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Is Dell XPS 15 L502x good notebook for a web/graphic designer?

Last response: in Laptops & Notebooks
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May 5, 2011 12:15:00 PM

I need a notebook for serious graphic/web design work, video card is not important for me. i5 and 4 GB ram is enough. The biggest question for me is the screen.

I had such options:

* Dell XPS 15 L502x with 1920x1080 with B+RGLED display, which judging by reviews on notebookcheck.net site is better than my next option.
* Sony Vaio EB4X1E or EB3Z1E
* I also have an option to choose Macbook Pro 15, but it's much more expensive, which is an issue for me, and I won't get 1920x1080 resolution. I also get better speakers with XPS 15.

Based on the reviews XPS 15 screen is very good, reviewer say it's suitable for professional photo editing. But what scares me a bit is that Dell preset 125% DPI in Windows 7 on this notebook, as if saying that otherwise everything will be too small to read. As a web designer, I think I would prefer 100% DPI as most users would see everything. At least if I will be drawing websites in Photoshop or Illustrator, I can't use higher DPI setting, it seems. I need to see real sizes as they are. So I'm a big worried that it will not be possible with this screen. But basically it's the only option besides MBP with bigger resolution option I see, and I like that Dell XPS FHD screen seems to get good rating in terms of color accuracy, not worse than MBP.

I know that some people even do design work on Macbook Air 13. Maybe somebody knows which PPI value Dell XMS 15 1920x1080 has?

Another thing: I like to type fast and blindly, so good keyboard is important for me. I hope Dell XPS has good enough keyboard.

Maybe somebody uses it for similar purposes I described? Would appreciate any thoughts.

Thanks.
a b D Laptop
May 5, 2011 12:52:46 PM

Keyboard review:
Quote:
Besides the keyboard backlighting, there's not much to say other than it works well. The layout is fine, and Dell skips on the numeric keypad to make room for the speakers. Normally, we'd question such a move, but in this case there's some good sound quality to back it up. The key travel is good, all of the important keys are readily accessible with no funky Fn-key combinations required (the function keys default to multimedia, but you can switch that setting in the BIOS). There's also very little flex—only if you mash down on the keys with several pounds of pressure do you see flex, and in regular use the keyboard works well.

http://www.anandtech.com/show/3999/dell-xps-15-l501x-re...

And some data on the screen: http://www.anandtech.com/show/4274/dell-xps-15-l502x-no...
I'm not a photo editor so I can't really comment on the whole DPI issue.
May 5, 2011 2:50:29 PM

lostandwandering, thank you. Actually the first link is a review of the older model.

I've read the newer review and it says:

"I actually liked the old L501x keyboard, and I sort of figured the L502x would be the same design. Well, it's not. The new keyboard is the chiclet style that has become so prevalent among consumer notebooks. I don't really mind typing on chiclet keyboards, and this one works well enough, but I felt there was more flex and less ruggedness to the overall design compared to the previous model. Some of that may just be my perception—I don't have the L501x handy to check—but as noted above the build quality feels more like a tweaked Inspiron rather than giving you the quality of a Latitude."

"I actually liked the old L501x keyboard, and I sort of figured the L502x would be the same design. Well, it's not. The new keyboard is the chiclet style that has become so prevalent among consumer notebooks. I don't really mind typing on chiclet keyboards, and this one works well enough, but I felt there was more flex and less ruggedness to the overall design compared to the previous model. Some of that may just be my perception—I don't have the L501x handy to check—but as noted above the build quality feels more like a tweaked Inspiron rather than giving you the quality of a Latitude."

Another review:

"The keyboard is one of the multimedia notebook's biggest drawbacks. The illuminated model that was installed in our test device attracted negative attention due to a fairly spongy typing feel. The keyboard is rather suboptimal for prolific typists – despite the agreeable typing noise. We would have liked to see a clearer and crisper trigger response."

I won't be getting a backlit keyboard.

But, I guess I don't have much choice here, if Dell's display is a bit better than Sony's, I will probably pick a better display, and also I don't like that Sony includes a numpad in 15" model. And Dell has a better sound.

