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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  • Hulk - Friday, March 4, 2016 - link

    It's really not that hard. 1. Always use a tripod. 2. White balance when shooting (white card) or in PS. 3. Go full manual or aperture priority to get the exposure right, spot meter. 4. Shoot the sweet spot of every lens which is generally f/8. Again use the tripod and timer so you can deal with long exposures which will be necessary.

    It's not like you're shooting a moving kid or portrait.
    Reply
  • Beany2013 - Saturday, March 5, 2016 - link

    To be honest, the best way to get an amateur to take better photos is to hunt down a professional photographer and find out how much they'd charge for a consultation. Given that AT isn't a professional photography site, I'd wager most wouldn't mind not being the ones taking the photos, and would appreciate letting an interested amateur pick up some tips from the trade to improve their overall craft.

    I've been trying to get a semi-client of mine who operates a photobooth to do this for near three years now (I'm not a pro snapper so I don't feel I can teach him well enough) but he still doesn't do it - presumably, texting me is cheaper as I only charge in coffee and cake ;-)

    But it's definitely worth a pop. Taking a usable photo is fine, taking a really nice, professional *looking* photo is very much it's own reward.

    I agree with other commenters that the main meat of the article is definitely the words though; these photos might not be studio quality, but they're plenty clear enough for their purpose. Having them a bit nicer would be a bonus, and as a techy person and amateur snapper myself, I'm pretty certain Brett would enjoy learning how to bodge some nicer pics in - it's a lot of fun messing with this stuff with 'our' analytical kind of mindset.
    Reply
  • Shadow7037932 - Saturday, March 5, 2016 - link

    Here's the thing, you don't need $10k in gear to take good photos. You can get a refurb D3200/D3300 (~$330-350) with a fast standard zoom with good sharpness (Sigma 17-50 f2.8 OS HSM) for ~$300-350. Add in an off camera flash or two (~$60-70ea). Add in a CPL filter (~$50-60 for a good one) for dealing with reflections and a light box (~$40-50 for a large one) and you're all set.

    As far as white balance and other things goes, shoot RAW, and deal with it in post. Or do it in camera using the custom white balance.
    Reply
  • nagi603 - Monday, March 7, 2016 - link

    As someone who has invested into photography, you don't need 10k. Not even close. Frankly, your micron shot doesn't even have correct white balance. Fixing that would be a breeze if you shoot in RAW, use the same temperature lights, and used any post processing software. And yes, I've been there, I did shoot stuff as a journalist. Now I'm shooting events as a hobby, so I know what I'm talking about. Reply
  • tuxRoller - Sunday, March 6, 2016 - link

    It's too bad the Verge doesn't spend as much time on article content. Reply
  • Brett Howse - Monday, March 7, 2016 - link

    Photography is clearly not my strongest suit, but I've got some things I will try for the next review which I hope will help with the photos. Laptops are not the easiest thing for my to photograph and get a good result. Please bear with me as I try to step up my game on the images. Reply
  • trenchtoaster - Friday, March 11, 2016 - link

    I have been reading AT for years now and this is the post which drove me to create an account and comment. I literally have no idea why the image you linked is any better than the ones from the article that you posted previously. What makes the image you linked so much better? I feel like I am missing something Reply
  • sircod - Friday, March 4, 2016 - link

    I didn't notice it until you pointed it out, but that is pretty bad. Looks like he is shooting on a Canon EOS Rebel T4i, which apparently doesn't correct geometric distortion on its JPEGs. Reply
  • Brett Howse - Monday, March 7, 2016 - link

    That's exactly what I am using, and apparently it does not. I, as an amateur photographer, did not even notice the distortion until it was pointed out, but I'll try to avoid it in the future. Reply
  • close - Monday, March 7, 2016 - link

    You think someone buying a $1500+ laptop takes the decision based on how the pictures of the laptop look like on a website? Maybe people will assume the laptop is all bendy and with uneven color, right? I mean it's obvious they made one side of the laptop too bright and the other too dark.

    You go to a review site for he things you can't see in the store, not for some glamour shots. Yeah, of course they could be better but personally I don't think this subtracts anything from the value of the review.

    Also going for the IQ argument because you think the picture looks bad makes you look even dumber than your idea that "people won't buy the laptop if the picture wasn't shot RAW".
    Reply

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