Dell has two laptop lines, Inspiron and XPS, that are set apart by pricing, build quality, and configuration options.
Pricing and configurations
The Inspiron line’s claim to fame is its value proposition — you get a lot of computer for not a lot of money. Unsurprisingly, the Inspiron 15 7000 is no exception to that rule, offering a Core i7-9750H CPU, Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050, 8GB of RAM, a 512GB solid-state drive (SSD), and a 1080p non-touch display for just $1,050.
Other configurations include a Core i5-9300H, 16GB of RAM, and a 512GB SSD for $900, and a Core i5-9300H, 8GB of RAM, and a 256GB SSD for $800. Check out the next section for a discussion of how easy it is to upgrade these machines to more RAM and additional storage.
The XPS 15, on the other hand, fits within Dell’s premium line. On average, it’s around $300 more expensive for similarly configured models. The XPS 15 starts at around $1,100 for a Core i5-9300H, 8GB of RAM, a 256GB SSD, and a Full HD non-touch display. Fully configured with an eight-core Core i9-9980HK CPU, an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650, 64GB of RAM, a 2TB SSD, and a 4K (3,840 x 2,160) touch display, you’ll spend $3,450.
There are also configurations in between, including a 4K non-touch AMOLED display for $50 less than the 4K touchscreen.
Look closely and you’ll notice that the high-end Inspiron configuration only has 8GB of RAM. Furthermore, it’s a single RAM module, meaning that the memory runs in single-channel mode and slows down the laptop. Fortunately, the Inspiron 15 7000, particularly the 7591 model that I reviewed, is eminently upgradable.
Take out the screws on the back on the laptop and you can add and replace RAM, add a second PCIe SSD, and even add a third storage option in the form of a 2.5-inch drive (either SSD or spinning hard drive). So, for around $30, you can upgrade the RAM to 16GB and switch to faster dual-channel memory by adding another 8GB RAM module to meet your storage needs.
That’s the most upgradability that I know of in the laptop space, and it certainly beats out the XPS 15. That laptop lets you swap out the RAM and the SSD, but it’s limited to just the one drive unless you opt for a smaller battery — which lets you add a second, 2.5-inch drive at the expense of a significant loss in battery life.
Note that the Inspiron also has the option of a larger battery at the expense of the third storage drive, but that still leaves it with twice what’s available in the XPS 15.
Build quality and connectivity
The Inspiron 15 7000 is made of stamped aluminum and thus allows only minimal bending or flexing in the lid, chassis, and keyboard deck. However, the XPS 15 is constructed of a combination of machined aluminum and carbon fiber. You’ll feel the difference in price when you hold these laptops side by side.
In terms of connectivity, these laptops are more closely matched. The Inspiron has three USB-A ports, a USB-C port with Thunderbolt 3, a full-size HDMI port, and a microSD card reader. The XPS 15 is identical except it has one less USB-A port.
The XPS 15 beats out the Inspiron in wireless connectivity, though, with Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.0, while the Inspiron settles for Wi-Fi 5 and Bluetooth 5.0.
Keyboard and touchpad
Both laptops offer keyboards with sufficient travel and mechanisms with a nice click. The XPS 15’s keyboard is slightly more precise, though, and fast touch typists will prefer it. The touchpads are also quite similar on both, with Microsoft Precision drivers for reliable Windows 10 multitouch gesture support.
You can configure the XPS 15 with a touch display, either Full HD (1,920 x 1,080) or 4K (3,840 x 2,160), which isn’t available on the Inspiron. Finally, both laptops utilize fingerprint readers to support Windows 10 Hello password-free logins, and both work reliably and quickly.
Portability and battery life
The Inspiron 15 7000 I reviewed was equipped with a 56 watt-hour battery, which is what allows for the third storage bay. Given its fast CPU, that’s not a lot of battery capacity — even with a less power-hungry Full HD display — and it showed up in our battery tests. For example, it managed only six hours in our web-browsing test that’s the best indicator of productivity longevity.
The XPS 15 we reviewed was equipped with a 97 watt-hour battery but an extremely power-hungry OLED display. It managed over seven hours on the same web-browsing test.
The bottom line is that there’s a real trade-off between upgradability and battery life, and you can configure the XPS 15 with a Full HD display and get much better battery life.
On top of that, the XPS 15 is a bit thinner and lighter than the Inspiron.
There’s just one display option for the Inspiron 15 7000: The same Full HD IPS panel in my review unit. According to my colorimeter, that’s an average display across the board with reasonable brightness (323 nits), a color gamut that’s fine for productivity but will underwhelm creative types, and contrast at 820:1 that falls short of our preferred 1000:1 level. Only the color accuracy was poor at 4.52 (where 1.0 or less is considered excellent).
The XPS 15, on the other hand, comes with a wide range of display options. There hare both touch and nontouch Full HD screens that offer higher brightness and contrast, and then there are 4K touch IPS and nontouch OLED displays with superior colors (wider and with superior accuracy approaching the 1.0 threshold), brightness (as high as 475 nits), and contrast. The OLED display, in particular, is spectacular, with contrast of 474,980:1 and one of the best displays you can get on a laptop today.
If you’re looking for a laptop for creative work, then buy the OLED display and don’t look back.
You can configure the Inspiron 15 7000 with either a Core i5-9300H or Core i7-9750H CPU, and an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 is the sole graphics option. The XPS 15, on the other hand, can be configured with up to a Core i9-9980HK and a GeForce GTX 1650. It’s by far the faster option, whether you need a speedy productivity machine or a creative workstation.
The combination of these parts makes for a serious video editing and rendering machine. The GTX 1650 will get you some better frame rates in games too, though it’s far from a proper gaming laptop.
The two laptops should provide similar performance when equipped with the same components, which means the Inspiron 15 gets you better value.
The XPS 15 wins in most cases
The Inspiron 15 7000 offers a very attractive price, as well ass superior upgradability. That’s nothing to sneeze at. If you’re looking under $1,000, it’s your only choice in this comparison. The same is true if you are looking at making this into a video-editing laptop. The XPS 15 should be your choice.
That $300 difference between the two base models is what needs to be considered. That price buys you better build quality, a slightly more efficient keyboard, a thinner chassis, and improved battery life. The Inspiron 15 7000 isn’t horrible in any of these areas, but the XPS 15’s benefits are worth the cost.
It’s a closer race than I expected, but ultimately the XPS 15 is the better laptop.