Notebookcheck

Dell XPS 15 9550 (i7, 512GB, UHD) InfinityEdge Notebook Review

Sebastian Jentsch (translated by Andreas Osthoff), 12/26/2015

Bug fixes, workarounds and BIOS updates: Dell's XPS 15 does not have a good start. How is the bigger i7/UHD version handling the drawbacks that we experienced with the i5/FHD model? One reader speaks about a “completely different notebook.” Do we share this opinion? Are we even inspired in the end? Update 12/23/2015: Recall BIOS 1.1.14!

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After the review of the entry-level version, we now have a look at the high-end configuration with UHD display (touch), Skylake Core i7, Samsung NVMe-SSD (512 GB) and 84-Wh battery. The review took quite a while; there were always delays due to bug fixes, new BIOS versions and drivers (Dell PremierColor, Intel HD Graphics). This is annoying, not so much for us as reviewers, but more for buyers or potential buyers, respectively. They will have to ask why such a desired premium notebook still suffers from so many bugs after the launch. They are fixed hectically one at a time, which is not very reassuring for the user.

What happened to Dell's quality control or did the manufacturer think that buyers of the advertised "High Performance Notebook" XPS 15 will just live with battery throttling to 1.6 GHz and a faulty Turbo control? You want to utilize the full performance of the processor when you pay from 1,600 (~$1756) to more than 2,000 Euros (~$2195) for a notebook. If the device cannot cool a 45-Watt processor besides a GTX 960M, then the manufacturer will just have to waive the concept of such a thin laptop.

The biggest issues of the i5/FHD/hybrid model were / are:

 

 

Performance

  • i5 CPU cannot be fully utilized 
  • massive throttling when you stress CPU and GPU 
  • battery runtimes below expectations (54 Wh)

Display

  • Mediocre color accuracy ex-works, but easy to calibrate
  • PWM flickering at low brightness levels (FHD)

How does the more expensive i7/SSD/UHD model perform? Will potential buyers face the same bugs or did Dell's BIOS updates help and how is the quality of the 4K panel?

This is a review update of the XPS 15 i5/FHD, so we won't cover identical components in this article. More details about the build quality, input devices, connectivity and speakers are available in the review of the entry-level XPS 15.

 

Changelog

12/23/15 Dell PremierColor / BIOS recall 1.1.14

01/04/16 BIOS 1.1.15 for customers

01/07/16 Official – BIOS 1.1.15 and new IGP driver

BIOS Update 1.1.14/1.1.13

Hectically launched: BIOS Rev. 1.1.14 improvement battery runtime NVMe systems
Hectically launched: BIOS Rev. 1.1.14 improvement battery runtime NVMe systems

Our two versions of the XPS 15 were shipped with the BIOS revision 1.1.05. Dell will make version 1.1.14 available for its customers at the end of December; it is supposed to implement the following fixes: Improvements of the battery runtime with NVMe configurations (devSleep bug).

Update 12/23/15

We found out that BIOS 1.1.14 does not improve the battery runtimes in our review. Now, Dell recalls the – currently unreleased – 1.1.14 and asks reviewers to use the previous version (1.1.13) instead. Note: 1.1.13 is currently not released either. Dell is trying to launch a version for customers as quickly as possible:

We will work toward solving the issues we are seeing, and we will follow-up once we have line of sight to a permanent fix to re-enable the low-power C-states that gives back the hour+ battery life currently missing from light load work scenarios for XPS 15.  And of course, we’re working on this with an eye for public distribution ASAP, but I’ll get it to you early whenever possible.  Thank you for your patience!

Update 01/04/16

BIOS 1.1.15 is available for customers since January 3rd. The easiest way to get is is via the Device Manager (Firmware). The U.S. support site of the XPS 15 still only shows 01.00.07 (November 13th 2015). We do not have the review units here anymore, so we can just repeat reports we got from customers: The Turbo throttling (speed capping issue) in no problem for the i7 anymore. Processor SST and TPM are still not available. The SSD benchmarks like CrystalDiskMark remain unchanged according to users; one user measured 1718/936 MB/s (read/write) with CDM 5.1. Those results are not comparable with out test, because we always use the older version CDM 3.0 to ensure comparability between our review units.

Update 01/07/16  

The new XPS 15 BIOS (version 1.1.15) besides a new WLAN as well as IPG driver is now available for download on Dell.com/support.

A new XPS 15 BIOS (version 1.1.15) has been created that fixes previous stability issues and restores power savings for NVMe drives when workload conditions are low to allow for low-power-level states. This BIOS will make a notable difference in battery life for light to moderate workload battery testing. In addition, there are two new drivers that are important to load for best performance and stability with XPS 15: a new wireless driver and a new Intel graphics driver (https://dell.app.box.com/xps15-updates).

Questions from our Readers (will be added)

  1. The BIOS screenshots do not show it – TPM yes/no? – No, there is no TPM module
Dell XPS 15-9550 i7
Processor
Graphics adapter
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960M - 2048 MB, Core: 1033 MHz, Memory: 1253 MHz, GDDR5, ForceWare 359.06, Optimus mit HD Graphics 530
Memory
16384 MB 
, 2x8 GB Hynix DDR4-2132 SO-DIMM, 2/2 slots occupied
Display
15.6 inch 16:9, 3840x2160 pixel, 10 fingers, SHARP LQ156D1JX01 Dell PN: 7PHPT, IGZO WLED 330 cd/m² 1000:1 Hard Coating 3H, glossy: yes
Mainboard
Intel HM170 (Skylake PCH-H)
Storage
Samsung PM951 NVMe 512 GB, 512 GB 
Soundcard
Intel Skylake PCH-H High Definition Audio Controller
Connections
2 USB 3.0 / 3.1 Gen1, 1 USB 3.1 Gen2, 1 Thunderbolt, 1 HDMI, 1 DisplayPort, 1 Kensington Lock, Audio Connections: line+mic combo, Card Reader: 3-in-1, Brightness Sensor
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
Primary Camera: 0.9 MPix
Additional features
Speakers: stereo, Keyboard: chiclet, Keyboard Light: yes, ambient light, 12 Months Warranty
Weight
2.077 kg ( = 73.26 oz / 4.58 pounds), Power Supply: 458 g ( = 16.16 oz / 1.01 pounds)
Price
2150 Euro

 

Case

Dirt is tricky to remove
Dirt is tricky to remove

The display frame of the UHD touch version differs a bit from the matte FHD version. While the FHD TFT has a 5 mm thin plastic bezel with a surrounding plastic ring, the surface of the touch panel extends to the surrounding plastic ring. It is once again not a rubber lip, but plastic, which sits on the base unit when the lid is closed.

Grease is another persistent topic, because the soft-touch carbon surface is pretty prone to it. Unfortunately, a cleaning cloth will not remove those glossy stains. We tried it with some butter: You can polish them away dry or wet, but the result is marked by streaks and polishing traces. This means the expensive premium notebook becomes unsightly if you do not clean it extensively.

The touch panel is responsive up into the peripheral areas, basically as long as there is still a small part of the finger on the screen. The small frame is not touch-sensitive, but a finger can glide along the edge and move a window, for example.

The surface is called Hard Coating 3H in the spec sheet of the panel manufacturer. The surface is smooth but not greasy. There is no criticism for the reaction time. You can use up to ten fingers simultaneously for touch inputs, but this is standard and not that important for practice.

Display

Sub-pixel UHD panel SHARP LQ156D1JX01
Sub-pixel UHD panel SHARP LQ156D1JX01
Sub-pixel FHD panel SHP1453 LQ156M1
Sub-pixel FHD panel SHP1453 LQ156M1

Dell targets professional users with the 4K panel, which is only available as a touchscreen. Photoshop tools or In-Design can utilize the 3840x2160 pixels. Older tools and Windows can sometimes still have scaling issues (power settings are always opened as a tiny window). But you don't want to go back to Full HD once you have worked with the 4K screen from Sharp.

It is an IGZO-TFT similar to the current XPS 13 4K Touch (SHP1421 LQ133Y1). It is a type of IPS panel where the amorphous silicon (aSi-TFT) is replaced with indium-gallium-zinc-oxide. This increases the electron mobility by multiple times and results in faster response times. At least in theory, because our measured response times are not what gamers would expect at 35 and 58 milliseconds, respectively (XPS 13 QHD 30 and 40).

We can confirm the advertised panel specs (WLED 330 cd/m², 1000:1), luminance and contrast are on this level. There is no noteworthy backlight bleeding. Buyers of the UHD version report a red/purple hue, which is particularly visible with black and blue pictures. We also noticed this phenomenon for the FHD version, but similar to the UHD panel only from very wide angles from the side or above. Subjectively, we did not think that it was a big issue for our two test models, but the intensity seems to differ depending on the batch. There are readers' comments/pictures that report a massive distraction. This was not the case for our SHARP LQ156D1JX01.

