Dell XPS 15 (L501x) notebook

Dell XPS 15 (L501x) review: This Core i7 Dell laptop is equipped with a Full HD screen

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Dell XPS 15 (L501x)


  • Excellent screen, plenty of processing power, surprisingly good speakers


  • Thicker than a Macbook Pro, graphics card could be more powerful, build quality could be better

Bottom Line

The Dell XPS 15 (L501x) notebook is a strong performer, and it's not even particularly expensive. It's not all good news -- it's a little thick and the internal fan can be loud.

Would you buy this?

The Dell XPS 15 (L501x) is a notebook that competes with the Apple Macbook Pro. It has a 15.6in, Full HD (1080p) screen, an Intel Core i7 processor, a fast 640GB hard drive and all the trimmings. It's not as attractive or as well-built as an Apple laptop but it's cheaper and more powerful.

Check out our review of the Dell XPS 15z (P12F)

Dell XPS 15 (L501x): Design and build quality

The Dell XPS L501x draws inspiration from the Dell Adamo, with a small lip that's raised behind the LCD screen. The notebook's chassis is an odd mix of curves and straight edges — it's not as smooth as a Macbook Pro or Apple Macbook Air, and not as squarely utilitarian as a Lenovo notebook. It's a solid notebook, but we did notice a bit of flex in the LCD screen and some play in the DVD drive's tray lock.

The Dell XPS L501x can be customised with one of over 100 designs on its lid. Ours came with the Dazzling Dreams design, which we thought was very unusual and attractive.

What stood out for us was how good the Dell XPS L501x's internal stereo speakers sounded. They're not a patch on real computer speakers, but they're the best we've heard in a laptop. Clear treble and a surprising amount of mid-range and bass make the XPS L501x fine for music or movie playback.

Dell XPS 15 (L501x): Specifications and performance

Our Dell XPS L501x test unit used a quad core Intel Core i7-740QM processor, which isn't available in the Australian model — you're restricted to the less powerful, dual-core Intel Core i5-480M. It's still a good chip, and comparable to the one in a base-level 15in Macbook Pro. Our test unit shipped with 6GB of DDR3 RAM, but you're able to specify between 4 and 8GB of RAM when you order your notebook. The internal 7200rpm, 640GB hard drive proved to be a zippy performer in our tests, copying 2.12GB of files from one folder to another in 1min 2sec.

The NVIDIA GeForce GT 435M graphics card is a mid-range model — it's more potent than the Macbook Pro's GT 330M, but there are significantly more powerful chipsets available in gaming notebooks. This graphics adapter drives the Dell XPS L501's 15.6in, LED-backlit LCD screen — our test unit used the RGB LED-backlit 1920x1080-pixel model — which is able to display excellent clarity and brightness levels (among the best we've seen from a 15in screen). As you'd expect, the Dell XPS L501x also has 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi, a couple of USB 3.0 ports and an eSATA connector.

Our battery rundown test, where we play a movie while the screen is set to full brightness and Wi-Fi is enabled, ate through the Dell XPS L501x's battery in 1hr 22min. This is a pretty standard result for a 15in laptop, but if you're looking for extra longevity you can purchase a 9-cell battery instead of the standard 6-cell. It is bulkier though, causing the laptop to tilt forwards when sitting on a flat surface.

We ran through a series of performance tests to give the Dell XPS L501x a bit of a chance to stretch its legs. Our Blender rendering test completed in 2min 14sec using a single thread of the CPU and 43sec when using all eight available threads. 3DMark06 returned a result of 7390 3DMarks, and iTunes encoded 53min of WAV files to 192Kbps MP3s in 1min 16sec. These are strong results and are reflected in the generally snappy operation of the Dell XPS L501x.

Dell XPS 15 (L501x): Conclusion

The Dell XPS 15 (L501x) is a strong performer. It's not as well built or attractive as a MacBook Pro, but it is cheaper.

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Sorry but why are you comparing this to an Apple like that is relevent?
If "The NVIDIA GeForce GT 435M graphics card is a mid-range model" what does that say about "the Macbook Pro's GT 330M" How about comparing the difference between those two and a GT 485M or Radeon HD 6970M for a dose of credibility?

Not to mention "It's not as well built or attractive as a MacBook Pro, but it is cheaper." $1544 v A$ 2,099.00. At 26.44% less than the "base" 15" MacBook Pro it is Significantly cheaper and more powerful and has a larger HD etc, but it's not as pretty?

When you work in IT reporting you seriously need to leave your adoration for all things Apple at home as you venture off to work. Otherwise you have no credibility as a journo and will find yourself out of work for extended periods. it's $apple for a reason after all.

Uncle Bernie


Dell makes cheap plastic crap-ask me how I know.

PC mag is devoted to windows, Microsoft, and all it's products. Of course, those were better days as Microsoft is irrelevant.



cheap plastic crap...the body is metal. Hate on dude!! There are many of us that don't want to waste money on the apple logo. Same guts!

Campbell Simpson


Hi, WTF (that's a great name, by the way).

The Dell XPS 15 is a performance notebook, as is the Apple MacBook Pro. It's pretty simple - we get a lot of requests from readers for comparisons between particular models, so we put them together.

And in this case, the comparison was a simple one - the Dell is cheaper and more powerful, and the MBP is more attractive and better built.




