The dell xps laptop sitting on a wooden desk.
The Dell XPS 15 is the best 15-inch laptop for most creative tasks.

Our pick

Dell XPS 15

The Dell XPS 15 is the best Windows laptop for most photo and video editors because it has the best combination of performance, screen quality, and portability. It has the most powerful processor and dedicated graphics card of the laptops we tested, which means that it’s powerful enough to handle demanding workloads, and it can render 4K video faster than the competition. Its screen is also the most color accurate out of the box, and it covers more of the sRGB color gamut than any Windows laptop we tested. Plus, the XPS 15 has a good keyboard and trackpad, sports a variety of ports and a fingerprint reader, and is thin and light.

Shorter bars indicate better performance.

The XPS 15 we recommend has a 15.6-inch 3840×2160 IPS touch display, a 2.8 GHz Intel Core i7-7700HQ processor, 16 GB of RAM (with support for 32 GB), an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 with 4GB VRAM, and a 512 GB solid-state drive. In real-world performance testing, the XPS 15 exported 4K footage in 5 minutes and 21 seconds, the second-fastest of the laptops we tested. The Asus ZenBook Pro was about thirty seconds faster.

Shorter bars indicate better performance.

The Dell XPS 15 had the most color-accurate display of the Windows laptops we tested. In our CalMAN test, the Dell XPS 15 had an average grayscale dE2000 of 1.5. (Lower is better: A score below 1.0 means the difference between the displayed color and a reference is invisible to the eye when side-by-side; a score under 2.0 is sufficient for print-production work; and a score below 3.0 means the differences between the display and a reference are considered indiscernible when in motion.) In the same test, the HP Spectre x360 measured 2.8. The only laptops to score better than the Dell XPS 15 were the newer MacBook Pros (15-inch, late-2016 and 2017 versions), with a 1.3.

A wide color gamut is especially important for tasks like photo editing because it allows you to see more of an image’s full range of color. We found that the Dell XPS 15’s screen covers nearly all (98.8 percent) of the sRGB color gamut, almost all (98.1 percent) of the AdobeRGB gamut, and most (87.39 percent) of the DCI/P3 color gamut, making it the best of the Windows laptops we tested. The MacBook Pro (late-2016 and 2017) covers slightly more of the sRGB color gamut, 99.98 percent, and nearly all of the DCI/P3 color gamut, at 99.07 percent.

The dell xps keyboard and trackpad, viewed from above.
The Dell XPS 15 has a comfortable keyboard and a satisfying, clicky trackpad.

The XPS 15 has a comfortable keyboard, with well-defined, punchy key travel. Laptop Mag measured 1.4 millimeters of key travel, but some reviewers found it to be a little shallow. The trackpad has a crisp physical click when pressed, and we never experienced any issues with palm rejection or gestures, like using two fingers to right-click, scroll, and zoom. The medium-size touchpad felt less awkward to use than the huge ones on Apple’s MacBook Pro with Touch Bar (15-inch, 2017) and HP’s Spectre x360.

The Dell is the second-smallest laptop we tested at 14.06 inches by 9.27 inches—behind the more compact 2017 MacBook Pro—and it weighs about as much as the competition at 4.5 pounds.

The XPS 15 has a Thunderbolt 3 port which you can use to connect a monitor, charge mobile devices, or charge the laptop itself (with the right charger—one that offers at least 60-watt USB-C charging). It also has an HDMI 1.4 port, two USB 3.0 ports, an SD card slot, AC power for charging, and a Kensington Security Slot. The XPS 15’s built-in SD card reader performed within 2 MB/s of our favorite dedicated USB-A SD card reader. We recommend adding a fingerprint sensor for $25 more when you’re configuring the laptop; it has support for Windows Hello and makes logging in a breeze.

The XPS 15 lasted for 5 hours and 51 minutes in our web-browsing battery test, coming in second place behind the Asus ZenBook Pro. All of the laptops we tested lasted five to six hours, though—the Asus ZenBook Pro had the longest battery life, at 6 hours and 3 minutes, while the 2016 MacBook Pro with Touch Bar had the shortest, at 5 hours and 15 minutes. We expect the 2017 version of the MacBook Pro with Touch Bar to have similar battery life.

A close up of the lower left corner of the dell xps's screen.
To keep its bezel thin, Dell pushed the XPS 15’s webcam to a terrible spot below the display.

Dell made the XPS 15’s bezel tiny, just 5.7 mm, but sacrificed sensible webcam placement to do so. Instead, the XPS 15’s webcam lives below the display, to the left. If you frequently make video calls and you’re concerned about meeting participants seeing up your nose, you may want to consider our other picks.



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