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  • softdrinkviking - Wednesday, April 20, 2011 - link

    seem to accentuate any flaws or slight color vairiances to me.

    i definately prefer matte so that i don't have to deal with the glare, but i noticed that anti-glare fliters, or matte finishes tend to exaserbate light bleeding in spots and so on.

    i noticed this most on TN screens that have been used for a couple of years and are starting to get a little worn out; the glossy finish seems to hide the deterioration to me.

    has anyone else noticed this, or do i have a unique situation/i am going crazy?
  • JarredWalton - Wednesday, April 20, 2011 - link

    The one issue I have with matte is that if you happen to brush against it with an object you can leave a "scar" -- not a scratch, but just a mark in the matte finish. If you have a poorly built laptop where the keyboard or palm rest happens to press against the LCD, that can also cause marking -- on glossy as well, but it's more noticeable on matte. Heck, I have a "scar" on my 30" 3007WFP that happened when I was packing for a move. Yeah, ouch! The old Dell Studio XPS 16 had the other issue, with keyboard marks showing up on the edge-to-edge display cover.

    Anyway, having seen both the Clevo P150HM/151HM and the XPS 15 panels side by side, I'd definitely take the matte and run that risk.
  • JNo - Friday, April 29, 2011 - link


    I have a Dell 2405 FPW with matte finish. Spent around £800 on it back in the day but don't regret it a bit as it's still a contender - rare even now to find 24" with matte IPS that can go portrait and has a USB hub and card readers built in. Anyhoo, I digress... I also got scars on it once or twice and I couldn't for the life of me 'wipe' them away but if you google around you can find solutions...

    Amazingly, I found using a clean (try new) white or colourless rubber on the screen and rubbing gently in the direction of the scar worked. Wipe before and after with a lint free micro-fibre cloth and just a teensy bit of water. It literally made the scar disappear and the monitor looks as new again. I sh1t you not - worth a try.
  • vol7ron - Wednesday, April 20, 2011 - link

    posts like this too. Reply
  • Flunk - Sunday, April 24, 2011 - link

    I've found quite the opposite. My matte displays seem to hold up much better than the glossy. The glossy ones seem to pick up scratches, marks and smudges very easily and they show horribly. The matte finish tends to disguise the little things. Reply
  • AmdInside - Wednesday, April 20, 2011 - link

    I bought the L502x and love it. One great thing about Optimus is that since the Intel graphics is still used for 2D, Intel Quick Sync is possible with this laptop. It is amazing how fast it can convert video for a laptop.

    I guess my main complaint is that I preferred the previous generation keys better over the newer smaller softer keys. Dell has regular sales on XPS laptops which really brings down the cost of this laptop. I got a fully loaded Dell XPS 15 L502x for around $1300 after taxes. Just love love love the 1080p screen.

    Oh, and I personally am not a big fan of super thin laptops. They just don't feel right when they are on my lap. I like my keyboard to be raised a little so the thicker body of the l502x suits me just fine. I wish Dell hadn't dropped the 14" model as I would have bought that if it was still available with Sandy Bridge for portability but the 15" is fine.
  • therealnickdanger - Wednesday, April 20, 2011 - link

    I had a 17" Dell years ago with a 1080p screen and a 7900GT Go. It did OK, but ultimately, I don't think I would ever buy another 1080p laptop without a high end GPU. If the L502X had a higher GPU option, it would be perfect! I would probably order this laptop with the 768p screen and upgrade to the 540 and play games with max settings at native resolution. Reply
  • aneuwahl - Wednesday, April 20, 2011 - link

    there is a puzzling thread on Dell's support forum here
    about an unsolved problem regarding the USB3.0 ports. They seem to fail randomly becoming completely inactive till next reboot.

    I'm curious if during the test anything like that was noticed.
    I've just bought a L702x and I have the same problem. Dell replaced my motherboard (not the USB3.0 daughterboard), but the issue - with reduced occurency - is still there.
  • JarredWalton - Wednesday, April 20, 2011 - link

    Is it possible they're going into a power saving state and not coming out of it? I actually don't have any USB3 devices on hand, so I didn't encounter this, but I should be getting something soon. Let me get back to you.... Reply
  • jcannon1018 - Wednesday, April 20, 2011 - link

    Supposedly, under all programs there is a folder for the usb 3.0 controller and clicking on it will bring up a settings panel for the controller. On that panel there is a disable power management function, checking apparently resolves the issue of the ports becoming unresponsive. I thought that sandy bridge had native support though? Reply
  • JarredWalton - Wednesday, April 20, 2011 - link

    Nope; no one has put USB3 into the chipset yet. AMD probably will with their next update I'm guessing, but Intel will likely be pushing Thunderbolt instead. Reply
  • jcannon1018 - Wednesday, April 20, 2011 - link

    Even ivy bridge? Reply
  • BioTurboNick - Wednesday, April 20, 2011 - link

    Ivy Bridge isn't out yet, so it doesn't count. But it will be getting USB3 Reply
  • Neoarun - Wednesday, April 27, 2011 - link

    Well i have got this laptop and i can see that it indeed has a USB 3.0 .... Reply
  • aneuwahl - Sunday, April 24, 2011 - link

    This was proven to have no effect at all on the issue we are talking about. In the forum I linked this was widely tested... Reply
  • aneuwahl - Thursday, April 21, 2011 - link

    It is not necessary to have a USB3 device attached to the ports for the problem to come out. It occours to me with a wireless mouse receiver, or a USB keyboard... Reply
  • FlyBri - Wednesday, April 20, 2011 - link

    ...because Dell just sucks as a company. I really don't care how good their computers are, because if you have a problem with something from them, don't be surprised if they don't really care at all about you. I've never seen so many comments that say "Dell doesn't care", and that even customer support has said that directly to customers as well.

