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Dell XPS 16 review: Premium and capable

Dell XPS 16 review: Premium and capable

Dell XPS 16

Dell's premium XPS notebooks now come in two new screen sizes: 14-inch and 16-inch. The XPS 16 (9640) has the sleek minimalist design as recent XPS models, and feels as luxurious as you'd expect from a laptop that starts from S$2,899. But you can also configure it with more powerful hardware than before, including up to an Intel Core Ultra 9 processor, 64GB of memory and Nvidia's GeForce RTX 4070 graphics chip. Of course, this will quickly inflate the price. My review set costs S$4,699, but it can go up to a whopping S$6,898.

Quick specs

  • 16.3-inch UHD (3,840 x 2,400 pixels) OLED touchscreen
  • Intel Core Ultra 7 Processor 155H with 32GB system memory and Nvidia GeForce RTX 4070 graphics
  • 2.2kg
  • 99.5 watt-hour battery

The Dell XPS 16 has a similar futuristic design as the Dell XPS 13 Plus. It's extremely minimalist, which can be divisive. The touchpad, for example, lacks any physical lines to delineate its boundaries. It's also haptic, which means it vibrates to stimulate clicks. The surface is slick and smooth, and you'll quickly get used to this touchpad. Above the keyboard are touch-sensitive LED-lit buttons that switch between displaying the Function keys and other controls (volume, brightness, etc). When not in use, these LED buttons auto-dim, and eventually turn themselves off. However, there's no haptic feedback when pressed.

There are barely any gaps between keys, which can feel cramped to some. It offers a quiet typing experience, with decent travel. The laptop itself is solidly built from CNC aluminium so there's hardly any flex. At around 2.2kg, it's about as heavy as a similarly-sized gaming laptop. It's definitely not as sleek as the Acer Swift Edge 16, despite tapering to a slim edge that doesn't leave much room for a full-size USB-A port. Instead, the XPS 16 comes with three Thunderbolt 4 ports that support both power delivery and display output (DisplayPort 2.1). There's also a microSD card and an audio jack. An adapter for HDMI and USB-A is included in the box.

Dell XPS 16
Credit: Vincent Chang/Can Buy or Not

I was blown away by the quad speakers on the XPS 16. Dolby Atmos movies like Netflix's 6 Underground sounded immersive with great audio separation. These are probably one of the best laptop speakers I have tested. Meanwhile, the 1080p webcam offers crisp images with relatively low noise. It's great for online video meetings. And since the XPS 16 is an Intel AI PC with a neural processing unit, you can enable Windows Studio effects. For example, you can get the camera to always keep you in focus or blur the background. The webcam also supports Windows Hello facial recognition.

Despite packing a dedicated mid-range Nvidia GeForce RTX 4070 graphics chip, the XPS 16 isn't designed for gaming. For one, its 4K OLED touchscreen, while lovely to look at and decently bright at 400 nits, offers only a maximum 90Hz refresh rate that falls short of what most gamers desire. Instead, it's clear that this XPS 16 is more suited for content creation, such as video and photo editing, with some gaming on the side. But if you prefer a smoother screen, Dell does have a 1,920 x 1,200-pixel non-touch display option with a 120Hz refresh rate.

Dell XPS 16
Credit: Vincent Chang/Can Buy or Not

The Dell XPS 16 performs up to expectations. Its PCMark score (7,115) is lower than the Asus Zenbook Duo (7,324), which has a faster Intel processor. Games such as Metro Exodus also ran smoothly enough (around 63fps at 1080p and Ultra setting). That's actually slightly better than the Razer Blade 14 (59fps), which also sports a GeForce RTX 4070 graphics chip.

As you would expect, the XPS 16 gets toasty at the bottom when running games. It also becomes noticeably noisier as the fans start ramping up. The XPS 16's cooling system is probably not quite as good as a gaming notebook. It narrowly failed to pass 3DMark's Speed Way Stress Test with a frame rate stability of 96.1% compared with 98.5% (pass) for the Razer Blade 14. Battery life, though, is excellent, thanks to a massive 99.5 watt-hour battery. The XPS 16 lasted 9.5 hours in our usual video playback test at maximum brightness.

See Also
MSI Prestige 13 Evo

The Dell XPS 16 starts from S$2,899, which gets you a Full-HD non-OLED screen with Intel's built-in graphics. If you're hoping to do more (content creation and gaming), you'll want to upgrade to the Nvidia graphics chip. The base model available (RTX 4050) brings the price to almost S$4,300. In short, this laptop is expensive, and will no doubt be a niche pick. Gamers will want a gaming laptop with a higher refresh rate and better cooling. Dell's minimalist keyboard and touchpad design may also divide opinions. But if you're looking for a luxury laptop, you can't go wrong with the XPS 16. Get it now from Dell.

Note: Review unit provided by Dell.

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