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Dell XPS 16 (2024) review: Best Windows laptop I've tested so far this year

Dell took the 2023 XPS line and made it better performing with upgraded hardware, all while maintaining its stylish design. Could you ask for more?
Written by Cesar Cadenas, Contributing Writer

Dell XPS 16 (2024)

4 / 5
Very good

pros and cons

  • Stunning 4K display with thin bezels
  • Room-filling Dolby Atmos speakers
  • Powerful hardware
  • Low-profile keyboard can be a miss for some
  • Heavy materials
  • Divisive keyboard design

ZDNET's buying advice

Last year, I reviewed Dell's XPS 13, a laptop I thought was nice but decided wasn't for me. Despite the stunning display and keyboard, it lacked the hardware performance I typically looked for. Plus, it ran hot. I ended up liking the XPS 17 more instead. Dell apparently read my reviews because its newest laptop, the XPS 16, addresses all the problems I had with both the 13- and 17-inch models. The XPS 16 can be thought of as the fusion of the XPS 13 and XPS 17, sporting all of their best features while introducing several improvements.

Design-wise, the XPS 16 is reminiscent of the XPS 13; It has the same comfortable, zero-lattice keyboard as before plus the seamless glass trackpad below it. The capacitive touch function row even makes a comeback, and I love it. It's a clever way of having the Function and Media keys housed together without looking messy. Of course, I should mention the display has been upgraded too. It is now a gorgeous, 16-inch 4K OLED touchscreen surrounded by ultra-thin bezels, giving the illusion that it's bigger than it actually is.

My review unit came with the Intel Core Ultra 7 155H processor paired with an Nvidia GeForce RTX 4070 graphics card much like the XPS 17. Shoppers have the option for a more powerful CPU or lesser GPU model. The latter can be handy if you want to lower the price a bit. Either way, the XPS 16 can handle tough workloads, like video editing or graphical rendering, with ease, and it's arguably the best Windows laptop right now.


Display16.3-inch 4K OLED touchscreen
Weight4.8 lbs 
ProcessorUp to Intel Core Ultra 9 (45W)
RAM/StorageUp to 64GB LPDDR5x RAM/4TB SSD
BatteryUp to 12 hours
CameraFull HD (1080p) webcam
ConnectivityWi-Fi 7, Bluetooth 5.4
PriceStarting at $1,889

How I tested the Dell XPS 16

For testing, I used the XPS 16 as my everyday computer; I surfed the internet, did my daily work on it, and checked emails -- just about everything that you can do on a laptop, I did on this device. From there, I ran several benchmarking apps to get an idea of how the laptop functions under heavy workloads.

For browser choice, I installed Chrome, which is known for being resource-hungry. Then I proceeded to open multiple windows and tabs to see if there would be any significant slowdown (there wasn't). I hopped on Netflix and then Spotify to see how the XPS 16 functions as an entertainment device. The hardware configuration I tested gave the machine some serious muscle as made evident by the benchmark tests (I'll get into those later on).

What are the Dell XPS 16's best features?

Dell XPS 16
June Wan/ZDNET

Stunning 4K display: Without question, the crown jewel of the XPS 16 is the 4K display. I've already talked about how amazing it looks, but I have yet to mention the features that make the screen as good as it is. You see, the laptop supports Dolby Vision, a type of HDR software that enables vibrant shades of color and deep, dark shadows. Additionally, the display has a contrast ratio of 1,000,000:1, ensuring a high amount of detail as well as covering the entirety of the DCI-P3 color gamut resulting in even richer colors. 

Also: This Lenovo AIO PC will make you think twice about jumping straight to iMac

Despite how much I love the display, there is one small thing I'm not a big fan of and it's the fact that it is a touchscreen. This isn't a bad thing by itself; I just think it's unnecessary. It adds more weight to the laptop, plus the anti-smudge coating doesn't work very well. I'm seeing plenty of smudges only one week in.

Stylish yet efficient design: You already know how much I like XPS 16's keyboard, however, there are other design aspects I enjoy. On the sides and rear are vapor chamber vents keeping the laptop cool. They're quite robust as even when the computer became warm, it didn't last for long. The heat dissipated quickly thanks to the vents.

 Also, the internal fans can work harder by adjusting them via the thermal management tool on the MyDell app. Looking down at the keyboard, you'll see a new key for Windows Copilot. Hitting it causes the AI assistant to slide in from the right where you can ask it questions or command it to generate content. It's a neat inclusion to have on an already feature-stacked computer.

