Manufacturers laptops have paid more attention to creative professionals – people who perform demanding tasks like editing complex photos and videos 4K. HP is an example of this, bringing out its new Envy 15 with the mind set on the creators. However, it faces stiff competition, Dell XPS 15. Does the HP Envy 15 have a chance against the still queen of the segment? This is what we will find out at the end of this comparison.
Dell’s XPS 15 is a laptop that we have long considered the best 15-inch machine you can buy. That distinction was reinforced with its new design.
We’ll start with pricing because it’s important to keep that in mind when comparing these two 15-inch laptops. Simply put, the Envy 15 is a significantly less expensive laptop, priced at $ 1,600 for a Core i7-10750H processor, 16GB of RAM, a 512GB solid-state drive, a 4K AMOLED display, and an Nvidia. GeForce RTX 2060 with Max Q GPU.
A similarly equipped Dell XPS 15, with a GeForce 1650 Ti GPU, costs $ 2,260 (currently on sale for $ 2,050). This model can only be purchased from the factory with a maximum of 64GB of RAM.
We don’t have full pricing yet, but you can outfit the Envy 15 with up to 32GB of RAM and a Core i9 processor. We’re confident that the price differential will hold as you increase specs, which means you’ll get great performance from the Envy 15 for a lot less money.
It’s simpler to say that the Envy 15 is, indeed, one of HP’s mid-range laptops, and it’s competing with the top-notch XPS 15 and somehow sticks out, at least when considering the internals. We’ll get into the performance impact in a moment.
The XPS 15 is one of the most impressively designed laptops you’ll find, in part, because it’s the result of constant tweaking of a form factor that was already excellent several generations ago.
That’s not to say that the newer XPS 15 isn’t much different from previous versions, it just has an excellent pedigree to build on. One thing that remains the same is the use of carbon fiber on the bottom of the chassis and aluminum on the lid, making for a very solid build laptop.
The overall form factor has changed a bit with the move to a 16:10 aspect ratio display that uses almost all the available space on the lid – the XPS 15 has tiny bezels and enjoys a fairly modern design thanks to that.
The Envy 15 is a completely different beast. It’s made from stamped aluminum, so while it feels solid, it’s not in the same class as the XPS 15. Also, it’s all silver with subtle beveled edges and other design elements that give it an attractive look, without rise to the level of the recent gem-cut HP Specter notebook. The Envy 15 looks quite different from the XPS 15, but it’s a lovely laptop in its own right.
In terms of its dimensions, the XPS 15 is slightly less wide and deep than the Envy 15, at most, by a half-inch wide and a fraction less deep. The XPS 15 is also slightly thinner, at 0.71 inches at its thickest point versus the Envy 15’s 0.73 inches.
The Envy 15 is slightly heavier at 4.74 pounds compared to the XPS 15’s 4.5 pounds (with the 86W battery, which you want). All of this taking into account the taller screen of the XPS 15 (due to its 16:10 aspect ratio).
The keyboard is a big shake between the two laptops. The Envy 15 enjoys a great keyboard stolen from the HP Specter – it has plenty of travel, a light touch, and tons of precision, making it a touch typist’s dream. The XPS 15’s keyboard is pretty good too, with plenty of travel and a comfortable feel, but it’s not on a par with the Envy 15.
The XPS 15’s touchpad is huge for a Windows 10 laptop, much larger than the Envy 15 (which is by no means small), making it very convenient to use.
Both are compatible with touchpad drivers Microsoft Precision and they are responsive and reliable. If you go for the correct screen, you get a touchpad on both laptops, although the Envy 15 version also supports the HP Active Pen.
Connectivity makes the difference between these two laptops. Dell left everything for ports USB-CThat’s all the XPS 15 puts at your disposal, specifically two with Thunderbolt 3 support and one USB-C 3.1. These are paired with a full-size SD card reader (which is a real bonus) along with a 3.5mm audio jack.
The Envy 15, on the other hand, enjoys two USB-C ports with Thunderbolt 3 support, a full-size HDMI 2.0a port, two USB-A 3.1 ports, and a mini SD card reader (which is a disappointment for photography professionals).
You’ll worry less about carrying dongles with the Envy 15, although Dell includes a USB-C hub with HDMI and USB-A in the box. Both laptops use Wifi 6 and Bluetooth 5.0 for wireless connectivity.
We reviewed the XPS 15 with an eight-core Core i7-10875H processor and the Envy 15 with a six-core Core i7-10750H. Therefore, we cannot compare the performance of the chip directly.
