Dell XPS 15 Vs HP dv6t Quad Edition Comparison: Which is Best?

Two of the most popular mainstream gaming capable laptops on the market at the moment are the Dell XPS 15 and HP dv6t Quad Edition.  The XPS 15 has a 15.6” screen and starts at $799.99 with an Intel Core i5 processor and the HP dv6t Quad Edition has the same size 15.6” screen and starts at $849 with an Intel Quad Core i7 processor.   These prices are before any inevitable coupons that are available.  For this comparison we’ll configure two mid-range laptops with very similar specs and try to come to a conclusion if one is better than the other or what type of buyer profile each laptop fits.

Dell XPS 15 Vs HP dv6t Quad Edition

HP Pavilion dv6t Quad Edition Dell XPS 15 (L502x)
Processor Intel Core i7-2670QM (2.2 GHz, 6MB L3 Cache) Intel Core i7-2670QM (2.2 GHz, 6MB L3 Cache)
Screen 15.6″ Full HD HP Anti-glare LED (1920 x 1080) 15.6 FHD B+RGLED TL (1920×1080)
OS Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit Genuine Windows 7 Home Premium, 64bit
Graphics AMD Radeon HD 6770M Graphics with 1 NVIDIA GeForce GT 540M 2GB graphics with Optimus
Memory 8GB DDR3 Memory 8GB DDR3 Memory
Storage 750GB 7200 RPM SATA Hard Drive 750GB 7200 RPM SATA Hard Drive
Optical Drive Tray Load Blu-ray Disc (Reads BD and Writes to DVD/CD) Tray Load Blu-ray Disc (Reads BD and Writes to DVD/CD)
Weight 5.8 lbs 5.96 lbs
Thickness 1.23″ (front) /1.39” (back) 1.3″ (front) /1.5″ (back)
Ports 4 USB (2 USB 2.0 and 2 USB 3.0), HDMI, VGA, Ethernet RJ-45, Multi-Format Digital Media Card Reader, 2 headphone ports, 1 mic-in port Mini DisplayPort, 2 total USB 3.0, 1 USB 2.0 (eSATA/powershare combo)
Ethernet (RJ-45), HDMI 1.4, headphone (2 total) with SPID/F support (1), 1 Mic-in, 9-in-1 media card reader
Battery Life 5 hours 8 minutes (with 6-cell battery) 4 hours (with 6-cell 56 WHr battery)
Web Camera HP TrueVision HD Webcam (? MP) Skype-Certified 2.0MP HD Webcam
Audio Beats audio with quad speakers for superior sound JBL 2.1 Speakers with Waves Maxx Audio 3
Price as Configured $1,109.99 $1,524.99

Below are screenshots of our final configured products and the price:

Dell XPS 15 Pricing $1,524.99

Dell XPS 15 price

HP dv6t Quad Pricing $1,109.99

image

Online Configuration Ease

In boiling down the specs comparison I have to give credit to Dell for being more forthcoming on their site as to what you’re actually getting internally.  HP tries to obfuscate the exact components with marketing fluff.  For instance, when choosing a graphics card for the dv6t Quad Edition HP offers the choices you see below in the screenshot on the graphics card config page:

image

How is the description “1GB Discrete GDDR5 Graphics AMD Radeon” useful?  It gives you no idea what the card actually is, and worse you have the option to upgrade to something of the same description for more.  I know from digging that the less expensive graphics card is an AMD 6750 while the more expensive is an AMD 6770, but HP doesn’t display that anywhere.  And this is just one example Let’s already give Dell a +1 for making configuration easier.

