Dell XPS L501x Application Performance

PCMark loves SSDs, so the performance of the L501x isn't going to break any records there. Actually, the i5-460M processor is pretty common as well, striking a balance between price and performance. Clocked at 2.53GHz with only a 2.80GHz Turbo Boost available, it's slightly slower than the i5-540M (lower Turbo) but as an OEM part the prices are probably far more attractive. Despite the return to the "pure" XPS name, the new XPS line essentially continues from where the Studio XPS left off. These are good multimedia platforms with mainstream gaming performance, suitable for all but the most demanding users.

Here's how the L501x compares to several other recently reviewed laptops. We've chosen to highlight two other laptops for comparison: the ASUS N82Jv and the Toshiba A660D. The N82Jv is a good all-around laptop with a similar size and performance while the A660D represents the high-water mark for current AMD Danube platforms. Actually, that's not entirely true—AMD has faster mobile parts available—but the A660D is at least in the same price range as the base XPS L501x. We've also got results from the latest MacBook Pro 13 in our charts, but we really need a comparison with the MBP15 (under Windows) to be fair, so we won't make too much of the MBP13 here.

Futuremark PCMark Vantage

Futuremark PCMark05

3D Rendering - CINEBENCH R10

3D Rendering - CINEBENCH R10

Video Encoding - x264

Video Encoding - x264

General performance is right where we'd expect it for the CPU, GPU, and HDD combination. The L501x trails the N82Jv slightly in PCMark Vantage but reasserts itself in the CPU intensive CINEBENCH and x264 testing. The higher base clock speed also puts it within striking distance of the i7-720QM in multi-threaded tasks, so unless you really need every last ounce of multi-core power the dual-core i5-460M is a compelling alternative—and don't forget the loss of Optimus (and the price increase) that comes with moving to Clarksfield processors. As a balanced platform, Arrandale is very difficult to beat, and AMD will need its Bulldozer/Llana mobile offerings before it can go toe-to-toe with Intel laptops.

Up Close and Personal with the Dell XPS L501x Dell XPS L501x Gaming and Graphics Performance
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  • barnett25 - Wednesday, November 10, 2010 - link

    As always a great review. Just wanted to throw that out there because it amazes me how much people complain about the most ridiculous things in reviews on this site.
  • Dug - Wednesday, November 10, 2010 - link

    Pc laptop makers still don't get it. (Except HP with Envy line, which is just a knock off of Mac).
    Just like monitor manufacturers. Just make a simple square black border. Don't add curves, or shiny black borders, or ugly angles.

    This thing is horrible to look at.

    Why can't manufacturers make a simple design? I don't care if its a little thicker than a mac, just don't add stupid crap that isn't necessary, put stickers all over it, etc. It's not that hard, and would actually be cheaper to manufacture.
    For instance the thinkpad series, the border of the screen has engraved lines, hooks, odd spacing on one side, different depths. Why?
    I think the timeline x series is close, but still not quite there. It is very close to specs on this except the screen. 3x battery life, better video card, 4.5lbs.
  • Dug - Wednesday, November 10, 2010 - link

    I think this would be a much better alternative.

    $803 with better specs, better looking, and more custum options.
  • JarredWalton - Wednesday, November 10, 2010 - link

    We'll have a look at that Clevo B5130M unit in the near future. I can tell you already that it's just as bulky and the speakers sound like crap, and the build quality doesn't look great either. It's got a good 1080p LCD though (very possibly the same one as the L501x).

    As for the curves and other styling, that's ultimately a case of personal opinion. I happen to like the L501x; if I had any serious complaints with it I wouldn't have given it the Gold EC award. Some will like simple, some will like the curves; the angled edges also make it more comfortable to rest your hands on the laptop IMO. Some people think the Alienware M11x/M15x/M17x looks freaking awesome, I find it to be somewhat impractical and am perfectly happy with "average" laptops. I also like the way ThinkPads and Latitudes look and feel -- they're nothing like the L501x, but they're built more solidly.

    I'm a little confused at some of your comments, though... I suppose you're referring to laptops in general, because the L501x is very clean with no stickers to speak of, and I'm not sure what would qualify as "stupid crap" on this laptop.

