Dell Methodically Improves XPS, Alienware, Precision And Inspiron Lineup At Computex 2019

By Patrick Moorhead - June 20, 2019
Dell’s XPS 13 2-in-1 at a 180-degree angle

This year at Computex 2019 in Taipei, Taiwan, Dell announced its new 2019 consumer laptops and workstation lineup. Moor Insights & Strategy analyst Anshel Sag was on the ground in Taipei, and I took in the show from the Austin office. 

These Dell announcements were the big follow-on to Dell’s CES announcements I covered here. While most of these announcements were upgrades and improvements, they were still important to the increased relevance of the PC platform and Dell’s continued share gain. Dell announced just last week in its earnings announcement that it gained PC market share for 25 consecutive quarters as it posted “double-digit revenue growth in commercial notebooks, desktops, and workstations.”

Let’s dive into what Dell announced at the show. 

Dell is the first with “EyeSafe” displays

An often-overlooked quality of laptops is the safety of devices on their users.  Dell is the first to bring what it is calling “EyeSafe” technology to its laptops. EyeSafe reduces harmful blue light emissions that screens emit while keeping color accuracy by managing the RGB of the display. Most screens that address blue light, like the night light setting on Windows 10, do so with the consequence of distorting the color, making it yellowish, and sometimes don’t even target the most harmful light emissions.

EyeSafe Display

I would argue that some consumers would buy one of these Dell laptops just for this feature, and soon it will become a standard in all laptops. EyeSafe meets the Health and TUV standards for color balance and blue light reduction and on the new Alienware m17, the new XPS 13 2-in-1 and the Dell G7 17-inch laptops. 

XPS line continues to improve

In some ways, the Dell XPS line sets the standard for consumer Ultrabooks. This year is no exception with the XPS 13 2-in-1 and the XPS 15 being shown off at Computex 2019. Both laptops have significant improvements while keeping a lot of what doesn’t need to change. The premium materials the XPS lineup is known for- machined aluminum, carbon fiber, woven glass fiber, Corning Gorilla Glass 4- still provide the XPS 15 and XPS 13 2-in-1 with the exceptional build quality. Both laptops integrate Dell’s miniaturized webcam that we saw put in the XPS 13 2019 earlier in the year eliminating the much-hated nosecam. The XPS lineup continues to get sleeker without compromising build quality. Dell Cinema is also in both devices and uses a combination of hardware and software innovations to provide an enhanced entertainment experience.

Top view of the Dell XPS 15

The XPS 15 has powerful internals with the latest 9th Gen Intel processors and up to an NVIDIA GTX GeForce 1650 GPU and 64GB of RAM. Intel unveiled details on the latest 10th generation Ice Lake chipset at their own keynote at Computex and some of the smaller laptops, including the XPS 13 2-in-1, will ship with Ice Lake inside. It would have been nice to see the XPS 15 to come with 10th Gen processors like the XPS 13 2-in-1, however, the H-Series chips aren't available, but we can expect the XPS 15 to come with 10th Gen processors when Intel expands the line. Either way, both generation processors come with support for WIFI 6 in the Killer AX1650 chipset. Dell says the Killer AX1650 “is three times as fast as the previous generation of 80MHz 2x2 AC products.” 

Dell claims the XPS 15 can have a battery life of 20 ½ hours with the 96Whr battery option and the starting FHD display. I’m not a fan of today’s battery life benchmarks and tests, so we’ll have to see what the reality is for real use. The XPS 15 now has the option for a Samsung OLED display that delivers truer blacks, 100% DCI-P3, and a 100,000:1 contrast ratio. The OLED display has a starting price of $1,899 without an option for touch and is said to decrease the battery life to just 7 hours. That’s a heavy price for an OLED screen, however, if you saw these in person you might consider making that tradeoff.

The new XPS 13 2-in-1 has a slimmer and sleeker design in its 3rdgeneration.  The screen is now a taller 16:10 aspect ratio allowing the screen to be 7% larger than before and in my opinion, more conducive to getting work done. With the increase in aspect ratio and innovative webcam technology, the XPS 13 2-in-1 now has a remarkable 84.9% screen to body ratio. 

Although there is no configuration for an OLED panel, the XPS 13 2-in-1 is one of the first laptops to support the EyeSafe technology and it still looks great in person, according to analyst Anshel Sag. It also has a second Gen MagLev keyboard that makes the keys bigger, quieter and makes room for a 19% larger trackpad all of which is visibly noticeable. The more prominent display, the next generation edge-to-edge keyboard, and the smaller webcam all work together to make the XPS 13 2-in-1 8% smaller, which gives the laptop a beautiful and refined design. The XPS 13 2-in-1 is the future look of the XPS lineup.

