Dell XPS 15 L521X – Full Review

Dell XPS 15 L521X
Dell XPS 15 L521X

The Dell XPS 15 L521X was introduced in 2012, this is an upgrade from the Dell XPS 15 L501X which was launched in 2010. XPS stands for Xtreme Performance System, which is Dell’s premium line of computers.

The Dell XPS creates a high-end machine made of better materials than the Inspirons, Latitudes, and much better materials. The L521X is the last model in the XPS 15 line to have an Ethernet port and an optical drive (CD/DVD).

Dell XPS 15 L521x Update from Previous Series

I have had some good experiences with the Dell XPS 15 line of laptops over the years, in almost every case I had some minor gripes. The previous model is still expensive and there are elements of performance that are lacking such as having an awesome RGB LED backlight display, but it tends to run a little hot.

With this relaunch of the XPS in 2012, the XPS 15 provided a good look and a well-balanced set of components enough to earn a Gold Editor’s Choice award, but the chassis was understandably a little too rounded for some tastes. The XPS 15 Sandy Bridge update improves CPU and GPU options, but six months after the first XPS 15 I’m even less captivated by the chassis.

Dell upgraded the XPS 15 in some areas, the L521X has a thinner and sleeker-looking chassis, but downgrades support for quad-core processors, downgrades the GPU slightly, has some thermal issues, and perhaps most worryingly is build quality.

Read also: Dell XPS 15 9560 Review

Dell XPS 15 L521x Details

Dell XPS 15 L521x Details
Dell XPS 15 L521x Details

The Dell XPS line of laptops is known for its sleek and sturdy design. The XPS 15 L521X is engineered with high-quality components, featuring a quad-core Core i7 (Ivy Bridge) processor and discrete graphics from NVIDIA that are powerful for gaming and graphics.

The XPS 15 L521X has a 15.6″ Full HD Display which is covered with Gorilla Glass to the edges it looks like a MacBook Pro. The XPS 15 L521X also uses advanced Waves MaxxAudio audio technology that produces sound with a very good subwoofer.

The unibody aluminum block case is the most beautiful and sturdy design in XPS laptops, the bottom is made of super durable carbon fiber (the best and most expensive material for laptops). The keyboard shines very smoothly. This machine is included in the thinnest and most luxurious design in the current line of 15-inch laptops.

Read also: Dell XPS 15 9550


The following Dell XPS 15 L521x Specs

ProcessorIntel i7-3612QM
(Quad-core 2.10-3.10GHz, 6MB L3, 22nm, 35W)
GraphicsNVIDIA GeForce GT 640M 2GB GDDR5 (Optimus)
(384 cores at 624MHz/709MHz Boost, 128-bit GDDR5-4000)
Display15.6″ WLED Glossy 16:9 1080p (1920×1080)
Storage750GB 7200RPM HDD (Seagate ST9750420AS)
32GB mSATA caching SSD (Samsung PM830)
Optical DriveBlu-ray Combo slot-load (Matshita UJ167)
Networking802.11n dual-band 300Mb WiFi (Intel 6235)
Bluetooth 4.0 (Intel 6235)
Gigabit Ethernet (Realtek RTL8168/8111)
AudioRealtek ALC269
Stereo Speakers
Headphone/Microphone jacks
Battery/Power9-cell, 14.8V, 4400mAh, ~65Wh
90W Max AC Adapter (19.5V, 4.72A)
Left Side3 x USB 3.0
Gigabit Ethernet
AC Power Connection
Right SideHeadphone and Microphone jacks
Kensington Lock
Memory Card Reader
Optical Drive (BD-Combo)
Operating SystemWindow
Dimensions14.6″ x 9.8″ x 0.91″ (WxDxH)
(371mm x 249mm x 23.2mm)
Weight5.79 lbs (2.6kg)
Extras1.3MP HD Webcam
80-key Backlit Keyboard (Spill Resistant)
Memory Card Reader (MMC/MS Pro/SD)


Dell XPS 15 L521x  Design
Dell XPS 15 L521x Design

The Dell XPS 15 L521X is made of solid aluminum which is very similar to Apple’s Macbook line, the Dell logo is also located in the center of the outside of the laptop body. Around it is a thin silver aluminum strip that covers the edges of the device.

The inside of the Dell XPS 15 L521X body is made of magnesium alloy with a matte black finish. This material not only makes the XPS 15 look unique, it also feels comfortable on the wrist when typing. The backlit keyboard makes it easy to type in a dark room.

Graphics Card

Equipped with a discrete Nvidia GeForce GT 640M graphics card with 2 GB VRAM, the Dell XPS 15 can play some games with high graphics requirements, but users cannot install them on the highest settings.

Testing with “Batman: Arkham City”, the XPS 15 hit 36 ​​fps with a resolution of 1366 x 768 pixels, low settings. The frame rate drops to 28 fps when increasing the resolution to 1920 x 1080 pixels. With the highest setting, the frame rate is only 13 fps. The MSI GT60 dedicated gaming laptop delivers a frame rate of 47 fps with high settings and a resolution of 1366 x 768 pixels. That’s thanks to a machine that uses the more advanced XPS 15 discrete graphics card, the Nvidia GeForce GTX 670M card.

Read also: Dell XPS 15 9530

The XPS 15 also delivers high synthetic benchmarks. The machine reached 1801 points with 3DMark11. The mainstream laptop line only gives an average score of 997 points. Although the Acer Aspire V3 also uses an Nvidia GeForce GT 640M graphics card, it gives a higher score (1929 points), however, perhaps the Acer laptop could benefit from a lower screen resolution (1366 x 768 pixels). In Boot Camp mode, the Retina MacBook Pro beat the XPS 15 by 2275 points.