    Dell doesn't care about doing right by its customers, they don't care about BBB complaints, they commit certain acts of fraud, and they don't care to follow consumer protection laws (this is from my own personal experience). In addition, I just heard from a person who worked at Dell for 11 years and said even for him as an employee it went from a great place to work to being unbearable.

    So just a warning to people out there -- some of their products may be decent and come at a good price, but if you EVER have any issues, watch out, because you could be in for a heap of trouble.
  • jabber - Wednesday, April 20, 2011 - link

    Service I've had from Dell has been superb over the past 18 months.

    Had a power issue with my laptop (turns out the laptop/battery just got 'confused' somehow and a boot without the battery fixed it) called it into Dell and two days later TWO new laptop power supplies turn up. Not needed in the end but really handy. So no complaints there.

    A month before the warranty ran out on my laptop I noticed a small piece of one of the key legends had worn off. I took a gamble and called it in at 1pm, no trouble I was told. 11am the next morning a nice chap turned up at my home and swapped out my keyboard. 10 minutes and he was gone. Perfect.

    That was just the standard thrown in cover too. Couldnt be happier.
  • TypeS - Wednesday, April 20, 2011 - link

    Ah rabid posters... you need relax a little bit there buddie. Dell cares about it's customers as much as any of the other top electronic manufacturers do; that you buy their stuff and continue to do so.

    Having worked at a computer store for the last 2 years, I've dealt with Dell, IBM/Lenovo, HP and ASUS, and they all provided acceptable service for in warranty products.

    Has Dell been dishonest about it's business practices? Well who hasn't? Intel recently settled with AMD and NVIDIA for it's strong arm tactics and memory and lcd manufacturers have been caught on in price fixing schemes.

    I can tell by your post that you probably had a horrible experience with Dell and I won't challenge you on it but one experience out of millions doesn't carry much merit.
  • SeanPT - Wednesday, April 20, 2011 - link

    Protip: Buy from Dell Business instead of home. I've been working exclusively with Dells since 2002 for all of my clients that have basic office needs. I've sold thousands of Dell laptops and PCs and I rarely have a problem. When I do I can do a quick chat and have someone out the next day. Reply
  • tipoo - Wednesday, April 20, 2011 - link

    Dell's service fixed and shipped back my Studio 15 in three days from making the call, and upgraded me to a 1080P monitor for free from a 720p one. I'd call that pretty good service. 3 years ago I would have agreed with you. Reply
  • Exodite - Wednesday, April 20, 2011 - link

    Are there any plans to review the Lenovo X220 and its Premium HD (12.5" IPS) display option?

    It's starting to look like a fantastic machine.
  • nirolf - Wednesday, April 20, 2011 - link


    8+ hours on a 63Wh battery.
  • JarredWalton - Wednesday, April 20, 2011 - link

    The request for a review unit has been sent, but so far no response. Unfortunately, Lenovo tends to be a bit ambivalent towards certain sites, ours being one of them. Reply
  • Ditiris - Wednesday, April 20, 2011 - link

    That's unfortunate. I'm more interested in the X220T as a replacement for my aging HP tx2000, but of course the X220 should have similar (if not identical) performance. Reply
  • Exodite - Wednesday, April 20, 2011 - link

    I'm sorry to hear that.

    I consider Anandtech to be one of the few sites that provide both in-depth and unbiased reviews.

    Hoping for the best!
  • SteelCity1981 - Wednesday, April 20, 2011 - link

    I've been reading that Ivy Bridge will have some decent improvements over Sandy Bridge and give it a 20% performance boost over Sandy Brdige. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention it will be 22nm! Reply
  • ekerazha - Wednesday, April 20, 2011 - link

    I'm waiting for a 14'' notebook, Sandy Bridge, NVIDIA GeForce 5xx (Optimus capable), dual-channel memory, SATA III and USB 3.0... do I really have to wait forever? Reply
  • 7Enigma - Wednesday, April 20, 2011 - link

    Thanks for the review Jarred. One of the complaints I have with Dell recently is the very restrictive upgrade list within a product family. I was recently tasked with a laptop purchase for my SIL whom has very specific requirements (long battery life, usable keyboard, <$650). Found a great build by Dell but they refused to allow for the upgrade to the 9-cell battery, it was only as an optional $175 ADDITIONAL battery. I've seen this with many builds of theirs where they market as upgradable but really mean only if you're willing to shell out for the whole part. That was a deal-breaker and Dell was off the list of choices....

