLED display. It runs $2,253, placing it solidly in premium laptop territory. After putting the laptop through its paces, I can say that it’s just nearly as good as before, only faster.

It’s not the fastest 15-inch laptop you’ll be able to buy (and I’ll include 16-inch laptops in the identical class given the small differential in screen size). Nonetheless, you’re getting a big laptop with a chassis that makes it seem much smaller than it’s and enough performance to please all but essentially the most demanding users. The XPS 15 retains its place because the king of 15-inchers.


Dell XPS 15 9520 rear view showing lid and logo.Mark Coppock/Digital Trends

The XPS 15 advantages from years of design iterations which have culminated in a streamlined and cohesive aesthetic. The angles are excellent, and the silver chassis with a black carbon fiber keyboard deck on my review unit is elegant without being ostentatious. You may also get a frost chassis with a white woven fiber keyboard deck that’s simply beautiful. In each cases, the keyboard deck can also be warm and comfy in comparison with bare metal.

The general attention to detail is palpable and helps justify the laptop’s high price.

Each model has the identical diamond-cut, double-anodized side edges which are attractive and functional, providing scratch resistance that helps keep the metal pristine despite plugging and unplugging peripherals. Because of the smallest display bezels you’ll find in a 15-inch laptop, which make up a 92.9% screen-to-body ratio, the XPS 15 looks ultra-modern with a screen that seems to drift within the air. The one laptop that comes near providing such a horny design is HP’s Spectre x360 16, which can also be more extravagant.

The design isn’t just aesthetically perfect. It’s also incredibly well-built, with no bending, flexing, or twisting within the lid, keyboard deck, or chassis bottom. Apple’s MacBooks Pros, Lenovo’s ThinkPads, and HP’s Spectres are as well-built, but few others can match the XPS 15. Even the hinge is well designed, with a dual-clutch mechanism that makes opening with one hand a breeze while holding the display firmly in place. The general attention to detail is palpable and helps justify the laptop’s high price.

The XPS 15 is about as small as you’ll be able to make a laptop with a 15.6-inch 16:10 display, because of the tiny bezels mentioned above. The Microsoft Surface Laptop 4 comes close, being almost as wide while being deeper because of its taller 15-inch 3:2 and bigger bezels, nevertheless it’s not nearly as powerful. The XPS 15 is thin at 0.71 inches and light-weight at 4.31 kilos, however the Surface Laptop 4 is thinner and lighter at 0.58 inches and three.4 kilos.

We’ve seen more 16-inch laptops arriving with displays which are just barely larger. The HP Spectre x360 16 is one such laptop, and it’s wider and deeper than the XPS 15 while being thicker at 0.78 inches and heavier at 4.45 kilos.


Dell XPS 15 9520 left view showing ports.

Dell XPS 15 9520 right view showing ports.

Connectivity is proscribed to 3 USB-C ports with Thunderbolt 4 support, a 3.5mm audio jack, and a full-size SD card reader. Dell features a USB-C to USB-A and HDMI adapter, but the shortage of legacy ports on the machine is disappointing and considered one of the prices of such a skinny chassis.

Wireless connectivity is strong with Wi-Fi 6E and Bluetooth 5.2.


Dell XPS 15 9520 front view showing display and keyboard deck.Mark Coppock/Digital Trends

My review unit was equipped with the Twelfth-gen Intel Core i7-12700H, a 45-watt CPU with 14 cores (six Performance and eight Efficiency) and 20 threads. It’s been a solid performer in other laptops we’ve tested, most of which have been larger and/or thicker machines. Dell paid a whole lot of attention to thermal design with the XPS 15, using two fans and warmth pipes together with hidden exhaust vents and a slight angle to extend airflow. Still, it’s a skinny laptop that may only move a lot air, and I used to be looking forward to seeing its Intel Twelfth-gen performance.

A fast note about performance modes. Given the prevalence of manufacturer utilities that allow the user to make a choice from modes that tune the fans and CPU speed to run cooler, more quietly, or faster, I’ve began reporting each “balanced” and “performance” mode benchmark results. You’ll see them reflected within the table. As you’ll be able to see from the XPS 15 9520’s scores, switching to its performance mode made a big difference in most of our benchmarks, particularly in its single-core performance. That’s different than the XPS 15 9510, which didn’t show a meaningful difference in performance mode in all but one benchmark.

