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
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  • 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.
    Reply
  • 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.
    Reply
  • 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...
    Reply
  • 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.
    Reply
  • 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

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