Beauty and power comes at a cost

Dell’s XPS 16 gets a minimalist design XPS 13 Plus and expands it to a more powerful and functional 16-inch system. But as with the previous machine, which was Dell’s first attempt to implement an “invisible” trackpad on the palm rest, there are some uses. It’s hard not to be impressed by how sleek the XPS 16 looks—personally, I think it’s one of the most attractive Windows laptops around—but power users who demand a variety of ports may find it lacking. (Apple might even include a full-size SD card slot and an HDMI port MacBook Proswhy can’t Dell?)

It’s no wonder why Dell is so confident in the design language of the XPS 13 Plus: When the machine debuted two years ago, it looked unlike any other Windows PC. Now instead of being a separate “Plus” variant, it speaks entirely of the XPS 13 mantle. (Spill one for the traditional XPS 13 design we love.) The XPS 14 and 16, meanwhile, are more powerful MacBook Pro competitors that address some of the issues in the smaller model. Both have headphone jacks for one, and they also offer a total of three USB-C ports (instead of just two) and a microSD card slot.

Dell XPS 16Dell XPS 16

Photo: Devindra Hardawar/Engadget

Admittedly, while I had my issues with the XPS 13 Plus, I was impressed by the XPS 16 the moment I opened it up. Its 16.3-inch OLED screen was gorgeous, with minimal bezels around the edges. Its all-glass wrist rest and touchpad looked like a crystal clear pond frozen with a delicate layer of frost. And the XPS 16’s sleek keyboard practically begged to be typed on. It’s just so beautiful.

But will this beauty hinder its functionality as it does for the XPS 13 Plus? Simply having more ports (and a headphone jack!) makes it clear that Dell is thinking more practically with the XPS 16. It is, above all, a potential successor to the XPS 15, a product we’ve been praising as a product. Top picks for 15-inch Windows laptops.


The XPS 16 stands out from most other large laptops by combining power and beauty. But you will have to suffer some usability issues.


  • Elegant and minimalist design
  • Tons of power
  • A magnificent 16-inch screen
  • Spacious and comfortable keyboard

  • The invisible trackpad is still annoying
  • It can use more ports
  • The capacitive function array is useless under bright light

$1,899 at Dell

While Dell uses an invisible trackpad on the XPS 13 Plus, which I find annoying, it’s a bit less of an issue on the XPS 16. First, the actual trackpad area is larger, stretching between the Windows key and the Windows key on the left. It’s the copilot button on the right, so there’s very little chance you’ll miss it. Dell also offers adjustable haptics for the touchpad, which you can change from no feedback (a setting for the criminally insane) to really deep and satisfying clicks. There’s still no justification for hiding the trackpad entirely, and using it requires some tweaking.

I’m all for PC makers taking wild design swings, but Dell’s invisible trackpad remains more of a party trick than a leap forward for computing. Techies often criticize Apple for prioritizing aesthetics over functionality, but at least I can tell exactly where the MacBook’s trackpad is without looking down. Apple’s palm rests still have a consistent smooth feel, so Dell doesn’t have a huge advantage either.

Dell XPS 16Dell XPS 16

The XPS 16’s capacitive top buttons, which can toggle between function keys and multimedia controls, are another design challenge. Sure, it looks a bit cleaner than a typical laptop keyboard, and it allows for better airflow because Dell was able to fit more cooling hardware under it, but none of those keys are touchable. Even after a few days of testing, I couldn’t train my fingers to immediately go to a dedicated function key. This is bad for general use as well as for users with accessibility needs.

Worst of all, the capacitive top row buttons completely disappear in direct sunlight (or even on a cloudy, still bright day (see below)). volume or screen brightness. Is it really worth avoiding another default row of buttons?

Dell XPS 16Dell XPS 16

Can you see any function keys here? (Photo by Devindra Hardawar/Engadget)

At least Dell got the keyboard right, which has always been a highlight of the XPS lineup. The XPS 16’s keyboard is luxuriously spacious, with large keycaps and a deep 0.3mm tray. Dell was able to shave off the space between the buttons to create more room for these functions. I’ll admit it also It does take some getting used to because it feels different from many other laptops, but after a few hours of suffering through typing errors, I found myself enjoying the typing experience overall. For once, my hands had room to stretch.

The keyboard and trackpad experience will likely be similar on all new XPS models, but it’s the gorgeous 16.3-inch display that sets the XPS 16 apart. You can choose between a 1080p+ LCD display with a refresh rate of 120Hz or a 4K+ OLED panel that tops out at 90Hz. Since it supports 100 percent of the DCI-P3 gamut (the LCD model covers 100 percent of the sRGB minimum specification), the OLED option (which comes with our review unit) is your choice if you’re looking for true color accuracy. ). And of course, it comes with all the benefits of OLED: High contrast levels and sophisticated black levels.

Dell XPS 16Dell XPS 16
Photo: Devindra Hardawar/Engadget

The XPS 16’s huge display allowed me to multitask with ease, allowing me to see a large graphic while working on an Audacity recording in full screen. Everything from surfing the web to watching movies on Netflix is ​​visible on the XPS 16 with high-level color accuracy. (It also supports Dolby Vision HDR, which adds more depth to dark scenes and higher brightness peaks).

It’s worth noting that the OLED display is rated at 400 nits of brightness, 100 nits less than the LCD model, but I had no trouble reading the screen in our outdoor viewing unit in direct sunlight. (It’s frustrating that the more expensive OLED can’t hit the 120Hz refresh rate, but it still looks decently smooth at 90Hz.)

