Notebookcheck

Dell XPS 15 9550 (Core i7, FHD) Notebook Review

Allen Ngo, 02/09/2016

Finally on its feet. After a series of software issues, we decided to check up once again on a different SKU of the XPS 15 to see if those problematic areas have been patched up. The results are outstanding.

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It's no secret that we love the latest XPS 15 from Dell. It currently takes up two spots in our Top 10 Multimedia Notebooks list and this will be our third page dedicated to another SKU of the series. Still, the notebook launched with one too many issues that should have absolutely been fixed before availability. Throttling, short battery life, and faulty fan controls were just some of the problems we noticed on our test model.

Dell has promised us that this latest unit has been properly updated to resolve many of the aforementioned problems. How does this Core i7 FHD configuration compare to its i7 UHD and i5 FHD peers? We'll take a close look at its display, performance, and battery life to find out.

We recommend checking out our previous reviews on the XPS 15 for more pictures and information on the chassis, input devices, and connectivity features.

Dell XPS 15 9550 i7 FHD
Processor
Graphics adapter
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960M - 2048 MB, Core: 1032 MHz, Memory: 5010 MHz, 358.94, Optimus
Memory
16384 MB 
, DDR4, 1066.1 MHz, Dual-Channel, 15-15-15-36
Display
15.6 inch 16:9, 1920x1080 pixel, IPS, Monitor ID: Sharp SHP1453, Name: LQ156M1, Dell P/N: 1203M, glossy: no
Mainboard
Intel HM170 (Skylake PCH-H)
Storage
Samsung PM951 NVMe 512 GB, 512 GB 
Connections
2 USB 3.0 / 3.1 Gen1, 1 USB 3.1 Gen2, 1 HDMI, 1 Kensington Lock, Audio Connections: Line+Mic Combo, Card Reader: 3-in-1
Networking
Broadcom BCM15700A2 802.11ac (ac), Bluetooth 4.0
Size
height x width x depth (in mm): 17 x 357 x 235 ( = 0.67 x 14.06 x 9.25 in)
Battery
84 Wh Lithium-Ion
Operating System
Microsoft Windows 10 Home 64 Bit
Camera
Webcam: 720p 1280x720
Additional features
Speakers: Stereo, Keyboard: Chiclet, Keyboard Light: yes, 12 Months Warranty
Weight
1.963 kg ( = 69.24 oz / 4.33 pounds), Power Supply: 458 g ( = 16.16 oz / 1.01 pounds)
Price
1800 USD

 

Display

Our test model uses the same Sharp LQ156M1 IPS panel as our previous XPS 15 2016 FHD unit. Thus, our retested brightness, contrast, and color space measurements are very close between the two. It's worth noting that the FHD SKU covers 98 percent of sRGB according to our measurements while the UHD SKU covers an even wider gamut at 89 percent of AdobeRGB. Backlight bleeding occurs near the two top corners of the display, though it is minor enough to be unnoticeable during everyday use and only barely noticeable when watching movies with black borders.

Display flickering continues to be prevalent when at very low brightness levels of 20 percent or dimmer. Users who may be sensitive to PWM should maintain a brightness level of at least 30 or 50 percent where flickering is no longer noticeable or detectable. This backlight behavior is unique to the FHD SKUs as the UHD SKUs function without the use of PWM on all brightness levels.

Slight backlight bleeding
Slight backlight bleeding
Subpixel grid
Subpixel grid
359.8
cd/m²
363.7
cd/m²
365.5
cd/m²
348.3
cd/m²
371.5
cd/m²
349.9
cd/m²
341.3
cd/m²
367.5
cd/m²
340.8
cd/m²
Distribution of brightness
X-Rite i1Pro Basic 2
Maximum: 371.5 cd/m² Average: 356.5 cd/m² Minimum: 15.1 cd/m²
Brightness Distribution: 92 %
Center on Battery: 371.5 cd/m²
Contrast: 1474:1 (Black: 0.252 cd/m²)
ΔE Color 5.55 | - Ø
ΔE Greyscale 7.1 | - Ø
97.9% sRGB (Argyll) 63.4% AdobeRGB 1998 (Argyll)
Gamma: 2.1
Dell XPS 15 9550 i7 FHD
15.6, 1920x1080
Dell XPS 15-9550 i7
15.6, 3840x2160
Dell XPS 15 2016 9550
15.6, 1920x1080
Dell XPS 15 (9530-0538)
15.6, 3840x2160
Dell XPS 15 (Late 2013)
15.6, 3200x1800
Dell XPS 13 2016 i7 256GB QHD
13.3, 3200x1800
Screen
-2%
0%
8%
-6%
5%
Brightness356344
-3%
394
11%
365
3%
322
-10%
281
-21%
Brightness Distribution9290
-2%
89
-3%
87
-5%
83
-10%
90
-2%
Black Level *0.2520.38
-51%
0.24
5%
0.282
-12%
0.21
17%
0.18
29%
Contrast1474950
-36%
1663
13%
1238
-16%
1662
13%
1583
7%
Colorchecker DeltaE2000 *5.555.34
4%
5.95
-7%
2.65
52%
8.27
-49%
4.89
12%
Greyscale DeltaE2000 *7.14.84
32%
8.41
-18%
3.77
47%
7.99
-13%
5.16
27%
Gamma *2.12.212.352.413.422.15
Color Space (Percent of AdobeRGB 1998)63.489
40%
64
1%
61.02
-4%
69.08
9%
59
-7%
Color Space (Percent of sRGB)97.9100
2%
98
0%
96.1
-2%
93
-5%
CCT7395 88%7010 93%6786 96%8117 80%7106 91%

* ... smaller is better

vs. XPS 15 2016 UHD
vs. XPS 15 2016 UHD
vs. XPS 15 2016 FHD
vs. XPS 15 2016 FHD
vs. XPS 15 2015 UHD
vs. XPS 15 2015 UHD
vs. AdobeRGB
vs. AdobeRGB
vs. sRGB
vs. sRGB
 

Colors and grayscale are good out-of-the-box, but both could benefit noticeably from a calibration. Colors are very accurate across all tested saturation levels due to the near perfect sRGB coverage. Orange and Red colors appear to be slightly less accurate than others.

