Dell XPS 15 (2019) Review: OLED Display Beauty, 8-Core Beast

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Dell XPS 15 (2019): Storage, CPU, And General Productivity Benchmarks

Before jumping into our gauntlet of benchmarks, we applied the latest Windows software and driver updates to the 2019 XPS 15. Other than that, we didn't change any settings. Our goal is to test the system as it ships, but after auto-updating, to accurately reflect what buyers can expect from an out-of-box experience. Our benchmarking kicks off with storage, CPU, and GPU tests to get an idea how the XPS 15 performs in day-to-day tasks.

ATTO Disk Benchmark
Peak Sequential Storage Throughput

Running ATTO allows us to gauge the speed of the storage drive in the XPS 15. The primary storage on this particular configuration is a 1TB PCIe 3.0 (NVMe) solid state drive, and specifically a Toshiba XG6 series drive.

Dell XPS 15 ATTO

It does not take long for read and write speeds on the XPS 15 to eclipse 2GB/s and 1GB/s, respectively. As for peak speeds, the sequential read performance in ATTO hits a high of 2.43GB/s, while sequential writes top out at 2.63GB/s. Both are a little below the rated maximums for this specific model, but still very fast.

As we typically see with systems running an SSD for the primary storage, boot times and navigating Windows is sensational. Programs load quick too. Of course, the same can be said for Windows 10 PCs running a SATA-based SSD, but should you ever need to do any heavy file lifting, the read and write times on here will allow you to sprint to the finish line faster than a SATA drive.

Speedometer Web Application Benchmark
Browser Performance

We think it's safe to say that SunSpider has run its course as a viable, informative web performance benchmark. This time around, we moved on to BrowserBench.org's Speedometer test, which looks at web application performance. This test automatically loads and runs several sample webapps from ToDoMVC.com using the most popular web development frameworks around, including React, Angular, Ember.js, and even vanilla JavaScript. This test is a better example of how systems cope with real web applications, as opposed to a pure JavaScript compute test like JetStream. All tests were performed using the latest version of Chrome, which is up to 76 as of the time of this writing. 

dell xps 15 speedometer benchmark
Right out of the gate, the XPS 15 asserts its dominance over other productivity laptops we have tested up to this point. That is not unexpected—the Core i9-9980HK processor is no slouch, and on top of that, there is a generous heaping of RAM (32GB DDR4-2666) inside this thing. With a score of 127 on the nose, the XPS 15 is around 11.5 percent faster than the next closest system (Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon) in this benchmark.

Cinebench R15 and R20
3D Rendering Performance

Cinebench R15 is a 3D rendering benchmark that tests both the CPU and GPU engines in the processor. Cinebench is developed by Maxon, which is better known for its Cinema 4D software employed in professional 3D rendering and animation studios. We use both of Cinebench’s integrated tests for CPU and GPU.

dell xps 15 cinebench r15

Here again, we see the XPS 15 take its position at the front of the pack, and it's way out in front in terms of the multi-core CPU score. The Core i9-9980HK wields 8 physical cores and 16 threads to hammer workloads. Cinebench does a good job of scaling on multi-core CPUs, so it is not surprising to see the XPS 15 score nearly twice as high as other laptops running a Core i7-8565U processor, which has half as many cores and threads.

On the graphics side (OpenGL), we see the XPS 15 also leading the way, courteous of the discrete NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 GPU inside.

The latest version of Maxon's rendering benchmark, Cinebench R20, takes longer to complete, so this is a better test of the XPS 15's cooling system. This release also drops the OpenGL test, making Cinebench a pure CPU test this time. We tested both single-threaded and multi-threaded performance.

dell xps 15 cinebench r20

Switching to Cinebench R20 yields the same general result—the XPS climbs to the top, outperforming the next closest competitor with a CPU score that is roughly doubled. This is not unexpected, but still nice to see, as it indicates Dell's cooling system is doing its job.

Geekbench 4
Single and Multi-Core Performance

Geekbench 4 is a cross-platform benchmark that simulates real world processing workloads in image processing and particle physics scenarios. We tested the machines represented here with Geekbench's single and multi-core test workloads.

dell xps 15 geekbench score

Geekbench further highlights the benefits of having more cores and threads to throw at workloads. In this benchmark, we can see the single-core performance on the XPS 15 being similar (though still a little bit better) to the crop of 8th Gen Intel Core processors, since we are not looking at any major architectural changes. In the multi-core test, however, the XPS zips past every previous laptop we've tested, and by a wide margin. In case it's not clear, the XPS 15 as configured is a beast in multi-threaded workloads.

PCMark 10
Productivity and System-Level Benchmarking

PCMark 10 uses a mix of real-world applications and simulated workloads to establish how well a given system performs productivity tasks, including image and video editing, web browsing, and OpenOffice document editing.  While these scores appear to be all over the place, the systems are sorted by their overall PCMark score, which is the third (gray) bar in each cluster. 

dell xps 15 pcmark 10 benchmark

Another benchmark, another victory round for the XPS 15. This time, however, it was not a clean sweep—the HP Zbook X2 managed to outpace the XPS 15 in the Essentials test by 534 points. Likewise, Huawei's MateBook 13 posted a slightly higher Productivity score.

Overall, the XPS 15 had the highest PCMark 10 score for the testing suite as a whole, and blew the doors off most of the competition in the Digital Content Creation testing. In short, the XPS is a veritable workhorse, no matter what the task.

Now let's take a look at graphics and gaming...

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