The XPS 15’s thermal performance was predictable given the laptop’s size.

Overall, the XPS 15 9520 provided a meaningful bump in performance over the XPS 15 9510 with a 45-watt, 4-core/8-thread Core i7-11800H. It was 29% faster in Geekbench 5, 24% faster in performance mode in our Handbrake test that encodes a 420MB video as H.265, and 16% faster in Cinebench R23. Interestingly, it was slower within the PCMark 10 Complete benchmark that tests quite a lot of productivity, multimedia, and inventive tasks.

In comparison with laptops with the identical CPU but thicker chassis and more robust thermal solutions, the XPS 15 9520 was a step behind. This was particularly true in balanced mode and with single-core tests. When taking a look at multi-core results, the XPS 15 9520 held its own against the Asus ZenBook Pro 14 Duo in Geekbench 5, Handbrake, and Cinebench. Against the Lenovo Legion 5i Pro gaming laptop and the MSI Creator Z17 in performance mode, the XPS 15 9520 caught up in its single-core scores but couldn’t sustain in multi-core. Its Handbrake lead to performance mode was competitive, nevertheless.

(single / multi)
Cinebench R23
(single / multi)
PCMark 10
Dell XPS 15 9520
(Core i7-12700H)
Bal: 1,470 / 9,952
Perf: 1,714 / 11,053
Bal: 100
Perf: 77
Bal: 1,509 / 11,578
Perf: 1,806 / 13,313
Dell XPS 15 9510
(Core i7-11800H)
Bal: 1,556 / 7,692
Perf: N/A
Bal: 103
Perf: 101
Bal: 1,513 / 9,979
Perf: N/A
Asus ZenBook Pro 14 Duo
(Core i7-12700H)
Bal: 1,829 / 10,819
Perf: N/A
Bal: 94
Perf: 82
Bal: 1,793 / 12,046
Perf: N/A
Lenovo Legion 5i Pro 
(Core i7-12700H)
Bal: 1,625 / 11,543
Perf: 1,712 / 12,882
Bal: 72
Perf: 63
Bal: 1,725 / 14,135
Perf: 1,805 / 18,417
MSI Creator Z17
(Core i7-12700H)
Bal: 1,744 / 11,750
Perf: 1,741 / 13,523
Bal: 88
Perf: 70
Bal: 1,805 / 11,266
Perf: 1,819 / 15,754
LG Gram 16 2-in-1
(Core i7-1260P)
Bal: 1,682 / 9,035
Perf: 1,686 / 9,479
Bal: 137
Perf: 113
Bal: 1,524 / 6,314
Perf: 1,663 / 8,396
Asus Zenbook S 13 OLED
(Ryzen 7 6800U)
Bal: 1,417 / 6,854
Perf: 1,404 / 7,223
Bal: 112
Perf: 111
Bal: 1,402 / 8,682
Perf: 1,409 / 8,860

I also ran the Pugetbench Premiere Pro benchmark that runs in a live version of Adobe Premiere Pro and uses discrete GPUs to speed up various processes. We used an older version with the XPS 15 9510 and so can’t directly compare results with the XPS 15 9520. Within the new edition, the XPS 15 9520 with an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050 Ti scored 760 in balanced mode and dropped to 729 in performance mode. That’s likely as a consequence of throttling (see below). These scores compare to the MSI Creator Z17 with the identical CPU and an RTX 3070 Ti GPU that managed 897 and 984, respectively. We don’t have a laptop in our Pugetbench database with the identical CPU and GPU because the XPS 15 9520, however the laptop’s scores are according to expectations.

The XPS 15 9520’s thermal performance was predictable given the laptop’s thin chassis. I saw some throttling in our most intensive benchmarks, Handbrake, Cinebench, and Pugetbench, primarily when in performance mode. The CPU would hit its maximum temperature of 100 degrees Celcius periodically after which throttle, with the temperatures dropping into the 70s with reduced CPU frequencies. That process repeated itself in each test, which likely limited the performance ceiling. Performance mode was nevertheless effective in all benchmarks except Pugetbench. The fans spun up completely in performance mode but were surprisingly quiet and unobtrusive, and the keyboard deck and chassis never got greater than warm.

