The new Dell XPS 15 and XPS 17 are the best gaming laptops you never thought about
Bet you didn't think an XPS could be a top gaming laptop, did you?
I've loved the Dell XPS line of laptops for some time. Ever since that CES back in 2015 when the redesigned XPS 13 debuted with its insane display trimmed by almost no bezels and the form factor of an 11-inch MacBook Air. But as a gamer, they were always missing something.
I owned and used that XPS 13, but purely as a work machine. And even when the XPS 15, and eventually the XPS 17 followed suit with Dell's incredible designs, they still never really appealed as gaming laptops.
Sure, the larger XPS laptops have had dedicated NVIDIA graphics for some time. But as the latest iterations have finally gone on sale, a thought struck me. These are now probably the best gaming laptops you never thought of. I certainly hadn't, and XPS is definitely not Dell's gaming brand. But if you're spending a lot of money on a high-end gaming laptop, these latest high-end XPS releases are stealthily some of the best you can get.
The best looking gaming laptop you'll ever see?
There are good-looking gaming laptops out there. The Razer Blade series, for one. But let's face it, as soon as something is designated for gamers more often than not we'll get aggressive designs and RGB up the wazoo. I might lose gamer points for saying this, but I don't really want a laptop dripping in flashing lights and pointy bits.
It's some unspoken rule, I guess, and you only have to look at Dell's actual gaming brand, Alienware, to see exactly what I'm talking about. Gaming laptops are more portable now than ever before, but they're hardly Ultrabooks.
The XPS 15 and XPS 17, while still fairly large, are much closer to being Ultrabooks. The slim and light body with a killer display trimmed in tiny bezels, yet still with a large battery inside. And, if you have the spend for it, up to an RTX 4080 and Intel's latest 13th Gen Core i9 H-Series CPU.
All inside a laptop that looks at home in any office, boardroom, coffee shop, literally anywhere. It's just a normal laptop. A very good-looking laptop, but nothing out of the ordinary. And properly portable, too.
There will be compromises
Of course, since the XPS series isn't designed for gaming, there are compromises. But all told, they're probably not deal breakers. The obvious one is cooling. Where ASUS, for example, has a new edge-to-edge heatsink and triple fan cooling system, a Dell XPS will not.
The Core i9 13th Gen H-series can get toasty, as I've seen firsthand, likewise, the RTX 4080 will hardly sit there nice and cold when you start to play games. The power brick is also smaller than you'll find with some gaming laptops with similar specs, which means that the hardware inside simply can't be pushed as hard. Having spoken to other laptop makers it seems clear they have some flexibility with TGP and naturally this isn't possible on the XPS.
You also won't be able to get the crazy high refresh rates seen on many of today's best gaming laptops. You won't be buying a Dell XPS 17 with a 300Hz display, so unless you're hooked up to an external monitor, you'll miss out on some of the crispy high frame rate action.
But, compromises aside, you're still able to spec up the XPS 17 at the highest level with an RTX 4080 and 13th Gen Core i9. This is simply insane power to have in a laptop like this.
The best gaming laptops you never thought about before
Dell is pushing both the XPS 15 and XPS 17 as "creator-focused" laptops and I get that. I don't necessarily agree with it as a marketing buzz term, but creators and gamers alike are usually looking for at least some of the same things. Ultimately it comes down to performance.
These latest high-end XPS laptops are perfect for gamers who want something that's ultra-powerful but resembles the sort of laptop that a normal person might want to use and carry around. I currently have both an ASUS ROG machine and the MSI GT77 in for review, and both are pretty big. The GT77 is known as Titan, and boy is it. But it has almost the same 13th Gen H-Series Core i9 inside, and the RTX 4090 is only one step further up the ladder.
Obviously, a laptop like this has more room for superior cooling and perhaps additional storage, and this one has an insane 4K HDR display. But it's in a similar price range to the XPS 17 (otherwise known as expensive) but is so much less portable. The laptop alone is huge and heavy, but it also has a gigantic 330W power brick. It's a laptop, but it's hardly what you'd classify as truly portable.
Personally, if I were spending this type of money the XPS 15 or XPS 17 would be far more attractive. They're designed to be powerful and compromises aside, still built to tear into the latest games. Even the entry-level XPS 15 with the Intel Arc A370M won't be terrible for gaming, as I know firsthand from using the same GPU in my Acer Swift X 16.
So there we have it. If Alienware and the like are a bit garish to you, have a look at the XPS 15 and XPS 17. The best gaming laptops you've never even thought about.
Dell XPS 15 (9530) | Starting at $2949 at Dell (opens in new tab)
Designed for creators, but also perfectly good for gamers, the new Dell XPS 15 is customizable to perfectly match your needs as a portable performance machine with advanced thermal control.
Dell XPS 17 (9730) | Starting at $3399 at Dell (opens in new tab)
Dell's most powerful XPS laptop to date, the new XPS 17, offers a range of extreme performance components alongside a stunning display.
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Richard Devine is a Managing Editor at Windows Central with over a decade of experience. A former Project Manager and long-term tech addict, he joined Mobile Nations in 2011 and has been found on Android Central and iMore as well as Windows Central. Currently, you'll find him steering the site's coverage of all manner of PC hardware and reviews. Find him on Mastodon at mstdn.social/@richdevine