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Ultrabook reviews, guides and comparisons
Dell XPS 15 9560 Douglas Black Rating: 4 out of 5

Dell XPS 15 9560 review – Core i7 CPU, Nivida 1050 graphics and UHD screen configuration

21 Comments

  1. Lance

    March 6, 2017 at 4:15 am

    Good review, thanks.
    You say the keyboard is horrible. I've been having repeated characters with mine, something like 1/10 times writing something like 'same' I'll get 'samme', is that anything you noticed?

    • Douglas Black

      March 6, 2017 at 4:17 am

      Hi Lance,

      I've never experienced anything like that. Is it always the same key? You could try taking the caps off and cleaning it. If not, it sounds like you should have it serviced

  2. Tom

    March 6, 2017 at 4:57 am

    Good review,

    I can't describe how frustrating the XPS 15 series have been. They're so close to perfection but Dell consistently has (the same) issues on product release. Combined with questionable QC (improper heatsink contact… still) and horrific customer service (you're right, pay for the premium service or you will regret it). It's just annoying for what should be a premium product. It should not just be good, it should be exceedingly good in every aspect.

    I'm in the same boat as you, It's still the best Windows laptop for my use case by a country mile.

    • Douglas Black

      March 6, 2017 at 4:59 am

      Agreed. I will give the Yoga 720 a very good look on release

      • Tom

        March 6, 2017 at 5:36 am

        Aesthetically I think the Yoga 720 looks.. bad.

        It'll almost be a shame if it's good in every other regard. No excuse not to get it.

        T

  3. Kyle

    March 6, 2017 at 5:08 am

    Good review. But I believe the new thinkpad P51 is directly comparable to the XPS 15, not the thinkpad t470p as it is only 14" and doesn't pack a dGPU. As a matter of fact, I don't recommend the t470p at all as it has serious cooling and power draw issues, resulting in an abysmal battery life and performance, not to mention heavier weight and lower quality materials used on the chassis compared with other thinkpad X,T and P series released in 2017. If you're looking for a quad-core ultrabook with no need for dGPU, look into Dell Latitude 14,15 5000 series (kaby lake – e5480,e5580) with the largest capacity battery configuration. Holiday discounts for these two laptops go up to 35%.

    Dell XPS 15 9560 vs Lenovo Thinkpad P51

    I don't own a desktop or a tablet so a laptop is my main and only device. Thus, it needs to be both portable and powerful, with battery life of at least 10 hours.
    config preference: fhd non-touch, 97/90wh battery, i7/xeon
    anti-4k reasoning: scaling issues, 25-30% shorter battery life, reflective display on the xps, poor color accuracy and brightness with pwm flickering on the P51 (although it does come with an aes wacom pen)

    similarities: kaby lake quad core, 4GB VRAM GPUs of similar caliber, ddr4-2400 dual channel slots, m.2-2280 pcie 3.0 x4 nvme ssd slots, 15.6" fhd non-touch matte IPS displays, 1x usb type-c 3.1 gen-2 thunderbolt-3, large batteries, realistic 10hrs battery life, under 2.6kg, better than average build quality, precision touchpads, fingerprint sensors & IR cameras for windows hello sign-in, better services than other lines of laptops from same/different manufacturers

    respective pros & cons (not in any order of importance)
    XPS 15 pros:
    1) better gpu performance with pascal GTX 1050 4GB vs Quadro M2200M 4GB on the P51 (better gaming)
    2) slimmer bezels = smaller footprint
    3) lighter (2kg vs 2.6kg)
    4) slimmer (20mm vs 30mm)
    5) slighly better battery life (97wh vs 90wh)
    6) better display (brightness:350nits/contrast:1500:1/color gamut:98% sRGB,63% adobeRGB)
    7) slightly better internal dac chip and much better speakers
    8) 5-level battery level indicator lights vs tiny 1 on the P51 on the back (very hard to see)

