Imagination Begins Formal Sale Process After Apple Begins Developing Its Own Mobile GPUs

Imagination announced that it has started the formal sale process for the whole group, which includes the divisions designing the PowerVR GPU, MIPS CPU, and Ensigma wireless communications intellectual property. The news comes after prior struggles in the mobile GPU market, a failure to capitalize on the MIPS processor architecture, and recent news that Apple would be designing its own GPU IP.

MIPS Strike-Out

Imagination bought the MIPS IP in the hopes of becoming a more integrated IP solutions provider, similar to ARM and other chip makers that design and build their own CPUs and GPUs. The company must have also anticipated that ARM’s rise in popularity in the mobile GPU market could one day create a threat for it by making the ARM processor architecture less compatible with PowerVR GPUs.


However, despite Android supporting MIPS from the early years, along with ARM and x86, Imagination failed to show chip makers that the switch from ARM to MIPS would benefit them.

It’s likely that the ARM CPU dominance was so significant that even if MIPS CPUs offered a 20%-30% performance per Watt or performance per die area, as Imagination often claimed, it wouldn’t necessarily be worth it for chip makers to start learning a whole new architecture and then make every other SoC component compatible with it. This is a lesson that even Intel, a much richer company than Imagination, also learned in the mobile market.

The Decline Of PowerVR

Although PowerVR GPUs have always showed leadership in performance and efficiency in the mobile market, Imagination didn’t seem to take seriously expanding its market well beyond Apple, which remained around half of its business for a long time.

For the time the partnership with Apple was going well, Imagination continued to remain a more premium solution for potential customers, which allowed lower-cost GPU options such as ARM’s Mali and bundled options such as Qualcomm’s Adreno, to increasingly eat into its market share.

Apple Going Into Mobile GPUs

Imagination relying so much on Apple for its revenue was always a big risk, especially considering that Apple tends to integrate its hardware. Although designing GPUs seems to be even harder than designing CPUs, it wasn’t completely unexpected that Apple could one day either purchase Imagination to expand on its GPU technology the way it wants, or it would start designing its own GPU IP.

As we’ve learned recently from Imagination, Apple will stop using PowerVR GPUs and will build its own. This has prompted Imagination to threaten Apple with lawsuits over the allegedly inevitable IP infringement, which probably only reinforced Apple’s decision to drop Imagination’s GPUs.

Apple had previously tried to acquire Imagination, but for some reason talks broke down.

Imagination Starts Sale Process

Imagination’s market cap dropped significantly since the news came out that it would stop using PowerVR GPUs, and there now seems to be other buyers who are interested in acquiring the whole Imagination Technologies Group. Imagination confirmed that the sale process for the Ensigma and MIPS businesses, which commenced on May 4, has been progressing well so far. However, it also mentioned that although offers have been received, there is no certainty of a sale as of right now.

Imagination also seems to be inviting other potential buyers to contact Rothschild, its financial adviser who is assisting with the sale, to make a bid for its business.The GPU company also noted that an “offer period” has commenced, too, but it seems to have kept the deadline for bids private.

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Alienware 15 (GTX 1070) Gaming Laptop Review

Dell’s Alienware division is one of a handful of gaming laptop manufacturers to provide its own in-house system designs, and those creations have a distinctive, and, dare we say, extraterrestrial appearance. The laptop we’ve got today is the Alienware 15, one of the company’s laptop models you can customize to suit your needs. This particular Alienware 15 features an updated Intel Kaby Lake i7-7700HQ CPU and an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 GPU.

Will its performance also be other-worldly? Let’s find out.

Specifications

Packaging

The Alienware 15’s packaging consists of a stylized black box with a carrying handle tucked neatly under the top edge. The front and back of the box have the Alienware logo and “ALIENWARE” lettering printed in reflective silver. The left side of the box has a simple illustration of the laptop’s lid and a “15” printed in grey. The front of the box depicts the Alienware 15 in glossy black print and is almost unnoticeable unless you’re within a couple feet. The same glossy black print can be found on the rear side of the box, this time illustrating a thorough breakdown of the laptop.

Upon opening the box, you’ll find the Alienware laptop tucked within a compartment of protective foam; additional foam can be found on the other half of the box. Alienware didn’t skimp on the foam, so you can rest assured that your laptop will resist all but the harshest punishment while inside its box. A second compartment made out of cardboard is located on the top. This houses the 240W power adapter and AC power cord. The power jack is illuminated in blue when connected to the laptop.