Grayscale pre-calibration
Grayscale pre-calibration
Saturation Sweeps pre-calibration
Saturation Sweeps pre-calibration
ColorChecker pre-calibration
ColorChecker pre-calibration
Grayscale post calibration
Grayscale post calibration
Saturation Sweeps post calibration
Saturation Sweeps post calibration
ColorChecker post calibration
ColorChecker post calibration

Display Response Times

Display response times show how fast the screen is able to change from one color to the next. Slow response times can lead to afterimages and can cause moving objects to appear blurry (ghosting). Gamers of fast-paced 3D titles should pay special attention to fast response times.
       Response Time Black to White
50 ms ... rise ↗ and fall ↘ combined↗ 12 ms rise
↘ 38 ms fall
The screen shows slow response rates in our tests and will be unsatisfactory for gamers.
In comparison, all tested devices range from 0.8 (minimum) to 240 (maximum) ms. » 98 % of all devices are better.
This means that the measured response time is worse than the average of all tested devices (28.3 ms).
       Response Time 50% Grey to 80% Grey
64 ms ... rise ↗ and fall ↘ combined↗ 27 ms rise
↘ 37 ms fall
The screen shows slow response rates in our tests and will be unsatisfactory for gamers.
In comparison, all tested devices range from 0.9 (minimum) to 172 (maximum) ms. » 95 % of all devices are better.
This means that the measured response time is worse than the average of all tested devices (43 ms).

Outdoor usability is above average due to the relatively bright backlight, deep contrast, matte display, and IPS panel for wide viewing angles. We had no issues viewing content comfortably under shade while direct sunlight will easily wash out the display. Viewing from very obtuse angles will have a Yellowing effect on apparent contrast and colors.

Outdoors under shade
Outdoors under shade
Outdoors under direct sunlight
Outdoors under direct sunlight
Wide IPS viewing angles
Wide IPS viewing angles

Performance

Turbo Boost up to 3.5 GHz depending on load
Turbo Boost up to 3.5 GHz depending on load

Our test model is equipped with the same Core i7-6700HQ CPU, GTX 960M GPU, and NVMe Samsung SSD as our UHD SKU. If idling, the CPU and GPU can run at just 800 MHz and 135/405 MHz core/memory, respectively, to preserve power. Optimus is available with the integrated HD 530 for even longer battery life.

Processor

CineBench benchmarks rank our i7-6700HQ roughly 15 percent ahead of the Haswell i7-4712HQ and 25 percent ahead of the Ivy Bridge i7-3612QM in multi-threaded benchmarks. Note that the newer Skylake i5-6300HQ in the base configuration of the XPS 15 2016 performs at about the same level as the faster i7-6700HQ in single-threaded operations, but falls behind even the much older i7-3612QM in multi-threaded operations.

See our dedicated CPU page on the i7-6700HQ for more technical information and benchmark comparisons.

