Tuesday, December 14, 2010

DeLL XPS L501X ; Pics, Review & Benchmarks !

A little story [you might skip it] :

When I realized I needed a laptop because of portability & comfort [which includes typing lots of things at different angles :P], I started hunting for it, in late April, with initial budget of 50K. More I found out about those gaming & powerful available laptops, made me to increase my budget to 60K. At that time there were only few laptops available at high budget, one was in Sony & a Dell Studio. In Sony, the model was VPCCW26FG which had a pretty good config of i5 520M + nvidia 330M. But I needed more powerful processor. Dell Studio had offered better processor, i7, but crap GPU. That was ATI 4570, that'd crawl on new games & suited to play games like Farmville :P [*sarcasm*].

And one fine day, my friend Prashant suggested me to increase budget to 75K & to go with Dell XPS series which had offered better proccy & GPU. I simply fell in love for its looks. But I continued hunt on laptops and also I started to digg more about XPS series. There were some issues with XPS series such as Frequent lock ups, Continuous flickering of HDD light, Screen resolution & Throttling. Some said FHD i.e. 1080 x 1020 resolution is a overkill for a 15.6" screen & could cause severe eye strains. In NBR Forums, many owners were happy about its screen, so I didn't bother to think much about it. Trust me, it never caused any strains to me till now ! Then there was throttling, for unlucky ones. Few had throttling issues, but not all. I chose to take a chance.

On May 14, I ordered my Dell XPS 1645 with config i7 720 + ATI 4670, which delivered me on 1st June. I simply fell in love with it :) Two months of research/hunt, was worth.

When everything was going good, one bad day, I started facing Throttling problems. I contacted Dell Support & they were ready to replace mine with another one. On Sept 21st, my laptop was picked up. They said they will replace it with new 1645 which comes with 5650 GPU which had no throttling issues. But very soon Dell declared SXPS as dead & discontinued the model. I was informed to wait for new model to launch or request for money back. As I had immense patience, I chose to wait. On Nov 2nd, my order was placed with estimated delivery date Nov 18th. But Dell canceled the order, which they did in many cases & re-ordered with order date of 30 Nov and with estimated delivery date Dec 20. But they delivered my XPS on 11th December sweet morning :)

Configuration :

Intel® Core™ i7-740QM (1.73GHz, 4Core/8Threads, turbo boost up to 2.93Ghz, 6M cache)
4GB 1333MHz DDR3 the
500GB 7200RPM
15.6" Full HD(1080p) B+RGLED display with TrueLife™
NVIDIA® GeForce® GT 435M - 2GB
9-cell battery
WiFi, Bluetooth, Dual layer DVD write capability, Backlit Keyboard
Bundled DVDs, Two 3.0 USB ports and one shared eSATA/USB jack, HDMI, a nine-in-one flash memory card reader, Skype Certified HD Webcam, an ExpressCard slot, Intel WiFi Link 6200 (802.11a/g/n) Half Mini-card
1 year on-site & accidetal warranty
Windows 7 Profesional 64 Bit.

The Box & Packaging :

The packaging was good with sufficient foam padding & lappie arrived in a briefcase-esque carton, a black box with brand logo Dell printed on one side & XPS on another, which makes it pretty k3wl :P.

The box contents :

  • The Laptop :)

  • AC power adapter

  • Drivers & Utility DVDs

  • Basic Start up guide

  • Support information & FAQ

Upon opening the brief case, a box containing Charger was at the top, below laptop suspended in foam & DVDs with Guides kept in a box at the side.
It had Drivers & other Utility DVD Discs, Windows 7 OS Re-installation DVD [which needs to be ordered separately]. The tiny little box also had Start Up Guides, NVidia 3d setup & FAQs, Support/ Contact Information.
Everything was properly well placed & an extra bag wrapped around Lappie which was surrounded in foam ensured safety against shock protections or other damages.

Build, Design & Looks :

XPS contains pretty good alumminium across the chassis & it weighs around 3kgs, which adds it to Heavy Laptops List.

The left edge of the XPS has a heat exhaust vent & a USB 3.0 port. I believe it's worth mentioning here, that earlier XPS model had heat vent at the hinges of the screen & the screen used to block the vent when tilted, restricting air flow. This issue was quite controversial & hell lot of people flooded internet with it. Dell considered it seriously & redesigned it & gave the heat vents at side :)

The front edge of the system is entirely plain & just contains 9-1 card reader. The right edge has a optical drive, audio jack, a SPDIF output & a powered USB 2.0/eSATA port.

Back of the system houses power in jack, display outputs & other ports. At the left it has MiniDisplay port, HDMI output ports along with LAN socket. Slightly above which there is a XPS logo which will be on with system. Honestly, it's sexy !

At the right side, there are power in socket, an another USB 3.0 port and a Kensington lock slot. Just above to it, there are LED indicators for Power status & HDD activity.

On flipping to back, there is a JBL Subwoofer :) of power 12w, three heat vents & four rubber feet which gives elevation & better air flow. It contains a panel with 3 screws; upon removing one can add memory, WWan/TV cards easily. Mine is 9-cell battery one, obviously it gives better elevation and also battery comes with charge level indicator.

All the ports have been so well placed, there's no issue in connecting/using all ports at a time.

Looks : If something greatly sucks about this laptop would be it's looks. Dell made a terrible mistake designing it. Earlier XPS had a classic & royal look which added it to special
category. Looks of this laptop sucks big time & I am highly disappointed with it. Seriously, what's with that hinge ???

Connectivity Options : XPS comes with two USB 3.0 ports along with a powered USB 2.0/eSATA port. For display outputs MiniDisplay port, HDMI are there along with audio outs.