UHD: Slight red hue when you look from the side
UHD: Slight red hue when you look from the side
UHD: Clouding only visible by long exposure
UHD: Clouding only visible by long exposure
FHD: the same! No backlight bleeding, even black
FHD: the same! No backlight bleeding, even black
356
cd/m²
356
cd/m²
354
cd/m²
334
cd/m²
361
cd/m²
341
cd/m²
325
cd/m²
331
cd/m²
340
cd/m²
Distribution of brightness
X-Rite i1Pro 2
Maximum: 361 cd/m² Average: 344.2 cd/m²
Brightness Distribution: 90 %
Center on Battery: 361 cd/m²
Contrast: 950:1 (Black: 0.38 cd/m²)
ΔE Color 5.34 | 1.01-23.34 Ø6.8
ΔE Greyscale 4.84 | 0.79-16.8 Ø7
100% sRGB (Argyll) 89% AdobeRGB 1998 (Argyll)
Gamma: 2.21
XPS 15 9550 UHD
3840x2160 LQ156D1JX01 IGZO
XPS 15 9550 FHD
1920x1080 SHP1453 LQ156M1 IPS
Apple MB Pro Retina 15 2015
2880x1800 APPA02E IPS
Asus Zenbook Pro UX501JW
3840x2160 SDC434B FL156FL02-101 IPS
XPS 13 2016 i7 QHD
3200x1800 SHP1421 LQ133Y1 IGZO
XPS 15 9530
3840x2160 SHP1431 LQ156D1 IPS
MSI PE60
1920x1080 SAMSUNG LTN156HL01 IPS True Color
Acer AS V Nitro VN7-792G
1920x1080 AUO B173HAN01 IPS
Screen
1%
7%
-33%
6%
10%
7%
9%
Brightness344394
15%
315
-8%
307
-11%
281
-18%
365
6%
282
-18%
326
-5%
Brightness Distribution9089
-1%
82
-9%
87
-3%
90
0%
87
-3%
90
0%
88
-2%
Black Level *0.380.24
37%
0.34
11%
0.79
-108%
0.18
53%
0.282
26%
0.35
8%
0.32
16%
Contrast9501663
75%
1003
6%
382
-60%
1583
67%
1238
30%
857
-10%
1081
14%
Colorchecker DeltaE2000 *5.345.95
-11%
2.07
61%
5.4
-1%
4.89
8%
2.65
50%
1.8
66%
4.01
25%
Greyscale DeltaE2000 *4.848.41
-74%
1.9
61%
5.99
-24%
5.16
-7%
3.77
22%
2.18
55%
3.58
26%
Gamma *2.212.352.622.322.152.412.372.23
CCT73957010
-5%
6514
-12%
6670
-10%
7106
-4%
6786
-8%
6837
-8%
6426
-13%
Color Space (Percent of AdobeRGB 1998)8964
-28%
58
-35%
45
-49%
59
-34%
61.02
-31%
64
-28%
Color Space (Percent of sRGB)10098
-2%
91
-9%
71
-29%
93
-7%
96.1
-4%
97
-3%

* ... smaller is better

The panels of the FHD non-glare and UHD touch hardly differ in the most important core measurements, which is why the comparison table shows that both panels are on par (+2% for FHD). However, this first impression is misleading: UHD is slightly darker and has a lower contrast ratio, but the AdobeRGB1998 coverage is much better. This could be an important aspect for professional users, especially since the comparatively bad color accuracy (DeltaE) ex-works can be improved with calibration: DeltaE smaller 1 and 3.7 (Grayscale/ColorChecker), although the FHD could be well-calibrated, too. XPS 15 UHD owners can use the linked color profile (ICC file) to benefit from the improvements. The best results, however, can only be achieved with an individual calibration.

UHD Adobe RGB1998 89%
UHD Adobe RGB1998 89%
UHD sRGB 100%
UHD sRGB 100%
FHD Adobe RGB1998 64%
FHD Adobe RGB1998 64%
FHD sRGB 98%
FHD sRGB 98%
CalMAN ColorChecker pre-calibration
CalMAN ColorChecker pre-calibration
CalMAN ColorChecker post-calibration
CalMAN ColorChecker post-calibration
CalMAN Saturation Sweeps pre-calibration
CalMAN Saturation Sweeps pre-calibration
CalMAN Saturation Sweeps post-calibration
CalMAN Saturation Sweeps post-calibration
CalMAN Grayscale pre-calibration
CalMAN Grayscale pre-calibration
CalMAN Grayscale post-calibration
CalMAN Grayscale post-calibration

Update 12/23/15

Contrary to our first assumption, there are display profiles for the XPS 15 from Dell. You have to use PremierColor (we could use it during the review period), which lets you choose between the color profiles very easily, and you can adjust the profiles in the enhanced settings. We checked both sRGB and AdobeRGB with a spectrophotometer (grayscale and ColorChecker). The sRGB profile – sRGB is our standard color space for the CalMAN measurements – only shows small differences compared to the factory settings without profile, where the DeltaE values for the grayscale and the colors are around 5 and 4, respectively. The AdobeRGB profile via PremierColor (and the target color space AdobeRGB for CalMAN) does not improve the situation, either: 6 and 4 (grayscale and colors), see screenshots. An individual calibration can therefore not be replaced by PremierColor and is necessary to get the excellent results that we mentioned above.

PremierColor: CalMAN sRGB Grayscale
PremierColor: CalMAN sRGB Grayscale
PremierColor: CalMAN sRGB ColorChecker
PremierColor: CalMAN sRGB ColorChecker
PremierColor: CalMAN AdobeRGB Grayscale
PremierColor: CalMAN AdobeRGB Grayscale
PremierColor: CalMAN AdobeRGB ColorChecker
PremierColor: CalMAN AdobeRGB ColorChecker
PremierColor AdobeRGB presets
PremierColor AdobeRGB presets
PremierColor sRGB presets
PremierColor sRGB presets
PremierColor presets
PremierColor presets
 

The outdoor capabilities of the glossy XPS are limited, cloudy days without light sources behind you are the best scenario.

Outdoors
Outdoors
@361 cd/m²
@361 cd/m²
@153 cd/m²
@153 cd/m²
@min. luminance
@min. luminance

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
35 ms ... rise ↗ and fall ↘ combined↗ 12 ms rise
↘ 23 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. » 87 % of all devices are better.
This means that the measured response time is worse than the average of all tested devices (28.6 ms).
       Response Time 50% Grey to 80% Grey
58 ms ... rise ↗ and fall ↘ combined↗ 21 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. » 90 % of all devices are better.
This means that the measured response time is worse than the average of all tested devices (43.4 ms).

Screen Flickering / PWM (Pulse-Width Modulation)

To dim the screen, some notebooks will simply cycle the backlight on and off in rapid succession - a method called Pulse Width Modulation (PWM) . This cycling frequency should ideally be undetectable to the human eye. If said frequency is too low, users with sensitive eyes may experience strain or headaches or even notice the flickering altogether.
Screen flickering / PWM not detected

In comparison: 56 % of all tested devices do not use PWM to dim the display. If PWM was detected, an average of 550 (minimum: 43 - maximum: 10420) Hz was measured.

We noticed PWM flickering at low brightness levels (two lowest settings) of the FHD model. The UHD model did not have this problem, so there is no flickering at reduced brightness settings. The phenomenon is known as screen flickering, our UHD panel does not suffer from it.

Limited viewing angles, more precisely contrast shifts when you look from the sides, are no problem for the device. They are excellent, which is typical for an IPS panel. The previously mentioned color hue is also clearly visible in the viewing angle picture.

Viewing angles UHD Touch IGZO Sharp LQ156D1JX01
Viewing angles UHD Touch IGZO Sharp LQ156D1JX01
Viewing angles FHD non-glare IPS Sharp SHP1453 LQ156M1
Viewing angles FHD non-glare IPS Sharp SHP1453 LQ156M1

Performance

The Intel Core i7-6700HQ with a TDP of 45 Watts is one of the most powerful mobile processors that is currently available for a notebook. Dell advertises its XPS as the "world's lightest 15-inch performance-class laptop." The entry level version uses the i5-6300HQ and a hybrid HDD instead of a real SSD (even though the package manages very good read results). Our current review unit is equipped with a 512 GB NVMe-SSD from Samsung. There is no additional hard drive, because the space is occupied by the bigger 84-Wh battery.

System info: CPU-Z CPU
System info: CPU-Z Mainboard
System info: CPU-Z Cache
System info: CPU-Z SPD
System info: CPU-Z Memory
System info: GPU-Z GTX 960M
System info: GPU-Z HD Graphics 530
System info: HWinfo Summary
Latency Checker: Error!
 

Processor

R15 (Battery) @2.6 GHz
R15 (Battery) @2.6 GHz
R15 (AC after battery 1 minute) @1.7 GHz
R15 (AC after battery 1 minute) @1.7 GHz
R15 (AC after stress test 30 seconds) @3.1 GHz / start @2.9 GHz
R15 (AC after stress test 30 seconds) @3.1 GHz / start @2.9 GHz
R15 (battery) @2.6 GHz
R15 (battery) @2.6 GHz
Cinebench R15 (AC) @3.1 GHz
Cinebench R15 (AC) @3.1 GHz
R15 (AC after battery) @1.6 GHz
R15 (AC after battery) @1.6 GHz

The mentioned combination of a 6700HQ and NVMe-SSD should also be sufficient for demanding calculations and massive data transfers. Users should be able to expect that for 2,000 Euros (~$2195) though, especially since you can already get the 6700HQ + GTX 960M for around 1,300 Euros (~$1426) in other good notebooks like the Acer Aspire V Nitro Black Edition VN7-792G-74Q4, for example.

The XPS 15 with the i5-6300HQ obviously comes to mind, which only executed the Cinebench R15 loop at 2.8 GHz (Single and Multi), which shows a bad utilization of the single-core Turbo (-15%). The i5 also throttled to 1.6 GHz on battery power, which was unfortunately not lifted when the PSU was attached (only after standby or restart). Dell is already working on a fix according to the manufacturer.

So how does the i7-6700HQ perform, which should be able to hit 3.5 GHz with the Turbo (single-core)? We can see a very agile processor, which not only beats the Haswell 4870HQ of the Apple MacBook Pro Retina 15 but also the identical 6700HQ in the Aspire V Nitro Black Edition VN7-792G-74Q4 (-5%). This is the case in all Cinebench Single-Tests. Our XPS is on par with the Nitro Black Edition in the Multi-Test; our tools show 3.1 GHz.

The i7 runs at the nominal clock of 2.6 GHz on battery power. Unfortunate, but still better than the i5 version with its throttled 1.6 GHz. The transition to mains (attach the connector) is, however, a bit bumpy. We have no other way to describe the following 1.6/1.7 GHz in this case. This is not related to temperature limits, because the throttled clock is quickly increased to 3.1 GHz after the stress test. More information about the stress test is available in the section "Emissions."

