The Dell XPS 16 is Dell’s brand new 16-inch laptop that sits nicely into the XPS lineup given its stylish design and the fact you can arm it to its teeth.

When I first laid eyes on the XPS 16 I was stunned by how stylish it looked, and the capacitive buttons and borderless glass touchpad give it an extra clean look once open.  The problem is that after using it some of these “features” may not be for everyone and you may be left with a suspicion that they have eschewed form for function.

It is surprisingly compact given its big 16.3-inch display but unsurprisingly, given what’s packed inside, it is not light.  It may not be something you cart around everywhere with you but if you want a sleek, high-powered laptop then this may be for you.

Pros

  • Upgraded webcam
  • Big bright display
  • Performance+
  • Stylish and good looking

Cons

  • Capacitive function (and more) keys
  • Steep learning curve with keyboard
  • Borderless touchpad is not for everyone

Hardware specs

The XPS 16 that Dell sent me to review includes an Intel Core Ultra 7 155H, 32GB of RAM, 1TB m.2 NVME SSD, NVIDI GeForce RTX 4060 laptop GPU and the 16.3-inch Ultra HD+ (3840X2400) OLED touch display. If you were to buy this laptop you would be forking out a tick under 5k at $4,998.40. XPS laptops have never been cheap but they have always been powerful and built to last.

If you are willing to part with a small fortune (XPS laptops have never been cheap but are still extremely popular for a reason) you can spec the laptop up to an Intel Core Ultra 9, 64GB of RAM, 4TB of storage and even an NVIDIA GeForce RTX 4070 laptop GPU.   The laptop can be specced up to be a video editing behemoth capable of gaming many decent titles.

You get a choice of displays with either a 16.3-inch UHD+ OLED touch display or a 16.3-inch FHD+ non-touch display and it comes in either Platinum or Graphite colours.

So what else do you get?  Intel Killer™ Wi-Fi 7 1750 (BE200) and a Bluetooth 5.4 support is a great start.  Quad speakers that sound great (for a laptop), an updated 1080p webcam alongside a 360p IR camera for Windows Hello login, three Thunderbolt 4 Gen 2 Type-C ports, a headphone/mic jack, and a microSD card reader.  

Yes, no USB-A ports which shouldn’t be a surprise as many companies are moving away from them these days.  Dell has included a USB Type-C to USB Type-A and HDMI adapter in the box though for those who still use those ports a lot.  I used it to connect the laptop to my desktop monitor which lacks Thunderbolt or USB-C ports (it’s an Alienware 38-inch gaming monitor) and did not have any issues extending the display to my monitor.

The battery is a 6-cell, 99.5Whr battery and is powered by the supplied 130W Type-C adapter.

Design

Taking inspiration from the design of its smaller but older sibling, the XPS 13 Plus, the XPS 16 includes basically the same keyboard and touchpad area.  There is a large continuous glass palm rest in which the borderless touchpad hides.  I say hides because there is no inkling as to where it starts and where it finishes.  You will need to find that yourself by trial and error.

I love this design but not entirely sure of its functionality.  Some may find it difficult without the border but after a steep learning curve I got used to it.  This sleek, borderless touchpad looks great but some may say it sacrifices form over function.  I don’t mind it and still found the touchpad to work just fine.

Another big difference with the opened laptop is the function keys.  They are now capacitive buttons but unfortunately the capacitive buttons are not saved just for the rarely-used function keys but also the oft used Esc, Prt Sc, Home, End, Insert, and Delete keys.  I’m not so much a fan of this as the backlight keeps turning itself off and on based on the ambient light.  They look amazing as capacitive buttons but I’m not convinced there is any real added functionality to having them as capacitive buttons. 

Tap the fn button on the bottom of the keyboard and the location and function of these capacitive keys chanmges to the good old function keys, for those who still use those these days.

Either side of the keyboard sits the speakers, just as it did on the XPS 13+. The speakers are ok if nothing special but I’m rarely impressed with laptop speakers. Get some headphones if you want decent sound froma laptop in my opinion.

Outside, the laptop looks as before but with a sleeker shade of platinum.  On the left hand side of the laptop you will find two Thunderbolt 4 ports while on the right hand side there is another Thunderbolt 4 port along with the headphone/mic jack and the microSD card reader slot.

The ports are simple and yet elegant – basically the XPS 16 design in a nutshell.  Overall it is not massive with 358mm x 240mm x 18.7mm dimensions making it a decent thickness.  If you are building a powerhouse Windows laptop like this do not expect it to be MacBook Air thin.  

The big disadvantage of a loaded laptop such as the XPS 16 is its weight.  All those internals, and yes, Dell has not scrimped and saved on what you can stick inside this thing, weigh a fair bit  – up to 2.2kg in fact.  After carrying around my MacBook Air for a while this is a fair jump in weight from that.

Sometimes it may be difficult to open certain laptops at times but I did not have too many issues opening the XPS single handed, although it is not as easy as some laptops to open such as the MacBook Air 15. In the grand scheme of things, having to use two hands to open a laptop is, and should not be, a deal breaker.

Display

As mentioned above, the XPS 16 arrives with either a 16.3-inch FHD+ non-touch display or a UHD+ OLED touch display.  Our review unit arrived with the touch OLED display.

OLED displays are everywhere in laptops and if you have the choice (and the budget) I would always recommend you opt for the OLED display.  The displays are just stunningly beautiful with black blacks and extremely vibrant colours – and this XPS 16 is no different.

