Dell XPS 13 Review Late 2015: Refreshed With Skylake

Cinebench & PCMark 8

Cinebench R11.5 is a 3D rendering performance test based on Cinema 4D from Maxon. Cinema 4D is a 3D rendering and animation suite used by animation houses and producers like Sony Animation and many others. It's very demanding of processor resources and is an excellent gauge of computational throughput. This is a multi-threaded, multi-processor aware benchmark that renders a photorealistic 3D scene (from the viral "No Keyframes" animation by AixSponza). This scene makes use of various algorithms to stress all available processor cores. The rate at which each test system was able to render the entire scene is represented in the graph below.

Cinebench R11.5
3D Rendering Benchmark

xps13 cinebench r11 5 results

Cinebench begins to reveal a little more about SpeedShift.  In the CPU test we don't see any real improvement moving to SpeedShift which makes sense.  Cinebench's CPU workload is a very straightforward multithreaded scene render.  The processor stays pinned at 2.7GHz throughout the test, leaving no room for SpeedShift to make a difference beyond the initial ramp up.  In the OpenGL test, however, it is a bit more volatile in its workload so SpeedShift helps to improve the fluidity of the animation.  Interestingly, when all is said and done this Skylake chip strongly outranks its Broadwell 5200U brother here, with a strong 10% pickup in CPU performance and an 18.6% improvement in frame rate.

Futuremark PCMark 8 v2
Full System Benchmark

PCMark 8 v2 is the latest version in Futuremark’s series of popular PC benchmarking tools. It is designed to test the performance of all types of systems, from tablets to desktops. PCMark 8 offers five separate benchmark tests to help consumers find devices that offer the perfect combination of efficiency and performance for their particular use case. This latest version of the suite improves the Home, Creative and Work benchmarks with new tests using popular open source applications for image processing, video editing and spreadsheets. A wide variety of workloads have also been added to the Work benchmark to better reflect the way PCs are used in enterprise environments. Though this is technically a "synthetic" benchmark, PCMark's trace-based workloads utilize real-world software and performance measurements.
xps13 pcmark 8 results

PCMark 8 takes us as close as we are going to get to objective real-world usage.  Ultimately, what we see here is the new XPS 13 performs right where we expect in general tasks.  Its small form-factor doesn't hinder performance a bit but we don't see anything spectacular either.  Of note, early tests gave back a lower than expected Storage score of around 4750.  This was due to a NVMe bug, but per our testing has been resolved in at least the latest BIOS version 1.2.3 on the 1511 build of Windows 10.  Let this serve as a reminder to always check your driver updates out of the box, or any time performance feels lacking.  In this case, you can hop on and be rolling in minutes.

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