I didn’t expect the fastest performance from the XPS 15 9520, and I didn’t get it. As an alternative, I got a laptop that’s impressively quick for being so thin and light-weight. The XPS 15 9520 is greater than fast enough for essentially the most demanding productivity users while being reasonably speedy in creative tasks. Should you’re an expert creator, you’ll want something thicker and with a faster GPU, but anyone else will find the XPS 15 9520 to be a compelling balance of size and speed.

Assassin’s Creed Valhalla
(1080p/1200p Ultra High)
Civilization VI
(1080p Ultra)
(1080p/1200p Epic)
Time Spy
Dell XPS 15 9520
(RTX 3050 Ti)
50 fps 82 fps 57 fps Bal: 4,470
Perf: 4,520
Dell XPS 15 9510
(RTX 3050 Ti)
N/A 61 fps 50 fps Bal: 4,540
Perf: N/A
Samsung Galaxy Book Odyssey
(RTX 3050 Ti)
15 fps 61 fps 54 fps N/A
HP Spectre x360 16
(RTX 3050)
N/A 58 fps 37 fps Bal: 3,453
Perf: N/A
Lenovo IdeaPad Slim 7 16 Pro
(RTX 3050)
34 fps N/A 40 fps Bal: 4,223
Perf: 4,878
MSI Creator Z17
(RTX 3070 Ti)
60 fps N/A 85 fps Bal: 8,763
Perf: 9,263

The XPS 15 9520’s RTX 3050 Ti runs at 45 watts (80 watts is the chip’s maximum) and is clocked slower than the XPS 15 9510’s GPU. Subsequently, the XPS 15 9520’s faster DDR5 RAM is offset by the slower GPU clock speed. Unsurprisingly, the newer machine’s 3DMark Time Spy test was lower than the previous model in balanced mode and essentially equal in performance mode.

Its performance in our benchmark titles was surprisingly good. For instance, it hit 50 frames per second (fps) in Assassin’s Creed Valhalla at 1200p and ultra graphics, which is sort of playable and only 10 fps behind the MSI Creator Z17 with an RTX 3070 Ti. As well as, it dropped only a bit to 46 fps at 1600p and ultra graphics. We didn’t run this benchmark on the XPS 15 9510. In Civilization VI, the XPS 15 9520 managed 82 fps at 1080p and ultra graphics, greater than 20 fps faster than the XPS 15 9510, and 72 fps at 1440p and ultra graphics. Finally, in Fortnite, the XPS 15 9520 achieved 57 fps at 1200p and epic graphics. At 1600p and epic graphics, it hit 46 fps.

The RTX 3050 Ti is an entry-level GPU in and of itself, and easily put, the XPS 15 9520 wasn’t made to be a gaming laptop. Even so, the laptop was in a position to run our benchmark titles at 1080p/1200p and high graphics at decent framerates, and it was even playable at 1440p/1600p.

Display and audio

Dell XPS 15 9520 front view showing display.Mark Coppock/Digital Trends

Dell offers three displays for the XPS 15 9520, all 15.6 inches within the productivity-friendly 16:10 aspect ratio. Options include Full HD+ (1920 x 1200) non-touch IPS, UHD+ (3840 x 2400) touch-enabled IPS, and three.5K (3456 x 2160) touch-enabled OLED. My review unit equipped the latter, and it was brilliant and colourful out of the box with OLED’s typical inky blacks.

In accordance with my colorimeter, the OLED panel was nearly as good as at all times. The display was brilliant at 391 nits, well above our 300-nit threshold, so it’s visible in all but direct sunlight. The contrast ratio was incredibly high, creating inky blacks and text that pops on a white background. The colours were wide at 100% of sRGB and 96% of AdobeRGB and incredibly accurate with a DeltaE of 0.42 (1.0 or less is taken into account excellent). The Asus Vivobook 15 OLED and ZenBook Pro 14 Duo had barely wider AdobeRGB gamuts but weren’t as accurate.

That is a beautiful display for productivity and inventive work that may please everyone.

I’ll note that I’m using a more recent SpyderX colorimeter than the one used on the opposite OLED displays in our comparison group. It calculates OLED contrast otherwise from the previous models and returns lower scores. Nonetheless, the contrast ratio is just nearly as good despite the numerical difference in testing methods. To verify, I tested with my older Spyder4 colorimeter, and it reported a contrast ratio of 392,140:1.