    I appreciate the bolding used to designate what came with your particular unit as it's always been more difficult to tell the parts in the reviewed sample.
  • 7Enigma - Wednesday, April 20, 2011 - link

    Wanted to update my post to note that this particular XPS model does allow for the $40 upgrade to 9-cell battery. That is a huge improvement for very little money and while it does change the form-factor a bit unless that's a deal-breaker for you the added battery life is well worth it IMO.

    Honestly my perfect laptop would be a dual-core 15" with good LCD upgrade, dual-drive for small solid-state boot and larger mechanical drive (while not sacrificing the optical drive), and 9-cell battery. Give me that for under $800 and I think a good 75% of the buying public would be happy.
  • SeanPT - Wednesday, April 20, 2011 - link

    They really need to bring back the design of the XPS M1330. That was one heck of a laptop and I still have a handful of them in service. There were a few nagging design flaws but the later revisions didn't suffer from the same problems. I ordered one the day it was launched with that nice LED display that was just oh so thin. Reply
  • XZerg - Wednesday, April 20, 2011 - link

    I own a L501x that I bought in December 2010 after reading the review at AnandTech and the awesome deal I was able to get. However upon receiving it I was in for some disappointments:

    1) No Port Replicator ports
    2) Changing the HDD was pretty much rip the whole damn system apart
    3) Keys arrangement - they could have easily put the arrow keys a bit south or something to give a hint as you are more likely to press wrong key many times when trying to use Shift, Right-click key, End.
    4) The touchpad is annoying - if you have a finger/hand close to the touchpad it treats it pressing the touchpad - so either no response to the actual action with the other hand or tries to zoom or scroll instead.
    5) The screen only tilts to something like 120degrees or so which is annoying sometimes when you want have better viewing angle due to too much reflection due to the glossy screen.
    6) Finally I would have much rather had the multimedia buttons standalone instead of FN based.
  • Pessimism - Wednesday, April 20, 2011 - link

    Snap together plastic clip construction=FAIL. No serviceability whatsoever. That stuff NEVER comes apart without something breaking. Reply
  • XZerg - Wednesday, April 20, 2011 - link

    yea and even if it does come apart it does not go back in perfectly either. I have the l501x and i know that for sure.

    I have to say though I like the l501x over the l502x simply because of the keyboard on the newer one feels cheap quality.
  • Arbie - Wednesday, April 20, 2011 - link

    Whether the goal is to show what the machine can do, or to show what it can't do, this game matters. First, there's a huge amount of comparative info available. Second, Crysis / Warhead scaled really well so you probably can get a playable experience at the lower settings a box like this works with. Third it's the best single-player FPS ever made (IMHO) and won't be surpassed anytime soon - unfortunately. So it deserves a continued place on your list. Stalker...? C'mon. Reply
  • NCM - Wednesday, April 20, 2011 - link

    JW writes: "Finally, Quick Sync with the “Quality” profile took 34 seconds (156.56 FPS), while the “Fast” profile results in the quickest transcoding time, requiring just 25 seconds—or a very impressive speed of 212.92 FPS."

    So test results apparently timed to the nearest second acquire 5 significant digit precision when translated into FPS? My old math teacher wouldn't buy that one...
  • JarredWalton - Wednesday, April 20, 2011 - link

    Perhaps I used a stopwatch and rounded to the nearest second? :-p

    Anyway, you'll be thrilled to know that I have now rounded to the nearest FPS, which completely changes the results. Oh, wait... it doesn't, other than to show there's potentially a larger margin of error. Maybe I should round to two significant digits, because then we could say that it was 58FPS vs. 77FPS vs. 160FPS vs. 210FPS -- and by further rounding increase the margin of error another 1-5%.

    I've actually considered this before. All of the gaming benchmarks are slightly variable, so while they can measure very specifically the result of one test run, depending on the game you might see up to a 10% change between runs. It's why I end up running multiple times and taking the best result, so we're comparing best-case on all systems. But should we stop including any decimal points in our game benchmarks, just because they're variable? Some readers will complain if a bunch of systems tie at, e.g. 73FPS, but at the same time I hope everyone here realizes that anything less than a 5% difference is close enough that you're not going to notice.
  • BioTurboNick - Wednesday, April 20, 2011 - link

    As a scientist, I'd say average +/- standard deviation would be perfect. :-D Reply
  • seapeople - Wednesday, April 20, 2011 - link

    Three sig figs is fine. It's just distracting and annoying to look at "155.36 fps". Whatever you do, do NOT start doing crap like "46 +/- 3 fps" like someone suggested. This is a tech forum, not a statistics orgy; the average audience here wouldn't care. Reply
  • tipoo - Wednesday, April 20, 2011 - link

    Is it so hard to design a laptop with a 9 cell that doesn't stick out like a sore thumb? Reply
  • tno - Wednesday, April 20, 2011 - link

    This review certainly gives us a peek at what the M11x R3 review will look like. Really hope to see some awesome battery numbers out of that.

