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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  • aznchum - Tuesday, August 1, 2017 - link

    I was in this same pickle for the XPS 15 9550 when it first came out in Nov 2015. Issues with lag on waking from sleep and screen flickering. Had to disable the HD 630 graphics to remove the lag waking from sleep and the screen flickering, but that totally kills your battery running the GTX 960M all the time. This may have been fixed with drivers given Skylake was brand-spanking-new at the time. I ponied up the extra money and got the Mid 2015 15" rMBP. Never looked back and never had an issue. If you MUST have windows, use Parallels. Reply
  • nagi603 - Monday, July 31, 2017 - link

    A colleague of mine had a faulty keyboard. The right ctrl button got stuck. Factory new, etc... Looks like QC is not the best at Dell. Reply
  • Garrett S. - Monday, July 31, 2017 - link

    Laxaa,

    Check my amazon verified purchase reviews of the Dell XPS 15 9560. I've had 3 different laptops. All 3 have the infamous screen flashing/screen strobing, which occurs randomly, sporadically, at different time frames.

    2 laptops were brand new from dell, factory sealed, from Amazon with 4k screen options, and both of the screens were like bloody strobe lights at a dance club. Also had half (left side only) audio coming out of headphone jack on 3 different headphones. I've had bad screens on all 3, defective headphone jacks, and once, on a brand new one, the fn key was bent in the air (again, check the photos).

    So I tried a manufacturer refurbished directly from dell, and walla! Same good ole dancing strobe light (but didn't occur as often as the brand new ones did... it took about 2 hours of usage before screen started rapidly flashing like a strobe, which actually induces seizures).

    I left reviews on Amazon (video/photo evidence), and mine are verified purchases (which means my reviews are not fake and/or fraudulent).

    I'm going to purchase brand new laptop number 4 tomorrow, and most likely later on, number 5, 6, etc...

    Dell: Don't worry guys. I'll cycle through hundreds and hundreds of your laptops until I find a working laptop!! I'll help the shipping company with weekly deliveries until you get your act together. For now, I'm writing this on my 2013 Macbook Pro retina, arguably, the world's greatest laptop ever created.
    Reply
  • Laxaa - Tuesday, August 1, 2017 - link

    I guess ease of mind is what's going to justify spending extra on the MacBook Pro, because that doesn't sound good at all. And I've read similar things on Reddit as well. Reply
  • mr_tawan - Monday, July 31, 2017 - link

    It would be great if they include the numeric pad on the keyboard. Reply
  • DanNeely - Monday, July 31, 2017 - link

    They can't. Not enough room without using undersize keys for the entire keyboard. Slim bezels mean its about an inch narrower than a traditional fat bezel 15.6" laptop, roughly the size of a 14" fat bezel model which is also too narrow to fit a numpad.

    If you want slim bezels and a numpad, you'll need to hope someone makes a slim bezel 17" model. Being the size of a 15" fat bezel laptop, it'll again be wide enough to fit one.
    Reply
  • tipoo - Monday, July 31, 2017 - link

    I actually feel the opposite, I'd rather a centered keyboard and trackpad than a numpad. If you do data entry there's always external numpads. Most people don't use them that much and the keys are redundant. Reply
  • twtech - Tuesday, August 1, 2017 - link

    I'm really glad it doesn't have a numeric keypad. That's the #1 thing I look to avoid when comparing models, and it pretty much rules out everything over 15".

    I'm actually pretty proficient at using a number pad, but when I have it I use it so rarely, it's not worth having the main part of the keyboard be off-center. I actually don't even use a number pad on my desktop computers either - it's a waste of space.
    Reply
  • mr_tawan - Wednesday, August 2, 2017 - link

    I agreed that it's not for everyone. For English-only usage it's fine not having a numeric pad. In my case, I also use Thai as well. Thai layout covers the whole main keyboard with no room for numbers (as it contains its own set of numeric characters as well). The only other way to input (Arabic) number is to switch the layout back to English, which is a little bit cumbersome.

    Anyway thanks for all input (@tipoo, @twtech, andDanNeely). Appreciated.
    Reply
  • Glock24 - Wednesday, August 2, 2017 - link

    Totally agree. I can't stand the keyboard being off center because of the num pad, and even worse, some laptops have Frankenstein key shapes, sizes and layouts to make the num pad fit. Reply

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