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

  • 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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