Underneath the laptop, you’ll find two compartments: one houses an envelope holding a Quick Start Guide and a Warranty pamphlet; The other compartment holds a slip with social media links and an advertisement for Alienware Arena. Overall, the Alienware 15 unboxing experience is pleasant and handsomely presented.

Exterior

The top cover of the Alienware 15 consists of several layers. The primary one is constructed out of metal and features a sandblasted finish in gunmetal, with Alienware’s signature accents dividing the panel into three. Closer to the top you’ll find the Alienware logo, which is a stereotypical alien head with a glossy black finish. When the system is powered, the eyes and the area immediately around the head will glow, and you can adjust the color and effects to your liking using AlienFX. More on that later. The second layer is a normal strip of black plastic on the very top of the lid.

You won’t find the sand-blasted metal finish when you open the lid. Instead, you’re greeted with a matte black plastic surface, not unlike the plastic strip we found on the top of the lid. This matte surface has a rubberized texture, which feels great to the touch and won’t attract as many fingerprints and smudges as a metal or glossy plastic surface would. This is ideal because the surface surrounds the keyboard and touchpad, which you’ll come in contact with virtually every time you use the laptop. A rubberized surface that’s easy to clean and maintain may not look as appealing as a metal surface, but it’s a lot more practical. The only deviation is at the top, which consists of a strip of glossy black plastic surrounding the power button, which is shaped like the Alienware logo. The logo can illuminate in two different colors based on whether the power adapter is connected or not.

The bezels use a fairly standard smooth plastic construction. The side bezels are 0.875″ thick. The top bezel is 0.75″ thick at its slimmest points (the sides) and 1.125″ at the thickest point (in the middle above the 2MP FHD webcam, array microphones, and camera status light). Finally, the bottom bezel measures 1.625″. Typically, laptops have a handful of rubber feet to separate the display from the rest of the laptop when the lid is closed. In the Alienware’s case, the entire border is constructed out of rubber, which makes for a much more elegant and seamless aesthetic. Finally, there’s LED-lit Alienware lettering that’s also adjustable in AlienFX.

The Alienware 15’s edges are a bit of a treat. When the lid is closed, the edge measures about 1″ thick. The metal surfaces from the lid and bottom cover slightly wrap around to the edge, giving the Alienware 15 a slightly layered appearance. The rest of the edge consists of the same robust plastic found on the bezel. Near the rear, there are small ventilation cutouts. What makes the Alienware laptop truly stand out against a sea of grey and black systems is the tasteful LED lighting. There are two strips of LED lights that run the length of the side edges: one on the edge of the lid and one right next to the bottom cover. This is particularly impressive in a dimly-lit room, because it’ll make the Alienware appear as if it’s floating…like a UFO! As you might’ve guessed, the lights are adjustable.

The speakers are placed on the front-facing edge, and we’ve mentioned our dislike for this sort of placement numerous times. When typing or using the trackpad, your arms will naturally obstruct the speakers, diminishing what is otherwise a decent audio experience.

The back edge is where the the Alienware 15’s aesthetics shift. It consists of a long strip of black plastic, not unlike the type you’ll find on the sides or the bezel. Needless to say, it’s quite robust. There are two large vents on both sides, with a stylized grille fashioned into an engine-like exhaust. Rather than the stereotypical super-car aesthetic you might find on certain gaming laptops, the exhaust vents on the Alienware 15 are cleaner and much more streamlined, but still aggressive enough to give it a bit of flare. We only wish (and we’re nitpicking at this point) that additional LED strips bordered the exhaust to make them look like hyperdrives!

Speaking of which, the rear edge also supports the hinge assembly, which consists of two hinges. It’s incredibly sturdy and offers an impressive range of movement just shy of 180°, which we typically only see on thin-and light laptops.

The bottom panel features the same metal construction as the lid, so needless to say it’s quite sturdy and just as impressive to look at (although that would defeat the laptop’s purpose). The surface is clean, bordering on minimalist, which doesn’t work well with bottom panels constructed out of plastic, but looks great with the Alienware 15’s metal finish. Even the bottom ventilation has a streamlined grille with clean lines and angles. There are three elongated rubber feet: two near the front lip and one on the rear, which elevate the laptop slightly.