  • JarredWalton - Wednesday, April 20, 2011 - link

    My experience is that Alienware laptops are never quite as optimized for maximum battery life. They have all the extra glowing lights on the case (which can usually be turned off, sure), and there's a bigger focus on performance. Dell is quoting "up to 6 hours" on the M14x, for instance, using a 63Wh battery. That's not so great, considering I've reached 6-7 hours with a 56Wh battery on the ASUS K53E with a 15.6" LCD. Anyway, I suspect the M11x R3 and M14x will be similar to the XPS 15 56Wh in battery life, which is good but not exceptional. Reply
  • GeorgeH - Wednesday, April 20, 2011 - link

    At ~$1500 this isn't such a great laptop, but who pays MSRP for a Dell? You can pick a 2630QM/525M/1080p right now for ~$950 (some Deals are Slick-er than others... )

    I understand MSRP has to be used in a review analysis, though.
  • Jovec - Wednesday, April 20, 2011 - link

    Yes, I've got an XPS 17 gen2 with a 2630, 1080p, 90w battery, backlit keyboard, and the 555 gpu for upgrades for just under $1200 with tax and shipping. Reply
  • JarredWalton - Thursday, April 21, 2011 - link

    All of the little extras can quickly add up. The review sample upgraded the wireless to the Intel 6230 with Bluetooth ($35 extra), the battery to a 9-cell ($40 extra), 8GB RAM ($60 more than 6GB), GT 540M 2GB with TV tuner ($150), and adds in the backlit keyboard ($40).

    Of course, even with all of that, prices change regularly. Right now, if you start at the $1100 model, you can get all of the upgrades above and you end up at the $1425 price I quoted. Can you get most of what we tested for less? Sure. The XPS 15 and 17 also have different pricing. If you got the 17 with GT 555M and the various other upgrades for $1200, that's a very good price. At the Dell site, you're looking at around $1450 for all of the typical upgrades you listed (plus 8GB RAM).
  • Drag0nFire - Wednesday, April 20, 2011 - link

    "it’s very difficult to point to a laptop that offers the build quality I want without a massive price premium."

    Any chance you're going to get one of the new Thinkpads in the lab any time soon? I'm hoping the T520 will fulfill the role you outlined at a reasonable price, as I'm in the market for a new laptop...
  • JarredWalton - Wednesday, April 20, 2011 - link

    ThinkPads aren't exactly inexpensive. Yes, great build quality, but right now it looks like you get a bit less than the competition for your dollar.

    It's around $935 for an i5-2410M with 4GB RAM, 320GB HDD, integrated graphics, and a 1366x768 LCD. By comparison, the K53E will give you a larger HDD with the other parts being the same for $720.

    Move up to around $1300 and you get a T520 with a dual-core i5-2540M, 4GB RAM, 500GB HDD, Quadro NVS 4200M, and a 1600x900 LCD. The XPS 15 can be had with 2630QM, GT 525M, 6GB RAM, 750GB HDD, and the 1080p LCD for just $1000 (so lose the Blu-ray, upgraded GPU, backlit keyboard, and upgraded WiFi of the system we reviewed).

    I'm not saying the ThinkPad is a bad choice, but LCD quality is probably lousy (but at least matte) on everything short of the ThinkPad W-series, and pricing is higher than consumer notebooks. If I were buying a laptop for long-term use, though, I'd push the Latitude, ThinkPad T-series, and HP EliteBook up to the top of my list simply for the build quality.
  • JJG - Wednesday, April 20, 2011 - link

    The pre-configured W520 with an i7 2720QM isn't much more than the XPS 15 you reviewed in this article. They run a little more than $1500 at many online retailers (with 8GB RAM, Nvidia Quadro 1000M, and a full HD screen). The 1920X1080 screen on the Lenovo is by some accounts as good as the one on the Dell. I would love to see you test that one, because I imagine the build quality is better and I think your reviews are among the most thorough on the net. Reply
  • JarredWalton - Wednesday, April 20, 2011 - link

    You're right... that one looks like the sweet spot. Big question is if the 1080p panel is still a good one, or if they've shifted to a cheaper option. Only problem is getting Lenovo to send us anything for review. :-( Reply
  • headbox - Wednesday, April 20, 2011 - link

    "XPS 15 L502x" doesn't exactly roll off the tongue. Why don't any PeeCee makers get this? Want to generate hype? Give your product a NAME. Reply
  • JarredWalton - Wednesday, April 20, 2011 - link

    On the Dell site, it's the "XPS 15", but the L501x is the actual full model, to differentiate it from the original L501x. It's like the MacBook Pro 13/15/17 -- they don't specify which particular iteration you're discussing. I just happen to use the real model instead of the generic name so as to avoid confusion. Reply
  • flyingpants1 - Wednesday, April 20, 2011 - link

    If I follow the link in the article and configure the $800 XPS 15 with all the options listed, the total comes out to $1505. Coupon code 932N$0ZCCHWZB9 for an additional $70 off brings it to $1435.

