The Dell Studio XPS 16 is music to my ears

The Dell Studio XPS 16 is music to my ears

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I’ve had the privilege of working with a loaded Dell Studio XPS 16 – the same machine that we partnered with Dell and Darek Mazzone to deliver to some of the world’s hottest DJs. I’ve been using the Dell Studio XPS 16 as my main laptop in my office (I use it pretty much like a desktop, it very rarely leaves building 37), and I can tell you first-hand that this is one of the finest laptops on the market today.


Spec wise, there aren’t that many machines that touch the Studio XPS. Mine is loaded with a Core i5-520, 8GB of DDR3 RAM, a 256GB SSD, ATI Mobility Radeon HD 4670 graphics that power a full 1080p display, a multi-touch trackpad, and HD Audio. As you can see from its Windows Experience Index scores, it’s more powerful than most desktops!

Studio XPS 16 WEI

The SSD, processor and RAM combination makes for screaming fast performance. I routinely work with Windows 7 Ultimate running Zune, Internet Explorer (with 10+ tabs at a time), Outlook 2010, Word 2010, PowerPoint 2010, OneNote 2010, Excel 2010, TweetDeck, Digsby Messenger, Sticky Notes, Windows Live Mail and Windows Live Sync open all at the same time, and the XPS hums along without issue. And my favorite part is that I can cold-boot it in about 21 seconds, which is silly fast.

Beyond the impressive specs, the Studio XPS 16 has stunning industrial design. The case is an elegant blend of black pearlescent polycarbonate and aluminum. It’s an interesting juxtaposition of materials that has a modern feel, but also gives the laptop a sense of sturdiness that speaks to its premium pedigree. Balance is good, and the chassis is complimented by bright edge-to-edge glass, a 3-stage backlit keyboard and A/V controls, and a slot load DVD drive. A Blu-Ray option is available, but mine doesn’t have it. Speakers baguette the keyboard, and while small, they put out very rich sound. As my office neighbors will tell you, this thing can get LOUD if you want it to – I usually keep my Zune volume at 10-15 (it goes up to 100) and it more than fills my office with sound.   Speaking of my office, here’s my setup:


Battery life is good, particularly with the extended battery installed. I get a little over 5 hours of run time under normal workloads, compared to around 3 with the standard battery. Both batteries have an LED power indicator built-in so you can check charge without powering up the box. It’s a nice touch.

The only downside to this kind of horsepower and design is weight – the thing is definitely heavy and checks in at almost 8 lbs. Also, the screen is 15.6”, which is why it falls into the “16 inch” class rather than the “15 inch” class. That’s not a problem per se, but it can make fitting the laptop into a bag kind of awkward. Most bags are sized for 15” laptops, so I found that getting the Studio XPS 16 in to a few, like the Timbuk2 medium laptop messenger and even my OGIO Mastermind, was awkward. You’ll want to invest in a bag that holds a 17” laptop to fit this comfortably.

If you’re in the market for a beautiful, powerful premium laptop, definitely check out the Studio XPS 16. I’ve been very happy with mine, and its power and screen resolution have helped me stave off the urge to buy a dedicated desktop.

Have a question about the Dell Studio XPS 16?  Leave a comment or hit me on Twitter.  And remember, you can Ask Ben Anything about this or any other PC!

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  • Yes, this system is a beast!  It's one of my favorite PCs right now.  Despite the weight, it's awesome.  @Steven:  The Envy is a nice PC too (I really like the new Envy 14).  I do wish battery life was a bit better, but the performance and design are killer.

  • good grief, that thing's a monster! wow!! would i like to get my hands on one of those....

  • Steven
    5 Posts

    Something like the HP Envy 15 or 17 might be a good fit too. The finish on those is great, powerful Core series processors, and they are little thinner and lighter than the XPS 16. Their battery life isn't as good though, so that's a downside.

  • JohnCz
    204 Posts

    XPS 16 looks Solid.  For me, the 256GB SSD is a tad overkill.  But I'm a strong proponent of moving toward centralized storage using Windows Home Server.  I think 64GB SSD is just right.  256GB is probably appropriate if you are doing alot of video editing.  The cost savings between a 64GB and 256GB SSD virtually pays for a new WHS.  You get the best of both worlds, optimal portable device performance and battery life along with virtually limitless WHS storage and convenient remote access.  You do have to be good about moving files to your network storage.  Thankfully there are ways to automate the process of discovering older files (ex >60 days) and moving those files/folder structures to Windows Home Server.

  • ericesque
    34 Posts

    Boy, that is a nice bit of kit.  A similar configuration at Dell's site pushes $2200 without an extended warranty.  With those specs it truly is a portable desktop.  Thanks for the review!