The left side I/O consists of a headphone jack, a microphone jack, a USB 3.0 port, a USB 3.1 Type-C port, and a Noble Lock. On the right, you’ll find a lone USB 3.0 port. Finally, the back has an RJ-45 port, a Mini DisplayPort 1.2 , an HDMI 2.0 port, a Thunderbolt 3 over Type-C port, and a proprietary port that can connect to an Alienware Graphics Amplifier. The Alienware 15 is VR Ready, meaning there are enough ports to connect your favorite VR headset.

Overall, the Alienware 15’s build quality is spectacular. Critics may scrutinize Alienware’s price relative to performance, but it’s unlikely to find detractors regarding the company’s impressive attention to detail and outstanding build quality. The laptop has virtually no flex, and feels as solid as a brick. We can’t say the same for many of Alienware’s competitors in this price bracket.

Display

Our configuration features a 15.6″ Full HD (1920×1080) matte TN display with a snappy 120Hz refresh rate. As an added bonus, includes Nvidia’s G-Sync technology. The display brightness is rated for up to 400 nits; we’ll make sure to test that claim during our display testing. For $150 less, you can opt for an FHD IPS display running at 60Hz with a maximum brightness of 300 nits. Additional displays can be connected via Thunderbolt 3, HDMI 2.0, and DisplayPort 1.2.

Input Devices

The keyboard employs scissor switches with a satisfying actuation force and bottom-out distance. However, it felt cramped overall. We wish the keys were spaced out by an additional millimeter. The keyboard also lacks a number pad, a feature you’ll typically find on 15″ laptops. Also, in addition to the F and J key markers, there’s an S key marker that lets you to find the WASD keys quickly while gaming, but it might throw you off if you’re trying to type normally.

Most of the function row keys have preset functions: F1 disconnects the laptop from the Graphics Amplifier, F2 enables and disables wireless settings, F3 to F5 adjust volume, F8 to F10 adjust display settings, F11 toggles touchpad functionality, and F12 launches AlienFX. F7 switches between integrated and dedicated graphics, but this feature doesn’t work with models using a G-Sync display. There are six programmable macro keys to the left of the keyboard; macro keys 1 through 5 can be assigned using AlienTactX in the Command Center software, while the top key cycles through profiles.

Conversely, the stylish touchpad is comfortable to use. I say stylish because it features impressive backlighting that illuminates the entire touchpad from beneath what appears to be a layer of glass. Tracking is accurate, and the surface has a matte finish that introduces very little drag. It’s remarkable how Alienware is able to achieve a beautiful glow under the touchpad without sacrificing usability, and it’s an element we’ve yet to see on any other laptop. Is it extravagant? A bit, but we applaud these details nonetheless.

Interior

Accessing the internals is easy. Just remove six screws. Immediately, you’ll see a plastic shroud that covers the majority of the motherboard, with cutouts for easy access to the upgradeable components. On the top left you’ll find the 2.5″ SATA slot, which, in our case, is occupied by an HDD. Across from it are two M.2 slots, one laying vertically and the other horizontally. Our configuration has one empty slot. Near the middle you’ll find two slots for DDR4 memory. The cooling solution is on the bottom, and it consists of two exhaust fans that draw heat from the piping running through the CPU and GPU heatsinks in the middle. The inclusion of the plastic shroud might disappoint tinkerers, but on the positive side it adds additional rigidity to the build.

Software

The Alienware Command Center is Alienware’s proprietary hub software, and it lets you manage the LED lighting settings, create macro functions, and monitor your system’s resources. These settings are sorted into a handful of subsections within the Command Center: AlienFX, AlienFusion, Alienware TactX, and AlienAdrenaline.

AlienFX provides RGB customization to the LED-lit portions of the laptop: the power button, five keyboard sections, touchpad, bezel lighting, four edge lights, and the lid logo. You can set all of the lights to pulse repeatedly or morph into different colors with adjustable tempos and durations. AlienFX offers a number of preset themes, but you can create your own theme and share it with others online.

AlienFusion lets you create power plans and meticulously adjust power settings, such as when the display or AlienFX lighting should turn off, when the laptop should sleep, and so forth. This is basically a pretty skin for the default Windows power and sleep settings.

Alienware TactX lets you assign keystrokes, macros, functions, shortcuts, and text blocks to the five macro keys to the left of the keyboard. The top button will cycle through three macro profiles, and you can change the key color for each profile. The first profile assigns F1 through F5 to the five keys, but the last two profiles are left blank for you to tinker with. You can export your profile to share with other users, and import their profiles to assign as your own.