CineBench R10 32-bit
CineBench R10 32-bit
CineBench R11.5 64-bit
CineBench R11.5 64-bit
CineBench R15
CineBench R15
Cinebench R11.5
CPU Multi 64Bit (sort by value)
Dell XPS 15 9550 i7 FHD
GeForce GTX 960M, 6700HQ, Samsung PM951 NVMe 512 GB
7.48 Points ∼0%
Dell XPS 15-9550 i7
GeForce GTX 960M, 6700HQ, Samsung PM951 NVMe 512 GB
7.41 Points ∼0% -1%
Dell XPS 15 (9530-0538)
GeForce GT 750M, 4712HQ, Lite-On LMT-512L9M
6.4 Points ∼0% -14%
Dell XPS 15 (L521x) PL
GeForce GT 640M, 3612QM, WDC Scorpio Blue WD10JPVT-75A1Yt0
5.64 Points ∼0% -25%
Dell XPS 15 2016 9550
GeForce GTX 960M, 6300HQ, WDC WD10SPCX-75KHST0 + LiteON CS1-SP32-11 M.2 2242 32GB
5.28 Points ∼0% -29%
CPU Single 64Bit (sort by value)
Dell XPS 15 9550 i7 FHD
GeForce GTX 960M, 6700HQ, Samsung PM951 NVMe 512 GB
1.49 Points ∼0%
Dell XPS 15-9550 i7
GeForce GTX 960M, 6700HQ, Samsung PM951 NVMe 512 GB
1.66 Points ∼0% +11%
Dell XPS 15 (9530-0538)
GeForce GT 750M, 4712HQ, Lite-On LMT-512L9M
1.44 Points ∼0% -3%
Dell XPS 15 (L521x) PL
GeForce GT 640M, 3612QM, WDC Scorpio Blue WD10JPVT-75A1Yt0
1.28 Points ∼0% -14%
Dell XPS 15 2016 9550
GeForce GTX 960M, 6300HQ, WDC WD10SPCX-75KHST0 + LiteON CS1-SP32-11 M.2 2242 32GB
1.47 Points ∼0% -1%
Cinebench R15
CPU Multi 64Bit (sort by value)
Dell XPS 15 9550 i7 FHD
GeForce GTX 960M, 6700HQ, Samsung PM951 NVMe 512 GB
680 Points ∼44%
Dell XPS 15-9550 i7
GeForce GTX 960M, 6700HQ, Samsung PM951 NVMe 512 GB
663 Points ∼43% -2%
Dell XPS 15 (9530-0538)
GeForce GT 750M, 4712HQ, Lite-On LMT-512L9M
565 Points ∼36% -17%
Dell XPS 15 2016 9550
GeForce GTX 960M, 6300HQ, WDC WD10SPCX-75KHST0 + LiteON CS1-SP32-11 M.2 2242 32GB
461 Points ∼30% -32%
CPU Single 64Bit (sort by value)
Dell XPS 15 9550 i7 FHD
GeForce GTX 960M, 6700HQ, Samsung PM951 NVMe 512 GB
146 Points ∼80%
Dell XPS 15-9550 i7
GeForce GTX 960M, 6700HQ, Samsung PM951 NVMe 512 GB
147 Points ∼81% +1%
Dell XPS 15 (9530-0538)
GeForce GT 750M, 4712HQ, Lite-On LMT-512L9M
125 Points ∼69% -14%
Dell XPS 15 2016 9550
GeForce GTX 960M, 6300HQ, WDC WD10SPCX-75KHST0 + LiteON CS1-SP32-11 M.2 2242 32GB
118 Points ∼65% -19%
Cinebench R10
Rendering Multiple CPUs 64Bit (sort by value)
Dell XPS 15-9550 i7
GeForce GTX 960M, 6700HQ, Samsung PM951 NVMe 512 GB
26547 Points ∼73%
Dell XPS 15 (9530-0538)
GeForce GT 750M, 4712HQ, Lite-On LMT-512L9M
22609 Points ∼62%
Dell XPS 15 (L521x) PL
GeForce GT 640M, 3612QM, WDC Scorpio Blue WD10JPVT-75A1Yt0
19463 Points ∼53%
Dell XPS 15 2016 9550
GeForce GTX 960M, 6300HQ, WDC WD10SPCX-75KHST0 + LiteON CS1-SP32-11 M.2 2242 32GB
21034 Points ∼58%
Rendering Single CPUs 64Bit (sort by value)
Dell XPS 15-9550 i7
GeForce GTX 960M, 6700HQ, Samsung PM951 NVMe 512 GB
7067 Points ∼78%
Dell XPS 15 (9530-0538)
GeForce GT 750M, 4712HQ, Lite-On LMT-512L9M
6205 Points ∼69%
Dell XPS 15 (L521x) PL
GeForce GT 640M, 3612QM, WDC Scorpio Blue WD10JPVT-75A1Yt0
5279 Points ∼58%
Dell XPS 15 2016 9550
GeForce GTX 960M, 6300HQ, WDC WD10SPCX-75KHST0 + LiteON CS1-SP32-11 M.2 2242 32GB
6180 Points ∼68%
Super Pi Mod 1.5 XS 32M - --- (sort by value)
Dell XPS 15 9550 i7 FHD
GeForce GTX 960M, 6700HQ, Samsung PM951 NVMe 512 GB
597.283 Seconds * ∼3%
Dell XPS 15 (L521x) PL
GeForce GT 640M, 3612QM, WDC Scorpio Blue WD10JPVT-75A1Yt0
651.3 Seconds * ∼3% -9%
wPrime 2.0x - 1024m (sort by value)
Dell XPS 15 9550 i7 FHD
GeForce GTX 960M, 6700HQ, Samsung PM951 NVMe 512 GB
372.971 s * ∼4%

* ... smaller is better

Cinebench R10 Shading 32Bit
6535
Cinebench R10 Rendering Multiple CPUs 32Bit
20033
Cinebench R10 Rendering Single 32Bit
5485
Cinebench R11.5 OpenGL 64Bit
45.19 fps
Cinebench R11.5 CPU Multi 64Bit
7.48 Points
Cinebench R11.5 CPU Single 64Bit
1.49 Points
Cinebench R15 Ref. Match 64Bit
99.6 %
Cinebench R15 OpenGL 64Bit
45.82 fps
Cinebench R15 CPU Multi 64Bit
680 Points
Cinebench R15 CPU Single 64Bit
146 Points
Help
Discussion

System Performance

PCMark benchmarks rank our system in the same ballpark as its other SKUs from within the same XPS series. The entry-level XPS 15 2016 configuration falls slightly more behind due to its cheaper primary HDD with SSD cache instead of a full-fledged SSD.

PCMark 7
PCMark 7
PCMark 8 Home Accelerated
PCMark 8 Home Accelerated
PCMark 8 Creative Accelerated
PCMark 8 Creative Accelerated
PCMark 8 Work Accelerated
PCMark 8 Work Accelerated
PCMark 7 - Score (sort by value)
Dell XPS 15 9550 i7 FHD
GeForce GTX 960M, 6700HQ, Samsung PM951 NVMe 512 GB
5739 Points ∼72%
Dell XPS 15 (9530-0538)
GeForce GT 750M, 4712HQ, Lite-On LMT-512L9M
5549 Points ∼70% -3%
Dell XPS 15-9550 i7
GeForce GTX 960M, 6700HQ, Samsung PM951 NVMe 512 GB
5480 Points ∼69% -5%
Dell XPS 15 2016 9550
GeForce GTX 960M, 6300HQ, WDC WD10SPCX-75KHST0 + LiteON CS1-SP32-11 M.2 2242 32GB
5128 Points ∼65% -11%
PCMark 8
Home Score Accelerated v2 (sort by value)
Dell XPS 15 9550 i7 FHD
GeForce GTX 960M, 6700HQ, Samsung PM951 NVMe 512 GB
3753 Points ∼66%
Dell XPS 15-9550 i7
GeForce GTX 960M, 6700HQ, Samsung PM951 NVMe 512 GB
3121 Points ∼55% -17%
Dell XPS 15 2016 9550
GeForce GTX 960M, 6300HQ, WDC WD10SPCX-75KHST0 + LiteON CS1-SP32-11 M.2 2242 32GB
3575 Points ∼63% -5%
Creative Score Accelerated v2 (sort by value)
Dell XPS 15 9550 i7 FHD
GeForce GTX 960M, 6700HQ, Samsung PM951 NVMe 512 GB
4659 Points ∼57%
Dell XPS 15-9550 i7
GeForce GTX 960M, 6700HQ, Samsung PM951 NVMe 512 GB
4358 Points ∼53% -6%
Dell XPS 15 2016 9550
GeForce GTX 960M, 6300HQ, WDC WD10SPCX-75KHST0 + LiteON CS1-SP32-11 M.2 2242 32GB
4257 Points ∼52% -9%
Work Score Accelerated v2 (sort by value)
Dell XPS 15 9550 i7 FHD
GeForce GTX 960M, 6700HQ, Samsung PM951 NVMe 512 GB
4696 Points ∼77%
Dell XPS 15-9550 i7
GeForce GTX 960M, 6700HQ, Samsung PM951 NVMe 512 GB
3950 Points ∼65% -16%
PCMark 7 Score
5739 points
PCMark 8 Home Score Accelerated v2
3753 points
PCMark 8 Creative Score Accelerated v2
4659 points
PCMark 8 Work Score Accelerated v2
4696 points
Help

