Still Lovin’ the 1080p Upgrade

The XPS 15 L501x garnered our Gold Editors’ Choice award largely on the merits of the upgraded 1080p LCD. Without a beautiful display, it would probably rate as a Bronze award at best. Six months later, at least on the LCD side nothing noteworthy has changed. Dell is still using an AU Optronics B156HW1 panel, and performance is roughly the same as before. There’s a certain amount of variance among LCD panels, and the L501x actually comes out slightly ahead in the tests, but you’re not liable to see the difference with the naked eye.

Laptop LCD Quality - Contrast

Laptop LCD Quality - White

Laptop LCD Quality - Black

Laptop LCD Quality - Color Accuracy

Laptop LCD Quality - Color Gamut

Good contrast, reasonable brightness range, and a great color gamut continue to make this one of the top 15.6” LCDs. We’ve seen the same panel in a few other laptops (including the Compal NBLB2), but there’s still a range of backlight intensity and we’d like to see Dell allow up to 300nits if possible. Actually, what we’d really like to see is an option for a matte coating on the LCD similar to what we’ve seen on the Clevo P150HM. What’s interesting is that the P150HM we tested had a lower color gamut to go with the matte coating, but it also happens to be the same AUO B156HW01 panel. The P150HM was revision v1 and Dell doesn’t indicate which version they’re using, but it’s probably v4. Personally, I’d still be more than willing to give up color gamut for a matte surface.

Heat and Noise Levels

Under sustained loads, the L502x does seem to run hotter than the L501x, but that’s expected. The CPU core temperatures hit 85-91C after several hours of constant 100% load, while the GPU hit a maximum of 80C. Idle noise levels are the same 31dB we measured before, but load noise is also up relative to the L501x. Our SPL showed a noise output of 43.8dB from a distance of 18”, which is audibly louder than the 42dB we hit with the L501x.

Battery Life: Better than the L501x Dell XPS 15 L502x: Better, But So Is the Competition


View All Comments

  • 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.

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