Compute

The XPS 15 is not marketed as a gaming laptop, and while any gaming laptop can pull double duty, people buying the XPS 15 may not be interested in gaming at all. The GPU can still be leveraged for certain workloads such as photo and video editing. The parallel computing power of the GPU makes it a great choice for these types of tasks.

CompuBench

CompubenchCL Face Detection

CompubenchCL TV-L1 Optical Flow

CompubenchCL Ocean Surface Simulation

CompubenchCL Particle Simulation 64K

CompubenchCL TRex

CompubenchCL Video Composition

CompubenchCL Bitcoin Mining

The only other device we’ve tested with Kishonti’s CompuBench is the dGPU version of the Surface Book. I felt it would be a nice comparison to see just how much more performance the GTX 960M would give in compute tasks. Compared to just integrated graphics, there is a big jump in performance from both of the discrete cards, but the GTX 960M is roughly double the performance of the GT 940M in the Surface Book. If you need compute power, you get a lot more in the XPS 15 with the quad-core processor and much more powerful GPU.

Storage Performance

Dell does offer the XPS 15 with a mechanical hard drive as the baseline option, but once you step up a couple of tiers it can be outfitted with a PCIe based SSD, and in the case of our review unit it is the Samsung PM951. This has become incredibly popular it seems, since it lets companies check the box beside PCIe on storage, but unfortunately it is a TLC based drive so write speeds aren't as high as what we've seen MLC-based PCIe drives do. Clearly Samsung is aggressive with the pricing on this drive since it is in pretty much every device we’ve seen that has PCIe storage.

Recently PCMark 8 updated their testing for storage to better differentiate drives with NVMe storage. As such, the existing scores are no longer comparable with those from the new suite. The XPS 15 scored 5036 in the new test, but we'll need more devices tested in order to have something to compare it to.

Despite the TLC NAND, Dell shipped the 512 GB version of the XPS 15, so it has enough NAND dies to help the write speeds through parallel work, keeping even this slower TLC drive performant over short bursts. I actually expected read speeds to be a bit higher as well but over 800 MB/s is still faster than what SATA drives can do.

GPU Performance Display
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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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