    However, if I follow the link on this page: configure THAT XPS 15 with the same stuff, the total is now $1764. $425 in coupon codes brings it down to $1339. So it actually works out cheaper, and it includes a 2 year service plan instead of the 1 year.
  • Wave_Fusion - Wednesday, April 20, 2011 - link

    I'm not following which parts are plastic and which are metal.
    My old XPS M1210 was metal except in one key area: the palm rest.
    So after about a year I wore an E.T. shaped hand print in the cheap silver paint below the keyboard.

    It'd be a major disappointment to buy this one and find it still has crummy plastic where it shouldn't be.

    If I've said it once I've said it a thousand times: My DV7 is better.
    I don't get why no one seems to know about my computer, but eventually someone will review it besides myself.

    Its faster, cheaper, most stylish; and also has amazing sound, but with a 2 year warranty too. I thought you guys announced the future launch of my computer, the DV6/DV7 spring refresh, but since then its been dark.

    They destroy everything that's been reviewed since; and its sad no one seems to know about them yet.
  • will2 - Wednesday, April 20, 2011 - link

    Re. your concluding paragraph, interested in your views of screen size/resolution combinations.

    As frequently moving, I want a thin-light desktop replacement notebook for both photo-editing, multimedia playing, and general business use. I concluded as my present 14" lcd with 1440x900 gloss screen is tiring on eyes for long hours reading office documents, a 15" 1600x900 screen - maybe less tiring as text rendered slightly larger. Interested in your thoughts on that.

    With that in mind, I hope Anandtech can review the SNB Latitude E6520 with 1600x900 screen. Is that likely soon ?

    You surmise the M11x R3 worth a look. Too small screen for my needs, but I see Notebookcheck just reviewed it and they said very powerful but let down by a poor screen, meagre 150:1 contrast ratio, blacks are grey.
  • JarredWalton - Thursday, April 21, 2011 - link

    So it really depends on the individual, but I use a 30" desktop for most of my photo work, and when I have to go mobile I already feel cramped on 1080p (or even WUXGA). I've used 1440x900 and 1680x1050, and they're okay, but nothing beats resolution for photo editing in my book. The problem is, outside of photos, those fine dot pitches can really be a strain on the old eyes! Heck, my 30" is a strain these days.

    So then you use the DPI setting of Windows, but it mucks up certain programs and can be irritating, or you run at a lower resolution or use the "zoom" feature in your web browser and office applications as needed. I, incidentally, have used all of the above and continue to use them depending on my mood. My 30" LCD is set to 120dpi and it still feels a bit small on a lot of text.

    For laptops, it's a compromise either way. Personally, I've ended up with the following sizes as my preferred options. Others will obviously disagree, but as a 37-year-old I don't have the luxury of running ultra-tiny fonts anymore.
    <12.1" - I'm not really a fan of this size laptop. It's too small for me to type on comfortably, so I prefer 13 or 14". However, 1280x800 (or 1366x768) works okay. I've used a 10.1" laptop with a 1366x768 LCD, and it was often too small to read comfortably.

    13.3" - 1600x900 is a bit of a stretch for me at this size, but it's better than the 1366x768 alternative. 1280x800 is actually still better in my book, but too many laptops are moving to 16:9 aspect ratios.

    14" - 1440x900 or 1600x900 works best; I'm not willing to go lower res if I can avoid it, and higher res is too small for my tastes.

    15.6" - 1600x900 or 1920x1080 (or 1680x1050/1920x1200) are all fine here, though 1080p can be a bit small at times.

    >17" - must have 1080p or 1920x1200 resolution. (I haven't seen anything in recent history with a higher resolution than that.)
  • NICOXIS - Thursday, April 21, 2011 - link

    Is it possible to play games at native resolution with medium settings?

    Why should one get 540M when you can just do 525M with higher clocks? (besides additional memory)

    What is the difference between Intel Advanced-N 6230 and Intel Wireless-N 1030?

    If we replace Quad Core (Intel Core i7-2630QM) with Dual Core with higher clocks ( Intel Core i5-2520M), Should it get better performance at games and longer battery life?

    Appreciate any answers! :)
  • Wave_Fusion - Thursday, April 21, 2011 - link

    It might be possible, it might not. My HP DV7 can run most games at maximum at its native resolution of 1600 x 900, but my AMD 6770 is significantly faster than the 540M in this Dell.

    Medium settings at 1920 x 1080 could easily overwhelm a card like that. I'd recommend a unit with either Nvidia 555M, 560M; AMD Radeon HD 6770, 6870; or above.
    Or the 540M would be fine if you played at a lower resolution; but if it were me I'd choose either a smaller laptop at 1366 x 768 or a larger one at 1600 x 900.
    15 inches is to me a spot neither of Dell's offered resolutions look good at that size.

    I believe the Advanced-N 6230 supports 5GHz band while the 1030 does not.

    Finally, my DV7 has a quad core i7-2720QM and switchable graphics with the AMD 6770. The new quad cores idle pretty low, but because the dual core processors have a lower maximum thermal output, they'll draw less power under heavy load. On the other hand a quad core might handle that same load without stressing it too hard.

