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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  • keeepcool - Friday, March 4, 2016 - link

    Buy an M.2 SSD, remove bottom cover, mount SSD; put cover again, install SO in said SSD, done.
    It might take 30 minutes..
    Reply
  • TwoMetreBill - Friday, March 4, 2016 - link

    Are you sure the drive is user replaceable or are you speculating? I want to use the 2TB Samsung SSD so am hoping I can buy it with the hybrid drive and then swap it out. Even better would be to get it with the 256GB M2 SSD and then add the Samsung but I'm probably asking too much. Reply
  • XDudert - Friday, March 4, 2016 - link

    I got a xps 15 9550 and a bit tricky with drivers, but since i wanted a 2,5" drive and a ssd I bought it with a harddrive/ssdcache and as long you're able to read simple instructions you can put in an SSD in it myslef currently rocking a 1Tb HDD and a samsung 950 Pro 512Gb M.2 SSD with no issues and it's way faster than I'll ever need :) (about a philips svrew driver for about 12 screws and a usb with right drivers is all you need) Reply
  • milli - Friday, March 4, 2016 - link

    Super easy to swap the drives. You just have to remove the bottom cover.
    I bought the 32GB cache version. Replaced the cache drive with a Samsung SM951 NVMe M.2 drive.
    Reply
  • nerd1 - Friday, March 4, 2016 - link

    I got XPS15 9550 with 1TB HDD. Now running two SSDs (one m2, one SATA) together. Reply
  • WhisperingEye - Sunday, March 6, 2016 - link

    seems a shame, since you missed out on the bigger battery, to save money by using your own SSD. Reply
  • gw74 - Friday, March 4, 2016 - link

    in the UK the range has been updated to all-SSD Reply
  • TEAMSWITCHER - Friday, March 4, 2016 - link

    Are there pictures of the power brick that comes with this laptop? Reply
  • zeeBomb - Friday, March 4, 2016 - link

    Ty brett Reply
  • Space Jam - Friday, March 4, 2016 - link

    I wasn't expecting this review and oh man did I want it. Reply

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