The clocks on battery power only change after the BIOS update to 1.1.14. The R15 Multi now runs at 3.1 until the battery is empty! This is the case after around one hour. Officially, the BIOS update only covers the NVMe sleep mode (should improve battery runtimes), but we only noticed an unlimited Turbo Boost. The return to the PSU is now as it should be as well: 800 MHz for one second, after that 3.1 GHz. The clock drops to 800 MHz after you pull the plug, just to climb back to 3.1 GHz step by step within 20 seconds.

Cinebench R15
CPU Multi 64Bit (sort by value)
Dell XPS 15-9550 i7
GeForce GTX 960M, 6700HQ, Samsung PM951 NVMe 512 GB
663 Points ∼43%
Dell XPS 15 2016 9550
GeForce GTX 960M, 6300HQ, WDC WD10SPCX-75KHST0 + LiteON CS1-SP32-11 M.2 2242 32GB
461 Points ∼30% -30%
Acer Aspire V Nitro VN7-792G-55SF
GeForce 945M, 6300HQ, Toshiba MQ02ABD100H
468 Points ∼30% -29%
Apple MacBook Pro Retina 15 inch 2015-05
Radeon R9 M370X, 4870HQ, Apple SSD SM0512G (Windows 8.1)
594 Points ∼38% -10%
Apple MacBook Pro Retina 15 inch 2015-05
Radeon R9 M370X, 4870HQ, Apple SSD SM0512G (OS X)
589 Points ∼38% -11%
Asus Zenbook Pro UX501JW-FI218H
GeForce GTX 960M, 4720HQ, SanDisk SD7SN3Q128G1002
606 Points ∼39% -9%
Acer Aspire V Nitro Black Edition VN7-792G-74Q4
GeForce GTX 960M, 6700HQ, Toshiba MQ02ABD100H
679 Points ∼44% +2%
Dell XPS 15 (9530-0538)
GeForce GT 750M, 4712HQ, Lite-On LMT-512L9M
565 Points ∼36% -15%
Dell XPS 13 2016 i7 256GB QHD
HD Graphics 520, 6500U, Samsung PM951 NVMe MZ-VLV256D
303 Points ∼20% -54%
Lenovo IdeaPad Y50-70-59441229
GeForce GTX 960M, 4710HQ, Samsung SSD PM851 256 GB MZ7TE256HMHP
502 Points ∼32% -24%
CPU Single 64Bit (sort by value)
Dell XPS 15-9550 i7
GeForce GTX 960M, 6700HQ, Samsung PM951 NVMe 512 GB
147 Points ∼81%
Dell XPS 15 2016 9550
GeForce GTX 960M, 6300HQ, WDC WD10SPCX-75KHST0 + LiteON CS1-SP32-11 M.2 2242 32GB
118 Points ∼65% -20%
Acer Aspire V Nitro VN7-792G-55SF
GeForce 945M, 6300HQ, Toshiba MQ02ABD100H
136 Points ∼75% -7%
Apple MacBook Pro Retina 15 inch 2015-05
Radeon R9 M370X, 4870HQ, Apple SSD SM0512G (Windows 8.1)
144 Points ∼79% -2%
Apple MacBook Pro Retina 15 inch 2015-05
Radeon R9 M370X, 4870HQ, Apple SSD SM0512G (OS X)
143 Points ∼79% -3%
Asus Zenbook Pro UX501JW-FI218H
GeForce GTX 960M, 4720HQ, SanDisk SD7SN3Q128G1002
131 Points ∼72% -11%
Acer Aspire V Nitro Black Edition VN7-792G-74Q4
GeForce GTX 960M, 6700HQ, Toshiba MQ02ABD100H
139 Points ∼76% -5%
Dell XPS 15 (9530-0538)
GeForce GT 750M, 4712HQ, Lite-On LMT-512L9M
125 Points ∼69% -15%
Dell XPS 13 2016 i7 256GB QHD
HD Graphics 520, 6500U, Samsung PM951 NVMe MZ-VLV256D
125 Points ∼69% -15%
Lenovo IdeaPad Y50-70-59441229
GeForce GTX 960M, 4710HQ, Samsung SSD PM851 256 GB MZ7TE256HMHP
117 Points ∼64% -20%
Cinebench R11.5
CPU Multi 64Bit (sort by value)
Dell XPS 15-9550 i7
GeForce GTX 960M, 6700HQ, Samsung PM951 NVMe 512 GB
7.41 Points ∼42%
Dell XPS 15 2016 9550
GeForce GTX 960M, 6300HQ, WDC WD10SPCX-75KHST0 + LiteON CS1-SP32-11 M.2 2242 32GB
5.28 Points ∼30% -29%
Acer Aspire V Nitro VN7-792G-55SF
GeForce 945M, 6300HQ, Toshiba MQ02ABD100H
5.42 Points ∼31% -27%
Apple MacBook Pro Retina 15 inch 2015-05
Radeon R9 M370X, 4870HQ, Apple SSD SM0512G (Windows 8.1)
6.3 Points ∼36% -15%
Apple MacBook Pro Retina 15 inch 2015-05
Radeon R9 M370X, 4870HQ, Apple SSD SM0512G (OS X)
6.18 Points ∼35% -17%
Asus Zenbook Pro UX501JW-FI218H
GeForce GTX 960M, 4720HQ, SanDisk SD7SN3Q128G1002
6.76 Points ∼38% -9%
Acer Aspire V Nitro Black Edition VN7-792G-74Q4
GeForce GTX 960M, 6700HQ, Toshiba MQ02ABD100H
7.43 Points ∼42% 0%
Dell XPS 15 (9530-0538)
GeForce GT 750M, 4712HQ, Lite-On LMT-512L9M
6.4 Points ∼36% -14%
Dell XPS 13 2016 i7 256GB QHD
HD Graphics 520, 6500U, Samsung PM951 NVMe MZ-VLV256D
3.52 Points ∼20% -52%
Lenovo IdeaPad Y50-70-59441229
GeForce GTX 960M, 4710HQ, Samsung SSD PM851 256 GB MZ7TE256HMHP
5.44 Points ∼31% -27%
CPU Single 64Bit (sort by value)
Dell XPS 15-9550 i7
GeForce GTX 960M, 6700HQ, Samsung PM951 NVMe 512 GB
1.66 Points ∼77%
Dell XPS 15 2016 9550
GeForce GTX 960M, 6300HQ, WDC WD10SPCX-75KHST0 + LiteON CS1-SP32-11 M.2 2242 32GB
1.47 Points ∼68% -11%
Acer Aspire V Nitro VN7-792G-55SF
GeForce 945M, 6300HQ, Toshiba MQ02ABD100H
1.49 Points ∼69% -10%
Apple MacBook Pro Retina 15 inch 2015-05
Radeon R9 M370X, 4870HQ, Apple SSD SM0512G (Windows 8.1)
1.64 Points ∼76% -1%
Apple MacBook Pro Retina 15 inch 2015-05
Radeon R9 M370X, 4870HQ, Apple SSD SM0512G (OS X)
1.58 Points ∼73% -5%
Asus Zenbook Pro UX501JW-FI218H
GeForce GTX 960M, 4720HQ, SanDisk SD7SN3Q128G1002
1.52 Points ∼70% -8%
Acer Aspire V Nitro Black Edition VN7-792G-74Q4
GeForce GTX 960M, 6700HQ, Toshiba MQ02ABD100H
1.63 Points ∼75% -2%
Dell XPS 15 (9530-0538)
GeForce GT 750M, 4712HQ, Lite-On LMT-512L9M
1.44 Points ∼67% -13%
Dell XPS 13 2016 i7 256GB QHD
HD Graphics 520, 6500U, Samsung PM951 NVMe MZ-VLV256D
1.46 Points ∼68% -12%
Lenovo IdeaPad Y50-70-59441229
GeForce GTX 960M, 4710HQ, Samsung SSD PM851 256 GB MZ7TE256HMHP
1.35 Points ∼62% -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 2016 9550
GeForce GTX 960M, 6300HQ, WDC WD10SPCX-75KHST0 + LiteON CS1-SP32-11 M.2 2242 32GB
21034 Points ∼58% -21%
Acer Aspire V Nitro VN7-792G-55SF
GeForce 945M, 6300HQ, Toshiba MQ02ABD100H
20584 Points ∼56% -22%
Apple MacBook Pro Retina 15 inch 2015-05
Radeon R9 M370X, 4870HQ, Apple SSD SM0512G
23488 Points ∼64% -12%
Acer Aspire V Nitro Black Edition VN7-792G-74Q4
GeForce GTX 960M, 6700HQ, Toshiba MQ02ABD100H
26243 Points ∼72% -1%
Dell XPS 15 (9530-0538)
GeForce GT 750M, 4712HQ, Lite-On LMT-512L9M
22609 Points ∼62% -15%
Lenovo IdeaPad Y50-70-59441229
GeForce GTX 960M, 4710HQ, Samsung SSD PM851 256 GB MZ7TE256HMHP
17829 Points ∼49% -33%
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 2016 9550
GeForce GTX 960M, 6300HQ, WDC WD10SPCX-75KHST0 + LiteON CS1-SP32-11 M.2 2242 32GB
6180 Points ∼68% -13%
Acer Aspire V Nitro VN7-792G-55SF
GeForce 945M, 6300HQ, Toshiba MQ02ABD100H
6616 Points ∼73% -6%
Apple MacBook Pro Retina 15 inch 2015-05
Radeon R9 M370X, 4870HQ, Apple SSD SM0512G
7044 Points ∼78% 0%
Acer Aspire V Nitro Black Edition VN7-792G-74Q4
GeForce GTX 960M, 6700HQ, Toshiba MQ02ABD100H
6618 Points ∼73% -6%
Dell XPS 15 (9530-0538)
GeForce GT 750M, 4712HQ, Lite-On LMT-512L9M
6205 Points ∼69% -12%
Lenovo IdeaPad Y50-70-59441229
GeForce GTX 960M, 4710HQ, Samsung SSD PM851 256 GB MZ7TE256HMHP
5185 Points ∼57% -27%
Cinebench R10 Shading 64Bit
6450 Points
Cinebench R10 Rendering Multiple CPUs 64Bit
26547 Points
Cinebench R10 Rendering Single CPUs 64Bit
7067 Points
Cinebench R10 Shading 32Bit
6631
Cinebench R10 Rendering Multiple CPUs 32Bit
20305
Cinebench R10 Rendering Single 32Bit
5480
Cinebench R11.5 OpenGL 64Bit
25.03 fps
Cinebench R11.5 CPU Multi 64Bit
7.41 Points
Cinebench R11.5 CPU Single 64Bit
1.66 Points
Cinebench R15 Ref. Match 64Bit
99.6 %
Cinebench R15 OpenGL 64Bit
26.55 fps
Cinebench R15 CPU Multi 64Bit
663 Points
Cinebench R15 CPU Single 64Bit
147 Points
Help

