Battery Life

Dell continues to offer two choices of battery capacity with the XPS 15 lineup. If you opt for a model with a spinning hard drive, that drive requires space that is replaced with battery capacity if you choose a straight SSD model. One big change from the XPS 15 9550 and the latest 9560 model is the size of the battery though, which has increased from an 84 Wh model to a 97 WH version, which is right up against the upper limits allowed in a laptop. This 15.5% larger battery should result in 15.5% longer battery life, all other factors being equal, however we’ve also switched from a Skylake Core i7-6700HQ and GTX 960M (with Optimus) in the previous version, to a Core i7-7700HQ and GTX 1050 (with Optimus) in the current 9560 model, so we’ll see how that plays out.

To test battery life, we have a couple of different tests that we perform on all machines. The first is our 2013 light web browsing test, which is far too light for today’s web, so it’s only here for a data point against older laptops. We’ve also got our new 2016 web browsing test, which is a higher workload. Finally, movie playback is done as well. All testing is done with the display at 200 nits.

2013 Light Browsing

Battery Life 2013 - Light

Our firs test is four web pages, loaded in a loop every minute. As processors and browsers have gotten more efficient, this has become a pretty light workload, but it’s still the test we have the most data points for. As you can see, the 15% more battery capacity gives a result that is 22% higher than the outgoing model, so Kaby Lake and the other changed components are a bit more efficient as well. This result is about nine hours of runtime, which isn’t too bad for a UHD resolution laptop with a quad-core CPU and discrete GPU, but a long way from the 19 hours claimed by Dell. It would make sense to see the FHD version of this laptop do a lot better in this test though, with a smaller gamut, and much less pixel density.

2016 Web Browsing

Battery Life 2016 - Web

Our more demanding web test knocks quite a bit of time off of the result, and we don’t have the old 9550 to compare it against here since this test wasn’t run on it, but it is a decent result for a large display notebook.

Normalized Results

Battery Life 2013 - Light Normalized

Battery Life 2016 - Web - Normalized

Removing the battery capacity from the equation allows us to check out the efficiency of the platform, and unsurprisingly, the XPS 15 is no where near as efficient as an Ultrabook with a U series dual-core CPU. It does make a slight gain on the previous generation though, and is much more efficient than a gaming notebook.

Movie Playback

Battery Life Movie Playback

Battery Life Tesseract

The first result is simply the number of minutes the laptop can loop a movie at 200 nits, and the Tesseract score is how many times you can play back a long movie, which in this case is The Avengers. The XPS 15 should work well for travel, with it able to play a couple of very long movies in a row before giving up the ghost.

Charge Time

The other half of the story with battery life is charge time. This is always non-linear, with much higher charging rates if the battery is very low, but all laptops end up with a trickle charge to get to 100%, to avoid damaging the battery. With a larger capacity battery than the outgoing model, but the same AC adapter, expectations are for a longer charge time.

Battery Charge Time

That is the case. The XPS 15 9560 takes a few minutes more to charge completely. Percentage wise, the 15% larger battery takes about 11% longer to charge, which is 16 minutes.

Display Analysis Wireless, Thermals, Noise, and Audio
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  • coolhardware - Monday, July 31, 2017 - link

    What size SSD did you get? I have been eyeing the 1TB SSD version on Amazon http://amzn.to/2uRxsOk (url shortened) but I can't quite justify the price :-(

    Good call on replacing the Killer NIC with an Intel 8265. There are few things worse on laptop than than flaky wifi!
    Reply
  • skavi - Tuesday, August 1, 2017 - link

    Get a smaller SSD and upgrade it yourself. Dell makes it really easy, and you'll end up with a faster and probably cheaper solution, especially if you go through the process of selling the included drive. Reply
  • MarkZ3 - Monday, July 31, 2017 - link

    A review of the MacBook Pro 15 would be great for comparison purposes! Anandtech hasn't done one in a while. Reply
  • tipoo - Monday, July 31, 2017 - link

    Someone said on twitter it was in the works, there was just a lot else on schedule first. Not sure what the ETA is. Reply
  • Laxaa - Monday, July 31, 2017 - link

    I've read that the 9560 is plagued with a lot of issues, like coil whine, keyboard blacklighting not working, faulty drivers and so on. Have you noticed issues with your sample, Brett? The stories are kind of off-putting. Reply
  • James5mith - Monday, July 31, 2017 - link

    I haven't had any issues with mine. A friend also bought one, and mentioned his right side shift key was not responsive and he got it replaced quickly without much issue.

    Mine seems fine. No coil whine, and back lights are just fine for both screen and keyboard. Initially the driver for the nVidia was borked, but they released a new one two weeks after I received the laptop and since then it's been fine.
    Reply
  • Laxaa - Monday, July 31, 2017 - link

    A friend of mine had issues with his 9550, but he got a on-site motherboard replacement and it seems to work fine now.

    The reason I'm asking about faulty deivces is because I'm in the market for a new laptop and so far, the MBP seem sike a better choice based on reliability. However, there's the issue of the Mac beeing worth $1000 more.
    Reply
  • Manch - Monday, July 31, 2017 - link

    I bought the ASUS zenbook, my friend got the XPS 15. I wanted a numpad but had to give up on upgradeability of the ram as only one stick can be replaced so max 24GB for me. Performance wise they're identical. He got it bc the MBP lack of ports and everything soldered on. Uses a Samsung T1 SSD to keep a copy of OSX on it and runs it virtualized. Best of both worlds and def fast enough that its not an issue. Just an option to save you some $$$ Reply
  • tipoo - Monday, July 31, 2017 - link

    Afaik they're both at the same standard electronics failure rates. As for coil whine and such, get replacements in early if it happens. Otherwise I wouldn't rule the XPS out for reported issues - remember for every complaint there's probably many more users who don't have the problem.

    I havn't really had issue with Dell support either, though some complain about them.
    Reply
  • Morawka - Monday, July 31, 2017 - link

    and this is why you buy dell instead of Asus or even Acer. On-site motherboard replacement.. It's on-site for any repair almost. Reply

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