Finally, AlienAdrenaline offers features that truly give Command Center its name. The Game Mode tab lets you link executables to quickly launch from within the Command Center. The Performance Monitoring tab offers Real Time Performance Monitoring, which illustrates the system’s resource usage. From here, you can start a Performance Recording that will track usage over a user-determined period of time. Your saved recordings can be found in the Performance Recordings tab.

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Photoshop fonts: Using Text Type and Text Editing to transform fonts

One of Adobe Photoshop’s many talents at your disposal is the ability to create and decorate fonts. This tutorial is for beginners, and the instructions are applicable for Photoshop Creative Suite 1 through 6.

Character attributes

1. Open Photoshop and select File > New > Name. For this example, we’ll call it FabFonts1 and make these further choices: 

  • Preset: Custom
  • Width: 8 (inches)
  • Height: 10 (inches)
  • Resolution: 300 (pixels/inch)
  • Color Mode: RGB 
  • (Background) Contents: White
  • Then click OK.

Three important tips:

  • Use 300 (pixels/inch) for printed materials and 72 (pixels/inch) for Internet/website images. Be aware; however, that once you create your image at 72 ppi (pixels per inch), you cannot enlarge it to 300 ppi (called Resample) successfully. The enhanced image will suffer from something called compression noise—fuzzy, bloated, distorted pixels that create blurry halos around all the objects in the image. Create your “new” Photoshop files at 300 ppi, then scale down if necessary—reduction in pixels or size does NOT distort the image like upgrading or enlarging.
  • Pay attention to your color mode. RGB means Red, Green, Blue. Select this Color Mode for screen, Internet, and photographs. CMYK means Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Black. Use this Color Mode for images or text that’s printed on your local printer, at a professional printing company or publisher. CMYK files are almost double in size to RGB files, so always work in RGB, then convert later, if necessary.
  • If you forget to convert your RGB file to CMYK before you print it, don’t worry, the “new” printers automatically convert it for you. If, however, you upload a CMYK file to a website on the Internet, the image does not display, because the Internet does not support CMYK images.

01 create a new photoshop file JD Sartain / PC World

Create a New Photoshop file.

2. Select the Text/Type tool [T] and enter: Fabulous Fonts.

3. If not already open, select Window > Character, then select Window > Paragraph. Move these stacked windows to the bottom-right corner of the screen.

4. If not already open, select Window > Layers, then select Window > Styles. Move these stacked windows to the top-right side of the screen, then enlarge the window down to the Character/Paragraph window.

02 enter text open layers styles character paragraph tools windows JD Sartain / PC World

Enter text and open Layers, Styles, Character, + Paragraph tool windows

5. In the Character window, make these further settings:

  • Font: Arial
  • Font Style: Black (as opposed to Regular, Bold, Italic, Narrow, etc.)
  • Font Size: 30
  • Leading: Auto
  • Kerning (is grayed out)
  • Tracking: 0
  • Vertical Scale: 100%
  • Horizontal Scale: 100%
  • Baseline Shift: 0
  • Text Color: Black (or choose any color you like)

A few notes: 

How to transform your laptop into a gaming powerhouse with an external graphics card

My desire to power up a laptop with an external graphics card began in 2015, when I set out on a quest to get back into PC gaming—a beloved pastime I’d neglected since childhood.

But the only PC I had at the time was a 2011 Lenovo ThinkPad X220 laptop with Intel HD 3000 integrated graphics. That just won’t cut it for proper PC gaming. Sure, the laptop would work well enough for older titles like Diablo III, especially on the laptop’s tiny 1366×728-resolution display—but forget about more graphics-intensive modern games on an external 1080p monitor. That’s why I decided to examine external graphics card (eGPU) setups.

And indeed, I found entire communities of people creating DIY setups that connected desktop graphics cards to their laptops via ExpressCard or mPCIe slots. It isn’t hard, either. Many do-it-yourselfers end up with a plug-and-play experience requiring little to no modification—though it takes some research first. When it’s done, however, you’ll be left with a console-toppling PC gaming setup for about the same price as a new Xbox One S, depending on which graphics card you choose. That’s far cheaper than building a whole new gaming desktop, and you can still take advantage of your laptop’s portability by disconnecting the eGPU hardware.

But powering up a laptop with desktop graphics has taken major strides forward since 2015.

We’ll walk you through the DIY process for configuring an external graphics card later in this article, along with the sudden rise of streaming games from the cloud, but first let’s take a look at a major recent development in the world of eGPUs: the widening availability of Thunderbolt 3 on Windows notebooks.