System Performance

We use the PCMarks to evaluate the application performance. The impression is pretty mixed when we compare the results with the i5/hybrid model. As expected, PCMark 7 is pretty thrilled about any SSD. The review unit does not take the lead in every sub test, but it is on par with the leading devices Zenbook Pro UX501JW, Dell XPS 15 (9530-0538) and Apple MacBook Pro Retina 15. This is different in the sub-scores of PCMark 7, where the Dell XPS 15-9550 i7 can fall behind by 17%. By far the best device in PCMark 7 is the HP Omen Pro 15 with its Samsung SSD XP941. Noticeably bad is the Productivity score, where the Samsung PM951 NVMe is 56% behind the leader, which does not change when we repeat the test.

PCMark 8 was more balanced in the past; it showed a more harmonious picture between the SSD-based review units. The XPS 15 NVMe cannot take lead in this test, either, and it once again falls behind the HP Omen and Apple MacBook Pro Retina 15 (Productivity), respectively. The good result of the XPS 15 HDD hybrid model is interesting because it is only 11 and 18% behind the NVMe model in the Creative and Home scores. We already noticed the exceptionally good results of the entry-level version in the other review. Dell equipped the M.2 slot with a separate cache SSD and then called it a RAID array.

i7, NVMe: PCMark 8 Home
i7, NVMe: PCMark 8 Home
i5, Hybrid: PCMark 8 Home
i5, Hybrid: PCMark 8 Home
i7, NVMe: PCMark 8 Work
i7, NVMe: PCMark 8 Work
i5, Hybrid: PCMark 8 Work
i5, Hybrid: PCMark 8 Work
i7, NVMe: PCMark 8 Creative
i7, NVMe: PCMark 8 Creative
i5, Hybrid: PCMark 8 Creative
i5, Hybrid: PCMark 8 Creative
PCMark 7
Score (sort by value)
Dell XPS 15-9550 i7
GeForce GTX 960M, 6700HQ, Samsung PM951 NVMe 512 GB
5480 Points ∼69%
Dell XPS 15 2016 9550
GeForce GTX 960M, 6300HQ, WDC WD10SPCX-75KHST0 + LiteON CS1-SP32-11 M.2 2242 32GB
5128 Points ∼65% -6%
Apple MacBook Pro Retina 15 inch 2015-05
Radeon R9 M370X, 4870HQ, Apple SSD SM0512G
5480 Points ∼69% 0%
Asus Zenbook Pro UX501JW-FI218H
GeForce GTX 960M, 4720HQ, SanDisk SD7SN3Q128G1002
5616 Points ∼71% +2%
Asus N551JW-CN094H
GeForce GTX 960M, 4720HQ, Kingston SMSM151S3128GD
4939 Points ∼62% -10%
Acer Aspire V Nitro Black Edition VN7-792G-74Q4
GeForce GTX 960M, 6700HQ, Toshiba MQ02ABD100H
4671 Points ∼59% -15%
Dell XPS 15 (9530-0538)
GeForce GT 750M, 4712HQ, Lite-On LMT-512L9M
5549 Points ∼70% +1%
Dell XPS 13 2016 i7 256GB QHD
HD Graphics 520, 6500U, Samsung PM951 NVMe MZ-VLV256D
4977 Points ∼63% -9%
Acer Aspire V Nitro VN7-792G-55SF
GeForce 945M, 6300HQ, Toshiba MQ02ABD100H
4633 Points ∼58% -15%
HP Omen Pro 15 M2T37AA-ABD
Quadro K1100M, 4870HQ, Samsung SSD XP941 MZHPU512HCGL
6427 Points ∼81% +17%
Lenovo IdeaPad Y50-70-59441229
GeForce GTX 960M, 4710HQ, Samsung SSD PM851 256 GB MZ7TE256HMHP
4622 Points ∼58% -16%
Productivity (sort by value)
Dell XPS 15-9550 i7
GeForce GTX 960M, 6700HQ, Samsung PM951 NVMe 512 GB
2625 Points ∼24%
Dell XPS 15 2016 9550
GeForce GTX 960M, 6300HQ, WDC WD10SPCX-75KHST0 + LiteON CS1-SP32-11 M.2 2242 32GB
4389 Points ∼40% +67%
Apple MacBook Pro Retina 15 inch 2015-05
Radeon R9 M370X, 4870HQ, Apple SSD SM0512G
6028 Points ∼55% +130%
Asus Zenbook Pro UX501JW-FI218H
GeForce GTX 960M, 4720HQ, SanDisk SD7SN3Q128G1002
4975 Points ∼46% +90%
Asus N551JW-CN094H
GeForce GTX 960M, 4720HQ, Kingston SMSM151S3128GD
4540 Points ∼42% +73%
Acer Aspire V Nitro Black Edition VN7-792G-74Q4
GeForce GTX 960M, 6700HQ, Toshiba MQ02ABD100H
3663 Points ∼34% +40%
Dell XPS 15 (9530-0538)
GeForce GT 750M, 4712HQ, Lite-On LMT-512L9M
2782 Points ∼26% +6%
Dell XPS 13 2016 i7 256GB QHD
HD Graphics 520, 6500U, Samsung PM951 NVMe MZ-VLV256D
2294 Points ∼21% -13%
Acer Aspire V Nitro VN7-792G-55SF
GeForce 945M, 6300HQ, Toshiba MQ02ABD100H
3342 Points ∼31% +27%
HP Omen Pro 15 M2T37AA-ABD
Quadro K1100M, 4870HQ, Samsung SSD XP941 MZHPU512HCGL
3352 Points ∼31% +28%
Lenovo IdeaPad Y50-70-59441229
GeForce GTX 960M, 4710HQ, Samsung SSD PM851 256 GB MZ7TE256HMHP
4280 Points ∼39% +63%
Creativity (sort by value)
Dell XPS 15-9550 i7
GeForce GTX 960M, 6700HQ, Samsung PM951 NVMe 512 GB
9304 Points ∼73%
Dell XPS 15 2016 9550
GeForce GTX 960M, 6300HQ, WDC WD10SPCX-75KHST0 + LiteON CS1-SP32-11 M.2 2242 32GB
8143 Points ∼64% -12%
Apple MacBook Pro Retina 15 inch 2015-05
Radeon R9 M370X, 4870HQ, Apple SSD SM0512G
8702 Points ∼68% -6%
Asus Zenbook Pro UX501JW-FI218H
GeForce GTX 960M, 4720HQ, SanDisk SD7SN3Q128G1002
10017 Points ∼79% +8%
Asus N551JW-CN094H
GeForce GTX 960M, 4720HQ, Kingston SMSM151S3128GD
8188 Points ∼64% -12%
Acer Aspire V Nitro Black Edition VN7-792G-74Q4
GeForce GTX 960M, 6700HQ, Toshiba MQ02ABD100H
7981 Points ∼63% -14%
Dell XPS 15 (9530-0538)
GeForce GT 750M, 4712HQ, Lite-On LMT-512L9M
10028 Points ∼79% +8%
Dell XPS 13 2016 i7 256GB QHD
HD Graphics 520, 6500U, Samsung PM951 NVMe MZ-VLV256D
8955 Points ∼70% -4%
Acer Aspire V Nitro VN7-792G-55SF
GeForce 945M, 6300HQ, Toshiba MQ02ABD100H
7737 Points ∼61% -17%
HP Omen Pro 15 M2T37AA-ABD
Quadro K1100M, 4870HQ, Samsung SSD XP941 MZHPU512HCGL
11186 Points ∼88% +20%
Lenovo IdeaPad Y50-70-59441229
GeForce GTX 960M, 4710HQ, Samsung SSD PM851 256 GB MZ7TE256HMHP
8324 Points ∼65% -11%
Computation (sort by value)
Dell XPS 15-9550 i7
GeForce GTX 960M, 6700HQ, Samsung PM951 NVMe 512 GB
16217 Points ∼57%
Dell XPS 15 2016 9550
GeForce GTX 960M, 6300HQ, WDC WD10SPCX-75KHST0 + LiteON CS1-SP32-11 M.2 2242 32GB
15873 Points ∼56% -2%
Apple MacBook Pro Retina 15 inch 2015-05
Radeon R9 M370X, 4870HQ, Apple SSD SM0512G
7500 Points ∼26% -54%
Asus Zenbook Pro UX501JW-FI218H
GeForce GTX 960M, 4720HQ, SanDisk SD7SN3Q128G1002
18995 Points ∼67% +17%
Asus N551JW-CN094H
GeForce GTX 960M, 4720HQ, Kingston SMSM151S3128GD
15364 Points ∼54% -5%
Acer Aspire V Nitro Black Edition VN7-792G-74Q4
GeForce GTX 960M, 6700HQ, Toshiba MQ02ABD100H
17552 Points ∼62% +8%
Dell XPS 15 (9530-0538)
GeForce GT 750M, 4712HQ, Lite-On LMT-512L9M
17929 Points ∼63% +11%
Dell XPS 13 2016 i7 256GB QHD
HD Graphics 520, 6500U, Samsung PM951 NVMe MZ-VLV256D
16178 Points ∼57% 0%
Acer Aspire V Nitro VN7-792G-55SF
GeForce 945M, 6300HQ, Toshiba MQ02ABD100H
16001 Points ∼56% -1%
HP Omen Pro 15 M2T37AA-ABD
Quadro K1100M, 4870HQ, Samsung SSD XP941 MZHPU512HCGL
20392 Points ∼72% +26%
Lenovo IdeaPad Y50-70-59441229
GeForce GTX 960M, 4710HQ, Samsung SSD PM851 256 GB MZ7TE256HMHP
12465 Points ∼44% -23%
System Storage (sort by value)
Dell XPS 15-9550 i7
GeForce GTX 960M, 6700HQ, Samsung PM951 NVMe 512 GB
4492 Points ∼63%
Dell XPS 15 2016 9550
GeForce GTX 960M, 6300HQ, WDC WD10SPCX-75KHST0 + LiteON CS1-SP32-11 M.2 2242 32GB
4526 Points ∼63% +1%
Apple MacBook Pro Retina 15 inch 2015-05
Radeon R9 M370X, 4870HQ, Apple SSD SM0512G
6006 Points ∼84% +34%
Asus Zenbook Pro UX501JW-FI218H
GeForce GTX 960M, 4720HQ, SanDisk SD7SN3Q128G1002
5256 Points ∼74% +17%
Asus N551JW-CN094H
GeForce GTX 960M, 4720HQ, Kingston SMSM151S3128GD
4582 Points ∼64% +2%
Acer Aspire V Nitro Black Edition VN7-792G-74Q4
GeForce GTX 960M, 6700HQ, Toshiba MQ02ABD100H
3359 Points ∼47% -25%
Dell XPS 15 (9530-0538)
GeForce GT 750M, 4712HQ, Lite-On LMT-512L9M
5392 Points ∼76% +20%
Dell XPS 13 2016 i7 256GB QHD
HD Graphics 520, 6500U, Samsung PM951 NVMe MZ-VLV256D
4414 Points ∼62% -2%
Acer Aspire V Nitro VN7-792G-55SF
GeForce 945M, 6300HQ, Toshiba MQ02ABD100H
3311 Points ∼46% -26%
HP Omen Pro 15 M2T37AA-ABD
Quadro K1100M, 4870HQ, Samsung SSD XP941 MZHPU512HCGL
5589 Points ∼78% +24%
Lenovo IdeaPad Y50-70-59441229
GeForce GTX 960M, 4710HQ, Samsung SSD PM851 256 GB MZ7TE256HMHP
5221 Points ∼73% +16%
PCMark 8
Home Score Accelerated v2 (sort by value)
Dell XPS 15-9550 i7
GeForce GTX 960M, 6700HQ, Samsung PM951 NVMe 512 GB
3121 Points ∼55%
Dell XPS 15 2016 9550
GeForce GTX 960M, 6300HQ, WDC WD10SPCX-75KHST0 + LiteON CS1-SP32-11 M.2 2242 32GB
3575 Points ∼63% +15%
Apple MacBook Pro Retina 15 inch 2015-05
Radeon R9 M370X, 4870HQ, Apple SSD SM0512G
3821 Points ∼67% +22%
Acer Aspire V Nitro Black Edition VN7-792G-74Q4
GeForce GTX 960M, 6700HQ, Toshiba MQ02ABD100H
3751 Points ∼66% +20%
Dell XPS 13 2016 i7 256GB QHD
HD Graphics 520, 6500U, Samsung PM951 NVMe MZ-VLV256D
2822 Points ∼50% -10%
Acer Aspire V Nitro VN7-792G-55SF
GeForce 945M, 6300HQ, Toshiba MQ02ABD100H
3524 Points ∼62% +13%
HP Omen Pro 15 M2T37AA-ABD
Quadro K1100M, 4870HQ, Samsung SSD XP941 MZHPU512HCGL
3815 Points ∼67% +22%
Creative Score Accelerated v2 (sort by value)
Dell XPS 15-9550 i7
GeForce GTX 960M, 6700HQ, Samsung PM951 NVMe 512 GB
4358 Points ∼53%
Dell XPS 15 2016 9550
GeForce GTX 960M, 6300HQ, WDC WD10SPCX-75KHST0 + LiteON CS1-SP32-11 M.2 2242 32GB
4257 Points ∼52% -2%
Apple MacBook Pro Retina 15 inch 2015-05
Radeon R9 M370X, 4870HQ, Apple SSD SM0512G
4662 Points ∼57% +7%
Acer Aspire V Nitro Black Edition VN7-792G-74Q4
GeForce GTX 960M, 6700HQ, Toshiba MQ02ABD100H
4320 Points ∼53% -1%
Acer Aspire V Nitro VN7-792G-55SF
GeForce 945M, 6300HQ, Toshiba MQ02ABD100H
3993 Points ∼49% -8%
HP Omen Pro 15 M2T37AA-ABD
Quadro K1100M, 4870HQ, Samsung SSD XP941 MZHPU512HCGL
4781 Points ∼59% +10%
Work Score Accelerated v2 (sort by value)
Dell XPS 15-9550 i7
GeForce GTX 960M, 6700HQ, Samsung PM951 NVMe 512 GB
3950 Points ∼65%
Apple MacBook Pro Retina 15 inch 2015-05
Radeon R9 M370X, 4870HQ, Apple SSD SM0512G
4638 Points ∼76% +17%
Acer Aspire V Nitro Black Edition VN7-792G-74Q4
GeForce GTX 960M, 6700HQ, Toshiba MQ02ABD100H
4660 Points ∼76% +18%
Dell XPS 13 2016 i7 256GB QHD
HD Graphics 520, 6500U, Samsung PM951 NVMe MZ-VLV256D
3735 Points ∼61% -5%
Acer Aspire V Nitro VN7-792G-55SF
GeForce 945M, 6300HQ, Toshiba MQ02ABD100H
4483 Points ∼73% +13%
HP Omen Pro 15 M2T37AA-ABD
Quadro K1100M, 4870HQ, Samsung SSD XP941 MZHPU512HCGL
4582 Points ∼75% +16%
PCMark 7 Score
5480 points
PCMark 8 Home Score Accelerated v2
3121 points
PCMark 8 Creative Score Accelerated v2
4358 points
PCMark 8 Work Score Accelerated v2
3950 points
Help