In addition to having a great screen for creative tasks, the XPS 16 also has enough power to get you through a grueling work day (and let you play a little game when you need a break). Our XPS 16 review unit was equipped with Intel’s Core Ultra 7 155H, 32GB of RAM, a 1TB SSD, and an NVIDIA RTX 4070 GPU, a configuration that cost $3,399.


PCMark 10

3DMark (TimeSpy Extreme)

Geekbench 6

Cinebench R23

Dell XPS 16 (Intel Core Ultra 7 155H, NVIDIA RTX 4070)





Frame Laptop 16 (AMD Ryzen 7 7840HS, Radeon RX 7700S)





Razer Blade 18 (Intel i9-13950HX, NVIDIA RTX 4060)





ASUS Zephyrus G14 (2022, AMD Ryzen 9 6900HS, Radeon RX 6800S)



There is no


While I saw Intel’s new CPU run on the ASUS ZenBook 14 OLED, it was more impressive on the XPS 16, which scored almost 3,000 points higher than the ZenBook on the Geekbench 6 CPU benchmark. The XPS 16 was also nearly twice as fast in the Cinebench 2024 benchmark when it came to multi-threaded CPU work. (These scores also make me wonder if the ASUS machine is simply not highly optimized for being one of the first laptops to be released with a Core Ultra chip.)

The XPS 16 also outperforms the Framework Laptop 16, another large-screen notebook (almost entirely modular) aimed at creative professionals. It scored more than 1,000 points over the Framework machine on the Geekbench 6 multi-threaded CPU benchmark, and was more than twice as fast on the Cinebench 2024 GPU test.

Interestingly, the XPS 16 scored only a few hundred points in PCMark 10 compared to the 2022 XPS 15 (which used an Intel Core i7-12700H CPU and an NVIDIA RTX 3050 Ti), but this year the advantage is that Intel’s new chips are also there . NPU for AI tasks. The XPS 16 scored 3,109 on the Geekbench ML test, a cross-platform benchmark for comparing machine learning capabilities. That puts it on par with Apple’s iPad Pro, which has M2 chips.

In Windows, NPUs mainly run special features like Studio Effects, which can blur your background or optimize your lighting in video chats. But developers like Adobe and Audacity have committed to adding more AI-powered tools to their software, so having a capable NPU can pay off.

Dell XPS 16Dell XPS 16

Photo: Devindra Hardawar/Engadget

The XPS 16’s raw horsepower makes it a capable (if overpriced) gaming machine. I could play Halo Infinite At 1440p+ (2560×1600 pixels) at maximum graphics settings, an average of 63 fps. Cyberpunk 2077 As long as I enabled NVIDIA’s DLSS upscaling and prevented ray tracing, I averaged 63fps at 1440p. Compared to dedicated gaming systems, these aren’t very impressive scores, but they’re better than what I saw on the XPS 15 a few years ago. The XPS 16’s keyboard is well-suited for shooters thanks to its large keys and tactile feedback, but it’s a pain if you’re playing something that makes heavy use of function keys. If you’re really into gaming on this system, it’s better to opt for a 1080p LCD screen, as it can reach a higher 120Hz refresh rate and requires less GPU rendering power.

After living with the XPS 16 for a few weeks, I’m still in awe of its sheer beauty and power. But it’s not the easiest machine to travel with, as it clocks in at 4.8 lbs. That’s about the same weight as the most powerful 16-inch MacBook Pro, so it’s not excessive, but it’s still something to consider. By comparison, the latest XPS 15 weighs 4.5 pounds, while the new XPS 14 is more portable at 3.7 pounds. If you need a ton of screen real estate, you’ve probably given up on having a big machine. But it’s still worth considering what your actual workflow looks like. Do you really need a 16-inch screen all the time, or would you prefer something lighter for travel that you pair with a larger monitor on your desk?

Dell XPS 16Dell XPS 16
Photo: Devindra Hardawar/Engadget

Another great benefit of a big machine? Tons of battery life. The XPS 16 lasted eight hours and 30 minutes on the PCMark 10 Modern Office benchmark, while the Framework Laptop 16 lasted just four hours. The ZenBook 14 OLED is still our best performer for this test – it took 12 hours and 43 minutes – but you’ll still be able to get through a typical workday with the XPS 16 without needing to strain for power.

You can probably tell from the cost of our review unit that the XPS 16’s price is its biggest potential problem. It starts at $1,899 with an Intel Core Ultra 7, Intel Arc graphics, 16GB of LPDDR5X RAM, a 512GB NVMe SSD, and a 1080p+ LCD display. The latest XPS 15 starts at $1,099 with a 13th-gen Intel Core i7 CPU and a similar build. At the very least, it’s nice to see that Dell doesn’t ship machines with 8GB of RAM as standard (like Apple and many other companies). Unfortunately, other upgrades for the XPS 16 will cost you more: Getting an NVIDIA RTX 4050 GPU ($600 for the 4060 and $1,100 for the 4070) costs another $400, upgrading to OLED costs another $300, and 32GB will cost up to RAM. it’s a staggering $600 extra.

Good looks don’t come cheap. But the same is true for other premium 16-inch laptops (the MacBook Pro 16 starts at $2,499!). Unless you’re looking at older or refurbished models, this isn’t necessarily a category to find a good deal on. The XPS 16 is designed for people with deep pockets who want a huge screen, tons of power, and great hardware. In that regard, it’s a complete success – provided you’re not too annoyed by its invisible trackpad.

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