Dell XPS 14 and 15 laptops get long-awaited design refresh, Ivy Bridge processors

In addition to the inevitable upgrade to Intel's new CPUs, the laptops have received a bit of a facelift.

After refreshing its Inspiron laptops and even its Vostro portables, Dell has finally gotten around to sprucing up its XPS 14 and XPS 15 high-end notebooks. In addition to including the inevitable upgrade to Intel's new Ivy Bridge CPUs, the laptops have received a bit of a facelift to compete with the new designs from competitors.

The new XPS systems now feature anodized machined aluminum backing, Corning Gorilla Glass for the edge-to-edge displays, and magnesium alloy for the palm rests. The XPS 14 has been reduced to just 0.81 inches thick (and 4.6 pounds), while its bigger sibling is one tenth of an inch thicker and weighs 5.79 pounds. If you get an XPS 14 with a solid-state drive instead of a hard drive, it is considered an Ultrabook.

The XPS 14 (pictured above) offers either Intel Core i5-3317U or i7-3517U Ivy Bridge processor, 4GB or 8GB of RAM, and integrated Intel graphics or an Nvidia GeForce GT 630M graphics card. Storage options include the aforementioned 512GB SSD, 500GB hard drive, or the hard drive with a 32GB SSD with Intel Rapid Start Technology. It comes with an LED-backlit, 1,600x900 screen with a brightness of 400 nits. Dell claims a whopping battery life of over 11 hours for the beefier Core i7 and Nvidia graphics configuration, though that figure may be lower in independent lab testing.

For the XPS 15, Dell selected more powerful Ivy Bridge options: either the Core i5-3210M or i7-3612QM. You also get the GeForce GT 630M graphics standard, or you can upgrade to the GeForce GT 640M card. It comes with 6GB of RAM in the base configuration, but you can add up to 16GB if you choose. Storage options include the 500GB hard drive and 32GB SSD combination, a 750GB hard drive and 32GB SSD combination, or a 1TB hard drive with 128GB SSD. The 15.6-inch LED display packs full HD (1,920x1,080) resolution. While the XPS 14 eschews an optical drive, its big brother can be equipped with either a traditional DVD burner or Blu-ray drive.

Both models include the usual connectivity choices -- built-in 802.11n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0, USB 3.0 ports, and mini DisplayPort and HDMI connections -- but only the XPS 14 appears to offer mobile broadband options. Other upgrades include Dell ProSupport and Accidental Damage Service or Windows Trusted Platform Module with BitLocker Data Encryption.

Both systems will be available starting today, with the XPS 14 starting at $1,099 and the XPS 15 priced from $1,299.

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