Storage Devices

The Samsung PM951 NVMe (512 GB, AHCI PCIe M.2, MZHPV512HDGL) sits in the M.2 slot and is connected via PCI Express Gen3 x4. Samsung advertises read and write speeds of up to 2,150 and up to 1,500 MB/s for the PM951 NVMe. CrystalDiskMark 3.0 and AS SSD are not that optimistic, but 1,274 or 1,568 MB/s are still among the best results we've determined in a notebook so far. The superiority is also supported by the 4K tests, where the Samsung SSD can beat all the comparison devices. Even the HP Omen Pro, which leads the PCMark results together with the MacBook Pro Retina 15 (2015/05), is surpassed in AS SSD. We did not show the Omen here due to the lack of CrystalDiskMark scores.

The performance of the NVMe-SSD can drop on battery power, but only in the energy-saving mode. The results in AS SSD and CrystalDiskMark with the "High-Performance" power profile were identical within measuring tolerances.

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
Apple MacBook Pro Retina 15 inch 2015-05
Radeon R9 M370X, 4870HQ, Apple SSD SM0512G
Asus Zenbook Pro UX501JW-FI218H
GeForce GTX 960M, 4720HQ, SanDisk SD7SN3Q128G1002
Lenovo IdeaPad Y50-70-59441229
GeForce GTX 960M, 4710HQ, Samsung SSD PM851 256 GB MZ7TE256HMHP
Lenovo IdeaPad Y50-70 (59424712)
GeForce GTX 860M, 4710HQ, Samsung SSD PM851 512 GB MZ7TE512HMHP
CrystalDiskMark 3.0
-60%
29%
-37%
-38%
-35%
Read Seq1274238.6
-81%
1442
13%
471.9
-63%
518.2
-59%
480.1
-62%
Write Seq593.864.04
-89%
1558
162%
347
-42%
264.8
-55%
430.9
-27%
Read 4k37.0231.36
-15%
19.27
-48%
31.19
-16%
32.29
-13%
24.36
-34%
Read 4k QD32457.9199.5
-56%
403.1
-12%
331.8
-28%
341.2
-25%
385.7
-16%
AS SSD
-94%
22%
-46%
-52%
-47%
Seq Read1568.69122.2
-92%
1549.65
-1%
485.87
-69%
500.88
-68%
495.01
-68%
Seq Write562.1977.55
-86%
1441.23
156%
325.63
-42%
249.38
-56%
414.84
-26%
4K Read34.631.53
-96%
19.3
-44%
29.14
-16%
28.36
-18%
22.69
-34%
4K Write105.640.98
-99%
29
-73%
67.58
-36%
64.51
-39%
62.5
-41%
Score Read116624
-98%
793
-32%
388
-67%
420
-64%
358
-69%
Score Write69410
-99%
517
-26%
294
-58%
185
-73%
343
-51%
Copy ISO MB/s715.915.75
-98%
1395.08
95%
374.32
-48%
329.13
-54%
418.19
-42%
Copy Program MB/s318.4142.24
-87%
607.77
91%
249.78
-22%
200.58
-37%
225.14
-29%
Copy Game MB/s785.1866.45
-92%
1014.29
29%
375
-52%
316.52
-60%
261.26
-67%
Total Average (Program / Settings)
-77% / -84%
26% / 24%
-42% / -43%
-45% / -48%
-41% / -44%
Samsung PM951 NVMe 512 GB
Sequential Read: 1274 MB/s
Sequential Write: 593.8 MB/s
512K Read: 674.1 MB/s
512K Write: 595.6 MB/s
4K Read: 37.02 MB/s
4K Write: 129.7 MB/s
4K QD32 Read: 457.9 MB/s
4K QD32 Write: 225.4 MB/s

GPU Performance

BIOS 1.1.14: Stress test@battery GPU 900 MHz
BIOS 1.1.14: Stress [email protected] GPU 900 MHz
BIOS 1.1.14: Stress test@AC GPU temperatures
BIOS 1.1.14: Stress [email protected] GPU temperatures

While the HD Graphics 530 of the processor handles simple tasks, the GeForce GTX 960M with 2 GB GDDR5-VRAM takes care of games or hardware-accelerated applications. The core is based on the GM107 chip (Maxwell) with 640 shaders and a 128-bit memory interface. The GeForce races up to 1,188 MHz on mains, even under sustained loads (FurMark GPU stress test).