The one grievance with the display is that it’s not quite 4K+ resolution, which mostly impacts streaming video. Not that it really matters on a 15.6-inch display, where Netflix and other streaming content are quite enjoyable and profit from great high dynamic range (HDR) support. That is a beautiful display for productivity and inventive work that may please everyone. Should you demand 4K+ resolution, you’ll be able to select the high-res IPS option, which on past XPS 15’s has also provided wide and accurate colours, a lot of brightness, and lots of contrast (for an IPS display).

Contrast sRGB gamut AdobeRGB gamut Accuracy DeltaE
(lower is healthier)
Dell XPS 15 9520
391 28,130:1 100% 96% 0.42
Lenovo IdeaPad Slim 7 16 Pro
420 1,310:1 100% 77% 1.59
LG Gram 16 2-in-1
323 1,230:1 100% 87% 2.82
Asus Vivobook 15 OLED
411 419,900:1 100% 100% 1.33
Asus ZenBook Pro 14 Duo
345 344,480:1 100% 100% 1.18

The XPS 15 9520 has the identical quad-speaker setup because the previous model, with two upward-firing speakers next to the keyboard and two speakers firing at an angle underneath the keyboard deck.

Dell XPS 15 9520 top down view showing speaker.Mark Coppock/Digital Trends

The audio system includes Waves NX 3D technology, and the speakers were tuned by Grammy Award winner Jack Joseph Puig. Does all that truly make a meaningful difference in sound quality? Absolutely. The XPS 15 9520 has a few of one of the best audio in a Windows laptop, and it’s only clearly bested by the MacBook Pro. There’s tons of volume, mids and highs are detailed, and there’s some real bass. Listening to a movie trailer, there’s a noticeable 3D effect and a wider sound stage. Whether you’re gaming, bingeing Netflix, or listening to music, you’ll love the audio and won’t feel any need to tug out a pair of headphones.

Keyboard, touchpad, and webcam

Dell XPS 15 9520 top down view showing keyboard and touchpad.Mark Coppock/Digital Trends

The XPS 15’s spacious keyboard doesn’t have essentially the most travel, but its large keys enjoy light switches which are snappy and precise with a responsive bottoming motion. It joins HP’s Spectre line in representing one of the best keyboards you’ll be able to get on Windows laptops. Only Apple’s spectacular Magic Keyboard on its most up-to-date MacBooks is healthier.

The touchpad is huge by Windows laptop standards, with a smooth and comfy surface and quiet, confident button clicks. It’s a Microsoft Precision touchpad, after all, so Windows 11 multitouch gestures are reliable and precise. The one thing Dell could do higher is to implement a haptic touchpad to switch the mechanical version, which would offer more customization, features, and more consistent clicking across the whole surface. Perhaps that may are available in the subsequent generation.

The OLED display on my review unit was touch-enabled, and there’s an option for a non-touch panel. The touch display was responsive and reliable during my testing.

Dell XPS 15 9250 front view showing webcam.Mark Coppock/Digital Trends

One in all the few changes made to the XPS 15 9520 outside of the chipset is splitting the webcam and infrared camera into two components. That improves the webcam’s image quality, even though it retains the previous model’s 720p resolution — which is behind the times as more laptops are equipped with Full HD webcams.

Windows Hello passwordless login is provided by an infrared camera and facial recognition and a fingerprint reader embedded in the facility button, just where it ought to be. Each methods worked perfectly.

Battery life

As with the previous generation, the XPS 15 9520 packs in 86 watt-hours of battery capability to power high-end components and a high-resolution OLED display. Some 15-inch laptops have larger batteries, however the XPS 9510 did well with the identical size battery and the identical display, so I used to be taken with seeing the Twelfth-gen Intel CPU’s efficiency.

We don’t have many comparable Core i7-12700H laptops in our database yet, so direct comparisons are difficult. Nevertheless, we are able to see that the XPS 15 9520 improved efficiency over the XPS 15 9510, particularly within the PCMark 10 Applications battery test that’s one of the best indication of typical productivity battery life. In our web browsing test that cycles through several popular and complicated web sites, the XPS 15 9520 did quite well at 9.5 hours, and its 12.75 hours in our video test that loops a neighborhood Full HD Avengers trailer was also a solid showing. Its 11.25 hours within the PCMark 10 Applications test was above average across our entire database.

