System Performance

The XPS 15 is offered with three processor choices. The base model is the 35-Watt Intel Core i3-6100H, which is a dual-core Skylake chip with a 2.7 GHz frequency and 3 MB of cache. While I’m sure that it’s fine for most tasks, the base model is also lacking a discrete GPU and means you are only going to be using the integrated graphics, which in this case is the HD 530. I would expect the bulk of Dell’s sales to be the Core i5 and i7 models, which also come with the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960M graphics card. The Core i5-6300HQ is a quad-core, 45-Watt part, that runs between 2.3 and 3.2 GHz, and it has a 6 MB cache. The top option is the Core i7-6700HQ, which includes HyperThreading (the Core i5 lacks this but the Core i3 has it) and a base frequency of 2.6 GHz with a turbo frequency of 3.5 GHz. The Core i7 is the model that was provided to us for this review.

On the memory side, this device includes two SODIMM slots which is a nice bonus for upgradability. The base offering is 8 GB of DDR4-2133, and you can buy it with 16 GB as well, or if you want to add your own DIMMs you can put 32 GB in this machine. For storage, hybrid hard drives are at the low end of the device range, but Dell ramps up to PCIe based SSDs on the higher priced models. The review unit has a PM951 Samsung drive, which is the TLC version that we’ve already seen in many notebooks this year. Read speeds are generally great, but write speeds will be among the slower PCIe SSDs thanks to the TLC.

I’ve run the XPS 15 through our standard notebook suite, along with a couple of other tests as well. All laptops in the charts below are from our Notebook Bench, and if you’d like to compare the XPS 15 to any other device we’ve tested, please check it out here. The previous generation XPS 15 9530 in the charts has the Core i7-4702HQ processor, GTX 750M GPU, 3200x1800 display, and a 91 Wh battery. The Lenovo Y700 is a device that we just reviewed and has the same CPU and GPU as the XPS 15 9550, and I thought it would be interesting to also see the XPS 13 here as well, although this is the Broadwell version we reviewed last year. This is a Core i5-5200U CPU, 3200x1800 display, and 8 GB of memory.

PCMark

PCMark 8 - Home

PCMark 8 - Creative

PCMark 8 - Work

PCMark 7 (2013)

PCMark attempts to recreate actual workloads that people would use every day, and with version 8 they have several tests to focus on workloads for those tasks. Home includes web browsing, gaming, photo editing, and video chat. Creative has web browsing, photo editing, group video chat, transcoding, and some gaming, and Work has document editing, spreadsheets, and video chat. Pretty much all aspects of the device are tested, and even things like the display resolution can impact the score. The UHD resolution on the review unit impacts these scores quite a bit in fact, with the XPS 15 often quite low compared to the Lenovo Y700 which has the same CPU and GPU but a 1920x1080 display.

Cinebench

Cinebench R15 - Single-Threaded Benchmark

Cinebench R15 - Multi-Threaded Benchmark

Cinebench R11.5 - Single-Threaded Benchmark

Cinebench R11.5 - Multi-Threaded Benchmark

Cinebench is a CPU heavy workload which renders an image. It can use all cores and likes more MHz as well. Just like the Lenovo Y700, I found the XPS 15 wasn’t a big jump in performance with Skylake compared to Broadwell and even some of the later Haswell Core i7 parts. It is however a sizeable jump over the outgoing XPS 15 9530.

x264

x264 HD 5.x

x264 HD 5.x

This test does video transcoding, and much like Cinebench is strongly influenced by CPU performance. More cores and higher frequencies are the name of the game here. Just like Cinebench, there also isn’t an increase in performance with Skylake on these tests compared to Broadwell or later generation Haswell chips like the i7-4720HQ, which can turbo up to 3.6 GHz compared to 3.5 GHz on the i7-6700HQ. But it is still a big jump over the i7-4702HQ found in the XPS 15 9530.

Web Tests

Mozilla Kraken 1.1

Google Octane 2.0

WebXPRT 2015

WebXPRT 2013

I’ve mentioned this a few times already but its worth repeating. Since the launch of Windows 10, we’ve switched from using Google Chrome for web testing to Microsoft Edge. Edge has performance that is quite a bit closer to Chrome now, surpassing it in some tests and behind in others, but both are capable browsers. As such, I’ve labeled the older laptops to let you know which browser was used at the time they were tested.

With a quad-core Skylake processor, which now supports Intel’s Speed Shift technology, the XPS 15 scores very well in our web results. The bursty nature of the web tests really plays into the hands of Speed Shift and lets the processor quickly get up to maximum frequency to perform the task, and make for a more responsive browsing experience.

Design GPU Performance
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  • close - Tuesday, March 08, 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 07, 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 07, 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 04, 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 04, 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 04, 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 04, 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 04, 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 04, 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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