The GPU Boost of 1,188 MHz is always fully utilized on mains power, even during the stress test and simultaneous stress for the CPU. The temperature is 87 °C in this case. The GPU is repeatedly slowed-down to 850 MHz in the stress test on battery power, but it is raised back to 1,188 MHz in intervals of 5 seconds. The temperature of the Nvidia chip drops to 68-75 °C in this case. The GPU is favored in the temperature table, which means the GPU Boost is raised first, before the CPU clock of 900 MHz is slightly increased to stay at one point, which does not create too much heat. This point is at 988 MHz (on average), for example, in the stress test – also see section "Emissions." 

The situation is good for the 3DMarks and the scores are, as expected, on par with other GTX 960M notebooks. The XPS 15 i5 only falls behind in the Physics scores. Other GTX 960M notebooks are just beaten (ZenBook Pro, MSI PE60) or they are slightly faster (AS V Nitro VN7-792GIdeaPad Y50-70). All in all, the performance utilization of the GTX is very good and on par with the best rivals. Is this also the case in real games?

3DMark 11
1280x720 Performance (sort by value)
XPS 15 9550 i7
GTX 960M 6700HQ
5477 Points ∼26%
XPS 15 9550 i5
GTX 960M 6300HQ
5375 Points ∼26% -2%
Apple MB Pro Retina 15 2015
Radeon R9 M370X 4870HQ
3942 Points ∼19% -28%
Asus Zenbook Pro UX501JW
GTX 960M 4720HQ
5365 Points ∼25% -2%
XPS 13 2016 i7 QHD
HD 520 6500U
1556 Points ∼7% -72%
XPS 15 9530
GT 750M 4712HQ
2971 Points ∼14% -46%
Acer AS V Nitro VN7-792G
GTX 960M 6700HQ
5709 Points ∼27% +4%
Ideapad Y50-70
GTX 960M 4710HQ
5444 Points ∼26% -1%
MSI PE60
GTX 960M 4210H
4999 Points ∼24% -9%
1280x720 Performance GPU (sort by value)
XPS 15 9550 i7
GTX 960M 6700HQ
5279 Points ∼18%
XPS 15 9550 i5
GTX 960M 6300HQ
5258 Points ∼18% 0%
Apple MB Pro Retina 15 2015
Radeon R9 M370X 4870HQ
3593 Points ∼12% -32%
Asus Zenbook Pro UX501JW
GTX 960M 4720HQ
5135 Points ∼17% -3%
XPS 13 2016 i7 QHD
HD 520 6500U
1395 Points ∼5% -74%
XPS 15 9530
GT 750M 4712HQ
2718 Points ∼9% -49%
Acer AS V Nitro VN7-792G
GTX 960M 6700HQ
5400 Points ∼18% +2%
Ideapad Y50-70
GTX 960M 4710HQ
5277 Points ∼18% 0%
MSI PE60
GTX 960M 4210H
5405 Points ∼18% +2%
1280x720 Performance Physics (sort by value)
XPS 15 9550 i7
GTX 960M 6700HQ
6971 Points ∼53%
XPS 15 9550 i5
GTX 960M 6300HQ
6086 Points ∼46% -13%
Apple MB Pro Retina 15 2015
Radeon R9 M370X 4870HQ
8487 Points ∼64% +22%
Asus Zenbook Pro UX501JW
GTX 960M 4720HQ
7092 Points ∼54% +2%
XPS 13 2016 i7 QHD
HD 520 6500U
4258 Points ∼32% -39%
XPS 15 9530
GT 750M 4712HQ
7538 Points ∼57% +8%
Acer AS V Nitro VN7-792G
GTX 960M 6700HQ
8425 Points ∼64% +21%
Ideapad Y50-70
GTX 960M 4710HQ
6510 Points ∼49% -7%
MSI PE60
GTX 960M 4210H
4010 Points ∼30% -42%
1280x720 Performance Combined (sort by value)
XPS 15 9550 i7
GTX 960M 6700HQ
5272 Points ∼45%
XPS 15 9550 i5
GTX 960M 6300HQ
5335 Points ∼46% +1%
Apple MB Pro Retina 15 2015
Radeon R9 M370X 4870HQ
3674 Points ∼32% -30%
Asus Zenbook Pro UX501JW
GTX 960M 4720HQ
5221 Points ∼45% -1%
XPS 13 2016 i7 QHD
HD 520 6500U
1438 Points ∼12% -73%
XPS 15 9530
GT 750M 4712HQ
2459 Points ∼21% -53%
Acer AS V Nitro VN7-792G
GTX 960M 6700HQ
5418 Points ∼47% +3%
Ideapad Y50-70
GTX 960M 4710HQ
5404 Points ∼46% +3%
MSI PE60
GTX 960M 4210H
4190 Points ∼36% -21%
3DMark (2013)
1280x720 Cloud Gate Standard Score (sort by value)
XPS 15 9550 i7
GTX 960M 6700HQ
16529 Points ∼51%
XPS 15 9550 i5
GTX 960M 6300HQ
12993 Points ∼40% -21%
Apple MB Pro Retina 15 2015
Radeon R9 M370X 4870HQ
11048 Points ∼34% -33%
Asus Zenbook Pro UX501JW
GTX 960M 4720HQ
12155 Points ∼37% -26%
XPS 13 2016 i7 QHD
HD 520 6500U
5896 Points ∼18% -64%
XPS 15 9530
GT 750M 4712HQ
10521 Points ∼32% -36%
Acer AS V Nitro VN7-792G
GTX 960M 6700HQ
17598 Points ∼54% +6%
Ideapad Y50-70
GTX 960M 4710HQ
13928 Points ∼43% -16%
MSI PE60
GTX 960M 4210H
10596 Points ∼33% -36%
1280x720 Cloud Gate Standard Graphics (sort by value)
XPS 15 9550 i7
GTX 960M 6700HQ
27090 Points ∼18%
XPS 15 9550 i5
GTX 960M 6300HQ
30296 Points ∼21% +12%
Apple MB Pro Retina 15 2015
Radeon R9 M370X 4870HQ
15500 Points ∼11% -43%
Asus Zenbook Pro UX501JW
GTX 960M 4720HQ
21686 Points ∼15% -20%
XPS 13 2016 i7 QHD
HD 520 6500U
7367 Points ∼5% -73%
XPS 15 9530
GT 750M 4712HQ
13691 Points ∼9% -49%
Acer AS V Nitro VN7-792G
GTX 960M 6700HQ
30899 Points ∼21% +14%
Ideapad Y50-70
GTX 960M 4710HQ
31158 Points ∼21% +15%
MSI PE60
GTX 960M 4210H
28308 Points ∼19% +4%
1920x1080 Fire Strike Standard Score (sort by value)
XPS 15 9550 i7
GTX 960M 6700HQ
3909 Points ∼17%
XPS 15 9550 i5
GTX 960M 6300HQ
3907 Points ∼17% 0%
Apple MB Pro Retina 15 2015
Radeon R9 M370X 4870HQ
2350 Points ∼10% -40%
Asus Zenbook Pro UX501JW
GTX 960M 4720HQ
3869 Points ∼17% -1%
XPS 13 2016 i7 QHD
HD 520 6500U
847 Points ∼4% -78%
XPS 15 9530
GT 750M 4712HQ
2049 Points ∼9% -48%
Acer AS V Nitro VN7-792G
GTX 960M 6700HQ
4061 Points ∼17% +4%
Ideapad Y50-70
GTX 960M 4710HQ
3913 Points ∼17% 0%
MSI PE60
GTX 960M 4210H
3778 Points ∼16% -3%
1920x1080 Fire Strike Standard Physics (sort by value)
XPS 15 9550 i7
GTX 960M 6700HQ
9542 Points ∼58%
XPS 15 9550 i5
GTX 960M 6300HQ
6127 Points ∼37% -36%
Apple MB Pro Retina 15 2015
Radeon R9 M370X 4870HQ
8666 Points ∼52% -9%
Asus Zenbook Pro UX501JW
GTX 960M 4720HQ
7260 Points ∼44% -24%
XPS 13 2016 i7 QHD
HD 520 6500U
4896 Points ∼30% -49%
XPS 15 9530
GT 750M 4712HQ
8315 Points ∼50% -13%
Acer AS V Nitro VN7-792G
GTX 960M 6700HQ
9796 Points ∼59% +3%
Ideapad Y50-70
GTX 960M 4710HQ
6850 Points ∼41% -28%
MSI PE60
GTX 960M 4210H
4713 Points ∼29% -51%
1920x1080 Fire Strike Standard Combined (sort by value)
XPS 15 9550 i7
GTX 960M 6700HQ
1625 Points ∼21%
XPS 15 9550 i5
GTX 960M 6300HQ
1680 Points ∼21% +3%
Apple MB Pro Retina 15 2015
Radeon R9 M370X 4870HQ
924 Points ∼12% -43%
Asus Zenbook Pro UX501JW
GTX 960M 4720HQ
1693 Points ∼22% +4%
XPS 13 2016 i7 QHD
HD 520 6500U
311 Points ∼4% -81%
XPS 15 9530
GT 750M 4712HQ
837 Points ∼11% -48%
Acer AS V Nitro VN7-792G
GTX 960M 6700HQ
1676 Points ∼21% +3%
Ideapad Y50-70
GTX 960M 4710HQ
1705 Points ∼22% +5%
MSI PE60
GTX 960M 4210H
1649 Points ∼21% +1%
3DMark 11 Performance
5477 points
3DMark (2013) Ice Storm Standard Score
48680 points
3DMark (2013) Cloud Gate Standard Score
16529 points
3DMark (2013) Fire Strike Standard Score
3909 points
Help

Gaming Performance

Our gaming benchmarks show that the GTX 960M performs similar to other systems with this GPU. The XPS 15 9550 i5 is on par, which is also the case for the Acer AS V Nitro VN7-792G. This is the right device if you want a lot of gaming performance. Almost every current title should be playable at maximum details, but not in the native 4K resolution. The FPS number will take a big hit in this case, which would require a GeForce GTX 980M.