Thunderbolt 3 graphics card docks

razer core Adam Patrick Murray/IDG

A Razer Core connected to a Razer Blade Stealth laptop via Thunderbolt 3/USB-C.

Thunderbolt 3 (TB3) is Intel’s high-speed external input/output connection, capable of speeds up to a blistering 40 gigabytes per second (GBps) over a compatible USB-C port. For resource-intensive activities like gaming, a speedy connection between your laptop and an external graphics card provides a big boost for performance.

Previous attempts at external graphics card docks existed, but they were usually overpriced and relied on proprietary connection technologies. Thunderbolt 3 levels the playing field, and several companies are now building TB3-based graphics card enclosures.

All is not perfect in the world of Thunderbolt 3-powered graphics, however. Enclosures are, for the most part, still a pricey proposition—much more so than the DIY method we’ll outline later. You’ll also need a relatively new notebook equipped with a Thunderbolt 3-compatible USB-C port. If you’re in the market for a new clamshell, some good choices at this writing include the HP Spectre x360 and the new Dell XPS 13.  

AMD Unveils Vega Radeon Instinct Details, Shipping Soon

AMD’s re-entrance into the data center begins with its EPYC lineup, which pits the company against the dominant Intel. Not enough pressure? Part of AMD’s strategy also includes attacking the burgeoning AI segment. That lines the company up against Nvidia, which by all rights has a dominating position in the machine learning segment.

However, AMD is the only company with both GPUs and CPUs under the same roof, which it feels hands it an advantage when it comes to complementary designs.

That’s where EPYC comes in. It’s no coincidence that EPYC, AMD’s new line of data center processors, have a copious allotment of 128 PCIe lanes. AMD believes that makes the EPYC platform a great fit for incredibly dense AI platforms in single socket servers. We broke down AMD’s latest EPYC processors in our AMD Unveils EPYC Server Processor Models And Pricing Guidelines Article, but the single-socket server is one of the most important aspects of AMD’s two-pronged AI strategy. 

The Single Sockets

Roughly 25% of today’s server platforms, which are almost entirely powered by Intel, ship with only one socket populated. That means they have only one processor, so there are a number of redundant components on the motherboard and in the chassis that aren’t needed. Eliminating these redundancies reduces costs on multiple axes, possibly making a dedicated single-socket server a data center architects’ best friend.

The data center is shifting en masse to AI-centric architectures, but these designs require beefy data throughput to feed the hungry GPUs. AMD’s single-socket server leverages the platform’s 2TB of memory capacity and 128 PCIe lanes to provide copious connectivity. As seen above in Inventec’s system, cramming six GPUs into single-socket chassis is easy if you have enough connectivity and cores to push the workload. EPYC’s 64 threads should suit those purposes nicely. The end result? Up to 100 TFLOPS in a single chassis. That’s performance density at its finest.

AMD Trusts Its Instincts

AMD’s got quite a bit of graphics IP laying around, so it employs a range of its architectures, including Vega, Polaris, and Fiji, to target various segments of the AI space. The Vega-powered MI25 slots in as the workhorse for the heavy compute-intensive training workloads, while the Polaris-based MI6 is more of an all-rounder that can handle a variety of training and inference workloads. The Fiji-based MI8 handles the low-power tasks, such as lightweight inference, at a lower price point.

Our resident GPU expert, Chris Angelini, did the heavy lifting when AMD announced these cards in December 2016. Head over to his article for more coverage of the high-level view. AMD also has the Vega Frontier Edition in the hopper and recently teased us with performance details.

AMD has its new Instinct solutions headed to market in Q3 and accordingly released more details. Let’s take a quick trip through AMD’s stable of Instinct cards. 

Vega – Radeon Instinct MI25

Vega powers onto the scene with Global Foundries’ 14nm FinFETs in tow. Well, arguably, it’s Samsung’s process. In either case, the MI25 bears down with a peak 24.6 TFLOPS of FP16 and 12.3 FP32 TFLOPS delivered by its 64 compute units, which equates to 4,096 stream processors. A complementary 16GB of ECC HBM2 provides up to 484 GB/s of memory bandwidth. The MI25 will eventually square up with Nvidia’s beastly Voltas.

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Kiwi for Gmail

Google offers a huge range of online services, but the problem with most of them is that you are tied to your web browser when you want to use them. If you use multiple Google tools – such as Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Drive and so on – you may find that you struggle to work with them alongside all of the websites you have open.