Storage Devices

Depending on the SKU, users may only have one storage option (1x M.2 2280/2242) or two (1x M.2 2280/2242, 1x 2.5-inch SATA III). The former carries a larger battery pack (84 Wh) in place of the secondary storage slot while the latter carries a smaller battery pack (56 Wh) in favor of the secondary storage slot. The concept isn't very common, though Asus also utilizes it in its popular UX501 and G501 series of notebooks.

Raw performance from the 512 GB Samsung PM951 NVMe is unsurprisingly nearly identical to the same SSD on our XPS 15 i7 UHD configuration. The jump from SATA III to NVMe gives a massive boost to raw transfer rates that is only now beginning to trickle down from high-end gaming notebooks to more mainstream offerings like the XPS series.

AS SSD
AS SSD
CDM
CDM
PCMark 8 Storage
PCMark 8 Storage
Dell XPS 15 9550 i7 FHD
GeForce GTX 960M, 6700HQ, Samsung PM951 NVMe 512 GB
Dell XPS 15-9550 i7
GeForce GTX 960M, 6700HQ, Samsung PM951 NVMe 512 GB
Dell XPS 15 2016 9550
GeForce GTX 960M, 6300HQ, WDC WD10SPCX-75KHST0 + LiteON CS1-SP32-11 M.2 2242 32GB
Dell XPS 15 (9530-0538)
GeForce GT 750M, 4712HQ, Lite-On LMT-512L9M
Dell XPS 15 (Late 2013)
GeForce GT 750M, 4702HQ, Samsung SSD SM841 512GB
Dell XPS 13 2016 i7 256GB QHD
HD Graphics 520, 6500U, Samsung PM951 NVMe MZ-VLV256D
AS SSD
-5%
-7397%
-51%
-67%
-32%
Seq Read1578.671568.69
-1%
122.2
-92%
486.19
-69%
498.51
-68%
735.32
-53%
Seq Write569.97562.19
-1%
77.55
-86%
373.51
-34%
404.87
-29%
301.24
-47%
4K Read31.8634.63
9%
1.53
-95%
29.65
-7%
23.83
-25%
38.21
20%
4K Write105.42105.64
0%
0.98
-99%
62.02
-41%
59.57
-43%
97.63
-7%
4K-64 Read989.81974.79
-2%
10.11
-99%
361.54
-63%
374.55
-62%
697.53
-30%
4K-64 Write512.73532.03
4%
0.91
-100%
253.09
-51%
290.53
-43%
263.69
-49%
Access Time Read *0.0380.053
-39%
20.196
-53047%
0.065
-71%
0.114
-200%
0.071
-87%
Access Time Write *0.0350.036
-3%
17.313
-49366%
0.058
-66%
0.061
-74%
0.034
3%
Score Read11801166
-1%
24
-98%
440
-63%
448
-62%
809
-31%
Score Write675694
3%
10
-99%
352
-48%
391
-42%
391
-42%
Score Total24102410
0%
44
-98%
1021
-58%
1070
-56%
1603
-33%
Copy ISO MB/s1126.61715.9
-36%
15.75
-99%
468.18
-58%
397.71
-65%
Copy Program MB/s325.29318.41
-2%
42.24
-87%
238.52
-27%
46.64
-86%
Copy Game MB/s804.65785.18
-2%
66.45
-92%
292.58
-64%
148.88
-81%

* ... smaller is better

GPU Performance

Raw graphics performance according to 3DMark benchmarks is a significant improvement over the outdated GT 750M in last year's XPS 15. Users can expect a roughly twofold graphics boost for smoother gaming and editing.

See our dedicated GPU page on the GTX 960M for more technical information and benchmark comparisons.