BioShock Infinite - 1920x1080 Ultra Preset, DX11 (DDOF) (sort by value)
XPS 15 9550 i7
GTX 960M 6700HQ
41.12 fps ∼23%
XPS 15 9550 i5
GTX 960M 6300HQ
40.8 fps ∼23% -1%
Apple MB Pro Retina 15 2015
Radeon R9 M370X 4870HQ
25.7 fps ∼14% -37%
XPS 13 2016 i7 QHD
HD 520 6500U
7.4 fps ∼4% -82%
XPS 15 9530
GT 750M 4712HQ
22.04 fps ∼12% -46%
Tomb Raider - 1920x1080 Ultra Preset AA:FX AF:16x (sort by value)
XPS 15 9550 i7
GTX 960M 6700HQ
51.6 fps ∼19%
Apple MB Pro Retina 15 2015
Radeon R9 M370X 4870HQ
28.5 fps ∼10% -45%
XPS 13 2016 i7 QHD
HD 520 6500U
11.2 fps ∼4% -78%
Acer AS V Nitro VN7-792G
GTX 960M 6700HQ
71.2 fps ∼26% +38%
Thief - 1920x1080 Very High Preset AA:FXAA & High SS AF:8x (sort by value)
XPS 15 9550 i7
GTX 960M 6700HQ
26.7 fps ∼23%
XPS 15 9550 i5
GTX 960M 6300HQ
27.8 fps ∼24% +4%
Apple MB Pro Retina 15 2015
Radeon R9 M370X 4870HQ
17.2 fps ∼15% -36%
Acer AS V Nitro VN7-792G
GTX 960M 6700HQ
28.7 fps ∼25% +7%
Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor - 1920x1080 Ultra Preset (HD Package) (sort by value)
XPS 15 9550 i7
GTX 960M 6700HQ
27.71 fps ∼17%
XPS 15 9550 i5
GTX 960M 6300HQ
25.9 fps ∼16% -7%
Evolve - 1920x1080 Very High Graphics Quality AA:1TX SM (sort by value)
XPS 15 9550 i7
GTX 960M 6700HQ
31.9 fps ∼18%
XPS 15 9550 i5
GTX 960M 6300HQ
32.2 fps ∼18% +1%
Apple MB Pro Retina 15 2015
Radeon R9 M370X 4870HQ
18.5 fps ∼10% -42%
MSI PE60
GTX 960M 4210H
31.1 fps ∼17% -3%
Dirt Rally - 3840x2160 High Preset (sort by value)
XPS 15 9550 i7
GTX 960M 6700HQ
15 fps ∼12%
Metal Gear Solid V - 3840x2160 High / On (sort by value)
XPS 15 9550 i7
GTX 960M 6700HQ
14.2 fps ∼24%
Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 - 3840x2160 High / On AA:FX (sort by value)
XPS 15 9550 i7
GTX 960M 6700HQ
11.3 fps ∼19%
Fallout 4 - 3840x2160 High Preset AA:T AF:16x (sort by value)
XPS 15 9550 i7
GTX 960M 6700HQ
10.5 fps ∼19%
low med. high ultra4K
Tomb Raider (2013) 51.6fps
BioShock Infinite (2013) 41.12fps
Thief (2014) 5026.7fps
Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor (2014) 42.1227.71fps
Evolve (2015) 37.131.9fps
Dirt Rally (2015) 3215fps
Metal Gear Solid V (2015) 31.514.2fps
Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 (2015) 41.735.611.3fps
Fallout 4 (2015) 55.530.52510.5fps

Emissions

System Noise

System noise i7/NVMe-SSD
System noise i7/NVMe-SSD
System noise i5/Hybrid HDD
System noise i5/Hybrid HDD

The system noise of the XPS 15 knows three different levels: Silent, high and annoying. The silent idle operation is shown by the green line in the chart. The noise during the stress test and gaming (3DMark06) hardly differs; it results in the highest fan speed and is already quite loud at 45 dB(A), but it is still reasonable considering the performance of the system. We also showed a CB R15 loop, which is more tolerable at 41 dB(A).

The i5 model showed a different behavior, because the load average was not identical to the maximum load. Games should therefore result in a lower noise on the i5 XPS. 

Three levels do not mean that there aren't any graduations. The two fans will slowly increase and decrease their speed. The cooling solution will run for quite a long time after periods of load at 33.4 dB(A), so the user might be confronted with a fan that is always audible depending on the scenario. We did not notice coil whine, even when the fans were deactivated.

Dell XPS 15-9550 i7
GTX 960M 6700HQ NVMe-SSD
Dell XPS 15 2016 9550
GTX 960M 6300HQ RAID HDD-SSD
Acer Aspire V Nitro VN7-792G-55SF
945M 6300HQ HDD
Apple MacBook Pro Retina 15 inch 2015-05
Radeon R9 M370X 4870HQ SSD
Asus Zenbook Pro UX501JW-FI218H
GTX 960M 4720HQ SSD
Dell XPS 15 (9530-0538)
GT 750M 4712HQ SSD
Lenovo IdeaPad Y50-70-59441229
GTX 960M 4710HQ SSD
MSI PE60-2QEi581
GTX 960M 4210H HDD
Noise
2%
12%
6%
4%
3%
4%
-1%
Idle Minimum *31.432.6
-4%
30.1
4%
28.9
8%
32.2
-3%
29.6
6%
29.6
6%
32.8
-4%
Idle Average *32.533.6
-3%
30.1
7%
28.9
11%
32.3
1%
31.6
3%
30.7
6%
32.8
-1%
Idle Maximum *33.633.6
-0%
30.9
8%
28.9
14%
32.3
4%
31.6
6%
31.3
7%
35.4
-5%
Load Average *45.237.1
18%
33.6
26%
46
-2%
41.7
8%
45.4
-0%
43.1
5%
42.3
6%
Load Maximum *4647.5
-3%
38.6
16%
46
-0%
42
9%
45.4
1%
47.6
-3%
47.4
-3%

* ... smaller is better

Noise Level

Idle
31.4 / 32.5 / 33.6 dB(A)
Load
45.2 / 46 dB(A)
 
 
 
30 dB
silent
40 dB(A)
audible
50 dB(A)
loud
 
min: dark, med: mid, max: light   Audix TM1 Arta (15 cm distance)

Temperature

Our stress test clearly differs from the Cinebench test, GPU benchmarks and games above. We stress the CPU and GPU at the same time via Prime95 and FurMark, which brings the cooling solution to its limit. Our goal is to check the behavior under extreme conditions, but this does not represent practical scenarios.

We have a look at the temperatures first, where 56 °C at the top and 50 °C at the bottom of the base unit are good results under high load, and you can hardly notice the warming while idling. However, the reason for these low temperatures is throttling, because the processor fluctuates between 800 MHz and 1.6 GHz. Irritating: This happens with BIOS version 1.1.14, the clock was 2.6 GHz after one hour with the old BIOS.

Stress test 30 seconds: Throttling at 80 °C to 2.9 GHz
Stress test 30 seconds: Throttling at 80 °C to 2.9 GHz
Stress test 1h: stabilized at 2.6 GHz
Stress test 1h: stabilized at 2.6 GHz
BIOS 1.1.14: Stress test 30 seconds: Throttling at 80 °C at 3.1 GHz
BIOS 1.1.14: Stress test 30 seconds: Throttling at 80 °C at 3.1 GHz
BIOS 1.1.14: Stress test fluctuation 800MHz - 1.6 GHz, 988 MHz after 1:30h
BIOS 1.1.14: Stress test fluctuation 800MHz - 1.6 GHz, 988 MHz after 1:30h
Dell XPS 15-9550 i7
GTX 960M 6700HQ NVMe-SSD
Dell XPS 15 2016 9550
GTX 960M 6300HQ RAID HDD-SSD
Acer Aspire V Nitro VN7-792G-55SF
945M 6300HQ HDD
Apple MacBook Pro Retina 15 inch 2015-05
Radeon R9 M370X 4870HQ SSD
Asus Zenbook Pro UX501JW-FI218H
GTX 960M 4720HQ SSD
Dell XPS 15 (9530-0538)
GT 750M 4712HQ SSD
Lenovo IdeaPad Y50-70-59441229
GTX 960M 4710HQ SSD
MSI PE60-2QEi581
GTX 960M 4210H HDD
Heat
-18%
2%
8%
-5%
-30%
5%
-6%
Maximum Upper Side *55.962.5
-12%
42.1
25%
43.2
23%
46.2
17%
51.8
7%
52.5
6%
45.5
19%
Maximum Bottom *5054.4
-9%
42
16%
39
22%
52.5
-5%
64.6
-29%
47
6%
37.5
25%
Idle Upper Side *28.133.5
-19%
31.2
-11%
30
-7%
32
-14%
38.4
-37%
27.1
4%
35.8
-27%
Idle Bottom *27.936.7
-32%
34
-22%
29.3
-5%
32.7
-17%
44.4
-59%
27
3%
38.7
-39%

* ... smaller is better

Max. Load
 36.2 °C55.9 °C44.4 °C 
 34 °C45.4 °C35.2 °C 
 29.7 °C29.2 °C30.2 °C 
Maximum: 55.9 °C
Average: 37.8 °C
40.9 °C50 °C34.5 °C
37.7 °C38 °C34.9 °C
35 °C34.8 °C33.9 °C
Maximum: 50 °C
Average: 37.7 °C
Power Supply (max.)  46.8 °C | Room Temperature 21.8 °C | FIRT 550-Pocket

Microphone

There is good news about the microphone. The background noises of the i5/FHD version (probably HDD rotation) are gone. Recordings do not sound completely clean at first, but Dell's MaxxAudioPro can help to improve the quality. The recording, which was dull at first, improved when we deactivated the microphone enhancements.