Kiwi for Gmail is a simple solution that pulls these services out of your browser and transforms them into a desktop app. It’s a wonderfully simple idea and the software manages to feel almost like a native Google app.

With pinnable desktop shortcuts for all of the main components, you’ll find that it’s much easier to create new documents and jump to different services, and the ability to use Alt+Tab to switch between them is a real boon.

It’s worth pointing out that Kiwi for Gmail Lite initially installs as a 30-day trial of the premium edition, which enables you to work with up to six Google accounts and the full complement of G Suite apps. A full subscription costs a mere $9.99 per year (about £8, AU$13), but if you decide not the upgrade at the end of the trial period you’ll be dropped back into the free tier, which means you can only use one Google account. You’ll also be limited to working with Gmail and its associated tools: calendar and contacts.

User experience

Apart from the fact that your inbox, calendar and Google documents have been wrenched from the Google website and relocated into their own program window, the interface is exactly the same as the one you’re used to.

In many regards Kiwi is just a wrapper for the web apps offered by Google, and this is no bad thing. If you work with multiple G Suite tools, Kiwi’s shortcut bar and universal shortcuts makes life so much easier, but it’s also very easy to get overwhelmed with windows – the ability to group things together in tabs would have been nice.

Notifications can get a little too much, but they can be tamed by switching settings so you are only told about important notifications, or by activating the Do Not Disturb function.

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Dell XPS 15 (2017) review: Kaby Lake and a 4K display make a difference

Dell’s XPS 15 is proof that iterations—no matter how small—still matter. Externally, even owners of the previous XPS 15 would be hard-pressed to tell the difference between new and old.

The ports are the same, the keyboard and the trackpad are the same and, well, just about external thing with the XPS 15 looks identical. Yet the internal changes make this year’s XPS 15 a markedly better laptop than last year’s.

dell xps15 5 IDG/Gordon Mah Ung

The keyboard on the XPS 15 appears unchanged, which isn’t a good thing because it’s still slightly too small.

It’s what’s inside that counts

The main difference with the latest generation XPS 15 is, of course, inside. While the previous version sported a 6th-generation quad-core Intel Skylake CPU paired with an Nvidia GeForce GTX 960M, the latest iteration notches up to a quad-core 7th-gen Kaby Lake chip, and graphics upgrades itself to a GeForce GTX 1050.

Besides the Core i7-7700HQ CPU and GTX 1050, Dell has also given the XPS 15 an optional Windows Hello-compliant finger print reader. It’s not the horrible swipe-style reader of yesterday that always took four attempts to work. It’s a modern, full-fingerprint pad reader similar to what you’d find on phones and tablets.

del xps15 6 IDG/Gordon Mah Ung

There’s no Windows Hello camera, but a fingerprint reader (seen just below the right cursor key) lets you use Windows 10 Hello.

Our test unit comes equipped with a 15.6-inch 4K UHD screen. With its near edge-to-edge “InfinityEdge” display, and glossy Gorilla Glass NBT protective layer, the IGZO panel is truly stunning to behold. The near bezel-less design does, unfortunately, banish the integrated webcam to the bottom of the panel, as well as prevent the XPS 15 from integrating a near infrared (IR) camera for Windows Hello support. Consider the fingerprint reader your consolation prize. 

Also featured in our test unit are 16GB of DDR4/2400 in dual-channel mode and a 512GB Lite-On CX2 NVMe M.2 SSD. The drive uses MLC flash rated at 2.5GBps reads and 1.2GBps writes. On CrystalDiskMark 5.2 we saw about 2.1GBps reads and 1GBps writes. 

The other change from the prior generation is an increase in battery capacity, to about 97WHr from the previous model’s largest battery of 84WHr. That’s just shy of the largest lithium ion cell you can carry on a plane legally.

dell xps15 8 IDG/Gordon Mah Ung

The port selection is unchanged from prior to current generation. This view of the right side shows an SD card reader, USB Type A, and Kensington lock port.

Ports

Dell doesn’t pull an Apple and skimp on ports. The new XPS 15 offers the same basic ports as the 2016 model, including a full-size HDMI 1.4, two USB 3.1 Gen 1 (5Gbps) Type A ports, an analog combo jack for headphones, and a Thunderbolt 3 port. That Thunderbolt 3 ports supports DisplayPort over USB-C as well as charging using USB-Power Delivery. On this last point, we applaud Dell’s decision to support both a traditional barrel charger and USB-C for charging.