As much as I hate Apple, I do admit their designs are much NICER than whats on offer from the competition.

Notice the word NICER, not BETTER or HIGHER QUALITY. Just ask around to see who's had their iPhone or MacBook returned for repairs.

One thing I don't understand though is everyone's fascination with an aluminum body (both phones and laptops). It may feel sturdy, but it's heavier and annoyingly gives you static shocks during winter.



Great Laptop, really liking it, except it's not a laptop for me anymore

after only 6 months the battery has only 50% of it's full capicity left, so if you're looking for a laptop to travel with, choose something else, but if your planning on using it for sound recording or photo's it's a great pc ;)



Down to 50% after 6 months? Wow! Mine goes down to that in like 2 hours!

Adam Oslo


Realy this XPS 15 (L501x) is the worst dell ever seen



Nope its one of the best, the L501x is a very good PC (note i dont call it a laptop as it clearly wasn't market'd as one).

Its pretty drop proof and stronger than any other laptops i've used, the higher spec graphics card helps it pull its weight in the games machine stakes, the sound quality of the JBL speakers sets it apart from any other machine on the market and the solidness of the build is very reassuring. The inset hinges are a brilliant idea and unsure why the newer XPS models have gone back to the hinge location being set right at the rear of the machine as experience has shown that hinges are and always will be a weak point on lappies, by setting them in on this and the xps17 dell have ensured this wont be a weak point on these machines.
Back to sound, the xps 15 and 17 both have the previously mentioned excelent JBL speakers but in my opinion the positioning of them on the 17 is poor compared to the 15, i'm sure this is down to space issues but on the 17 they are located near the front and easily covered when typing unlike the 15 which are too either side of the keys. The sound jacks are very clever giving you 3 stereo outputs (very handy if using it with ableton and other sound software) and one (i think) doubles as an optical port.
The USB port layout is a bit poor but livable and the heat paste used in the build is crap and over the top as it is with all factory heat pasting. But anyone serious about laptop performance should easily be able to repaste with thiner and better paste at anytime using the excellent detailed on site servicing manuals.

All in all this is a very high quality machine that easily meets the requirements that these machines are bought for. If you want top spec gaming performance you have to pay more but for the £700 i spent on mine 2 years ago its definately been well worth it.



Forgot to mention the battery life, after 2 years of solid use battery is still at 90% capacity, but mine is plugged in most of the time and when running on battery i always let it run down to 10% or so before i plug it back, carefull charging and power management ensures better battery longevity.



I don't know I've never seen a Apple or a Dell that's built like my Asus G73-jw? And I have never an apple built like my Asus transformer prime either! I don't hate Apple as I am typing this with my ipad 3, however I do hate their prices! And will admit there are better quality products out there!

Mohammed Resan


Best Laptop to replace Desktop, working 3+ year without any problem...
Apple has it's own business and market, windows PC's has it's own Market. Don't compare both here...



I own this POS.. Dell did nothing to compensate for it's very tightly tuned frame, my (fan) inside the device has no ability to keep up with the 4 processors, Don't get this for gaming, You're going to be saddled with some heat issues. Better yet just build a desktop, much cheaper, and more often, more powerful.



I have this laptop for more than 2.5 years. It has no problem at all... Its battery died a month ago which pretty good for a battery laptop. And what can I say about the sound?? Pretty amazing & fantastic. I wouldn't believe that a laptop would have so powerful and clear sound like this. As for the temperature now. Ha anybody thought to open it and clean the dust that it will probably will be in the cooling fan, stuck to the extractor holes and inside the laptop as well? I had temperature problems I called Dell (while it was in the warranty) , they came to my place open it and they totally clean and replaced it because it has dust and nothing more. I was impressed from Dell's service. After all these of course I would prefer Dell again. ;)



it is the best laptop i have seen in dell.

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Blu-Ray, lighted keys, screen decent, hinges work and dont break
Runs so hot I could cook dinner on it; fries all the compnents then doesn't work, including motherboard and battery
• • •

I've had this puppy since 2010, It worked great out of the box, but in 6 months the heard drive failed. In another 6 months the motherboard failed, The replacement one lasted less than a month. Finally this one has lasted but runs hot and slow. Currently either the motherboard or the video card is failing, it brrrrps when playing videos or music.The keys are sturdy and look great lit up, but don't feel as nice as others and are a bit noisy. The screen has to be aimed just right to see correctly, but has held up well. Battery is heavy and still didn't last long. Speakers are the best I've ecer heard on a laptop, which is why I chose over Sony. If I had to do it again I'd take the Sony




The screen and sound quality are great, along with the backlit keyboard
not very expansive, runs way too hot to advertise itself as a viable gaming laptop. 2x USB ports. Mouse pad loves to interfere with your typing
• • •

You can't get the performance you want to demand out of this device. 4 i7 cores that can't run at their full potential because you'll fry everything on the inside. I can accomplish the tasks of simple computing with ease. Programs open very fast, they run well for the first 2 minutes, then it's time to play freeze out, get your house fans and point them at this puppy.




the laptop
crashes regularly, shit processor, fucked up ram, crappy video card, wifi driver causes computer crash, battery is fucking huge, battery doesnt last very long, not very portable, laptop gets hot as shit, and isn't worth $1,500 at all.
• • •

its shit.

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