Discussion

Energy Management

Power Consumption

We notice the higher power consumption at the socket while idling. Our review configuration pulls significantly more power from the wall than the FHD/i5 version and 50% more than the Nitro Black Edition VN7-792G-74Q4 with the identical core components. We cannot explain how Acer manages that with the same Skylake platform; the 1920x1080 pixels cannot cause the big difference.

Dell XPS 15-9550 i7
GTX 960M 6700HQ
Dell XPS 15 2016 9550
GTX 960M 6300HQ
Acer Aspire V Nitro VN7-792G-55SF
945M 6300HQ
Apple MacBook Pro Retina 15 inch 2015-05
Radeon R9 M370X 4870HQ
Asus Zenbook Pro UX501JW-FI218H
GTX 960M 4720HQ
Dell XPS 15 (9530-0538)
GT 750M 4712HQ
Lenovo IdeaPad Y50-70-59441229
GTX 960M 4710HQ
MSI PE60-2QEi581
GTX 960M 4210H
Acer Aspire V Nitro Black Edition VN7-792G-74Q4
GTX 960M 6700HQ
Power Consumption
21%
37%
32%
7%
5%
35%
-25%
29%
Idle Minimum *12.59.9
21%
6.4
49%
6
52%
15.6
-25%
14.6
-17%
4.3
66%
21.8
-74%
5.8
54%
Idle Average *19.612.6
36%
10.9
44%
12.8
35%
20.5
-5%
19.6
-0%
7.8
60%
26.1
-33%
9
54%
Idle Maximum *22.816.8
26%
14.1
38%
13.3
42%
21.2
7%
19.8
13%
10.6
54%
26.6
-17%
14.7
36%
Load Average *10270
31%
67.1
34%
82.4
19%
75.8
26%
92
10%
99.7
2%
88.5
13%
85
17%
Load Maximum *107114
-7%
84.9
21%
91.8
14%
72.9
32%
85.8
20%
112.3
-5%
119.7
-12%
121.5
-14%

* ... smaller is better

Power Consumption
Off / Standbydarklight 0.26 / 1.1 Watt
Idledarkmidlight 12.5 / 19.6 / 22.8 Watt
Load midlight 102 / 107 Watt
 color bar
Key: min: dark, med: mid, max: light        Metrahit Energy

Battery Runtime

Battery Eater Classic: CPU@3.1 GHz
Battery Eater Classic: [email protected] GHz

The review unit is equipped with an 84-Wh battery, which replaces the 54-Wh module of the i5 model but occupies the space of the 2.5-inch SATA-HDD. The overall runtimes are disappointing, because they fall just behind the i5 hybrid model (54 Wh) in every test. We did not expect anything else due to the much higher power consumption though. The less expensive Nitro Black Edition VN7-792G is much more frugal while idling and manages 254 minutes (-18%) in the Wi-Fi test with its much smaller battery (52 Wh). The idle and the video tests show constant results, so we can rule out an incorrect measurement.

Contrary to all the promises, BIOS 1.1.14 did not improve the runtimes. 8:32 hours while idling, 5:10 in the Wi-Fi test and 5:00 during video playback (H.264). Those runtimes are even a couple of minutes shorter, but the results are within normal measuring tolerances. An interesting aspect is the significantly shorter runtime under load with 1:14 hours instead of the 2:05 hours with BIOS 1.1.05. It confirms that BIOS 1.1.14 enables higher clocks on battery power.

Update 01/04/16

BIOS 1.1.14, which was available for reviewers, was recalled on 12/23/15 and Dell asked reviewers to install 1.1.13. We did not have time for this. BIOS 1.1.15 is available for customers sind January 3rd, but only via the Device Manager (Firmware) as of 01/04/16, the official support page does not show an update yet.

Battery Runtime
Idle (without WLAN, min brightness)
8h 48min
WiFi Surfing v1.3
5h 9min
Big Buck Bunny H.264 1080p
5h 18min
Load (maximum brightness)
2h 05min
XPS 15 9550 UHD NVMe
6700HQ, GeForce GTX 960M, 84 Wh
XPS 15 9550 FHD Hybrid
6300HQ, GeForce GTX 960M, 56 Wh
XPS 15 9530
4712HQ, GeForce GT 750M, 88 Wh
XPS 13 2016 QHD
6500U, HD Graphics 520, 56 Wh
Apple MB Pro Retina 15 2015
4870HQ, Radeon R9 M370X, 100 Wh
Asus Zenbook Pro UX501JW
4720HQ, GeForce GTX 960M, 60 Wh
Acer AS V Nitro VN7-792G
6300HQ, GeForce 945M, 52 Wh
V Nitro Black Edition VN7-792G
6700HQ, GeForce GTX 960M, 53 Wh
MSI PE60
4210H, GeForce GTX 960M, 42 Wh
Battery Runtime
9%
2%
23%
38%
-49%
-8%
-13%
-38%
Reader / Idle528544
3%
784
48%
1039
97%
614
16%
410
-22%
345
-35%
Load125140
12%
103
-18%
105
-16%
113
-10%
96
-23%
85
-32%
WiFi v1.3309332
7%
314
2%
432
40%
432
40%
159
-49%
273
-12%
254
-18%
168
-46%
H.264318361
14%
413
30%
236
-26%
355
12%

Pro

+ high-quality, sturdy chassis
+ compact dimensions considering the screen size
+ simple maintenance via bottom cover
+ excellent color accuracy after calibration
+ high. constant brightness without sensor
+ contrast and viewing angles
+ steady fan control
+ good sound from the speakers
+ high application performance
+ high gaming performance
+ Thunderbolt 3

Cons

- hectic bug fixes after the launch
- mediocre color accuracy ex-works
- battery runtime 84-Wh below expectations
- high power consumption
- quality of the webcam
- surfaces attract dirt

Verdict

Dell XPS 15 9550 UHD/i7/512GB, courtesy of Dell Germany
Dell XPS 15 9550 UHD/i7/512GB, courtesy of Dell Germany

One bug after another? After the entry-level XPS 15 (FHD/i5/hybrid) could not meet the high expectations, we were careful with the more expensive and better-equipped XPS 15 with a UHD panel, NVMe-SSD and Core i7. Who wants to spend more than 2,000 Euros (~$2195) to be faced with CPU throttling, low runtimes or even PWM flickering? But we can soothe concerns after this review update – at least some of them. The CPU and GTX 960M can utilize their full performance and there is no PWM flickering, not even at the lowest brightness levels. The runtimes are disappointing though; they are still shorter compared to the 54-Wh FHD model even after the BIOS update 1.1.14 (NVMe SleepBug).

The 6700HQ lives up to its name and can even beat the Aspire Nitro Black Edition in the Cinebench tests on mains. The i7 can also utilize its Boost (3.1 GHz) on battery power. The latest BIOS is important; the XPS 15 was stuck at 2.6 GHz ex-works (BIOS Rev. 1.1.05) and had throttling issues during the transition to mains.

The lack of a mechanical drive also removes the annoying noises that affected microphone recordings of the entry-level XPS 15. One problem is the unsightly soft-touch surface of the palm rest. Now, after two weeks with both XPS 15 versions, we can see the whole splendor of hardly removable stains (also on the touchpad).

The Sharp UHD panel is one of the best of its kind, which is supported by the 89% AdobeRGB coverage and the very good results after calibration in particular. The color hue from the side with dark or brighter surfaces is a minor issue in our opinion; at least it would not prevent us from a purchase. 

We can repeat our results from the first XPS 15 review when we look at the advantages: Excellent build quality combined with good maintainability and very compact dimensions. The cooling solution acts reasonably and performance fans won't be disappointed after the BIOS update. The good sound from the speakers and the future-proof Thunderbolt 3 complete the package.

All in all – if we ignore the initial bugs and confusion – the XPS 15 UHD is a great working tool with limited drawbacks. If you want perfection in every regard, you will already be disappointed with the webcam, but the runtimes will blow away any sympathies. If the contra points are not important for you, then you get a very good notebook in terms of the other aspects, which can keep up with the Apple MacBook Pro Retina 15 2015.

Update 12/23/15

We already determined it, BIOS 1.1.14 does not improve the runtimes. Dell now recalls version 1.1.14, which was not officially released yet, and it asks reviewers to use the previous version (1.1.13). Note: Version 1.1.13 is currently not yet released for users, either. Dell is working hard to release it as soon as possible. We will add the new runtimes, but not repeat the performance tests (clocks etc.) due to the immature BIOS revisions.

Update 01/04/16

BIOS 1.1.15 is available for customers since January 3rd, but only via the Device manager (Firmware) as of 01/04/16. The official support page does not offer the download yet.

Update 01/07/16 

The new XPS 15 BIOS (version 1.1.15) besides a new WLAN as well as IPG driver is now available for download on Dell.com/support.

Dell XPS 15-9550 i7 - 02/24/2016 v5
Sebastian Jentsch

Chassis
95 / 98 → 97%
Keyboard
88%
Pointing Device
94%
Connectivity
67 / 81 → 83%
Weight
62 / 67 → 89%
Battery
82%
Display
85%
Games Performance
83 / 85 → 97%
Application Performance
91 / 92 → 99%
Temperature
86%
Noise
78 / 95 → 82%
Audio
69%
Camera
56 / 85 → 66%
Add Points
-1%
Average
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> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > Reviews > Dell XPS 15 9550 (i7, 512GB, UHD) InfinityEdge Notebook Review
Sebastian Jentsch, 2015-12-26 (Update: 2016-02- 1)