The inside of the XPS 13 2-in-2 is just as impressive as the outside. It now features Intel’s latest 10th gen 10 nm processors.  According to Dell, Intel's 10th gen chipset is 2.5 times more powerful than the previous 8thgen chipsets in last year’s XPS 13 2-in-1’s. Part of that performance boost comes from the fact that Dell upgraded from the Y-series chipsets to the U-series chipset allowing for the increase in performance but adopting dual fans in the process. Even with fans, the laptop is still thinner than the last generation. Dell’s GORE insulation technology spreads and dissipates heat to aid in keeping the laptop cooler. 

The XPS 13 2-in-1 reminded one of my summer interns, Jacob Freyman, of the “noisy cricket.” weapon that agent J used in Men in Black. It may look small, but until you see it in action, the power hides in its sleek and small design. 

Next generation Inspiron lineup

Dell also announced its next-generation Inspiron series targeted at consumers at a lower price and feature and design point than XPS. The Inspiron 15 7000 supports the 9th Gen Intel processors with up to an NVIDIA GTX 1650 and 16GB of DDR4 memory.  Dell built the Inspiron 15 7000 out of magnesium rather than aluminum, a big step up, and demonstrates Dell’s methodical improvement path. It also has a new keyboard with the power button situated into the keyboard and a fingerprint scanner integrated into the power button. The change in keyboard makes room for a full keypad. 

The Inspiron 15 7000 now has Dell’s new adaptive thermal technology that can detect where the laptop is, on a table or in a mobile environment, so that the laptop optimizes its performance. Small but handy features like the adaptive thermal technology are cool features to see in a mid-range laptop. I am looking forward to third-party tests to see how well it works. 

Dell is testing some of these features in mid-range devices to see if they should bring them to the flagship devices. We see this with Samsung’s A series of phones and it’s exciting to see Dell doing this too. It’s a great idea if you keep enough distance between your premium and mainstream lineups.

Inspiron 7590 announced at Computex 2019

The Inspiron 13 5000 also has the new adaptive thermal technology in a small form factor, as well as the smaller webcam that is in the XPS series laptops. The gap between the flagship laptops and the mid-range laptops looks to be getting smaller. It also has the option to pop in a SIM card and use mobile broadband for work on the go. I am very happy to see WWAN features pop up in the meat of the Dell consumer lineup. The Inspiron 13 500 uses the 8th generation Intel processors and goes up to 8GB of memory, all of which are optimal for a budget level laptop.

The new Inspiron 11 3000 2-in-1 rocks an AMD A9 processor with up to 8GB of memory and 128GB of storage. This budget-friendly laptop has an 11-inch screen for a compact and ultra-mobile experience.

The last of the Inspiron series, the Inspiron 7000 2-in-1, was announced at CES 2019 earlier this year but is now available globally. The most notable feature of the 7000 2-in-1 is the cleverly placed pen-garage in the hinge that is accessible in all laptop modes. The laptop comes in 13-inch and 15-inch flavors.

New Dell Precision workstations

Dell’s positions its Precision 7540 and 7740 workstations as focused on VR and complex AI workloads with up to Intel Xeon E or 9th Gen Intel Core processors and AMD and NVIDIA latest professional graphics. Dell says the 7540 is “the world's smallest VR and AI mobile workstation” and given the narrow bezel and big GPUs, and I have to take their word on it. Both the 7540 and the 7740 can have up to 128GB of memory, an Intel E-2286M Xeon, and an NVIDIA Quadro RTX 5000.  7740 can be configured to have a UHD HDR 400 display. That is a 4K display on Dell’s most powerful 15-inch mobile workstation.

Dell also announced updates to its Precision 3000 series and the Precision 1U Rack workstation for those who want all the compute and storage in the datacenter. Companies do this for security and TCO purposes as global companies can share resources around the world, as long as it has robust networking. The Precision 3000 series now has the latest 9th gen Intel processors and up to 128GB or 64GB of 2666MHz ECC or non-ECC memory. All Dell workstations are ISV certified and equipped with Dell Precision Optimizer. DPO uses machine learning to improve the performance of applications. The software takes control of system resources to cater to specific applications and Dell says the performance gains can be up to 578% over factory settings. I’m excited to use this feature to see if it lives up to the billing.

The Precision 1U Rack emphasizes scalability in a small form factor at an affordable price. Both the Dell Precision 3630 and the 3431 offer a wide variety of storage options including SATA and PCIe NVMe SSDs, which can be configured for up to 14TB with RAID support. 