Cesar Cadenas/ZDNET

Booming, room-filling speakers: A good entertainment system can't exist without a good sound system. Awesome audio can add a lot to the immersion and the XPS 16 delivers in spades. The speakers consist of two tweeters alongside a pair of woofers housed on either side of the keyboard firing up. This ensures the output won't be muffled. 

Also: The best sound systems you can buy

What's more, the drivers are supported by a combination of Dolby Atmos and Waves Maxx Audio software. Putting everything together creates a rich, audio bubble emulating a theater-like experience. I'm telling you, you haven't watched an action movie on a laptop unless it was something like the XPS 16.

Powerful hardware: Of course, it would be remiss of me to not talk about how well the new hardware performs. To get an idea of what the XPS 16 is capable of, I ran it through several benchmarking tests and was impressed by how well it did. On Cinebench R23, it earned a score of 12,972, putting it squarely in fourth place among the app's sample processors. While on 3DMark, the laptop peaked with a score of 8,260. 

The former tests how fast a CPU can render a highly detailed image while the former tests for how well the laptop can run video games at high settings. Without getting into the nitty-gritty, all you need to know is these are above-average numbers. I didn't overclock the XPS 16 so I don't know its full potential, but still solid nonetheless. Expect great performance coming from this laptop.

Which laptop you should pick: XPS 13, 14, or 16?

Dell XPS 2024 CES
June Wan/ZDNET

The XPS 16 is part of a trio that includes the XPS 14 and a refreshed XPS 13. They're all great machines I would recommend to everyone, but which one is the best? For me, it comes down to two things: price and weight. You may be surprised to hear I'm not telling you to judge them based on their display or hardware. That's because they all excel in each of those areas. So much so, that it's hard to suggest one over the other purely on those premises.

What does matter is weight. It matters a lot. The XPS 16 is nearly five pounds, making it harder than it looks to carry around. Plus, its heft demands a lot of space. The other two, however, are slimmer. The XPS 13 is almost half the weight of the XPS 16 at 2.6 pounds while the XPS 14 clocks in at 3.8 pounds max. What's more, their smaller size lets them fit more comfortably on desks and on your lap.

Also: The best Windows laptops: Expert tested and reviewed

Of course, price plays a major factor. The XPS 16, because of its top-tier hardware, starts with a $1,899 price tag. Naturally, the XPS 13 is cheapest, starting at $1,399. However, a company rep told me Dell is working on an even more affordable model which will cost $1,299. The XPS 14 does sit in a bit of an awkward position with its $1,699 price tag, but it's your best bet if you want an XPS 13 with more muscle.

What I'd like to see in the next model

Dell XPS 16 keyboard
June Wan/ZDNET

More ports: The XPS 16's biggest flaw is the lack of ports. Despite having the hardware of a desktop computer, it only has three USB-C ports, an audio jack, and an SD card reader. Nothing for HDMI, USB-A, or anything else. This severely limits the laptop's capabilities since you can't connect many accessories to it. 

Granted, the laptop comes with a USB hub that lets you connect a USB-A drive and an HDMI cable, but that's not enough. More ports or a large hub like the ones packaged with the HP Spectre x360 would've been ideal. Since this isn't an option, I recommend buying a docking station.

Lack of proper haptic feedback: I really like the XPS 16's unique style; however, I can recognize the fact that it won't be for everyone. You see, the touchpad has a mushy feel to it. Dell claims to have equipped the trackpad with motors for responsive feedback. It's certainly responsive, but so has every laptop trackpad I've ever tried out. My feelings extend to the capacitive touchpad at the top. I like them, but I did experience questionable performance. Sometimes pressing the space next to a symbol key works, but other times the input is ignored. It's not the most consistent.

Final thought

Even though we're still so early in the year, I feel confident in saying the Dell XPS 16 is a contender for my favorite laptop of 2024. I thoroughly enjoyed my time with it. Like I said earlier, it feels like Dell read my review from 2023 and implemented changes solely to make me happy. 

Dell equipped the old XPS 13 with better hardware and blew up its screen to a full 4K display while sticking with its iconic look. I also enjoyed the wide array of features, specifically the ones that future-proof the laptop such as the Windows Copilot button. They'll make sure the laptop stays relevant for a long time, and that your investment is well worth it.

Alternatives to consider

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