The Dell XPS 15 9550 Review: Infinity Edge Lineup Expandsby Brett Howse on March 4, 2016 8:00 AM EST
After everything we've seen so far, what is there to say about the XPS 15? As a pure exercise in style, mimicking the look and feel of the XPS 13 was definitely the right way to go. The same Infinity Edge display allows Dell to squeeze a 15-inch notebook into the space that most 14-inch models take up. The aluminum outside feels great in the hand, but the contrasting dark carbon fibre weave on the keyboard deck makes the keys easier to read, and it also does a better job resisting fingerprints. The soft touch coating makes typing on the XPS 15 very comfortable.
XPS 15 Compared to 15.6-inch Lenovo Y700
The keyboard is roughly (if not exactly) the same as the XPS 13 keyboard, which I liked. The 1.3 mm of travel is kind of shallow for a laptop this large, but overall it is pretty good. There are better keyboards around, but it would not take long to get used to typing on the XPS 15. The trackpad is excellent, with plenty of room to work, and nice smooth scrolling. The Microsoft Precision Touchpad drivers lack some of the customizability of other trackpad drivers, but the gestures available are enough for what I need.
Performance is very good, thanks to a quad-core Skylake processor and a NVIDIA GTX 960M graphics card. This isn’t a dedicated gaming system, but the GPU can hold its own and even allow you to play modern games as long as you are OK turning the graphics down a bit. The CPU performance is strong, although as with the Lenovo Y700, the Skylake quad-core didn’t bring a big jump in performance over Broadwell.
The display shipped on the review unit is the 3840x2160 UHD panel with support for the Adobe RGB color space, but the wider gamut can't make up for the disappointing accuracy out of the box. Once calibrated though, this display can hold its own with pretty much anything out there. Text is very crisp, and colors are very vibrant. It’s a shame that there’s not an easier way to use Adobe RGB, but with more devices starting to support this color space perhaps Windows will work on how it deals with different gamuts. We can hope.
The downside of the over 8 million pixels though is the less than amazing battery life. With a large 84 Wh battery, I was hoping for more than 7.5 hours on our light test, but that wasn’t the case. The efficiency is not fantastic, and it is also hindered by LED backlighting that supports a higher gamut, although we did run our testing on sRGB mode. Overall battery life isn’t much different than the XPS 15 9530 that we tested a while back, despite the IGZO display and latest generation processor. It’s hard to get around driving light through that many pixels. The 1920x1080 IPS panel offered in the base model would certainly help here, though not having tested that model it's hard to say just how much it would help.
Dell didn’t load the XPS 15 down with too much extra software either, which is nice. The Dell PremierColor application is great though, and being able to make improvements to the built in Windows Snap assist is a good move. Much of the time I’m not interested in extra software, but if an OEM can improve upon something that is built in, it’s hard to argue with them adding it in.
Overall, the XPS 15 is one of the sleekest 15-inch laptops on the market. If I was looking to purchase something of this size, the XPS 15 would be near the top of my list, thanks to the excellent build quality, great design, and compact size. When you work it, it does get loud, but the combination of good qualities in the XPS 15 are hard to ignore.
Post Your CommentPlease log in or sign up to comment.
View All Comments
DanNeely - Friday, March 4, 2016 - link
I think what you're seeing is partly that the RMBP was previously a good candidate for smallest 15.x" laptop and comparing against an outlier instead of the norm. (Not sure if it was the smallest; but it was close), and partly the difference in screen dimensions from the aspect ratio and dinging the dell's 16:9 for being wider while letting the RMBP off the hook for its 16x10 being taller. The LCD dimensions are 345.4mm × 194.3mm (dell) vs 331.7mm × 2073mm (RMBP). Dell's managed to trim 16mm of side bezel off vs Apple's offering.
For direct comparison, here are the dimensions of Dells 14/15" Latitude laptops ('traditional' business class machines). It's not quite as narrow as conventional 14" laptops; but it's total area (LxW) is only 5% larger than the 14" model while being 13% smaller than the old 15.6.
boskone - Friday, March 4, 2016 - linkYou can charge the XPS 13 via a suitable USB type C charger, like one for the Pixel 2. Any chance of verifying that with the 15?
BillyONeal - Friday, March 4, 2016 - linkI have one and can verify that it works well with the TB15 dock -- the dock's drivers are still flaky as hell though.
DanNeely - Friday, March 4, 2016 - linkDo you have all the latest drivers installed? Poking around on reddit suggests that manually downloading and installing the latest from Dell's site, (plus a USB3 hub driver from elsewhere?), fixed the bulk of the issues. The ASmedia driver that post recommends is slightly older than Dell's current driver; I don't know if it's more stable, or just that Dell had an even older one up at the time the post was made.
lazarpandar - Friday, March 4, 2016 - linkMy stupid questions are famous
BillyONeal - Friday, March 4, 2016 - linkYes, installing that USB 3 driver made the dock not completely useless; but still seems flaky occasionally.
willis936 - Friday, March 4, 2016 - linkWould you guys consider adding csgo to the graphics testbench? The number of players has been steadily rising in the past few years and it is relatively demanding for a simple game. The hard part is the prospect of a moving target since they plan on moving from havok to source 2 this year and occasionally update resources such as player model reskins. I think it'd be a good metric at 1080p minimum settings nonetheless.
Shadowmaster625 - Friday, March 4, 2016 - linkThe battery is clearly done charging at 107 minutes.
Brett Howse - Monday, March 7, 2016 - linkMany laptops charge to 99% much faster than the last 1%. That's why I always include the charge graph. But our test is from dead to 100%, not 99%.
Daniel Egger - Friday, March 4, 2016 - linkIf that thing was running OS X natively I'd buy it right away. Apple, please have a look how *matte* displays are done right and deliver. Thank you.