Lets see how it is inside, Opened :

One can easily see aluminum has been used inside also with the keyboard in between speakers and hand rests have a darker brushy design compared to outside body. Below the keyboard, there lies multi-touch capable pad with left/right mouse buttons.

Typing experience on this keyboard is really really good. Keys are well placed, but one can be disappointed with absence of numeric pad. Above the keyboard is a capacitive touch panel which can be used to launch any one favorite application, Windows Media Control / Dell Utility & Maxx Wave Settings and also it has light indicators for Wifi, Capslock etc. The function keys be default are set as Multimedia Keys & Special keys like Brightness, WiFi, Monitor out, Backlit, Voulme & Media control buttons. But those can be reverted back to function keys, by changing a simple setting in bios.
The keyboard is sweet Backlit, highly helpful to fool parents to play games at night :P At the bottom right of keyboard there are three tiny stickers of Intel Core i7, Windows 7 and energy star. And I am gonna remove that last one.

At either side of the keyboard are the JBL speakers of power 2x4w. [Subwoofer - 12w]. Also there is a Wave Maxx technology which believed to add more power, more clarity & hence more fun :)

Audio, Display & Webcam Quality :

Only one thing I'd say about Audio is - F*CKING AWESOME !!! As it comes 2.1 speakers, delivers the execllent audio and XPS has the best speakrs on planet. I have never seen so fabulous audio from any laptop speakers. One can easily feel all beats of music. Honestly, you will just crave to listen one more song !
Another sweet thing is, it's FHD B+RGLED display. Honestly it's a bliss to watch movie in it. It has high resolution 1080 x 1920, but trust me it causes no eye strain. But, as because of high resolution, there will be surely FPS reduction in games. Currently XPS is the only laptop featuring HD cam & comes with Skype certified. No more words about Audio, Display & Webcam, these are just excellent.

Battery Life :
It's a gaming laptop, you shouldn't expect much battery life. On normal usage, with default brightness, the battery lasted nearly 3 hours 30 minutes. The movie playback was of 2 hours 20 minutes. But given 135w charger, charges the battery quickly, it fully charged it within 1 hour 20 mins. [Battery tests need to redone]

Detailed Config :

you can download Full Hardware Report by Everest from here - http://www.mediafire.com/?pa2p7q1frw9kryx

Performance :
Note : All tests have been run at default settings, without cooling pad & on AC power. Click on images for high resolution.

3D Mark 06 - 7393

3D Mark 11 - P958

3D Mark Vantage - 3875

Passmark Performance - 1299.9

Furmark - 11588

ran for 10 mins.

Furmark stress 10 mins - 96C max

wprime - 18.504s

32m test with wprime v1.55

Super Pi - 14.649s

1M Calculation

Fritz - 13.58

Everest Disk Benchmark

Everest Cache & Memory Benchmark

Conclusion :
Buy it eyes closed. This laptop is just awesome & has great value for money. It has everything you need & latest USB 3.0, HD webcam, 2.1 JBL speakers & HDMI 1.4 connectivity. If you want a performance beast & pretty cool gaming laptop, this is for you. As its comes with very high config, the Intel Core i7 blows anything in its way, from little programs to heavy ones. Its a complete bliss watching High Definition 1080p movies in the 15.6" screen. The build quality is solid & superb & the backlit keyboard just rocks. Though the looks are crap, looks like crap 40k Inspiron :( , is as not at all good as old XPS, still it has elegent & professional looks. Also the i7 + 435M combi doesn't have nVidia Optimus, hence no switchable graphics. But at this budget & with great VFM, is the only laptop you should opt for :)

Pros :

  • Highly powerful !

  • Awesome crystal clarity High Definition display

  • Latest technology - USB 3.0, HD webcam, 2.1 JBL speakers & HDMI 1.4

  • The Audio is like OMGWTFBBQ !

  • Nearly 4 hours of back battery up (in Power Mode)

  • Great value for money

  • True awesomeness \m/

Cons :

  • The crap looks :@

  • No switchable graphics

  • Little finger print & dust magnet

  • Heat

  • DVD Drive is frigging noisy

  • Absence of DVI and VGA-outs, FireWire 400 port,

  • Little heavy as it comes with 9-cell battery

  • And that energy star sticker :P

Bottom line : This machine just gonna make you WOW !


  1. Hi there! Great review! Im waiting for my XPS 15... I've just ordered it... Im pretty excited lol
    Just one question: which theme did you use in the first screenshots?

  2. Thank you paul !

    The theme is Macbuntu :)

  3. Hi there, just became alert to your blog through Google, and found that it's truly informative. I am going to watch out for brussels. I will be grateful if you continue this in future. A lot of people will be benefited from your writing. Cheers!

  4. Hey

    Great review! I am considering buying this laptop. I just wanted to know two things:

    1. How do you like the FHD screen ?Does the 1080p screen make everything look tiny? and if so, is it a problem?

    2. Would you recommend the 9 cell battery ? DOes the battery sticking out make the laptop look weird?

    Thank you

    and long live your blog ;)

  5. Hi Florian,

    Thank you for your kind words :) I was about to reply you via email, but had exams so couldn't. Sorry for that.
    1. I say FHD screen is an awesome thing. You got to visit a shop and see it with your own eyes. Yes, 1080p screen makes tiny, but is not a problem. You can zoom it, make fee dpi settings and have it worked for you. So far I have not faced any eye strains. hence I say you have a look at it once :)
    2. I recommend you getting 9-cell battery. i7 + 435G combi is heavy and is like a beast, needs good battery back up. Hence go with it. Looking preference is a personal opinion, atleast it won't look weird to me :P

    hope this answers all your queries :)

  6. [...] hope the troubles would stop now PS - working on it's review. And, here is my lappie review - link Reply With [...]