It was roughly a year ago that we had a chance to review Dell’s XPS 13, which was the first laptop from Dell to feature the Infinity Edge display. In addition to making the laptop look as much like a bezel-less display as possible, it also let Dell squeeze a 13-inch laptop into a much smaller chassis. The XPS 13 is still, to this day, unparalleled in the PC space in this context. So the obvious question at the time was when or if Dell was going to do the same to the rest of the XPS lineup? That question was answered in October  2015,  when Dell launched the updated XPS 15 with Skylake and Infinity Edge. Just like the XPS 13 before it, the laptop was bezel-less and the larger 15.6-inch model fits into a laptop chassis that would normally house a 14-inch display. Smaller, lighter, and with the same styling as the XPS 13, Dell has the potential to set the bar higher in the larger laptop segment as well.

With the updated chassis also came an update in the internals. Dell moved to Skylake for the 9550 model, with Core i3, i5, and i7 models based on Intel’s H Series chips. The Core i3-6100H is a dual-core 35-Watt CPU, and the Core i5 and i7 are both quad-core 45-Watt processors. The base RAM option is 8 GB of DDR4, and you can order up to 16 GB from Dell, although this laptop does have SODIMM slots so you can add up to 32 GB if needed. Graphics on the Core i3 model is just the base integrated solution, but all other models come with a 2 GB GeForce GTX 960M graphics card, which has 640 CUDA cores, 1096 MHz frequency plus boost, and a 128-bit GDDR5 memory subsystem.

Dell offers two display choices. The standard model is a 1920x1080 15.6-inch model, or you can opt for the $350 upgrade to a 3840x2106 touch display which has a backlight which can cover the Adobe RGB color space.

Dell XPS 15 9550 Configurations
  Core i3 Core i5 Core i7
(Model Tested)
GPU Intel HD 530 Intel HD 530 +
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960M w/2GB GDDR5
CPU Intel Core i3-6100H (35w)
Dual-Core w/HyperThreading 2.7 GHz
Intel Core i5-6300HQ (45w)
Quad-Core 2.3-3.2 GHz
Intel Core i7-6700HQ (45w)
Quad-Core w/HyperThreading 2.6-3.5 GHz
Memory 8-16GB DDR4-2133 RAM
Two SODIMM slots, 32GB Max
Display 15.6" IPS 1920x1080 sRGB 15.6" IPS 1920x1080 sRGB
Optional 3840x2160 IGZO IPS w/Adobe RGB color space and touch
Storage 500GB 7200 RPM Hybrid w/32GB NAND 1TB 5400 RPM Hybrid w/32GB NAND 256/512/1024 GB PCIe NVMe SSD (PM951)
I/O USB 3.0 x 2 w/Powershare
SD Card reader
1 x USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-C w/Thunderbolt 3
Headset Jack
HDMI
Dimensions (mm) : 357 x 235 x 11-17
(inches) : 14.06 x 9.27 x 0.45-0.66
Weight With 56 Wh Battery
1.78 kg / 3.9 lbs
With 84 Wh Battery
2 kg / 4.4 lbs
Battery 56 Wh 56/84 Wh
Price $999+ $1199+ $1499+

Dell offers a 500 GB hybrid hard drive as the base offering, and a 1 TB hybrid upgrade, or you can get rid of the spinning disk altogether and choose PCIe based solid state drives, with 256 and 512 GB options. If you elect for an SSD, you also have the option of getting an 84 Wh battery instead of the standard 56 Wh version. The 84 Wh battery takes up the space where the 2.5-inch hard drive would have been, which is a smart idea.

Wireless options are interesting as well. The base model comes with a 2x2 802.11ac wireless card, but the upgraded models feature a 3x3 802.11ac offering, which is rare indeed on a Windows PC. This gives a maximum connection rate of 1.3 Gbps, assuming you have a router that can support 3x3 connections. This should, in theory, give a lot better throughput than the more common 2x2 implementations we see on most notebooks, but this is certainly something we’ll test later on.

We also see Dell continue to support Thunderbolt 3 ports, which is coupled with a USB Type-C connector. This port provides 40 Gbps of bandwidth when in Thunderbolt mode and can be used for various peripherals including Dell’s own Thunderbolt dock which gives a single cable docking solution. The dock adds Gigabit Ethernet, HDMI, two DisplayPort connections, VGA, three USB 3.0 connectors, two USB 2.0 connectors, headset, and even a speaker output. The laptop itself also has two more USB 3.0 ports, HDMI, and a SD card reader.

Overall this is a pretty compelling package. Dell is offering a 15.6-inch notebook which is about the same size as a 14-inch model, but at the same time they’ve found enough space to pack in plenty of performance, along with Thunderbolt 3 and one of the few 3x3 wireless implementation to date.

Design
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  • close - Tuesday, March 8, 2016 - link

    What I'm telling you is that if that is your honest opinion then you weren't reading Anandtech 5 years ago and that you lost the gamble when you assumed nobody will catch on to your BS.