3DMark 11
3DMark 11
Ice Storm Unlimited
Ice Storm Unlimited
Cloud Gate
Cloud Gate
Fire Strike
Fire Strike
Fire Strike Extreme
Fire Strike Extreme
Fire Strike Ultra
Fire Strike Ultra
3DMark 11
1280x720 Performance (sort by value)
Dell XPS 15-9550 i7
GeForce GTX 960M, 6700HQ, Samsung PM951 NVMe 512 GB
5477 Points ∼26%
Dell XPS 15 2016 9550
GeForce GTX 960M, 6300HQ, WDC WD10SPCX-75KHST0 + LiteON CS1-SP32-11 M.2 2242 32GB
5375 Points ∼26%
Dell XPS 15 (9530-0538)
GeForce GT 750M, 4712HQ, Lite-On LMT-512L9M
2971 Points ∼14%
Dell XPS 15 (Late 2013)
GeForce GT 750M, 4702HQ, Samsung SSD SM841 512GB
2974 Points ∼14%
Dell XPS 15 (L521x) PL
GeForce GT 640M, 3612QM, WDC Scorpio Blue WD10JPVT-75A1Yt0
1930 Points ∼9%
1280x720 Performance GPU (sort by value)
Dell XPS 15-9550 i7
GeForce GTX 960M, 6700HQ, Samsung PM951 NVMe 512 GB
5279 Points ∼18%
Dell XPS 15 2016 9550
GeForce GTX 960M, 6300HQ, WDC WD10SPCX-75KHST0 + LiteON CS1-SP32-11 M.2 2242 32GB
5258 Points ∼18%
Dell XPS 15 (9530-0538)
GeForce GT 750M, 4712HQ, Lite-On LMT-512L9M
2718 Points ∼9%
Dell XPS 15 (Late 2013)
GeForce GT 750M, 4702HQ, Samsung SSD SM841 512GB
2736 Points ∼9%
Dell XPS 15 (L521x) PL
GeForce GT 640M, 3612QM, WDC Scorpio Blue WD10JPVT-75A1Yt0
1725 Points ∼6%
1280x720 Performance Physics (sort by value)
Dell XPS 15-9550 i7
GeForce GTX 960M, 6700HQ, Samsung PM951 NVMe 512 GB
6971 Points ∼53%
Dell XPS 15 2016 9550
GeForce GTX 960M, 6300HQ, WDC WD10SPCX-75KHST0 + LiteON CS1-SP32-11 M.2 2242 32GB
6086 Points ∼46%
Dell XPS 15 (9530-0538)
GeForce GT 750M, 4712HQ, Lite-On LMT-512L9M
7538 Points ∼57%
Dell XPS 15 (Late 2013)
GeForce GT 750M, 4702HQ, Samsung SSD SM841 512GB
7325 Points ∼55%
Dell XPS 15 (L521x) PL
GeForce GT 640M, 3612QM, WDC Scorpio Blue WD10JPVT-75A1Yt0
7249 Points ∼55%
3DMark (2013)
1280x720 Ice Storm Standard Score (sort by value)
Dell XPS 15 9550 i7 FHD
GeForce GTX 960M, 6700HQ, Samsung PM951 NVMe 512 GB
77565 Points ∼42%
Dell XPS 15-9550 i7
GeForce GTX 960M, 6700HQ, Samsung PM951 NVMe 512 GB
48680 Points ∼26% -37%
Dell XPS 15 2016 9550
GeForce GTX 960M, 6300HQ, WDC WD10SPCX-75KHST0 + LiteON CS1-SP32-11 M.2 2242 32GB
80910 Points ∼44% +4%
Dell XPS 15 (9530-0538)
GeForce GT 750M, 4712HQ, Lite-On LMT-512L9M
70949 Points ∼38% -9%
Dell XPS 15 (Late 2013)
GeForce GT 750M, 4702HQ, Samsung SSD SM841 512GB
55377 Points ∼30% -29%
1280x720 Cloud Gate Standard Score (sort by value)
Dell XPS 15 9550 i7 FHD
GeForce GTX 960M, 6700HQ, Samsung PM951 NVMe 512 GB
17140 Points ∼53%
Dell XPS 15-9550 i7
GeForce GTX 960M, 6700HQ, Samsung PM951 NVMe 512 GB
16529 Points ∼51% -4%
Dell XPS 15 2016 9550
GeForce GTX 960M, 6300HQ, WDC WD10SPCX-75KHST0 + LiteON CS1-SP32-11 M.2 2242 32GB
12993 Points ∼40% -24%
Dell XPS 15 (9530-0538)
GeForce GT 750M, 4712HQ, Lite-On LMT-512L9M
10521 Points ∼32% -39%
Dell XPS 15 (Late 2013)
GeForce GT 750M, 4702HQ, Samsung SSD SM841 512GB
9739 Points ∼30% -43%
1280x720 Cloud Gate Standard Graphics (sort by value)
Dell XPS 15 9550 i7 FHD
GeForce GTX 960M, 6700HQ, Samsung PM951 NVMe 512 GB
29118 Points ∼20%
Dell XPS 15-9550 i7
GeForce GTX 960M, 6700HQ, Samsung PM951 NVMe 512 GB
27090 Points ∼18% -7%
Dell XPS 15 2016 9550
GeForce GTX 960M, 6300HQ, WDC WD10SPCX-75KHST0 + LiteON CS1-SP32-11 M.2 2242 32GB
30296 Points ∼21% +4%
Dell XPS 15 (9530-0538)
GeForce GT 750M, 4712HQ, Lite-On LMT-512L9M
13691 Points ∼9% -53%
Dell XPS 15 (Late 2013)
GeForce GT 750M, 4702HQ, Samsung SSD SM841 512GB
12088 Points ∼8% -58%
1280x720 Cloud Gate Standard Physics (sort by value)
Dell XPS 15 9550 i7 FHD
GeForce GTX 960M, 6700HQ, Samsung PM951 NVMe 512 GB