Screen Display

The XPS 15 L521X display is one of the hallmarks of this laptop and is one of the best in a 15.6″ display notebook in its class. The Full HD (1920×1080 pixels) display with an IPS panel allows text to be displayed on the screen in vivid and vibrant colors. The XPS 15’s edge-to-edge display is also protected by Gorilla Glass.

Testing of the “Total Recall” trailer (1080p) shows that viewers can easily see the scars caused by the bullets on Farrell’s body, even in darker scenes. Also tested watching the Skyfall trailer (1080p resolution), and the beard on the character appears sharp. In addition, the screen also offers a wide viewing angle. Colors are still very vivid even if the viewer looks up to 90 degrees to the left or right of the center of the device.

Read also: Dell XPS 15 9575 (2-in-1) Hybrid Laptop

At 323 lux, the XPS 15 stands out from the mainstream laptop’s 260 lux average, as well as the MacBook Pro’s (223 lux) display brightness. The machine also beats the HP Envy 15 (243 lux brightness) and the Acer Aspire V3 (212 lux). However, screen gloss is a big annoyance, especially when using the device in conditions with strong light sources.


The XPS 15 L521X keyboard has a very spacious design. The slightly curved keys are an advantage of the XPS 15. With this keyboard layout it will help you type quickly and accurately. However, the Dell XPS 15’s main ride is a bit shallow for not-so-similar typing. The keyboard has a very bright backlight, spread over the entire surface for efficient night work.


The machine uses a Synaptics mirror trackpad measuring 9.9 x 7.1 cm with a smooth surface that makes navigation very easy. Multi-touch controls such as 2-finger rotation, pinch-finger zoom and 2-finger scrolling can all be done easily. You can also scan 4 fingers to show the desktop.

When making a selection, the trackpad provides strong haptic feedback with a clear click. The only annoyance was that the trackpad got stuck when we accidentally placed the edge of the left palm on the trackpad while trying to navigate with our right index finger.

Read also: Dell XPS 15 9570 Review

Audio Speaker

The sound on the XPS 15 is loud and clear when turning on the movie setting (Movie) in the machine’s MaxxAudio sound control panel. Apart from this mode, the machine also has other presets including Music, Game, Sound and MaxxSense, but these settings don’t provide the volume or sound quality as high as the Movie mode. Listen to Frank Ocean’s “Thinking ‘Bout You’, the entire song, with synthesizer-influenced influences, provides a very thick bass base. However, ignoring Ocean’s slightly “distorted” sound, the XPS 15’s speakers do their job pretty well.


Blu-Ray player, 3-in-1 card reader, headphone jack and combo microphone/headphone jack, Kensington lock slot are located on the right side of the device. The left side has 3 USB 3.0 ports, mini-DisplayPort, HDMI, Ethernet, power jack.

Read also: Dell XPS 15 7590 (2019) Review


The XPS 15 has a 1.3 MP webcam that captures still images and video at a resolution of 1280 x 1024 pixels using Dell Webcam Central software. The photo taken from the webcam is a bit dark under the fluorescent light. Better color accuracy in natural light. In both shooting conditions, the image has severe noise.

Dell XPS 15 L521x Battery life

Continuous web surfing was tested with wifi and at 40% screen brightness, the Dell XPS 15 L521x Battery life lasted 5 hours and 7 minutes. It’s not a bad battery life if you look at the sharp high-resolution screen (which is a very power-hungry point) the device uses. The Aspire V3 only delivered 4 hours and 46 minutes of battery life with this test.

Read also: Dell XPS 15 L501x


After playing a video on Hulu in full screen mode for 15 minutes, the trackpad temperature is 27.7 degrees Celsius The area between the G and H keys; The bottom of the machine is 30 degrees Celsius and 31.6 degrees Celsius respectively. The hottest point on the engine is a small metal rod located under the engine (33.3 degrees Celsius). However, this temperature can be considered quite cold. Try putting the device on our body and using it for more than 1 hour, we still feel comfortable and uncomfortable with the amount of heat it gives off.

Final Verdict

The Dell XPS 15 comes with powerful hardware. The machine uses a Core i7-3612QM chip with 4 cores clocked at 2.1 GHz, 8 GB RAM, 750 GB HDD at 7,200 rpm with 32 GB mSATA SSD; Nvidia GeForce GT 640M graphics card (2 GB VRAM capacity). Tested with PCMark07, the XPS 15 scored 3,599, 1269 points higher than the mainstream laptop average. The Dell machine even outperformed MSI’s 15-inch gaming laptop (used a GT60 card and hit 3336 points).

This machine is also well ahead of the Acer Aspire V3-571G-9435 ($849) which only scored 2595 (using 2.3 GHz i7-3610QM chip; 8GB RAM; 500GB HDD at 5400 rpm; Nvidia GeForce GT 640M graphics card). The MacBook Pro with a Retina display scores significantly higher than the XPS 15 (4779 points) because this model is a fully SSD.

The 32GB XPS 15 mSATA SSD boots Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit) in 46 seconds, faster than the average boot speed when tested with multiple models (55 seconds). The Aspire V3 with 500 GB HDD (5400 rpm) also took 55 seconds to boot, while the MSI GT60 booted the OS in 53 seconds.

The machine copied a 4.97 GB folder of multiple media files took 2 minutes 17 seconds, or an average of 37.1 MB/s, slightly faster than the average copy speed of some comparable models, capital up to 36 MB/s. The Aspire V3 hard drive only produces an average copy speed of 19.6 MB/s, while the GT60 hybrid drive delivers a very high data copy speed of 74.8 MB/s.

Read also: Dell XPS 15 All In One Review

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