    Short answer: Both are built on 32nm now, so probably little significant difference unless you're gaming or something.
  • JarredWalton - Thursday, April 21, 2011 - link

    All of the gaming charts include the results at both our standard resolution as well as the native 1080p of the LCD. You can see that medium detail is >30FPS in five of the eight tested games, but of course that will vary depending on the game (and what settings you define as "medium"). For 1080p, realistically I still feel like you would want at least a GT 555M, and the GTX 460M is where medium to high 1080p is viable.

    Overclocking of mobile GPUs is possible, but in practice they bin pretty heavily and I'm uncomfortable trying to run a laptop with an overclocked GPU. I suppose it's only a 12% overclock to push the 525M to 540M levels, but YMMV. Since replacing your GPU on a laptop is difficult at best (i.e. finding a compatible part that doesn't cost an arm and a leg), I'd exercise caution. Besides, a 10% core overclock (with the same RAM speed) means the real-world performance difference is quite small.

    WiFi 6230 gives 2.4 + 5.0 GHz connections, so it's a 2x2 MiMo setup. The 1030 is 1x2 and omits 5.0GHz support. Both support up to 300Mbps connections, but in the real world you'll probably max out around 144Mbps with actual throughput of around 7-9MBps (56-72Mbps).

    As far as CPU changes, we do have performance results of the it-2520M in the charts (ASUS K53E). In games, the GPU is the major bottleneck. Remember that the 2630QM can still Turbo as high as 2.9GHz (2.8GHz dual-core, 2.7GHz tri-core, and 2.6GHz quad-core). The 2520M can go about 10% higher at 3.2GHz (3.1GHz dual-core), but unless you're playing at low resolutions and low details, you'll need more GPU than CPU.
  • NICOXIS - Thursday, April 21, 2011 - link

    thanks Wave and Jarred, appreciate you took the time to respond ;)

    Regarding GPU at medium settings, there's no laptop I've seen (with L502x footprint and weight) that offers GT 555M or GTX 460M (or similar AMD solution) at that price point and price/features ratio.

    On the overclocking side, isn't 525M the same exact chip as 540M with clocks up a 12%? or are you saying 525M are chips that didn't qualify at higher speeds?

    And if that 10% overclock difference is minimal, Why should anyone upgrade anyway?

    Reg 6230 vs 1030, what's the difference in practice?

    Sorry for the blast, but it's interesting to know :D

  • JarredWalton - Thursday, April 21, 2011 - link

    So all of the GT 525M, 540M, and 550M chips are the "same", but they're the same in the way that the i7-2630QM, i7-2720QM, i7-2820QM, and i7-2920XM are the "same" (barring differences in L3 cache sizes). Without actually looking at a large sample, I don't know if NVIDIA is tweaking voltage levels, but they're very likely doing some form of binning.

    Intel for example will do some tests to verify a chip can handle the desired speed at a reasonable voltage; if it can't do 2.2GHz at 1.25V (or whatever), then they'll try for a lower clock with that same voltage, or maybe raise the voltage slightly but drop the clock, etc. I don't know all of what Intel does or doesn't do with binning, but in general their higher-end (e.g. more expensive) CPUs run at lower voltages at stock and overclock better with more voltage. So, considering the number of chips NVIDIA is offering that are essentially the same, I suspect they have a way of determining which are the better chips.

    So if 10% is a minor difference in performance, why would anyone upgrade? Because they're generally uninformed. The 1GB to 2GB jump won't help at the settings where these chips run well -- which is usually lower resolutions at medium detail. 1GB to 2GB becomes useful when you're running at least 1080p with very large textures, and for that you really need at least a GTX 460M (or HD 5870M).

    This is actually one of the frustrating aspects of buying a laptop. So many companies will sell you a GT 420M/425M/435M/525M/540M/550M graphics chip with Optimus in a 14" or 15.6" laptop. (Those are all 96 CUDA cores with 128-bit DDR3 memory, so basically the only change is the clock speed of the cores, which ranges from 500MHz on the 420M up to 740MHz on the 550M.) Finding anything with the GT 445M/555M on the other hand.... Well, the Alienware M14x and Dell XPS 17 L702x are currently the only laptops with the GT 555M, and to my knowledge the old XPS 17 L701x was the only laptop with the GT 445M. I'm not a big fan of 17.3" notebooks, so that's why I think the M14x may be the best balance of price, size, and performance for a gaming laptop.

