Near the end of 2015, Dell rolled out their new XPS styling cues, that were so successful on the XPS 13, to its larger sibling, the XPS 15. Thanks to the Infinity Edge display, Dell’s new XPS 15 packed a full 15.6-inch display into a notebook closer to the size of a 14-inch model. Perhaps the size reduction is not quite as dramatic as the XPS 13 when it first launched with the thin-bezel design, but Dell also kept the performance heart of the XPS 15 intact with the change, keeping a quad-core 45-Watt CPU, and NVIDIA GTX 960M graphics.

Dell has since done a revision from that XPS 15 9550 model to the latest 9560 version. The small model number change might signify that this is a small revision. On the exterior that is certainly the case, with the overall XPS 15 design remaining relatively unchanged, but under the hood there are some more impressive changes awaiting.

The first is a move to Intel’s 7th generation Core processors. Although performance per clock did not change from 6th to 7th generation, a new, improved, 14nm process does allow higher frequencies without blowing through the thermal design power restraints. This allows a small boost in performance over the same designation CPU from the previous design.

More importantly, NVIDIA announced newer graphics to replace the outgoing Maxwell based GTX 960M. The Pascal based GTX 1050 is a significant upgrade, dropping the M branding. Pascal offers much more compute, thanks to the new architecture based on 14nm FinFET, and the GDDR5 capacity doubles from the 2 GB on the GTX 960M to 4 GB on the GTX 1050. The XPS 15 was never a gaming laptop, but a much more capable graphics card certainly helps propel it closer to those dedicated machines, and also can play a big role in compute tasks that can leverage the GPU.

Dell XPS 15 9560 Configurations
  Core i3 Core i5 Core i7
(Model Tested)
GPU Intel HD 630 Intel HD 630 +
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 w/4GB GDDR5
CPU Intel Core i3-7100H (35w)
Dual-Core w/HyperThreading 3.0 GHz
Intel Core i5-7300HQ (45w)
Quad-Core 2.5-3.5 GHz
Intel Core i7-7700HQ (45w)
Quad-Core w/HyperThreading 2.8-3.8 GHz
Memory 8-32GB DDR4-2400 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
Networking Killer 1535 Wireless-AC 2x2 + Bluetooth 4.1
Optional Intel 8265 Wireless-AC 2x2 + Bluetooth 4.1
I/O USB 3.0 x 2 w/Powershare
SD Card reader
1 x USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-C w/Thunderbolt 3 (2 lanes PCIe)
Headset Jack
HDMI 1.4
Dimensions (mm) : 357 x 235 x 11-17
(inches) : 14.06 x 9.27 x 0.45-0.66
Weight With 56 Wh Battery
1.8 kg / 4.0 lbs
With 97 Wh Battery
2 kg / 4.5 lbs
Battery 56 Wh 56/97 Wh
Price $999+
As tested: (Core i7-7700HQ, 3840x2160, 512 GB, 16GB) $1850

Dell didn’t stop there. The previous model offered either a 56 Wh battery, or a stout 84 Wh version. With the latest 9560 version of the XPS 15, that larger battery is bigger again, boasting a 97 Wh capacity, which is right near the 99 Wh limit allowed in a notebook. Dell claims the 9560 is the class leader in battery life for a 15.6-inch notebook, at least when doing productivity tasks, with up to 19.5 hours of battery life.

The battery life will be impacted significantly by the choice of displays though, and just like the 9550 model, Dell is offering both a 1920x1080 (FHD) non-touch version, as well as a 3840x2160 (UHD) panel with touch. The higher resolution also targets 100% of the Adobe RGB color gamut. With both a higher resolution, and wider color gamut, the UHD version is not the one to get if you need the longest battery life, but may be the optimal version if Adobe RGB is important for your workflow.

Not all of the changes are for the best though. Dell has dropped the 3x3:3 Broadcom wireless option for the 9560, which is a shame since Dell was one of the few PC suppliers to offer a 3x3:3 solution. They’ve opted to go with the same Killer Wireless-AC 1535 as they use in the smaller XPS 13. This is a 2x2:2 solution, which is definitely going to impact transfer speeds.

There’s also lots of connectivity options, with Dell supporting HDMI 1.4, USB 3.0 with PowerShare, a SD card reader, and a USB-C port supporting Thunderbolt 3. The last port allows for a single cable docking solution, which can drive up to two UHD displays, as well as charge the laptop.

The inside has changed a lot, but the outside has stayed mostly the same. That’s not a bad thing either, since the XPS 15 was already one of the sleekest looking large display productivity notebooks around.

Design
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  • James5mith - Monday, July 31, 2017 - link

    I gotta say, I'm loving my 9560. First thing I did was swap out the 16GB of RAM for 32GB of DDR4-2400, and swap out the Killer NIC for an Intel 8265.

    I'll gladly take more stable wifi over slightly faster wifi any day.
    Reply
  • notR1CH - Monday, July 31, 2017 - link

    I thought the Killer networking junk was only found in ELITE PRO GAMER products. Very disappointing to see it creeping into more mainstream systems. Reply
  • BrokenCrayons - Monday, July 31, 2017 - link

    When wireless is your primary means of connecting with the world outside of your local machine, the last thing you need is something like a Killer NIC. Wifi should be something you simply don't have to think about as an end user. It ought to fall into the "it just works" realm and I don't think any Killer adapter has been able to deliver on that in a long time. Reply
  • tipoo - Monday, July 31, 2017 - link

    It looks like Killer is now going for being the cheaper option in mainstream systems, rather than just a gaming option. Reply
  • wolrah - Monday, July 31, 2017 - link

    A-freaking-men. A "Killer" network card of any kind is an immediate negative mark against a product in my book.

    As far as onboard wired networking goes I consider Intel gigabit ethernet to be my baseline. Anything gigabit but non-Intel is a negative. Anything NBASE-T or 10G is a positive.

    For WiFi anything truly onboard, as in built in to the motherboard, is a negative to me. WiFi technology moves too fast. My gigabit ethernet card from 2004 is still just as useful today as it was then, but my 802.11g card from the same time is pretty much a relic by modern standards. My laptops have all lived through multiple generations of wireless networking, so the ability to upgrade is key.

    Along those same lines, vendors that lock down their firmwares to only boot with approved cards can suck a big fat one.

    I still consider an Intel WiFi card to be a plus and Killer to be a small minus. Plain old Broadcom or Atheros is the neutral position.
    Reply
  • petteyg359 - Monday, July 31, 2017 - link

    Killer it's just a brand name for Broadcom to sell their products under. If you don't bother to install the software QoS service, it's just like any other network chipset. Would you rather have Realtek or Broadcom? Or hell, they could give us crap from Marvell like their "MADDOG" 802.11n chipset. Reply
  • petteyg359 - Tuesday, August 01, 2017 - link

    And by Broadcom I obviously meant Atheros. Brain was lacking. Reply
  • Daniel Egger - Friday, August 04, 2017 - link

    WiFi in computers has to be Intel or Broadcom. For routers Atheros, Broadcom or Ralink is acceptable. Anything else is just crap. Reply
  • coolhardware - Monday, July 31, 2017 - link

    Yes, it is a bummer than Lenovo has a whitelist for wifi cards on some of their models. Makes it a real pain to upgrade/replace :-( Reply
  • skavi - Tuesday, August 01, 2017 - link

    Lots of Lenovo products have modded bioses with removed whitelists. Reply

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