Still would like to know if somebody uses this model for design.
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May 5, 2011 2:59:51 PM

I was also thinking about buying 17" notebook, because of the screen size. But as I know Dell XPS 17 doesn't come with B+RGLED display, which is a bit strange. So in terms of color accuracy that display will be worse, which I guess makes it not a good option for me...
May 5, 2011 3:39:59 PM

One of our web deisgners just got the XPS 15 - 502-
the screen required quite a bit of calibration, as all do, but afterwards all was good and it looks notably better than the Macbook pro personal machine he has - and as a note, Dreamweaver and Photoshop run much faster on the dell i5 SB than the brand new macbook pro..(and the screen looks better)

another developer has the Sager 5170 SB with the Matte screen - after calibration it looks just as good as the dell, and offered other benefits.
call JP over at xoticpc and see what he can do for you if you want to look at it, otherwise go with Dell if you buy the CompleteCare, as it is the better warranty.
a b D Laptop
May 5, 2011 3:47:14 PM

solarcquence said:
lostandwandering, thank you. Actually the first link is a review of the older model.

I've read the newer review and it says:

"I actually liked the old L501x keyboard, and I sort of figured the L502x would be the same design. Well, it's not. The new keyboard is the chiclet style that has become so prevalent among consumer notebooks. I don't really mind typing on chiclet keyboards, and this one works well enough, but I felt there was more flex and less ruggedness to the overall design compared to the previous model. Some of that may just be my perception—I don't have the L501x handy to check—but as noted above the build quality feels more like a tweaked Inspiron rather than giving you the quality of a Latitude."


I read both reviews and I must have missed his comments about the keyboard for the 502, my apologies.
May 5, 2011 6:56:17 PM

randomstar, thank you, I'm glad to know that information. :) 
May 6, 2011 6:02:34 AM

I found this topic about the fan issue, it seems like it's like that for all Dell XPS 15 l502x

http://forum.notebookreview.com/dell-xps-studio-xps/570...

Can anybody confirm or deny that? I saw one video review on youtube which talked about this problem of fan constantly going up and down. It's sad to hear about such issues and I'm hesitant to order this notebook so far.
a c 572 D Laptop
May 6, 2011 6:31:13 AM

solarcquence said:
I found this topic about the fan issue, it seems like it's like that for all Dell XPS 15 l502x
What was it in that topic that caused you to mistakenly jump to that conclusion or to miss the posts saying otherwise?


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May 6, 2011 11:33:48 AM

This goes further:

Quote:
I just tried this and much to my surprise, my laptop fan finally stopped! The moment I select balanced or high performance as a power setting, the fan will kick right back up.

Thanks for the knowledge. But am I the only one that thinks we all shouldnt have to be setting our high performance laptops to "power saver" mode all the time for regular use? We are essentially capping the performance, no?


and

Quote:
I spoke too soon. My fan started up again after a few minutes of silence.


Doesn't sound good.

And what if I want to use GPU for Photoshop? I will have the fan going up and down, it seems.
May 6, 2011 11:46:33 AM

On my desktop I have a passive cooling video card with GeForce GT 220, 1 GB RAM, which is perfectly enough for me as I like to disable OpenGL acceleration (or whatever) in Photoshop anyway. But as I understand that 1 GB is used for documents and images in Photoshop. With Dell XPS 15 I will be getting 2GB, NVIDIA GeForce GT 540M (just because it's what they have in store, I would take weaker video). So I'm not sure if I be able to use integrated video in Photoshop without having the fan bothering me. I would have that, because on my desktop I have quiet CPU fan, no video card fan, I like it to be silent.
May 6, 2011 11:53:14 AM

Sorry, I meant to say that I'm not sure if I be able to use Photoshop CS5 with either integrated video or GT 540M without having fan issues bothering me. I think I'll need GPUs RAM for Photoshop, though I'm not a specialist in these things.

Generally it seems like a serious issue for people.
May 6, 2011 3:26:20 PM

Pure and simple: If you are going to do anything heavy on a notebook, it is going to spin the fan up and down.
there is simply not enough airspace and cooling volume for it to be any other way.
If you have to have quiet, powerful is pretty going to be out. that being said, my asus g73 is not very loud even with all the fans spun up.
but it has a much better ( and more expensive!) config.
May 6, 2011 3:44:22 PM

Thank you.