    XPS 15 cons:
    1) terrible keyboard (in terms of travel, actuation force and layout)
    2) 2 lane thunderbolt-3 vs 4 on the p51 (currently using GTX 1080 eGPU and will definitely use a thunderbolt-3 NAS and a portable pcie-nvme ssd when it comes out)
    3) chin-cam (lots of conferences and skyping to do)
    4) slow display response times, a.k.a the 'ghosting issue' (plays mostly fps games)
    5) quality-control & stability issues, both hardware and software wise e.g. coil whine, defective screen, uneven clickpad, broken hinge, unrecognized sd-card, buggy drivers on many, many components
    P51 pros:
    1) business grade durability (possibly the best in the market at this price point) with 'MIL-STD 810G' certification and engineering with great attention to detail & ergonomics
    2) better cooling & lower power consumption = less throttling under sustained load
    3) easily user-replaceable/upgradable parts + removable battery (e.g. three batteries = 30hrs battery life)
    4) better keyboard (lots of typing to do)
    5) trackpoint – useful when the touchpad occasionally fails me
    6) touchpad with two rows of dedicated left/right/middle buttons vs clickpad on the xps
    7) hinges can open 185 degrees vs 130 degrees on the xps
    8) one hand openable lid
    9) 4x ram slots = max 64GB ram vs 2x on the xps
    10) don't have to compromise between battery life and extra drives 2x m.2-2280 pcie-nvme slots + 1x 2.5" 7mm drive bay + 90wh battery vs 1x nvme slot + 97wh battery or 1x nvme slot + 1x 2.5" 7mm drive bay + 57wh battery
    11) great i/o ports selection – 1x usb type-c 3.1 gen-2 thunderbolt-3, 4x usb type-a 3.0, 1x hdmi 1.4, 1x minidisplayport 1.2, 1x rj-45, 1x 3.5mm audio combo, 1x sdxc uhs-2 sd-card reader, 1x smartcard, 1x expresscard 34mm (can buy a 2x usb type-a 3.0 ports adapter card should you need more usb ports), 1x thinkpad dockingstation port, 1x kensington lock vs 1x usb type-c 3.1 gen-2 thunderbolt-3, 2x usb type-a 3.0, 1x hdmi 1.4, 1x kensington lock, 1x 3.5mm audio combo, 1x sdxc uhs-1 sd-card reader
    12) optional pantone color-calibration sensor
    13) array of 'business security features' – win10pro bitlocker, opal ssd, computrace tpm, vpro, expresscard, smartcard etc (although definitely vulnerable to determined criminals/organization/feds/agencies)
    13) optional WWAN LTE modem
    14) better wifi stability & performance (intel wireless-ac 8265 vs killer wireless-ac 1535)
    15) has gigabit-ethernet
    16) sd-card reader is uhs-2 vs uhs-1 on the xps, meaning the read/write speeds are 2x<
    17) very silent fans compared to the xps during load
    18) better cpu performance with selection of i7-7700hq/i7-7820hq/xeon e3-1505-v6(i7-7820hk equivalent)/xeon e3-1535-v6(i7-7920hq equivalent) vs i3-7100h with no dGPU/i5-7300hq/i7-7700hq on the xps
    19) customizable hardware configuration during purchase vs no customization on the xps
    20) can buy and use with thinkpad docking stations

    P51 Cons:
    1) noticeably worse screen (brightness:250nits/contrast:700:1/color gamut:58% sRGB,37% adobeRGB)
    2) noticeably heavier unit
    3) keyboard backlight bleed
    4) dreadful speakers
    5) larger and heavier default charger
    6) although not as many as on the xps, minor stability issues do exist but are mostly fixed within 3 months with bios updates

    negligible factors:
    1) bezels – simply don't understand all the hype with thin bezzels. Samsung&LG laptops had thin bezzels for a decade. Thinkpad P51 makes good use of extra bezzels as keybaord keys are big, key space is wide, and they've managed to put two rows of dedicated click buttons, along with (though disappointing)front-facing speakers. Plus I've always found thick bottom and side bezels to be very useful when opening the lid and when adjusting display angles.
    2) aesthetic appearance

    *Note: For the XPS 15 9560 the non-touch fhd ips-display with 97wh battery option is only available in the US and some selected countries, in only one configuration – i7/16GB-memory/512GB-ssd(1750USD). However, I'd rather buy either the i5 or lowest i7 configuration at the official dell US website, then swap out the 2.5" hard drive and 57wh battery with a 97wh battery through either trade/backorder/ebay.
    Also, the Thinpad P51 battery is rated 90wh but comes with either 90, 93 or 96 according to the battery manufacturer. So if you're lucky, you get the big one.

    approximate cheapest total price possible for similar configs purchased within the US market and directly imported from overseas:
    1) XPS 15 9560: i7-6700hq cpu/gtx1060 gpu/fhd non-touch display/97wh battery/16GB memory/512GB ssd/backlit keyboard/fingerprint reader = i7/1060/fhd/8GB/256GB(1450USD – 250USD holiday discount = 1200USD) + 97wh battery(110USD) + used/holiday sale Samsung sm961/960 pro 512GB ssd(280USD) + used/holiday sale 16GB ddr4-2400 so-dimm g-skills/crucial memory(85USD) – 8GB stock memory (likely samsung/sk-hynix ram) resell(60USD) – 256 stock ssd (likely either samsung pm961/toshiba/lite-on) resell(140USD) – 2.5" hdd and caddy with 57wh battery resell (90USD) = total 1385USD for buyers in the US
    1200USD + 25% approx import tax + shipping(120USD) + all other parts = total 1805USD for international buyers

    2) Thinkpad P51: i7-6700hq cpu/quadro m2200m gpu/fhd non-touch/90wh battery/16gb memory/512gb ssd/backlit keyboard/fingerprint reader/expresscard slot/smartcard reader = i7/m2200m/fhd/8GB/512GB 7200rpm hdd(1650USD x 57/100(43% holiday discount) = 950USD) + used/holiday sale Samsung sm961/960 pro 512GB ssd(280USD) + used/holiday sale 16GB ddr4-2400 so-dimm g-skills/crucial memory(85USD) – 8GB stock memory (likely samsung/sk-hynix ram) resell(60USD) – 512GB stock hdd resell(25USD) = total 1230USD for buyers in the US
    950USD + 25% approx import tax + shipping(120USD) + all other parts = total 1587.5USD for international buyers

    My pick is the P51, mainly because of the much superior build quality, ergonomics, removable battery and the incredible percentage-based price drop during the holidays.

