Dell’s XPS Design Moves Towards Its Commercial Line Of Devices

By Patrick Moorhead - June 18, 2020
Dell XPS

Around this time last year, Dell introduced its newest lineup of consumer and commercial laptops and desktops at Computex 2019. Unfortunately, COVID-19 has halted most of my travel out of the 2020 year and has kept me from seeing Dell’s new lineup of commercial and consumer devices in person. Nevertheless, it won’t keep me from writing about them and the improvements Dell has made from last year.

It has already been an exciting year for computers, and that goes without the effects COVID-19 has had on our computer experiences for businesses and consumers. AMD has brought on exciting and new competition with its 4000 series mobile processors, and Intel has released its 10th Gen Core processors, which are significant improvements from the last Gen’s Core processors. The COVID-19 crisis has stressed the importance of video calls and mobile workstations.

Dell’s redesigned XPS 15 did not have AMD hardware on the list

Dell’s XPS laptops are one of my favorite lines of laptops to watch grow and develop, mostly because they led in setting Ultrabook standards and the XPS 13 was one of the first devices to pursue a nearly bezel-less display. Dell’s incremental changes to the XPS 13 makes it one of the few laptops to nail the perfect laptop form factor.

Dell has redesigned the XPS 15 this year around what Dell is calling “4-sided InfinityEdge display. Dell has gotten rid of the bottom chin of the display to leave a fully immersive bezel-less display. This does two great things for the Dell XPS 15: it gives the device a smaller footprint, and it gives the display full real estate in the chassis. Dell XPS 15 InfinityDisplay is also an EyeSafe display. EyeSafe displays reduce harmful blue light, which is a feature I respect Dell for including. We first saw the EyeSafe display on last year’s Dell XPS 13, and it’s great to see Dell, including it in other devices. It also has an optional 4k Ultra HD+ display with 100% Adobe RGB and 94% DCI P3 color gamut which can affect battery life by upgrading from 1080P.

Side by side comparison of the XPS 15(2019) and XPS 15(2020) with the new 4-sided InfinityEdge display

With the redesign, Dell adopted Intel’s 10th Gen Core H-Series processors with up to a GTX 1650 Ti. The lack of a Dell XPS 15 model with AMD’s 4000 series processors and Radeon mobile graphics is a bit of a disappointment but not something I would expect in the XPS devices. It takes more than just swapping out a processor and graphics card to change an XPS laptop to have AMD hardware or any laptop for that matter. Dell would have to completely redesign the laptop to have an AMD motherboard, graphics, and processor, especially in such a compact and methodical design as the XPS 15.

The XPS 15 comes with a slim I/O selection with 2 Thunderbolt 3 ports with power delivery, a regular USB-C 3.1 port, a full-size SD card reader, and a 13.5 mm headphone/microphone jack. I think the Dell XPS 15 has one of the best port selections in a laptop and will be a key advantage for those looking for a laptop for content creation. I would also like to add that Dell has variants of the XPS 15 with Dell Creator Edition badges for those looking specifically for a content creator specific XPS. The XPS 15 also has Killer WiFi 6 and Bluetooth 5.

Dell introduces a welcomed 17-inch XPS model

The newest member of the XPS lineup is the XPS 17. The XPS 17 takes all the great and mature design aspects and bumps them up into a 17-inch form factor. The Dell XPS 17 has a carbon copy 4-sided InfinityEdge display like the XPS 15 with a 4k UHD+ option with EyeSafe technology. Just as with the XPS 15, this bezel-less display allows the XPS 17 to be in a smaller form factor with a larger 17-inch immersive display. Dell says that the bezel-less design makes the form factor of the XPS 17 smaller than over 50% other 15-inch laptops. If you told me a couple of years ago that Dell is going to make a 17-inch version of the XPS 15, I would have told you that it would not be popular enough to keep. With the redesign and the 4-sided InfinityEdge display, a 17-inch variant of the XPS laptop is a smart move by Dell.

The Dell XPS 17 has a 720p camera in the top of the display and an infrared camera with facial recognition for Windows Hello

One of the other smart plays by Dell is making this 17-inch version as powerful as possible. The extra room in the XPS 17 allows Dell to configure the thermals more comfortably so that beefier hardware won’t choke or bottleneck the device due to thermal throttling. The Dell XPS 17 has Intel’s 10th Gen Core H-Series processors with up to an NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060 6Gb GDDR6 graphics card. The model with the RTX graphics card has Dell’s patented Dual Opposite Outlet Fans that allows for more airflow and improved skin temperatures. It also has GORE Thermal insulation, which Dell says provides thermal conductivity levels lower than air.

The XPS 17 has the same ports as the XPS 15. It also has Killer WiFi 6 and Bluetooth 5. The webcam is also at the top of the display with support for Windows Hello. This year has been a big year for Dell XPS because not only did the brand come out with a new model, which is usually good enough, but Dell also redesigned both the XPS 13 and XPS 15 in the same year, which has never happened.

I am all-in on 17” laptops at home and on long trips and am very excited to kick the tires.

