Opinion | Forget the XPS 15 9500, the XPS 17 9700 is the XPS to get excited about this year
While the official image of unreleased Dell hardware on which we reported today is of new Precision workstations, it offers our first glimpse of how their XPS counterparts will also look. Fans of the XPS series will know that recent XPS 15 and Precision laptops have shared the same design, like the ThinkPad X1 Extreme and ThinkPad P1 do. Hence, if today's picture reveals a successor to the Precision 5540, it also represents the next XPS 15.
One of our biggest complaints about the XPS 15 in recent years, besides its DPC latency issues, has been cooling. In short, the cooling solution that Dell uses cannot get the most from the series' powerful components, as we covered in our review of the Core i9-9980HK and GeForce GTX 1650 version of the XPS 15 7590. With Dell seemingly switching to a 16:10 aspect ratio for this year's XPS 15, it may well be slightly narrower than the XPS 15 7590. The 2020 XPS 15 looks a touch thinner than its predecessor too, seeing as its frame looks too thin to accommodate a USB Type-A port. Undoubtedly, the new XPS 15 will be more powerful than the XPS 15 7590 too, with multiple UserBenchmark listings demonstrating that Dell plans to upgrade the XPS 15 to Comet Lake-H processors and a GeForce GTX 1650 Ti GPU.
Less airflow with more potent hardware typically results in throttling, as anyone who has pushed a 13-inch laptop to its limits can probably attest. While we imagine that Dell has overhauled the cooling system for this year's XPS 15, the larger footprint of the 17-inch model should mean that its bigger sibling will offer better thermals than the XPS 15 will. We have already seen the performance improvements that a larger chassis can bring to the MacBook Pro series. Our Core i9-9880H-powered MacBook Pro 16 exhibited minimal throttling in macOS during our tests, for instance, while also exerting a huge lead over even the Core i9-9980HK version of the MacBook Pro 15 2019.
Overall, the possibility of Dell releasing a large XPS without cooling issues is what has got us excited for a new XPS 17. We are not ruling out the 2020 XPS 15 from doing this too, but the additional airflow that the XPS 17 will offer makes it the more likely of the two to keep its CPU and GPU running cooler for longer. That and the prospective of staring at a glorious 17-inch display, of course.