Web browsing Video PCMark 10
Dell XPS 15 9520
(Core i7-12700H)
9 hours, 38 minutes 12 hours, 40 minutes 11 hours, 14 minutes
Dell XPS 15 9510
(Core i7-11800H)
9 hours, 4 minutes 11 hours, 18 minutes 8 hours, 3 minutes
MSI Creator Z17
(Core i7-12700H)
4 hours, 23 minutes 4 hours, 32 minutes N/A
Asus ZenBook Pro 14 Duo
(Core i7-12700H)
3 hours, 10 minutes 5 hours, 18 minutes N/A
Lenovo Slim 7 16 Pro
(Ryzen 7 5800H)
8 hours, 5 minutes 11 hours, 48 minutes 9 hours, 34 minutes
LG Gram 16 2-in-1
(Core i7-1260P)
11 hours, 31 minutes 17 hours, 58 minutes 16 hours, 39 minutes

Battery life was strong for a laptop with a big, power-hungry OLED display and fast components. You’ll get a full day of labor unless you push the CPU and GPU, with slightly left over. And in case your workflow is demanding, you’ll still get far longer on a charge than most laptops with this sort of power. On condition that the XPS 15 9520 differs only in its Twelfth-gen chipset from the previous model, it’s fair to say that Intel’s newest is a minimum of a bit more efficient.

Price and configurations

My review configuration with a Core i7-12700H, 16GB of DDR5 RAM, a 512GB PCIe 4 solid-state drive (SSD), the Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050 Ti, and the three.5K OLED display costs $2,253 on Dell’s website. You’ll be able to drop all the way down to a 12-core (4 Performance and eight Efficient) Core i5-12500H, 8GB of RAM, a 512GB SSD, Intel UHD graphics, and a Full HD+ (1920 x 1200) IPS non-touch display for $1,420. Max out the XPS 15 9520 with a Core i9-12900HK, 32GB of RAM, a 2TB SSD, the RTX 3050 Ti, and the OLED display, and also you’ll pay a hefty $3,037. You’ll be able to mix and match using Dell’s configurator and pick a machine that matches your needs and minimizes the value — but irrespective of what you select, you’ll be firmly in premium laptop territory.

Our take

The Dell XPS 15 9520 picks up where its predecessor left off, retaining its best qualities and increasing performance. It’s a laptop that knows exactly what it desires to be — it’s not the fastest 15-inch laptop, neither is it the thinnest, nevertheless it’s one of the best combination of size and performance you’ll be able to buy.

You’ll love the construct quality, adore the look, and appreciate the display. Yes, you’ll spend some extra money in comparison with some competition, however the investment is well price it. Dell paid attention to the small print and engineered not only one of the best 15-inch laptop but top-of-the-line laptops, period.

Are there any alternatives?

I’m not aware of any laptop as small, thin, and light-weight because the XPS 15 9520 while still offering a 45-watt CPU and a discrete GPU. And recently, 16-inch laptops appear to have grow to be more popular than 15-inch options, identical to 14-inch laptops appear to be arriving more quickly than recent 13-inch models. So, finding a robust alternative to the XPS 15 9520 within the 15-inch class is difficult.

Should you don’t mind jumping up 0.6 inches in screen size, then a 16-inch laptop just like the recent HP Envy 16 is a great option. Similarly configured but with a lower-res IPS 120Hz display, it’s a number of hundred dollars less. It’s not as thin or as light, however the HP Envy 15 was considered one of our favourite laptops once we reviewed it a few years ago, and the most recent model seems to uphold the identical traditions.

In case your budget allows it, you would consider the Apple MacBook 16-inch. It’s equally well built, incredibly fast with its Apple M1 Pro or M1 Max, and it easily offers one of the best battery life you’ll find in a bigger laptop. Should you’re not married to Windows 11, the MacBook Pro 16 makes a solid alternative.

How long will it last?

The XPS 15 9520 is as well-built as a laptop will be, with attention paid to the nice details and solidity that few laptops can match. It is going to last for years of productive service, and it’s user-upgradeable as well — increase the RAM as much as 64GB and add a second SSD for RAID performance or extra storage. In fact, we’d like to see an extended warranty than a single yr, but that’s just the way it is with even premium laptops.

Do you have to buy it?

Yes. Should you’re searching for a 15-inch laptop that successfully walks a nice line between portability and performance, you won’t find a greater option.

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