Design

Dell already had one of the best designs for a notebook with the XPS 15 9550, so it is perhaps not a huge surprise to see them evolve that design only slightly for this year. It keeps the same thin-bezel design that has catapulted the XPS lineup into the distinctive look and feel they are known for today. Although the XPS 13 is more impacted by the thin bezels in percentage shrunk, Dell still offers the smallest 15.6-inch notebook around with the XPS 15.

Dell uses a machined aluminum top and bottom, and sandwiched in the middle is a carbon-fibre keyboard deck with a soft-touch coating. It makes the laptop very easy to use for extended periods of time, without the sharp edges that some all-metal laptops suffer from, but the coating can be a bit of a fingerprint magnet.

The keyboard is backlit in white, with multiple levels of brightness. It features a six row keyboard too, and without the extra width allowed by wider bezels, Dell doesn’t try to squeeze in a number pad, which is the right decision. Even on larger 15.6-inch laptops, that can make for a pretty cramped keyboard experience, with oddly placed keys. The XPS 15 features a fairly typical keyboard arrangement, with perhaps only the half-height arrow keys being a concern for some typists, although they are well spaced and shouldn’t pose much of an issue even for the pickiest of keyboard users.

The key travel itself is a bit disappointing. It features 1.3 mm of travel, which is likely due to the lack of space inside to offer a thicker keyboard. The keys don’t have the reassuring click sound either, with a more muted, mushy feel. We’ve been spoiled by some great laptop keyboards over the last couple of years, and the XPS 15 can’t reach that lofty goal. As with anything, a person would get used to it over time, but there are better keyboards out there.

The trackpad is smooth, and generously sized. The width is much more traditional than some devices which have gone with the ultra-wide trackpads, and because of this it feels more natural. There’s less hitting your palms on the trackpad too.

New to the XPS 15 9560, and tucked over on the right side of the keyboard deck, is a capacitive fingerprint reader. With Windows Hello integration, this gives you the option of using biometrics as a logon choice. The fingerprint reader is very responsive and has almost never missed a finger in the time here. Some people prefer the tactile feel of a fingerprint reader over a facial-recognition login method, but regardless, it’s nice to have at least one Windows Hello biometric option to speed up login.

The right side features the SD card reader, USB 3.0 with PowerShare, and a battery gauge indicator. The left side has the charging port, another USB 3.0 with PowerShare, full sized HDMI 1.4, a headset jack, and the Thunderbolt 3 connector. Other laptops may have more USB ports, but two A ports are generally enough for most people, and those that need more can easily tap into the USB-C port for far more bandwidth if necessary.

It's hard to say more about the XPS lineup at this point, since it’s become such a well-known design in the last couple of years. If you’ve not had a chance to see one in person, it’s probably worth a look. The smaller bezels really do reduce the bulk of the notebook, with the one downside in Dell’s case of a poorly positioned webcam at the bottom of the display. Dell wants to keep the top and side bezels the same size for aesthetics, and heavy webcam users will not appreciate this, with a less than flattering up-the-nose result. Since the launch of the Infinity Display, other manufacturers have done thin bezels, but with a thicker top bezel to allow space for the webcam. Not everyone uses the built-in webcam though, so whether this is an issue to anyone will be up to them.

Regardless, the XPS 15 is still one of the most striking large form factor laptops around, and Dell has managed to make it a compact device without lowering it to Ultrabook levels of performance.

Introduction System Performance
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  • James5mith - Monday, July 31, 2017 - link

    I gotta say, I'm loving my 9560. First thing I did was swap out the 16GB of RAM for 32GB of DDR4-2400, and swap out the Killer NIC for an Intel 8265.

    I'll gladly take more stable wifi over slightly faster wifi any day.
    Reply
  • notR1CH - Monday, July 31, 2017 - link

    I thought the Killer networking junk was only found in ELITE PRO GAMER products. Very disappointing to see it creeping into more mainstream systems. Reply
  • BrokenCrayons - Monday, July 31, 2017 - link

    When wireless is your primary means of connecting with the world outside of your local machine, the last thing you need is something like a Killer NIC. Wifi should be something you simply don't have to think about as an end user. It ought to fall into the "it just works" realm and I don't think any Killer adapter has been able to deliver on that in a long time. Reply
  • tipoo - Monday, July 31, 2017 - link

    It looks like Killer is now going for being the cheaper option in mainstream systems, rather than just a gaming option. Reply
  • wolrah - Monday, July 31, 2017 - link

    A-freaking-men. A "Killer" network card of any kind is an immediate negative mark against a product in my book.

    As far as onboard wired networking goes I consider Intel gigabit ethernet to be my baseline. Anything gigabit but non-Intel is a negative. Anything NBASE-T or 10G is a positive.

    For WiFi anything truly onboard, as in built in to the motherboard, is a negative to me. WiFi technology moves too fast. My gigabit ethernet card from 2004 is still just as useful today as it was then, but my 802.11g card from the same time is pretty much a relic by modern standards. My laptops have all lived through multiple generations of wireless networking, so the ability to upgrade is key.

    Along those same lines, vendors that lock down their firmwares to only boot with approved cards can suck a big fat one.

    I still consider an Intel WiFi card to be a plus and Killer to be a small minus. Plain old Broadcom or Atheros is the neutral position.
    Reply
  • petteyg359 - Monday, July 31, 2017 - link

    Killer it's just a brand name for Broadcom to sell their products under. If you don't bother to install the software QoS service, it's just like any other network chipset. Would you rather have Realtek or Broadcom? Or hell, they could give us crap from Marvell like their "MADDOG" 802.11n chipset. Reply
  • petteyg359 - Tuesday, August 01, 2017 - link

    And by Broadcom I obviously meant Atheros. Brain was lacking. Reply
  • Daniel Egger - Friday, August 04, 2017 - link

    WiFi in computers has to be Intel or Broadcom. For routers Atheros, Broadcom or Ralink is acceptable. Anything else is just crap. Reply
  • coolhardware - Monday, July 31, 2017 - link

    Yes, it is a bummer than Lenovo has a whitelist for wifi cards on some of their models. Makes it a real pain to upgrade/replace :-( Reply
  • skavi - Tuesday, August 01, 2017 - link

    Lots of Lenovo products have modded bioses with removed whitelists. Reply

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