7026 Points ∼18%
Dell XPS 15-9550 i7
GeForce GTX 960M, 6700HQ, Samsung PM951 NVMe 512 GB
6991 Points ∼18% 0%
Dell XPS 15 2016 9550
GeForce GTX 960M, 6300HQ, WDC WD10SPCX-75KHST0 + LiteON CS1-SP32-11 M.2 2242 32GB
4333 Points ∼11% -38%
Dell XPS 15 (9530-0538)
GeForce GT 750M, 4712HQ, Lite-On LMT-512L9M
5812 Points ∼15% -17%
Dell XPS 15 (Late 2013)
GeForce GT 750M, 4702HQ, Samsung SSD SM841 512GB
5797 Points ∼15% -17%
1920x1080 Fire Strike Standard Score (sort by value)
Dell XPS 15 9550 i7 FHD
GeForce GTX 960M, 6700HQ, Samsung PM951 NVMe 512 GB
3939 Points ∼17%
Dell XPS 15-9550 i7
GeForce GTX 960M, 6700HQ, Samsung PM951 NVMe 512 GB
3909 Points ∼17% -1%
Dell XPS 15 2016 9550
GeForce GTX 960M, 6300HQ, WDC WD10SPCX-75KHST0 + LiteON CS1-SP32-11 M.2 2242 32GB
3907 Points ∼17% -1%
Dell XPS 15 (9530-0538)
GeForce GT 750M, 4712HQ, Lite-On LMT-512L9M
2049 Points ∼9% -48%
Dell XPS 15 (Late 2013)
GeForce GT 750M, 4702HQ, Samsung SSD SM841 512GB
1953 Points ∼8% -50%
1920x1080 Fire Strike Standard Graphics (sort by value)
Dell XPS 15 9550 i7 FHD
GeForce GTX 960M, 6700HQ, Samsung PM951 NVMe 512 GB
4232 Points ∼18%
Dell XPS 15-9550 i7
GeForce GTX 960M, 6700HQ, Samsung PM951 NVMe 512 GB
4201 Points ∼18% -1%
Dell XPS 15 2016 9550
GeForce GTX 960M, 6300HQ, WDC WD10SPCX-75KHST0 + LiteON CS1-SP32-11 M.2 2242 32GB
4362 Points ∼19% +3%
Dell XPS 15 (9530-0538)
GeForce GT 750M, 4712HQ, Lite-On LMT-512L9M
2141 Points ∼9% -49%
Dell XPS 15 (Late 2013)
GeForce GT 750M, 4702HQ, Samsung SSD SM841 512GB
2015 Points ∼9% -52%
1920x1080 Fire Strike Standard Physics (sort by value)
Dell XPS 15 9550 i7 FHD
GeForce GTX 960M, 6700HQ, Samsung PM951 NVMe 512 GB
9702 Points ∼59%
Dell XPS 15-9550 i7
GeForce GTX 960M, 6700HQ, Samsung PM951 NVMe 512 GB
9542 Points ∼58% -2%
Dell XPS 15 2016 9550
GeForce GTX 960M, 6300HQ, WDC WD10SPCX-75KHST0 + LiteON CS1-SP32-11 M.2 2242 32GB
6127 Points ∼37% -37%
Dell XPS 15 (9530-0538)
GeForce GT 750M, 4712HQ, Lite-On LMT-512L9M
8315 Points ∼50% -14%
Dell XPS 15 (Late 2013)
GeForce GT 750M, 4702HQ, Samsung SSD SM841 512GB
8131 Points ∼49% -16%
1920x1080 Fire Strike Standard Combined (sort by value)
Dell XPS 15 9550 i7 FHD
GeForce GTX 960M, 6700HQ, Samsung PM951 NVMe 512 GB
1635 Points ∼21%
Dell XPS 15-9550 i7
GeForce GTX 960M, 6700HQ, Samsung PM951 NVMe 512 GB
1625 Points ∼21% -1%
Dell XPS 15 2016 9550
GeForce GTX 960M, 6300HQ, WDC WD10SPCX-75KHST0 + LiteON CS1-SP32-11 M.2 2242 32GB
1680 Points ∼21% +3%
Dell XPS 15 (9530-0538)
GeForce GT 750M, 4712HQ, Lite-On LMT-512L9M
837 Points ∼11% -49%
Fire Strike Extreme Score (sort by value)
Dell XPS 15 9550 i7 FHD
GeForce GTX 960M, 6700HQ, Samsung PM951 NVMe 512 GB
1981 Points ∼22%
Dell XPS 15 (Late 2013)
GeForce GT 750M, 4702HQ, Samsung SSD SM841 512GB
970 Points ∼11% -51%
Fire Strike Extreme Graphics (sort by value)
Dell XPS 15 9550 i7 FHD
GeForce GTX 960M, 6700HQ, Samsung PM951 NVMe 512 GB
1997 Points ∼20%
Dell XPS 15 (Late 2013)
GeForce GT 750M, 4702HQ, Samsung SSD SM841 512GB
964 Points ∼10% -52%
Fire Strike Extreme Physics (sort by value)
Dell XPS 15 9550 i7 FHD
GeForce GTX 960M, 6700HQ, Samsung PM951 NVMe 512 GB
9729 Points ∼61%
Dell XPS 15 (Late 2013)
GeForce GT 750M, 4702HQ, Samsung SSD SM841 512GB
8091 Points ∼51% -17%
Fire Strike Extreme Combined (sort by value)
Dell XPS 15 9550 i7 FHD
GeForce GTX 960M, 6700HQ, Samsung PM951 NVMe 512 GB
880 Points ∼19%
3DMark (2013) Ice Storm Standard Score
77565 points
3DMark (2013) Cloud Gate Standard Score
17140 points
3DMark (2013) Fire Strike Standard Score
3939 points
3DMark (2013) Fire Strike Extreme Score
1981 points
Help