 Advantage: Dell XPS 15

Price

The pricing on the XPS 15 starts off competitively at $799.99, but the upgrades are extortionate!  At the time of configuration HP was offering a Free upgrade to 8GB of memory but Dell required me to spend $125 to go from the standard 4GB of memory to 8GB.  If you upgrade memory aftermarket by purchasing RAM from Newegg or Crucial it would cost around $30, save yourself money and don’t pay Dell $125 for something that costs them $30!  While the dv6tqe starts off with a Quad Core processor as the base offering the XPS 15 includes only  a Core i5, the upgrade to a Core i7 was $175, ouch!  The Blu-ray drive was a standard option for the dv6tqe, but it costs $80 to upgrade the XPS 15.  The list goes on for the overpriced upgrades Dell charges, once you move away from the base configuration the XPS 15 becomes very expensive.  HP is much more generous with Free upgrades and being more reasonable when charging for upgrades.

 Advantage: HP dv6t Quad Edition

Design

The dv6tqe is solidly constructed and has a dark umber brush metal finish, umber is described as a “natural clay brown” color.  It’s quite appealing, but not striking by any means:

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Overall the dv6t Quad design is decent, it has a couple of nice lighting effects with the HP badge glowing on the lid and also the touchpad having a light around it:

DSC_02201

The one big thing missing on the dv6tqe is a backlit keyboard, it simply has no option for such a thing but the XPS 15 offers a backlit keyboard standard.  The XPS 15 uses a silver anodized aluminum lid, it’s not a particularly stunning finish but nothing wrong with it either.

image

The XPS logo on the black hinge area lights up to give a pretty cool look.  Most importantly the XPS 15 has a standard backlit keyboard with adjustable lighting, which is both functional and stylish.  This feature alone in my mind gives it the design edge over the dv6tqe.

 Advantage:  Dell XPS 15

Battery Life

If you configure a 6-cell battery with both laptops you stand to get around 4 hours of battery life on the XPS 15 and 5+ hours on the dv6tqe.  Battery life of course varies by usage, those quoted times are based on standard use patterns such as web surfing and productivity, not game playing and video watching which would reduce battery times.  Any way you slice it, the dv6t Quad Edition offers better battery life.

 Advantage: HP dv6t Quad Edition

Screen

Both Dell and HP offer a basic 1366 x 768 resolution screen for those that want to save money or a more expensive but much nicer Full HD 1920 x 1080 option is available.  However, the Dell upgrade to the 1920 x 180 screen is enhanced by the fact it is an B+RGLED display, which is a mouthful to say but technically means the backlight is Red, Green and Blue and not just white (which is typical).  The RGB backlight gives a much wider range of color display and more true color representation at varying angles.  It’s a very nice screen and is what gives the XPS 15 such a good reputation among those that love watching movies where it really stands out.

 Advantage: Dell XPS 15

Processor Options and Performance

Right now the fastest processor you can get with the HP dv6t Quad Edition is the Intel Quad Core i7-2820QM 2.30GHz chip for a $350 upgrade from standard while the XPS 15 L502X offers up to the Core i7-2860QM 2.50GHz processor for a $500 upgrade from standard.  The dv6tqe standard processor is the Core i7-2670QM 2.2GHz processor and the XPS 15 is the Core i5-2430 2.40GHz.  So you get a better starting option with the HP but the Dell lets you top out at a higher performance.  The problem with Dell is that upgrades are a rip off and simply not worth it for the mild performance gain.  At the end of the day the processor options are close, we already evaluated pricing so we’ll ignore that.  We’ll call this a tie.

 Advantage: Tie

Graphics Card

The HP dv6t Quad Edition comes with the AMD Radeon 6770M and 2GB GDDR5 memory and the Dell offers the Nvidia 540M with 2GB of GDDR5 memory.  These cards are very close in performance and are considered to be on the cusp of being high-end cards.  NotebookCheck.net rates the AMD 6700M slightly higher, but it’s a very close call.  The upgrade cost for the dv6tqe to the fastest graphics is +$75 while for the Dell it’s +$100.  We’ll give the slight edge to the HP dv6t Quad Edition here.