    Anyway, Clevo's B5130M looks to be a fairly decent laptop and we'll have a full review from Dustin in the not-too-distant future. Stay tuned....
  • Dug - Wednesday, November 10, 2010 - link

    I was speaking of the sides. I don't mind curves around the screen or body as long as its a uniform look, but the sides just look terrible. At least keep the same color of the palm area.
    The lines should just run even to the back, instead there's some curve and it makes it look like the back flares out.
    I also don't need the dvd, multi reader, cdrw, blu-ray, etc junk on the drive. It just looks so bad.

    Even the Inspiron has cleaner lines, except for some idiot marketing dept that decided glossy black is what people want where their palms rest. Sony has good lines too.

    I also think 1.5" and 6.5 lbs is too much for what you are getting. I am assuming that the speakers are what is taking so much space. Or just bad design.
  • barnett25 - Wednesday, November 10, 2010 - link

    " I am assuming that the speakers are what is taking so much space. Or just bad design."

    Or cooling?
    I think Dell may be trying to avoid the overheating issues of XPSs past.

    I like a good looking device as much as the next person but I personally feel Dell made a good call on this one. Half the good looking laptops out there overheat, I would rather have a reliable laptop than one that just looks good.
  • Pylon757 - Sunday, November 14, 2010 - link

    The recent Thinkpad series fixed most of the problems you listed, and overall it's a more integrated look. They've got centered screens, no pesky grille things on the screen, etc. However, the hook on the top is still necessary for the Thinklight.

    I think the Latitude E-series are pretty close too. My E6410 is a great looking laptop IMO. Brushed metal lid and all corners.

    As for curves, my opinion is that doing them right is really hard. This laptop clearly doesn't do them well. I personally think that the unibody white Macbook is a really good example of using curves well. It fits really well into the design, and even adds a lot of functionality since the curved edges make a really nice grip.
  • Aikouka - Wednesday, November 10, 2010 - link

    It's nice to see a look similar to the older Dell XPS M1530 (which I own), but with more curves added. I am a bit bummed that they kind of tacked on the 1080p LCD without adding a graphics option that can truly handle it. When I looked at Dell's new line-up, I also noticed that the 17" laptop doesn't even have a 1080p option (unless it was recently added) but has the fastest GPU option available.
  • notfeelingit - Wednesday, November 10, 2010 - link

    * The touchpad belongs in the center of the laptop. No one is using it with their thumbs while also using the keyboard. It should be as large as possible and directly proportional to the aspect ratio of the screen. Also, mouse buttons are dumb.
    * Chiclet keys are the best.
    * Batteries don't need to be super easy to change. If you design your laptop around this principle you will be able to make the laptop smaller while keeping excellent battery life. Maybe make an external battery option for business folks.
    * Lose the optical drive.
    * Only LED screens from now on, please.

    Basically, just make a MBP, minus the optical drive, and knock the $800 apple tax off and everyone on planet earth will purchase your laptop.
  • JarredWalton - Wednesday, November 10, 2010 - link

    1 - Completely disagree on the touchpad buttons. I've used buttonless options and I hated it. Apple seems to have done it better, but I'll keep the buttons thank you.
    2 - I don't think chiclet is best; it's a stylistic thing that looks okay, but if you want a good keyboard try a ThinkPad or a Dell Latitude.
    3 - I agree they don't need to be removable at the flip of a switch for many users, but they also need to be user-replaceable.
    4 - Disagree based on input from quite a few people. I've had more than my share of friends see one of my test laptops without an optical drive and they can't figure out what they're supposed to do. When I tell them to buy an external USB drive or just use the network, they look at me like I'm speaking another language. The masses disagree with you here, and even if Apple goes this route it doesn't make it the right choice.
    5 - Name me one laptop out there that doesn't use LED backlighting... just one! What you need to say is "stop using crappy panels with tons of backlight bleed."

    Pretty much every one of the items in your list is personal opinion, and your opinion is that everything should be a MacBook clone (more or less). I'd like to see a good Windows laptop that incorporates most of the above elements, but by no stretch of the imagination do I think that should be the only way to spec out and build a laptop. There's room for a lot of variety, and while some may not like the L501x styling I think it looks great.

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