Gaming Performance

The synthetic 3DMark results above translate well into real-world gaming performance. Users can again expect almost double the frame rates compared to older XPS 15 SKUs with GT 750M graphics. The integrated HD 520 in the latest XPS 13 is even further behind.

Modern 3D titles are more than playable on the native resolution of 1080p. Newer and more demanding titles like Fallout 4 and Rise of the Tomb Raider will require Medium settings for more stable frame rates.

BioShock Infinite
1366x768 High Preset (sort by value)
Dell XPS 15 9550 i7 FHD
GeForce GTX 960M, 6700HQ, Samsung PM951 NVMe 512 GB
106.9 fps ∼99%
Dell XPS 15 2016 9550
GeForce GTX 960M, 6300HQ, WDC WD10SPCX-75KHST0 + LiteON CS1-SP32-11 M.2 2242 32GB
108 fps ∼100% +1%
Dell XPS 15 (9530-0538)
GeForce GT 750M, 4712HQ, Lite-On LMT-512L9M
59.98 fps ∼56% -44%
Dell XPS 15 (Late 2013)
GeForce GT 750M, 4702HQ, Samsung SSD SM841 512GB
61.08 fps ∼57% -43%
Dell XPS 13 2016 i7 256GB QHD
HD Graphics 520, 6500U, Samsung PM951 NVMe MZ-VLV256D
24.1 fps ∼22% -77%
1920x1080 Ultra Preset, DX11 (DDOF) (sort by value)
Dell XPS 15 9550 i7 FHD
GeForce GTX 960M, 6700HQ, Samsung PM951 NVMe 512 GB
44.1 fps ∼100%
Dell XPS 15-9550 i7
GeForce GTX 960M, 6700HQ, Samsung PM951 NVMe 512 GB
41.12 fps ∼93% -7%
Dell XPS 15 2016 9550
GeForce GTX 960M, 6300HQ, WDC WD10SPCX-75KHST0 + LiteON CS1-SP32-11 M.2 2242 32GB
40.8 fps ∼93% -7%
Dell XPS 15 (9530-0538)
GeForce GT 750M, 4712HQ, Lite-On LMT-512L9M
22.04 fps ∼50% -50%
Dell XPS 15 (Late 2013)
GeForce GT 750M, 4702HQ, Samsung SSD SM841 512GB
21.85 fps ∼50% -50%
Dell XPS 13 2016 i7 256GB QHD
HD Graphics 520, 6500U, Samsung PM951 NVMe MZ-VLV256D
7.4 fps ∼17% -83%
low med. high ultra
Sleeping Dogs (2012) 89.223.4fps
Guild Wars 2 (2012) 52.528.6fps
Tomb Raider (2013) 11252.4fps
StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm (2013) 140.371.1fps
BioShock Infinite (2013) 106.944.1fps
Metro: Last Light (2013) 55.730.9fps
Thief (2014) 51.226.6fps
Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor (2014) 39.930.5fps
Batman: Arkham Knight (2015) 3919fps
Metal Gear Solid V (2015) 5537.5fps
Fallout 4 (2015) 3124.2fps
Rise of the Tomb Raider (2016) 23.821.2fps

Stress Test

Our test unit performs very well when under stressful processing conditions. The system is able to maintain the maximum 3.1 GHz Turbo Boost for the CPU when under Prime95 stress while keeping core temperatures in the low 70 C range. The GPU will also never drop below 1111 MHz when under FurMark stress, which means that GPU Boost will always be active under high loads since its base clock rate is 1032 MHz in comparison. The downside is a higher stable GPU temperature of 86 C. Note that the CPU can be as warm as 95 C when subjected to both Prime95 and FurMark stress simultaneously, but the system will automatically throttle down to 2.1 GHz or slower to prevent damage and maintain a stable temperature in the low 80 C range.

Performance under Unigine Heaven is more representative of gaming loads. Both the CPU and GPU will run at higher clock rates and at lower core temperatures. Running on battery power will not substantially limit CPU or GPU performance. A 3DMark 11 run on batteries returns Physics and Graphics scores of 7959 and 5070 points, respectively, compared to 7960 and 5189 points when on mains.

Prime95 stress
Prime95 stress
FurMark stress
FurMark stress
Prime95+FurMark stress
Prime95+FurMark stress
Unigine Heaven stress
Unigine Heaven stress
Stable Clock Rates and Temperatures Under Stress
CPU Clock (GHz) GPU Clock (MHz) Average CPU Temperature (C) Average GPU Temperature (C)
Prime95 Stress 3.1 -- 69 - 73 --
FurMark Stress -- 1111 - 1136 -- 80
Prime95 + FurMark Stress 2.1 1111 - 1136 80 - 81 86
Unigine Heaven Stress 3.1+ 1189 58 - 62 70 - 71

Emissions

System Noise

The XPS 15 is completely silent when idling or during low loads on the Power Saver profile. More moderate loads with the dGPU active may bump fan noise up to 33 dB(A) for short periods, which is still on the low-end and not at all distracting. Gaming will cause fan noise to cycle from 33 dB(A) to 36.5 dB(A). Most of the time, however, the system will remain stable at 36.5 dB(A) under heavy load.

Extreme loads will bump fan noise in a step-wise manner from 36.5 dB(A) to 40 dB(A), 42.6 dB(A), and finally to 47.7 dB(A). While this maximum is louder than on last year's XPS 15, it should be very uncommon (if not impossible) under gaming and everyday loads. The new XPS model is overall quieter than the outgoing one when under medium loads.

Fan noise: (Gray: Background, Red: System idle, Blue: Unigine Heaven, Green: Prime95+FurMark)
Fan noise: (Gray: Background, Red: System idle, Blue: Unigine Heaven, Green: Prime95+FurMark)
Dual ~50 mm fans
Dual ~50 mm fans
Dell XPS 15 9550 i7 FHD
GeForce GTX 960M, 6700HQ, Samsung PM951 NVMe 512 GB
Dell XPS 15 2016 9550
GeForce GTX 960M, 6300HQ, WDC WD10SPCX-75KHST0 + LiteON CS1-SP32-11 M.2 2242 32GB
Dell XPS 15 (9530-0538)
GeForce GT 750M, 4712HQ, Lite-On LMT-512L9M
Dell XPS 13 2016 i7 256GB QHD
HD Graphics 520, 6500U, Samsung PM951 NVMe MZ-VLV256D
Asus ZenBook Pro UX501VW-DS71T
GeForce GTX 960M, 6700HQ, Samsung SM951 MZVPV512HDGL m.2 PCI-e
Lenovo Ideapad Y700 15ISK 80NW
GeForce GTX 960M, 6700HQ, Samsung MZNLN128HCGR-000L2
Noise
-9%
-7%
-1%
-1%
-7%
Idle Minimum *29.232.6
-12%
29.6
-1%
31.8
-9%
28.9
1%
30.4
-4%
Idle Average *29.333.6
-15%
31.6
-8%
31.8
-9%
28.9
1%
30.5
-4%
Idle Maximum *29.533.6
-14%
31.6
-7%
34.8
-18%
30.2
-2%
33.3
-13%
Load Average *36.537.1
-2%
45.4
-24%
34.8
5%
41.8
-15%
41.4
-13%
Load Maximum *47.747.5
-0%
45.4
5%
34.8
27%
43.9
8%
47
1%

* ... smaller is better

Noise Level

Idle
29.2 / 29.3 / 29.5 dB(A)
Load
36.5 / 47.7 dB(A)
 
 
 
30 dB
silent
40 dB(A)
audible
50 dB(A)
loud
 
min: dark, med: mid, max: light   BK Precision 732A (15 cm distance)

Temperature

Surface temperatures are generally cool when idling or during low loads. Nonetheless, the center rear of the notebook will always be noticeably warmer at all times. Running on the High Performance profile with the dGPU active will accentuate the warmer regions.

