Reviewed by Jmccomas85 (Currently owns)
The exterior of the 15z is made out of aluminum, giving it a high quality look and feel. Unfortunately, things go down hill when you open the computer. Dell decided to depart from the clean, sharp look of the older XPS models by creating an island keyboard with rounded keys and speaker grills featuring a 70’s style latticework pattern. Instead of carrying the aluminum finish to the inside of the computer; they opted for dark gray plastic, which will inevitably loose its color in the spots where I rest my wrists. There is a chrome accent around the base of the computer but it is made out of thin plastic and seems to have worked its way loose. The power cord plugs in to the back behind the screen hinges – not a big deal but I am always worried that I am putting strain on the connector. I wish PC manufacturers could use something similar to mag-safe.
The performance of the computer is good. My model came with the dual core 2620m and the Nvidia 525m 2GB graphics card. Like all laptops, the fans get a little noisy under heavy load and I did notice the computer stuttering to a point where the World of Warcraft was unplayable after about an hour. It isn’t a gaming computer so I suppose it is just something I will deal with. Another thing I noticed was that the standard 750GB 7.2k Hard Drive is very audible. The sound of it spinning is very noticeable and it makes a grating noise whenever it is accessing date. Perhaps I was spoiled by the Macbook Air’s SSD, but I am seriously considering swapping the 15z’s hard drive out for something else. Until then, I’ll just plug my headphones in and listen to Spotify.
The screen is Dell’s RGB LED Screen at the standard 1080p and it looks fantastic. The default “vivid” setting tends to oversaturate color but it can be toned down. The screen is very bright, even on the lowest setting. I was able to get around 5 hours of battery while surfing the web and watching one or two episodes of Parks & Rec on Hulu. The trackpad is mediocre and the multitouch scrolling is rubbish. This is a reoccurring problem on every Windows laptop that I have ever owned.
Overall, you could do a lot worse, but coming from a Macbook Pro to a Macbook Air, with an Alienware m15x thrown in for good measure, Dell’s design decisions in the 15z seem to be hit or miss, especially since it is supposedly their premium consumer line. Once you uninstall the obligatory crap-ware, this is a perfectly usable machine, however, if you are looking for a PC with more consistent build quality, I would look towards something like a Thinkpad – or a Macbook Pro?
- Design 5
- Keyboard 7
- Touchpad 5
- Display 9
- Performance 8
- Heat / noise 5
- Battery life 8
- Software 5