Dell XPS 15 (9550) Review: Pushing The Infinity Edge (Updated)

Dell XPS 15 Features And Specifications

Update 4/26/2016: We've refreshed our battery life test suite for this review and have new, more real-world metrics to share on page 8.

When Dell launched its updated XPS 13 notebook with an Infinity Edge display that squeezes a 13 inch IPS panel into essentially a 12-inch frame, it was met with universal praise for its unique mechanical design advantages and premium build quality. In fact, it was so well-received that many of you, upon seeing our review, almost immediately started asking if Dell would follow-up with the same sort of revamp for their 15-inch XPS 15 line as well. Dell apparently already had the same idea in mind and clearly the new XPS 15, with its 15-inch Infinity Edge display, was already in the engineering pipeline. Like the XPS 13, the XPS 15’s material choices, design and build quality are premium, through and through, from its carbon fiber composite palm rest area to its machined aluminum lid and base, and edge-to-edge Corning Gorilla Glass NBT that covers its near bezelless display.

Of course we were eager to get a system in for a full review, but with pent-up demand for the machine and a couple of small production delays, the product that was originally announced way back in October just before Dell World 2015, took this long to land on our test bench for a proper prodding.

Dell XPS15 front lid open right angle

The configuration we’re looking at here is one of Dell’s best setups with a 4K IPS display, a 6th gen Intel Core i7-6700HQ Skylake quad-core processor at 2.6GHz with turbo boost to 3.5GHz, 16GB of DDR4 RAM at 2133MHz, NVIDIA’s GeForce GTX 960M 2 GB mobile graphics engine and a 512GB NVMe PCI Express Solid State Drive. At $2229 MSRP we’ve certainly got a stacked and jacked configuration to show you here today. MacBook Pro killer? Maybe, but the Dell XPS 15 looks to be much more than something so tediously defined by cliche'.

First, let's take you on a guided video tour, then, we'll dive deep into our experiential impressions and a detailed performance evaluation.

Dell XPS 15
Specifications & Features
Processor Options 6th Gen Intel Core i3-6100H (3M Cache, up to 2.7 GHz)
6th Gen Intel Core i5-6300HQ Quad-Core (6M Cache, up to 3.2 GHz)
6th Gen Intel Core i7-6700HQ Quad-Core (6M Cache, up to 3.5 GHz)
Dimensions  Height: 0.45-0.66 inches (11-17mm) / Width: 14.06 inches (357mm) / Depth: 9.27 inches (235mm)
Starting at weight Starting at 3.9 lbs(1.78kg) with 56Whr** battery, SSD, and non-touch display
Starting at 4.4 lbs(2kg) with 84Whr** battery, SSD and touch display
Display options 15.6” FHD (1920x1080) InfinityEdge display
15.6” UltraSharp 4K Ultra HD (3840x2160) InfinityEdge touch display
350-nit, 1000:1 contrast ratio, 72% typicalon FHD,100% minimum Adobe RGB on 4K Ultra HD, 170°wide viewing angle -85°/ 85°/ 85°/ 85°
Capacitive touchscreen –10-finger touch support
Construction CNC machined aluminum
Edge-to-edge Corning Gorilla Glass NBT on 4K Ultra HD display
Carbon fiber composite palm rest with soft touch paint
Memory Options 8GB, 16GB or 32GB DDR4 at 2133 MHz (32GB post-RTS) (2 x SoDIMMs)
Graphics Intel HD Graphics 530
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960M 2GB GDDR5 graphics
Battery 56Whr or 84Whr Battery (built-in)
Battery is built-in to the laptop and is not replaceable by the customer.
AC adapter 130W AC adapter
Storage options 500GB HDD + 32GB Flash or 1TB HDD + 32GB Flash with Intel Smart Response Technology
Keyboard /Touchpad Full size, backlit chiclet keyboard; 1.3mm travel
Precision touchpad, seamless glass integrated button
Wireless connectivity Dell Wireless 1820A 2x2 802.11ac+ Bluetooth 4.1
Dell Wireless 1830 3x3 802.11ac + Bluetooth 4.1
Miracast capable
Audio Stereo Speaker, Dual Microphones, High Definition Audio with Waves MaxxAudio Pro
Webcam Widescreen HD (720p) webcam with dual array digital microphones
Ports and connectors HDMI, USB 3.0 (x2) with PowerShare; Headset Jack(1); SD card reader (SD, SDHC, SDXC); Kensington Lockslot;
Thunderbolt 3:
Thunderbolt 3 supports: Power in / charging, PowerShare, Thunderbolt 3 (40Gbps bi-directional), USB 3.1 Gen 2 (10Gbps), VGA, HDMI, Ethernet and USB-A via Dell Adapter (sold separately)
Operating System Windows 10
Software Skype , Microsoft Edge, Dropbox
Manageability and Security Options

Factory Installed with Dell Command | Update and Dell Command | Power Manager, plus compatible with all Dell Client Command Suite tools. Dell Data Protection | Encryption (available via volume licensing), Dell Data Protection | Security Tools, BitLocker Data Encryption with Hardware TPM 1.2, optional Computrace, Configuration Services: Static Image, BIOS settings, Asset Tagging & Reporting 
As Configured and Tested: $2229

For the unsuspecting, and with its lid closed, the new Dell XPS 15 has a rather conservative, minimalistic design. It's soft-textured, machined aluminum lid discretely veils top-shelf design aesthetics and component selection that, considering the machine's 4 pound weight class, is pretty much loaded for bear.
Dell XPS15 front lid top
From Intel's latest 45 watt Skylake Core i7-6700HQ 6th gen quad-core processor, to the latest NVIDIA mobile Maxwell GPU, a Samsung PM951 NVMe PCI Express SSD, 802.11ac MiMo 2x2 WiFi and even a Thunderbolt 3 port with 40Gbps bi-directional peak bandwidth, the new Dell XPS 15 leaves virtually no box unchecked. Again, we've got a top-end config and pricing at a $2099 MSRP is also top end as a result. However, you can configure lower-end SKUs of this machine as low as $999. What we'll be looking at in-depth and with vigor on the pages that follow is probably Dell's best foot forward with their new premium 15-inch machine. Let's see what all the buzz is about...

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