The touch sensitive was easy to use and effortless without any lag or issues along the way.  My only issue with the display was that it is incredibly reflective (even with Dell’s “anti-reflective” coating – you just need to make sure there are no windows behind you if you want a full, vibrant display experience.  I used the XPS 16 mostly at night so had no issues at those times.

As you would expect of an XPS these days, the bezels are extremely minimal – Dell started the smaller laptop bezel trend with the XPS series, why would they stop now?  I love this on all laptops and find it would never consider purchasing a laptop without minimal bezels such as this.

Webcam

So many manufacturers are still putting sub-par webcams in their laptops, which is strange given that we have had so many of us working remotely for a while now.  Dell though has finally upgraded the webcam in their laptop with a 1080p webcam.

The webcam, thanks to the AI built into the Intel Ultra chipset, supports studio effects built in such as “keeping you in focus, concealing or softening your background and adjusting you gaze to help maintain eye contact.”  Much of this can already be within the app you are using anyway so this is not a massive addition.

In decent light conditions the webcam was able to produce great video quality but low light it was only just acceptable.  Oral of the story, turn the light on if in a video call at night or in a dark room.  

Alongside the 1080p webcam is an IR camera for facial recognition and Windows Hello log-in.  The IR camera worked great whether I had glasses on or off – It is one of my favourite features of Windows, this quick log in, we just need all manufacturers to offer this option.

Keyboard

The keyboard in the XPS 16 has had a massive overhaul, and some would say for the worse but I’m not one of those people.  The keys on the new keyboard do not have any space in between them, which is different to most other keyboards on the market.  The XPS 13 Plus has this already though so it’s not a first for Dell.

Now the learning curve for the keyboard is not small, especially if you touch type and rely on edges of keys etc to improve your accuracy.  When you first use the keyboard the keys do feel squashed together and smaller a bit but that’s just a perception as the overall size of the keyboard is the same.  Once you get used to it though the travel and spring of the keys is pleasant to type on.  

Each individual key has a very slight concave nature to it, making them comfortable and accurate to type on after that initial learning curve.  The keyboard is also backlit which I love and wonder why it is not standard in all laptops.

The up and down arrow keys are now split and small so if you use them a lot you may either struggle or just find it takes a long time to get used to them.

I mentioned the borderless touchpad and the capacitive function buttons above.  I love the look of both of them but am not a fan of using the capacitive buttons at all, especially for buttons that you may use a lot like the delete button.  There is no response when you tap each button so it may be difficult to know quickly whether your tap of it works — a small vibratory feedback would have been great.

The borderless touchpad though I am here for.  Love it and it really adds to the clean, sophisticated look of the laptop.

Dell has included the Copilot key, but I think this is eventually going to become something superfluous like the Bixby button did on Samsung smartphones.  I didn’t find Copilot useful even once but you never know, Microsoft may eventually make it useful.

Performance

XPS laptops have always been the high performance laptops from Dell and this one is no different which should be no surprise given the specs packed inside it.

For all productivity-related tasks I threw at it, the XPS 16 didn’t miss a beat.  All things from online photo editing to video editing using Adobe and also Camtasia on device were easily performed – but then we have a well-specced machine with a RTX4070 GPU so I would expect nothing less.

I’ve never used an XPS laptop that struggled with any task I threw at it – my previous personal laptop was an XPS 13 which was not cheap when I purchased it but I specced it up when I bought it and it lasted close to 5 or 6 years (and my Dad still uses it).

Casual gaming is good too but you will need to play with the resolution settings to prevent the XPS 16 getting too hot but when I did that it played games from Steam without any significant issues.  It is not a gaming machine so it may struggle with higher end games so if that is your focus consider a gaming laptop instead.

Battery life

The 99.5Whr  battery gives decent battery life which is surprising given the specs on this machine.  I was able to get around nine hours of battery life working using Chrome, Photoshop, Camtasia and some other apps.  This was with the brightness slider at around 50 percent and the power option on balanced.  

Often I use the battery saver option when using my laptop remotely to help the battery last longer but I feel that with the XPS 16 you would not need that for the most part (unless you are away from a charger for more than nine hours). 

Final thoughts

The XPS series of laptops sits atop the laptops from Dell and it is easy to see why. They bring cutting edge design language along with the best in specs to produce the best in performance. My only gripe is that I’d like a laptop with the cutting edge design of the XPS but in a cheaper, less powerful spec. Like what Apple has done with the MacBook Air laptops compared to the original MacBook lines.

For this XPS 16 though the design is great albeit a bit controversial in places. The borderless touchpad looks great and worked perfectly for me but while the capacitive function and other buttons above the keyboard look great they are not as easy to use which I ascribe to the lack of touch feedback. A key when you touch it gives feedback so you know you’ve pressed it. Capacitive buttons on phones etc usually have the option of feedback but these do not so their use is problematic and a far from perfect experience.

The keyboard is new for a laptop this size from Dell but after a small learning curve I loved it and the tpying experience it gave.

The OLED display though is great and even with the relatively reflective display it can be used in a bright room. I don’t use the touch function of a display on a keyboard much but it is nice to have when I do want it. Is it worth the extra thousand dollars though? Probably not. I just wish they would include a better resolution on the non-touch display so it is a much better option.

The Dell XPS 16 can be priced anywhere from $3,298.90 with 16GB RAM, 512GB SSD, Intel Arc Graphics and the non-touch FHD+ display up to $6,098.40 for all the works including an RTX4070, 64GB RAM, 2TB SSD and the OLED UHD+ touch display. If you want a powerful laptop that you can do all the things on, this is certainly one you should be looking at.