Dell XPS-15Z

Dell XPS-15Z
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About the Dell XPS-15Z
The Dell XPS-15Z was introduced in 2011 but is still a usable computer today because it was so far ahead of its time. It had unrealized speed and was held back only by a sluggish hard drive. Replacing the hard drive with a solid-state drive releases the XPS-15Z's full potential and makes it fast enough to compete with much newer hardware.

XPS stands for Xtreme Performance System, which is Dell's premium line of computers. They're high-end machines made from better materials than Inspirons, Latitudes, and much better materials than the plastic junk you see for sale today at big box stores. Unlike a Chromebook, the XPS-15Z is a real computer and can run pretty much any Windows 10 software with or without Internet access. Unlike current Dell laptops the 15Z has an Ethernet port and an optical (CD/DVD) drive. The extra weight means that it does not officially qualify as an "ultrabook."

Before You Buy an XPS-15Z
Before you buy a used or refurbished XPS-15Z, read this page and make sure you know exactly what you're getting. Very few of the listings on eBay tell you everything you need to know and some can be quite deceptive. If you're not careful, you may be disappointed with what you get. For example, you may find an XPS-15Z that sounds terrific but when you take it out of the box and boot it up you discover that it has a low-resolution screen, not a 1920 x 1080 Full High Definition screen. You can't return it so you're stuck with a computer that you would never have bought had you known.

Graphics and Gaming
The XPS-15Z was designed to be a general-purpose laptop with the ability to run games well enough to satisfy anyone other than a hard-core gamer, but that was some time ago. If you want to run resource-intensive games at high settings this is not the right computer for you. The XPS-15Z has two graphics processors: an energy-efficient Intel HD Graphics 3000 and a high-performance Nvidia GeForce GT 525M with either 1GB or 2GB of graphics RAM for gaming. Nvidia Optimus technology switches from one GPU to the other automatically depending on what you're doing. The Nvidia GeForce Experience program scans your system for games and chooses the optimal settings for them. A cooling pad is highly recommended if you intend to run games. Some XPS-15Z heat sinks were assembled with less than optimal thermal materials and the GPU can get hot.

Screen Resolution (1366 x 768) vs. (1920 x 1080)
The XPS-15Z originally had a 1366 x 768 pixel screen. This is emphatically not recommended. The XPS-15Zs I sell have a 1920 x 1080 Full High Definition screen which is still the standard screen on new computers being sold today. 4K screens are significantly more expensive and a waste of money for most people.

Solid-State Drive (SSD) vs. Hard Disk Drive (HDD)
A solid-state drive provides much better interactive performance than a hard disk drive. Operating systems constantly read data from the C drive and write it back out. The speed at which they can do that is often the limiting factor in performance. Don't be swindled by ads claiming 1TB because they may be trying to sell you a 1TB hard drive.

The XPS-15Z can use any standard 2.5 inch SATA drive or an M.2 drive with a SATA adapter. Most people can get along just fine with a 256GB drive. Those who store videos and other large media files should have at least 500GB. The XPS-15Zs I sell have a 500GB Samsung 850 EVO SSD installed by default. You can get a 1TB SSD on request with a corresponding price adjustment.

Optical Drive
The CD/DVD drive in the XPS-15Z does not have a moving tray. It's a slot on the side of the laptop. To eject a disk run Windows Explorer, right-click the drive, and select Eject.

Intel Core i5 vs. i7 CPU
The XPS-15Z has either a quad-core i5 that runs at 2.50Ghz or a dual-core i7 that runs at 2.80 GHz. If you only use the computer for email, web browsing, editing documents, etc., you won't notice any difference, but if you run compute-intensive applications you will. You cannot upgrade the CPU or the GPU without replacing the entire motherboard.

Memory (RAM)
The XPS-15Z originally had 4GB of RAM (two 2GB cards). The XPS-15Zs I sell have been upgraded to 8GB (two 4GB cards). You can upgrade it to 16GB (two 8GB cards) but no higher. Mismatched memory cards such as one 4GB card and one 2GB card are not recommended.

Body and Keyboard
The XPS-15Z has an aluminum body that's susceptible to scratches and dents. The chrome strip around the edge of the palm rest (keyboard surface) is easily broken. It's rare to see a used XPS-15Z with an undamaged chrome strip. The XPS-15Zs I sell have brand-new palmrests with perfect chrome strips.

Windows 10
The XPS-15Z originally came with Windows 7. The XPS-15Zs I sell have been upgraded to Windows 10. Home to Pro upgrades are available.
  • all important Windows 10 Updates have been installed
  • the system comes with a Windows license (product key) will work in the future should you ever need to wipe the drive and reinstall Windows

XPS-15Z Features
  • ultra-thin aluminum chassis
  • magnesium alloy palm rest
  • stereo speakers
  • backlit keyboard with no numeric keypad
  • Cypress multi-gesture touchpad with pinch-to-zoom and scrolling
  • two USB 3.0 ports
  • eSATA/USB combo port
  • mini-DisplayPort
  • HDMI port
  • optical drive (slot-load 8X DVD burner)
  • battery indicator lights
  • Intel Centrino Advanced-N 6230 802.11a/b/g/n wireless card
  • Bluetooth 3.0
  • 1.3MP webcam
  • 8-cell Li-ion battery (64WHh)
  • RJ-45 (Ethernet 10/100/1000)
  • Headphone / Mic Input Jacks
  • 9-in-1 Multimedia Card Reader
  • weight: 5.5 lbs.
  • dimensions: 15.15 x 10.25 x 0.97 inches
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