Core i5 or Core i7
We received two different versions of the XPS 15 for our review. One was equipped with an Intel Core i5-3210M, and the other with a Core i7-3612QM. The latter is a 35-watt version of the quad-core Ivy Bridge processor, that we saw for the first time in the Sony VAIO Z. It's clocked a bit lower than the normal 45-watt Core i7 3610QM, which makes it more energy-efficient and slightly slower. Still, compared to the Core i5 it is fast.
Dell has two options for graphics, either a GeForce GT 630M with 1 GB or a GeForce GT 640M with 2 GB of memory. The GeForce GT 630M in our test model had 1 GB of GDDR5 memory, running at 2/4 GHz and connected via a 64-bit bus. The GT 630M has 96 CUDA cores with a graphics clock of 625 MHz and processor clock of 1250 MHz. The GeForce GT 630M is faster than the Intel HD Graphics of the i5 processor, but it has limited additional value in a laptop with Full HD display. The Core i7 version has the GeForce GT540M. It has far more Cuda cores at 384, and the graphical clock is set at 405 MHz with the processor at 810 MHz. The 2 GB GDDR5 RAM is connected via a 128-bit bus and runs at 2/4 Ghz.
It's relatively easy to access the inside of this laptop. All you need is a Torx screwdriver of the right size (T5X50) and a Philips-head screwdriver. You do need to be gentle when removing the bottom plate, because it has a cable attached to it which you have to carefully remove. Once the panel is gone, you'll see one of the two SO-DIMM slots, space for a 2.5-inch disk (a Seagate 500 GB 7200 RPM hard disk in the Core i5 model, and a 1 TB disk from WD in the Core i7 model), and a 32 GB PM830 mSATA SSD from Samsung. The latter makes it so the laptop starts up quickly. It's possible to replace it with a larger model.