Commercial laptop upgrades

Dell also upgraded its Precision, Latitude, and OptiPlex line of commercial PCs. The highlight for this year’s Precision, Latitude, and OptiPlex devices is Dell’s use of AI and machine learning to create safer and more efficient laptops. Dell says Dell Optimizer learns how each person works and adapts to their behavior.

Although Dell Optimizer sounds alarming at first, it is built-in software, so there is no over-arching AI gathering everybody’s user data and using it on separate servers. Dell also says it is a software feature that must be enabled to use, so no unwanted AI tracker that is tracking out of the box. The software is supposed to help improve application performance, enable faster log-in, improve video calls, and extend battery life.

Dell has redesigned its Latitude line of laptops to have machine and brushed aluminum designs that look like the XPS lineup. The Latitude 9000 series devices are Project Athena certified, have Intel 10th Gen Core vPro processors, and have WiFi 6 and Bluetooth 5. Dell says the Latitude 9510 is the smallest, lightest, and most intelligent 15-inch business PC. The Latitude 9510 also has the option for a 5G model which is currently Dell’s only 5G offering. The Latitude 9410 is a smaller 14-inch 2-in-1 convertible and is what Dell says is the smallest 14-inch business 2-in-1. Unlike the Latitude 9510, the Latitude 9410 2-in-1 does not have a 5G variant. The Latitude 7410 and 7310 are Dell’s smallest 14-inch and 13-inch premium business laptops. The 7410 features the industry’s first 4k low blue light screen in a business laptop. Again, I am glad Dell is moving to support displays that help with blue light.

Right side of the Dell Precision 5750.

Dell redesigned its Precision line of mobile workstations to make them smaller and more compact without compromising the power Precision laptops are known for. The Precision lineup support Intel’s 10th Gen Core vPro processors with up to a Quadro RTX 3000 graphics. The new Dell Precision 5550 is so much smaller and compact that it fits in the footprint of last year’s Precision 5540. The Latitude 5750 and 5550 have 4-sided InfinityEdge displays for a smaller chassis. Dell says they are the world’s smallest 15-inch and 17-inch mobile workstations.

The Dell precision 7000 series are redesigned as well. The 7000 laptops are 17% smaller and 6% lighter over the last generation and are designed for sustained peak performance. The 7000 series devices support Xeon and 10th Gen Core i9 processors with scalable memory and storage. Dell also announced the small form factor Precision 3240 workstation. It is VR-ready and capable of running seven 4k displays. It uses up to an RTX Quadro 3000 graphics card and is only three liters in size.

I think Dell hit a homerun with the newest lineup of Precision and Latitude devices. The smaller form factors will make it easier for users to work remotely and further push the limits of an out-of-office work experience.

Upgraded internals for the Alienware portfolio

Last month, our Senior Analyst at Moor Insights and Strategy Anshel Sag gave a thorough one year review of Dell’s Alienware Area-51m. As most of the design changes came from the hardware internals, Anshel’s review is still relevant.

Dell’s Alienware Area 51m, Alienware m15, and Alienware m17 all support Intel’s 10th Gen Core desktop processors with the option for up to an NVIDIA RTX 2080 Super or an AMD Radeon RX 5500M. It is unfortunate that none of the new Ryzen 4000 series processors did not make it into Alienware’s new gaming portfolio. I think Dell’s Alienware laptops would have a competitive edge if it had, at the least, an option for AMD’s 4000 series processors.

The Alienware Area-51m stands apart from the m15 and m17 by being overclockable and upgradeable.

Alienware has changed its Cryo Tech cooling technology to now cool a new 12-phase graphic voltage regulation, more copper, larger fans, and a vapor chamber for higher-end configurations. They also now have a 360Hz display option with a UHD 4k option for the Area 51m. They also have Killer ethernet and wireless and a new option for RAID 0.

Dell also upgraded Alienware Aurora desktop to have Intel’s 10th Gen core processors, up to an NVIDIA RTX 2080 Ti or a Radeon RX 5700XT. The Aurora desktop now supports liquid cooling and a 1000W power supply for higher overclocks. I am disappointed the Aurora desktop does not have an AMD 3000 series processor option. I hope Dell made that choice looking forward to implementing AMD’s next generation of 4000 series processors at the end of the year. We can dream.

Although these are more of internal hardware changes, I think Alienware’s new gaming laptop portfolio will continue to be premium, if not the best choices in the gaming laptop market.

Wrapping up

It is great to see Dell implementing its great design choices to its other laptop devices. I think Dell hit a homerun with the newest XPS 17, especially since it is the same size as over half of the 15-inch laptops on the market. Seeing Dell implement the EyeSafe display technology into more displays makes me excited to get my hands on one of these.

Dell’s Precision and Latitude laptops are very powerful in terms of raw specs with incredibly designed form factors. I am interested to see how well Dell Optimizer works and the impact it has on performance and battery over the long term. Seeing as Dell’s new commercial portfolio is Project Athena certified, I hope Dell didn’t create Optimizer to meet the minimum of Project Athena standards. Although Alienware did not include AMD’s newest processors, the better thermals and higher refresh display are welcomed improvements to the Alienware portfolio. Net-net Dell’s newest lineup of consumer and commercial laptops will continue to set standards in 2020.

Note: Moor Insights & Strategy co-op Jacob Freyman contributed to this article.

+ posts

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.