In all the benchmark specific to the processor we ran, the XPS 15 came out on top. You can’t upgrade the Envy 15 to the XPS 15 chip, so we would have to get both laptops with Core i9 processors to do an accurate direct comparison.
The Envy 15 performed exceptionally well against other notebooks with the same processor, both in our benchmark synthetic as in our real world tests.
Activate the Performance mode in the HP utility Command center, something you should do when testing the equipment, because HP sets it very conservatively in the Default mode. The Envy 15 beat the XPS 15 in our test that converts 420MB video to H.265.
The Envy 15 took exactly two minutes, while the XPS 15 took two more seconds. That’s not much of a difference, of course. But, it is remarkable to see such an attractively priced laptop with a slower processor that performs as well as a laptop that costs hundreds of dollars more and enjoys two additional cores and four threads.
It is the GPU we need to pay attention to. As mentioned above, the Envy 15 features an Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060 Max-Q, compared to the GeForce GTX 1650 TI on the XPS 15.
That extra GPU power pays real dividends not only in games, where the Envy 15 was much faster than the XPS 15, but also in creative applications that can take advantage of the GPU.
We tested the Envy 15 with our Premiere Pro rendering tests, and it finished in three minutes and 53 seconds on the Performance mode (took five minutes and a second in the Default mode).
This compared favorably with the Dell XPS 17, which also uses the GTX 2060 Max-Q GPU and finished in three minutes and 38 seconds. The XPS 15, on the other hand, took four minutes and 50 seconds to complete the same test.
Speaking of games, the Envy 15 naturally performed much faster. In Assassin’s Creed OdysseyFor example, the Envy 15 managed 45 frames per second in 1080p ultra mode compared to the XPS 15 at 26fps.
In Civilization VI, the Envy 15 hit 100fps in 1080p ultra mode, while the XPS 15 only managed 64fps. This delta of performance was done in all of our gaming tests, which means, if you want a creative workstation where you can also play some titles at reasonable fps and graphic details, the Envy 15 is by far the best. option. Not bad for a laptop that will save you $ 500 or more.
We’ll go ahead and quickly mention battery life here, because there’s not much of a difference (we’re talking minutes) between the Envy 15 and the XPS 15, when it comes to runtime.
Simply put, none of these laptops will likely help you get through a full day of real work without plugging in. They both use fairly large energy blocks, which means that it is not trivial to take them with you.
Dell and HP went slightly different directions with their display options, but they ended up in almost the same place. We tested both laptops with the 4K option, which in the case of the Envy 15 meant a display 4K AMOLED in a 16: 9 aspect ratio, and on the XPS 15, a 4K IPS panel in a 16:10 aspect ratio.
The two screens have a lot to offer. Dell’s panel is taller and better for productivity, and that alone could attract a lot of people. HP would do well to switch to the same aspect ratio (or, better yet, follow Microsoft’s lead and go straight to 3: 2).
Both displays enjoy a wide color gamut, Dell at 100% AdobeRGB and sRGB, and HP at 97% AdobeRGB and 100% sRGB. The XPS 15 was a bit more accurate at 0.65 compared to the Envy 15 at 0.73, but both are well below the 1.0 threshold that defines the most accurate panels.
Also, the XPS 15 was a bit brighter at 442 nits compared to the Envy 15’s 404 nits. But, it’s the contrast where the Envy 15’s AMOLED screen really shines, or doesn’t really shine, at least. when it comes to the deepest blacks you’ll find in a laptop.
The XPS 15’s contrast ratio was 1480: 1, which is excellent for an IPS display. But the Envy 15 came in at 404,410: 1, clearly in a completely different league.
You can’t go wrong with any of these screens. If you like a higher aspect ratio and a slightly brighter screen, then the XPS 15 is for you. But, if you want unparalleled contrast and really deep blacks, the Envy 15 will do the trick.
The XPS 15 is the best laptop, but the Envy 15 has the best value
There’s no question that the XPS 15 is the classiest, most refined, and best-in-class laptop, considering all the factors that go into evaluating a machine. At the same time, the Envy 15 performs so well and costs so much less that it’s not fair to hand the award to the XPS 15. You can save quite a bit of money with the Envy 15 and in many ways get a better experience than with the XPS 15.
If you’ve got a lot of money and don’t really need fast GPU performance, your option is the XPS 15. But, if your budget is limited and you’ll benefit from significantly faster graphics, then the Envy 15 is the choice for you.