    Back to the wireless, in practice the difference is that if you have a wireless router that supports 2.4 and 5 GHz, you can get better throughput a lot of the time. Many less expensive routers don't support 5GHz, so in that case you'd see no difference at all. If you do have the appropriate router (I don't!), I understand that some people get much better performance on 5GHz because there's so much other traffic on 2.4GHz (e.g. 802.11b/g/n all use 2.4GHz, plus cordless phones and other devices).
  • JanusSoCal - Thursday, April 21, 2011 - link

    I second everybody who has left comments to say that this is probably the most thorough and detailed review I've read of the XPS 15 so far. But I was curious about three things. First, you didn't mention what you thought of their new island-keyboard design, which I thought was a pretty big change from the 1st gen. Did you find the typing experience and build better with the 1st gen. keyboard or 2nd gen. keyboard? Also, you mentioned that the frame is solid but the top is plastic... I was wondering if that meant the build quality is good or not good, since the frame is supposedly made of magnesium alloy. So, is all that marketing about how the top cover and palm rests are made out of anondized aluminum for a sturdier build is just mere marketing? Is it literally like a very thin coat of aluminum over cheap plastic? And finally, I guess since you gave the Gold Editor's Choice to the 1st Gen XPS 15, did you consider the 2nd Gen XPS 15, against the current crop of laptops more of a silver, bronze, copper?

    Again, thanks for writing an excellent review, I've been waiting for Anandtech's take on the 2nd gen. XPS 15 for a long time.
  • JarredWalton - Thursday, April 21, 2011 - link

    Ha! I knew something was wrong and I just couldn't put my finger on it, so to speak. I kept thinking, "this doesn't feel as solid as I recall from the first XPS 15," but I figured it was the same. Given the number of laptops I see, sometimes things get a bit fuzzy in my mind so I figured it was still fine. Now that you point it out, the keyboard definitely changed, and IMO it's not for the better. The palm rest on the L502x is also definitely made of plastic, where I believe (but am not certain) the previous model was anodized aluminum. In both cases, the change is a downgrade as far as I'm concerned.

    I've gone and updated the second page to discuss this a bit more. Ultimately, it's still a good consumer notebook, but it's not without flaws. The previous garnered a Gold by being one of the first laptops in a long time to give us good build quality, a great screen, awesome speakers, and decent all around performance for a moderate price of $1000. The L502x carries forward most of those aspects, but I'd actually downgrade it to a Silver this time around (or an honorable mention without the 1080p LCD upgrade).
  • will2 - Thursday, April 21, 2011 - link

    @jaredwalton. Would appreciate any feedback on my post on above - last post of yesterday, re. if you plan to review the Latitude E6520, and from anyone also, their thoughts on ideal screen size/resolution combinations for photo-editing, film viewing and general business use Reply
  • JarredWalton - Thursday, April 21, 2011 - link

    Responded above... sorry I missed it before. :-) Reply
  • will2 - Saturday, April 23, 2011 - link

    Many thanks for your views on screen sizes/resolution combinations which seems to support my thinking that after working on a 14" 1440x900 for last 4 years, a change to 15" 1600x900 will maintain my work surface but reduce eye-strain a little.

    re. "With that in mind, I hope Anandtech can review the SNB Latitude E6520 with 1600x900 screen. Is that likely soon ?" any input on that ?

    Re. another posters question, I was thinking the 2520M a good choice of CPU when limited to a 35W TDP series, although I would have preferred a 25W TDP for reduced temperatures, yet giving sufficient performance.

    Re. other postings on selection of best SSD, if choosing the Latitude E6520, I was thinking to retain the HDD for data only, and take advantage of new SSD performance by adding a small internal PCIe or ExpressCard SSD to hold and boot the Windows 7 + Apps, as it has no mSATA slot. However, there seem to be few mainstream makers of miniPCIe or ExpressCard SSDs - and those I have seen, at 50 to 100MB/s Sequential Read max, are a long way short of the mSATA Intel 310 200MB/s performance - yet no cheaper ! Do you have any links to good advice on choosing small form factor SSDs for Notebook internal slots ?

    Thanks again for your views on screen sizes/resolutions
  • cookiezulu - Friday, April 22, 2011 - link

    I purchased this (LX502) and expected to have it delivered on Tuesday. (1080p, i7-2720, 8GB, 7 Ultimate)

    I live in the UK so at the time of buying I could only choose the 500 or 750 SATA HDD. I chose the 500 as I thought I was going to replace it with an SSD - I've been convinced by all the reviews here & elsewhere that the difference in speed/performance with an SSD is noticeable. However I'm struggling to decide (from reading the reviews) whether a 256GB Crucial c300 is the best available at the moment for this laptop in the UK. Best in terms of price / performance.

    Or should I wait another 2-3 months for some other, greater, better SSD? I've not followed the SSD market in depth so I'm just checking that we're not waiting for some big improvement any day now (and I get caught out buying the c300 now.

    Am I right in understanding that even for the same model (C300) the 256GB is faster than the 128GB one?

    Also, does anybody know what the SATA controller is in LX502?

  • JarredWalton - Friday, April 22, 2011 - link

    The L502x should have both 6Gbps and 3Gbps SATA ports from the HM65 chipset, and presumably the HDD/SSD would use the 6Gbps ports. As such, you can definitely get better performance from the latest 6.0Gbps capable SSDs.

    The king of the hill right now is the SandForce SF-2200 controller, but the C400 and Intel 510 are both reasonable alternatives. It's really going to come down to pricing. For a 240/256GB SSD, I would probably go for the OCZ Vertex 3. It'll run around $530, give or take, and I have no idea what the UK prices will be, but that's likely the fastest SSD we'll see in the next 8 months.