    And because when I say something I like to make sure I have a sure way of showing it (not just BS) here it is: http://www.anandtech.com/show/4083/the-sandy-bridg...

    I would let you draw the conclusion all by yourself but I am confident now that you will be unable to. That is a review for a motherboard with the infamous P67 chipset that was recalled (!) just 4 weeks after the review was written. And yes, this article is 5 years old. And yes, it was written by Anand himself.
    http://www.anandtech.com/show/4142/intel-discovers...
    Reply
  • Nightwolf1 - Monday, March 14, 2016 - link

    Couldn’t be more true!

    Look here "Issues":
    http://www.ultrabookreview.com/10234-dell-xps-15-9...
    Reply
  • HurleyBird - Monday, March 7, 2016 - link

    Try selecting high performance power mode in Nvidia's drivers. That's how I eventually was able to fix the frequent crashes I was experiencing with the GTX 960m. Reply
  • milli - Monday, March 7, 2016 - link

    Yeah, the Dell driver and performance mode in nV-cp are the only way to get it running for more than 5 minutes. I also installed the beta Intel 4380 video drivers but I haven't yet tested Optimus again. Reply
  • euskalzabe - Friday, March 4, 2016 - link

    Guys, seriously. Shoot RAW pictures and process them. The distortion in many of the pictures you posted gives Anandtech an embarrassingly low-level image. This is not a blog ran on grandma's basement. Shoot RAW, process with PhotoShop or similar, get rid of those distortions. Many people would be so put off by the low quality of the image that they won't consider the product. It's just so unprofessional. Reply
  • rpg1966 - Friday, March 4, 2016 - link

    Which pictures are you referring to? But regardless, anyone who is put off a machinelike this based on a bit of distortion in a review image is probably in the wrong market. Reply
  • euskalzabe - Friday, March 4, 2016 - link

    For instance:
    http://images.anandtech.com/doci/10116/SizeCompari...
    http://images.anandtech.com/doci/10116/KeyboardB.j...
    http://images.anandtech.com/doci/10116/Bottom.JPG
    http://images.anandtech.com/doci/10116/Open_678x45...

    Don't give me that "wrong market" excuse. Correcting distortion takes 1 click, 2 seconds on Photoshop. Many cameras by now just do it automatically if you are shooting JPEG, all it takes is activating it. It takes minimal to zero effort. I don't know what field you work in, but any respected company that has any sort of visual (printed, digital, etc) presence would never accept the IQ I've been seeing in Anandtech since Anand left (which occurred occasionally before that too). It's such an easy fix. Not doing it is incredibly unprofessional.
    Reply
  • nathanddrews - Friday, March 4, 2016 - link

    I would argue that anyone that buys a product based upon how good it looks in pictures is the exact opposite of a professional. Also, it's not AT's responsibility to sell the products.

    I have noticed a marked increase in "straight from the hip" photography on AT as well, but I can't imagine a professional - to use your words - not buying a laptop based upon a review website's photos. If you were to order this laptop from Amazon, Newegg, Best Buy, or Dell, they would have plenty of stock, photoshopped photos or renders to make it look all pretty and shiny. If you go into a store to buy it, you can see it on the shelf.
    Reply
  • euskalzabe - Friday, March 4, 2016 - link

    Clearly you guys don't work with media materials. Most editors would not accept these standards. At the end of the day, that's what it's about: quality standards. Sure, we don't have to correct distortion, but what does it say to the world when you choose not to do something that takes 1 second of your life to improve your visual standards? Whatever your opinion, there is proof - just look online for articles on the matter - that these little details make a difference in people's perception.

    Frankly, I've long believed there's a reason The Verge has become so popular so fast and it mainly has to do with public image. Check, for example, how they showcase this XPS15 in their review:
    https://cdn3.vox-cdn.com/thumbor/-x0jfGXnaZuQRTbXG...
    Feel that difference. Accurate representation of the product. Not distorted. The editors interest in their visual presence has an impact not just on how readers view the product, but also how they view the website. You're careless in one glaringly obvious aspect, who knows what else you're being serious about? It's about professionalism. I respect your opinion that focusing on properly processed (not just good looking, there's more to this than subjective evaluation) pictures is not professional, but I can tell you, the market very clearly has decided otherwise.

    Don't forget AT is not just read by professionals that look for HW specs VS value. There are many consumers that give life to these ads. Consumers that are as influenced by visual presence as anybody else. It's not about convincing people, it's about aspiring to quality standards. When you can't be bothered to implement a dead-easy fix... that says very little of your interest/effort in other areas of your professional venue. In my professional experience, visual presence has proven to be very important and judged both consciously and unconsciously.
    Reply
  • shadarlo - Friday, March 4, 2016 - link

    If you think the link you just posted makes this laptop dramatically more appealing then you sir live in some alternate universe than the majority of the population. You might be insanely good in your field, but you have lost the forest for the trees.

    I honestly don't even like the picture you just linked to. As a non-designer I think the shot looks cheap and bland.
    Reply

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