The palm rests remain cool and so do the outer edges of the keyboard, but users will quickly notice that the center of the keyboard will become much warmer over time especially when gaming. Fortunately, the bottom surface of the notebook will not grow uncomfortably warm if the system is simply being used for word processing, browsing, or movie playback.

Maximum load (Front)
Maximum load (Front)
Maximum load (Bottom)
Maximum load (Bottom)
Max. Load
 32.6 °C56.6 °C32.2 °C 
 35.3 °C45.4 °C31.3 °C 
 25.8 °C26.6 °C25.7 °C 
Maximum: 56.6 °C
Average: 34.6 °C
36.8 °C46.9 °C34.2 °C
32.1 °C29 °C33.5 °C
29.5 °C29.9 °C30 °C
Maximum: 46.9 °C
Average: 33.5 °C
Power Supply (max.)  48.8 °C | Room Temperature 19 °C | FLIR One

Speakers

Speakers (Gray: White noise, Pink: Pink noise)
Speakers (Gray: White noise, Pink: Pink noise)

The stereo speakers are of above average quality and with a loud maximum volume. They are better able to reproduce lower frequency sounds than on the Gigabyte P34W v5, so bass is more prevalent. Still, the lack of a dedicated subwoofer puts the XPS 15 at a disadvantage compared to larger dedicated gaming machines.

Battery Life

Runtimes have been vastly improved over previous iterations of the XPS 15 including our recent XPS 15 2016 UHD SKU. Part of this can be attributed to the battery capacity that is already larger than on most competing 15.6-inch notebooks and to key updates from Dell that improve battery life directly. At over 9 hours of constant WLAN use, this is probably one of the longest lasting 15.6-inch notebooks with a GTX 960M GPU. Users who don't mind running on the Power Saver profile and with a dimmer display brightness can squeeze out even more from the battery, though too low of a brightness is not recommended due to the aforementioned use of PWM.

Charging from empty to full will take roughly 2 to 2.5 hours with the included AC adapter. Unlike on Dell's business-centric Precision and Latitude series, the internal battery for the XPS 15 is more difficult to access and replace.

Maximum runtime (Reader's Test)
Maximum runtime (Reader's Test)
Minimum runtime (Classic Test)
Minimum runtime (Classic Test)
WLAN runtime
WLAN runtime
Dell XPS 15 9550 i7 FHD
84 Wh
Dell XPS 15-9550 i7
84 Wh
Dell XPS 15 2016 9550
56 Wh
Dell XPS 15 (9530-0538)
88 Wh
Dell XPS 13-9350
56 Wh
Battery Runtime
-24%
-17%
-42%
2%
Reader / Idle979528
-46%
544
-44%
782
-20%
Load106125
18%
140
32%
150
42%
WiFi v1.3544309
-43%
332
-39%
314
-42%
451
-17%
Battery Runtime
Idle (without WLAN, min brightness)
16h 19min
WiFi Surfing v1.3
9h 04min
Load (maximum brightness)
1h 46min

Pro

+ small and lightweight
+ high quality FHD panel; 98 percent sRGB coverage
+ impressive runtimes
+ high CPU and GPU performance; no major throttling issues
+ NVMe M.2 support
+ USB Type-C 3.1 Gen. 2 with Thunderbolt 3

Cons

- only a single storage bay
- no NumPad
- screen flickering at low brightness settings
- non-removable battery
- few ports

Verdict

In review: Dell XPS 15 9550 (Core i7, FHD). Test model provided by Dell US.
In review: Dell XPS 15 9550 (Core i7, FHD). Test model provided by Dell US.

Though it launched with some headache-inducing issues, the XPS 15 2016 refresh is an improvement over the outgoing design in almost every way, especially in terms of graphics, size, and weight. Battery life is incredible with our 84 Wh test unit and the system is able to maintain stable temperatures with no more major throttling issues.

The pulsating backlight at very low brightness levels is still an issue with the FHD SKUs and can be avoided by keeping the backlight above 30 or 40 percent. Additionally, the FHD SKUs have nearly full coverage of sRGB while the 4K UHD SKUs cover an even wider gamut of nearly the entire AdobeRGB standard. These two reasons alone may be enough to persuade digital artists into purchasing a 4K UHD configuration over any FHD options even if the higher resolution is of no interest.

The larger battery capacity will come at the cost of secondary storage and such configurations may not be available in all regions. Models with the smaller battery pack may be preferable for those who intend to use the XPS 15 primarily as a multimedia and gaming machine.

The large display, small size, and graphical power make the latest XPS 15 an excellent solution for traveling, gaming, and schoolwork. It's a very focused system as it lacks business-centric features and connectivity options suited for professional use despite the deep color options.

Dell XPS 15 9550 i7 FHD - 02/08/2016 v4.1(old)
Allen Ngo

Chassis
95 / 98 → 97%
Keyboard
88%
Pointing Device
94%
Connectivity
80 / 81 → 99%
Weight
64 / 67 → 94%
Battery
89%
Display
87%
Games Performance
92 / 85 → 100%
Application Performance
95 / 92 → 100%
Temperature
84%
Noise
80 / 95 → 84%
Audio
69%
Average
85%
88%
Multimedia - Weighted Average

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> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > Reviews > Dell XPS 15 9550 (Core i7, FHD) Notebook Review
Allen Ngo, 2016-02- 9 (Update: 2016-02- 9)