    Regarding size and performance, it depends in part on the process technology for the NAND. 34nm NAND you usually get optimal performance at 120/128GB, and maybe a little bit faster at 240/256GB. When you move to the new 25nm NAND, indications are that the 240/256GB SSDs will be where you start hitting maximum performance (thanks to parallel transfers from the NAND devices/banks). So 120GB Vertex 3 won't be as fast as 240GB, but 480GB will likely be within a few percent of 240GB. Anand discussed this in a recent article:
  • JarredWalton - Friday, April 22, 2011 - link

    Correction: HM67 chipset is what the XPS uses. Also, I have verified that while the system I have is only running the HDD at 300Gbps and the BD-ROM at 150Gbps, both ports are capable of 600Gbps operation (according to SiSoft Sandra). Reply
  • cookiezulu - Sunday, April 24, 2011 - link

    Jarred, thanks for your reply. I will wait for my unit to arrive and see what the price for the 240GB Vertex 3 is in a couple of months (currently around £450) and then buy. I was tempted by the more affordable 120GB (around £220) but I'll wait to see what the prices for the bigger one do.

    Let's hope that when I do swap the HDD for the SSD I don't damage any of the 20 or so clips!
  • ashegam - Sunday, April 24, 2011 - link

    This is has got to be one of the ugliest laptops I've seen in years. This thing looks like it was made in the 90's, wth were they thinking? Reply
  • cookiezulu - Sunday, April 24, 2011 - link

    Not satisfied with just replacing the primary HDD with a Vertex 3 I also want to replace the optical drive with a HDD caddy with a 1TB WD 2.5 Scorpio Blue (WD10TPVT) or a 1TB Samsung Spinpoint MT2 (HM100UI).

    So I've got a couple of questions for anybody who knows:
    1. does the MB/Bios support a 1TB drive in the secondary SATA?
    2. if anybody has done in the L501x model, are there any issues with heat?
    3. does this void the warranty? (I realise that Dell are not going to support the 3rd party caddy, but does it void the warranty repacing the ODD with a HDD - I don't quite know why Dell don't make one themselves)

    Thanks again for your help,
  • JarredWalton - Monday, April 25, 2011 - link

    1) It should support any SATA device in the secondary port, but you'll need to find an appropriate caddy (or jury-rig something).
    2) Most 2.5" HDDs don't generate all that much heat, though 1TB might be a bit more than others. Would be interesting to put the SSD in the ODD bay and use a standard HDD in the main location, as SSDs generate very little heat.
    3) Shouldn't matter, as long as you keep the ODD around. There's nothing to indicate you've done something non-standard unless you actually have to mod the main chassis.
  • cookiezulu - Monday, April 25, 2011 - link

    I'm planning on using the Newmodeus caddy ( Other people seem to have found it alright for the L502.
    The reviews for hard drive that I was thinking of for the caddy (a WD Scorpio Blue WD10TPVT) report that the drive stays cool under load. Also the caddy is made of metal so that should help with heat.
    I did consider the SSD for the caddy but the problem is that if I want to use a 1TB drive (12.5mm in height) I can only put it in the caddy.
    Yes, I'm keeping the bluray drive and using it in an external USB enclosure. I've got a 1-5 days in home 3 years extended warranty so I should have time to pop the unit back in if the laptop needs to be taken away.
  • aneuwahl - Tuesday, April 26, 2011 - link

    does anyone have any news on this?
    The issue seems to be widely and quickly spreading both on 15" and 17" XPS models.
    And Dell seems not to be finding any solution at the moment.
  • mahapatra - Thursday, October 20, 2011 - link

    Does anyone know when Dell will upgrade the gfx card gt540m in xps 15? Would it better to wait for 4-6 months? Reply
  • Waynef - Monday, January 16, 2012 - link


    I purchased an XPS l502x Direct Base on 27th May and was delivered in the second week of June 2011

    Towards the end of the 4th Month ie Oct, I had few incidents of overheating (get pop ups informing the temp is 99.0 deg in core 1 / 2), in the 5th month I had severe overheating issues (get pop ups informing the temp is 99.0 deg in core 1,2,3 & 4), for which I kept informing Dell about the same and they got the heat sink replaced this was in the first week of dec even to date i get occasional overheating issues.. The day they replaced the heat sink my daughter board went kaput and that took a week to get the same replaced.

    In the first 4 months of usage I had a battery life of 7 hrs +, Post which it is now about 3 hours.

    Please do let me know if this is normal?

    1. Overheating issue.
    2. Battery life.

    I use the same in Power Savings Mode with screen brightness on the 1st bar. (min)

    I rarely use the bluetooth and wifi have not used it till now.

    My tech specs are:

    Second gen i7-2630QM processor 2.0 GHz with turbo boost to 2.90 GHz
    WLED display with Truelife
    8GB Dual Channel 1333MHz DDR3 SDRAM
    750GB 7200 rpm Hard Drive
    9 CELL Battery
    2 GB NVIDA GeForce GT 540M Graphic Card
    Backlight Keyboard

    Thanks in advance for the replies and assistance.

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