 Advantage: HP dv6t Quad Edition

Weight and Thickness

The dv6t Quad Edition weighs 5.8lbs with the 6-cell battery and the XPS 15 weighs about 6lbs with the 6-cell.  The dv6t is 1.39” at its thickest point while the XPS 15 is a fat 1.5” at the back.  Neither laptop is thin or portable, but the HP wins if you do care about this feature in your purchasing decision.

Advantage: HP dv6t Quad Edition

Ports Selection

Here’s a list of the ports you get with the Dell XPS 15:

  • Mini DisplayPort
  • 2 total USB 3.0, 1 USB 2.0 (eSATA/powershare combo)
  • Ethernet (RJ-45)
  • HDMI 1.4
  • headphone (2 total) with SPID/F support (1)
  • 1 Mic-in
  • 9-in-1 media card reader

and the ports for the HP dv6t Quad Edition:

  • 4 USB (2 USB 2.0 and 2 USB 3.0)
  • HDMI 1.4
  • VGA
  • Ethernet RJ-45
  • Multi-Format Digital Media Card Reader
  • 2 headphone ports
  • 1 mic-in port

It’s a tough call to say one is better than the other, the dv6t offers more USB ports total but the XPS 15 offers a Mini DisplayPort that HP does not offer.  I’d say both offer an adequate number of ports and everything you really need.   This is another tie.

Advantage: Tie

Speakers

HP offers JBL branded speakers and Beats Audio, but none of this competes with the XPS 15 offering a sub-woofer.  The XPS 15 has a spacious body and so can fit bigger and better speakers.

 Advantage: Dell XPS 15

Warranty, Support and Return

One thing you should strongly consider when buying a laptop is the standard warranty length, quality of support and what the return polices are.   Dell offers a standard 1-year Basic Support that includes 24 x 7 hardware phone support, in-home service if remote diagnosis fails and fast repair of usually 1 – 2 business days.  HP offers the same 1-year warranty on hardware and you can get technical assistance via phone, chat or email.   HP offers basic software tech support within the warranty while Dell does not.  The cost to upgrade to 3-year accidental damage protection at HP is $247 and with Dell it’s $349 (although you do get a $50 Dell gift card if you choose that).  HP warranty upgrades tend to be cheaper.  I’ve used support from both companies and have to rate them at about even, they have both been good in my experience.

Where HP shines is in their return policy.  You can return an HP laptop within 15-days with no restocking fee for just about any reason.  Over the holidays that is extended to a month window for return, which is awesome!  Dell charges a restocking fee for any return so my nod goes to HP for this reason.

 Advantage: HP dv6t Quad Edition

And the Winner is?

31D2VEYTGHL._SL500_AA300_The dv6tqe and XPS 15 are both good laptops and depending on what you want feature wise one may be a clear winner for you.  If you want one of the best screens on the market for a 15.6” screen laptop and price is no concern, the XPS 15 might be a good choice.  However, since price is a big factor for most the HP dv6t Quad Edition has to be the winner we choose here.  For a similar configuration it’s a full $400 cheaper, and that’s before coupons, which HP usually has available to help price even more.  The upgrade costs for the XPS 15 are extortionate in some cases which is why the base level $799.99 price is misleading, most people will pay well over $1,000 when purchasing this laptop.  For the best value and performance for the buck, go with the dv6t Quad.

Comparison Summary Table (green tick indicates advantage, both with ticks indicates a tie)

Dell XPS 15 HP dv6t Quad Edition
Configuration Ease
Price and Value

$1,524.99

$1,109.99

Design
Thinness and Weight
Durability
Screen
Processor
Graphics
Battery Life
Speakers
Ports Selection
Warranty, Support & Return

 

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Filed Under: Dell Student Laptop, Feature Articles, HP Student Laptop

About AJ

I'm a big believer in the importance of technology usage in education, but not just having blind faith in technology gadgets and using them in a school setting for the sake of it. I review and write about technology devices such as laptops and tablets that have a clear purpose and provide a learning advantage for students.

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