    Obviously they're quite similar yet very different machines. With the right choices however, users can purchase either at a very affordable price.

    Three other big refreshes are around the corner in mid 2017 as well: HP ZBook 15(15",m2000m,2.5kg,96wh), Asus Zenbook Pro UX501VW(15",960m,2.2kg,96wh) and Dell Precision 17 5000 – 7510(15",m2000m,2.6kg,99wh). The ux501 is even rumored to pack a 1060, which would potentially put it on par with high-end lightweight gaming laptops such as the Razer Blade 14(14",1060,1.8kg,75wh), Gigabyte Aero 14(14",1060,1.8kg,94wh) and the Aorus X3-V7(14",1060,1.9kg,94wh). Of course, if all you need is a 1060 card in a slim and light body and don't need more than 3 hours of battery life, then the MSI GS43VR and GS63VR should be your top budget picks.

    • Douglas Black

      March 6, 2017 at 5:17 am

      Wow Kyle, thanks for that in depth comment! For me I'm not willing to go over 4.5 lbs

      • Kyle

        March 6, 2017 at 5:47 am

        Well for one thing, I live in remote Asia and in here, any electronics manufacturer services are terrible and overpriced. But with business laptops I never need to opt for any warranties, other than the default 1-year-depot. If something breaks by some miracle, I can order parts from china which arrives in 2 days.

        The build quality alone for those workstations are totally worth it. Before last year, I always thought thinkpads denting the floor and breaking doors was a big bluff. Until I got my P50, which slipped from my lap one sleepy night and made a crater on the floor. Made my landlord pretty mad haha.

    • Kyle

      March 6, 2017 at 5:33 am

      Okay, I know it looks real long and boring but in my defense, the comment system ate indentations and spaces.

    • KurtB

      March 8, 2017 at 12:21 am

      Kyle, is it possible you're talking about the Lenovo P50? Because the P51 isn't released yet…

      I really can't wait till the P51 is reviewed. My finger is already floating above the 'Buy me' button of the XPS 15 9560, but all the issues I'm reading is holding me. For now, the only two announced devices that can persuade me away from the XPS are maybe the Lenovo 720 and possibily the Lenovo P51. But I can't keep waiting. Really a shame that reviewers aren't getting their review devices way before the release…

      • Douglas Black

        March 8, 2017 at 12:27 am

        The p51 would be great if it had a smaller footprint/bezels and a centered keyboard

  4. Yahtadi

    March 7, 2017 at 12:39 pm

    Nice review as always, one thing i really wanted to know. Please answer anyone

    This kind of laptop use 2 internal fans for cooling right? If i go to this laptop with i3 and no dGPu configuration, how many fans will stay? 1 or 2? if 1, the mainboard will be different with the 2 fans right? whats the rest? I mean, 1 fans and the bigger mainboard that replacing the other fans's place, whatd component that be? another M.2 SSD slot?

    Thanks, any answer would satisfy my years thirsty of this question

    • Douglas Black

      March 7, 2017 at 7:41 pm

      That's a very good question. I've never seen anyone review the i3 version. The precision allows the i5 without a GPU as well. I'd guess that it would be a different board and heatsink design.

  5. Bryant

    March 10, 2017 at 12:08 am

    Where's your article about what you had to do to get the i7 and GPU to not throttle themselves? I'm having that issue with mine pretty badly.

    • Douglas Black

      March 10, 2017 at 12:15 am

      Bryant,

      I've solved it in mine by changing Nvidia setting "pre-rendered frames" to 2 and padding *only* the VRM chokes to the case bottom. I haven't written the article yet because I'm still trying to confirm the exact problem and ensure that it's a reliable method.

      • Bryant

        March 10, 2017 at 12:16 am

        Cool thank you very much. I'll keep an eye out for the article.

  6. Fabio

    March 11, 2017 at 10:59 am

    I'm really interested in this machine but all those flows that might be present in such a premium machine make me question if it's good or not. I'm interested also in the new HP Spectre X360 15, that is a bit cheaper with specs almost on par with this that is better on some aspects (keyboard, webcam in the right place but still with small bezels, touchscreen with a pen), but it has a low power processors. Can't HP and Dell merge their products in a perfect one?

    However, are the 16 GB of ram one in one stick with an internal slot free or not?

    • Douglas Black

      March 11, 2017 at 11:01 am

      The memory will be 8×2 paired. They told me it would be 1×16, so I complained and got 100 USD back

      • Fabio

        March 12, 2017 at 9:51 am

        Too bad, just a single 16 GB would be great for upgrades. Thank you!

  7. Mastafu

    March 17, 2017 at 4:38 pm

    Great review, good to hear about coil whine. To bad that such expensive laptop still has so silly issues with keyboard and camera.
    As to best possible option, how about ASUS Zenbook Pro UX550. It will be great option with even better GTX in it.

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