Dell’s got game

Alienware m17 Dark side of the moon color with the new RGB lighting design on the back.

Dell announced its new Alienware m15 and Alienware m17 laptops with a fresh redesign based on the new Legend design language introduced with the new Area-51m. The m15 and m17 both have a new keyboard with an increase in key travel from 1.4mm to 1.7mm, which I know gamers will appreciate and the new precision-point glass trackpad compliments the new keyboard for a new look and feel to the m15 and m17. Both laptops look closer to their newer big brother, the Area-51m.

On the inside, both laptops are powered by Intel’s 9th gen Core processors with up to a GeForce RTX 2080 with Max-Q design graphics and with the starting model having an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650. Both laptops now have Alienware’s Cry-tech 3.0 technology that takes on a new thermal design which increases the fan size and number of blades Dell says the m15 has a 20% increase in airflow, and the m17 has a 25% increase in airflow thanks to this new Cryo-tech 3.0 technology. 

A sacrifice Dell and the Alienware team had to make so that the laptops can be so thin is the ability to upgrade the memory. Memory on the m15 and m17 laptops are both soldered onto the motherboard. This sacrifice is unfortunate, but if it's too bothersome, you might as well build or buy a gaming desktop.

Alienware m15 Lunar light color side view with RGB coloring in the newly redesigned keyboard.

Like much of its notebook line, Dell put the EyeSafe technology in the Alienware m17 display to help protect gamer’s eyes and the m17 also supports Tobii eye-tracking technology for the 144Hz display. My teenage gamer son has thoroughly enjoyed his experience with Tobii eye tracking while playing and streaming Overwatch and Fortnite. His viewers can track exactly where his eyes are looking in real-time, hopefully gleaming some inspiration on how he got the frag or won the match.

Although the m15 doesn’t have the EyeSafe technology, an OLED option with 60Hz is available. Dell plans on putting EyeSafe technology in the Area-51m in June and the rest of its gaming lineup in the coming months. The m15 also features the Tobii Eye Tracking technology with the 240 Hz display model and the OLED display model, which is the smallest laptop to date with Tobii eye tracking.

I think Dell did a great job redesigning the m15 and m17 laptops and included exciting features for gamers to customize as they see fit.

Dell’s G series gaming laptops take on many of the same chip specifications the Alienware laptops have but at more of a budget level. The G3 and the G7 laptops feature a 9th Gen Intel Core processor with the G3 topping out at an i7-9750HQ. The G7 models go up to i9-8950HK with graphics up to an NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 with Max-Q. The G7 15-inch model also features an OLED display with 60Hz while the G7 17-inch features the new EyeSafe technology. Dell’s G series looks a lot like the Alienware line up spec-wise, and for a budget level gaming laptop, I would say that’s a good thing.

Wrapping up

Looking back at when the XPS series took on a new design in 2015, fours years later, I didn’t think they could get sleeker and more refined. Dell keeps impressing all while its budget lineup is starting to close the gap between its flagship devices. Not only did we see that with the XPS series and the Inspiron series, but we also saw it with the Alienware laptops and the G series laptops. That’s a great thing, of course, as long as the XPS and Alienware brands keep pushing the limits, else the premium brands get negatively impacted. Dell was the first to bring EyeSafe technology to consumers for its newly designed XPS 13 2-in-1 as well as a few of its gaming laptops, in a long line of display firsts. The Alienware m15 and m17 also got a new design to look to be more like its bigger sibling, the Area-51m.

Dell is continuing to bring to its consumers and enterprises higher quality devices that look good on the outside and continue impress on the inside. These are some of the reasons Dell has gained PC market share for 25 consecutive quarters, and last quarter, the company posted “double-digit revenue growth in commercial notebooks, desktops, and workstations.” 

Computex 2019 was an exciting place to be if you were Dell.

Note: Moor Insights & Strategy intern Jacob Freyman contributed to this article.   

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Patrick founded the firm based on his real-world world technology experiences with the understanding of what he wasn’t getting from analysts and consultants. Ten years later, Patrick is ranked #1 among technology industry analysts in terms of “power” (ARInsights)  in “press citations” (Apollo Research). Moorhead is a contributor at Forbes and frequently appears on CNBC. He is a broad-based analyst covering a wide variety of topics including the cloud, enterprise SaaS, collaboration, client computing, and semiconductors. He has 30 years of experience including 15 years of executive experience at high tech companies (NCR, AT&T, Compaq, now HP, and AMD) leading strategy, product management, product marketing, and corporate marketing, including three industry board appointments.