Quote:
If you are going to do anything heavy on a notebook, it is going to spin the fan up and down.
there is simply not enough airspace and cooling volume for it to be any other way.


I think better explanation is bad engineering on Dell's side as other people say, because what bothers people is not so much the noise, but the fact that it works weirdly and that could be avoided. It could just spin always more quietly and then speed up instead of going on and off and whatever.

The thing is that I really don't need powerful. i5, 4mb ram, pretty much any video card with 1 GB Vram is all I need. It's plenty for Photoshop, Illustrator. But screen is important for me (bigger resolution and colors) and I don't have that much choices where I live.

* Sony VAIO EB4X1E. 1920x1080 is good, but I think Dell's display is slightly better maybe, and I like Dell's absence of numpad more. I might be forced to pick this...

* Dell Latitude E6510. 1600x900 Antiglare here. From video reviews looks quite bulky and keyboard is oldschool. Depends on the screen and other features if I can live with that.

* Dell Latitude E6520 expensive, I don't want to pay that much. Has 1920x1080 Antiglare, but not sure if it's as good as B+RG screen.

* Asus K72F. 1600x900. I wonder why it's so cheap.

* Lenovo Thinkpad T420. 1600x900 Antiglare. I don't think it's a notebook for me, just from the looks. And screen is probably not that good.
May 6, 2011 3:53:21 PM

Asus G73SW is available to me and is probably great, but it's too expensive really. Costs more than MBP. Also there's Asus N73SV, price is good and 1920x1080 screen but I'm searching for any reviews at the moment.
May 6, 2011 7:42:50 PM

I could buy used 2009 Macbook Pro 17, it doesn't have a guarantee and more expensive than Dell XPS 15. At least so much the seller is asking. I don't know if it's reasonable.

1920x1200 (good for me), Intel Core 2 Duo T9550 2.66 GHz, 4GB DDR3, 320GB 5400rpm (it's enough, but not very fast). Not too impressive, but I think it could be enough. And it would run Mac OS. I don't know much about this OS. I'm watching a video at the moment which explains some of its advantages...
May 6, 2011 8:38:00 PM

you will have to buy completely different versions of the Adobe Photoshop stuff- usually the MAC and PC stuff are not in the same box. if you want to go back to a core2 duo you could just get a Dell Precision from the outlet store for much cheaper, with a pro type graphics adapter in it.
September 25, 2011 10:19:16 PM

let dell go to hell
Anonymous
a b D Laptop
September 27, 2011 12:20:34 PM

I HAVE THE DELL XPS L502X!!! DO NOT BUY!!!

I have had a new fan and two new motherboards....it is now working - but the fan noise IS A LIVING HELL. I have desperately tried to fix with software upgrades etc...its just not possible. If you want to hear and see my problems - I've recorded two videos on You Tube so you can see and hear the nightmare.

On top of this, my girlfriend bought the same spec Apple Powerbook i7, nVidia etc... (I needed windows software, and couldnt justify the extra expense)....well let me tell you, I charge my time out at £250 quid a day doing graphics stuff etc...and I have spent WEEKS trying to fix the computer. I can tell you - dont even think about buying the Dell -YOU WILL NOT SAVE MONEY. I will never buy again...I'm still using the Dell ((typing on it right now) but with Earplugs (I'm absolutely serious). So if you're deaf and an IT professional - then maybe consider it (you can HAVE mine)...for the rest of us mere mortals who have got more important things to do than become best mates with the local Dell Engineer or on first name terms with all the Call Centre Workers in India....then for the love of god, buy an Apple and save yourself the Hell I have been through:

Here are my two videos on You Tube so you can see this experience is for absolute real:

Part 1 of my Dell Nightmare: http://youtu.be/5n2w2C7KVkw
Last instalment before my suicide: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cbFsP64G1TI&feature=mfu_...

November 20, 2011 8:16:14 PM

I got the Dell XPS 15 L502X. It's fast, not that loud when under load, and doesn't get too hot. It has very, very far superior audio, and it has no problems whatsoever.

If you have any problems, it would have to be caused by either the company that shipped it or you - there are typically absolutely no OOTB issues, and it gets right just about everything - and even aces in things that notebooks typically lack - like perfect screen contrast, perfect audio, and perfect workmanship.
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