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Long-term review: The Dell XPS 15 Touch is the laptop to beat

Scot Finnie | Feb. 3, 2016
Dell's latest Windows 10 laptop is lightweight and powerful, with one of the best displays around.

Performance

The 6th Generation Intel i7 6700hq is a sort of middle-of-the-pack Skylake quad-core mobile CPU with an integrated graphics processor, the Intel 530. The Dell XPS 15 held its own in Maxon Cinebench r15 and Google Octane 2 benchmark tests.

Cinebench measured the Dell XPS 15 9550 at 96 fps on its OpenGL test. The Dell scored 138 for a single CPU and 674 with the four cores working in concert on Cinebench's CPU test. It turned out a Google Octane 2 score of 36157.

We ran the same benchmarks on a MacBook Pro 15 Retina that was configured with a 2.5GHz Intel quad core i7 4870HQ CPU; 16GB RAM; 512GB SSD; dual graphics processors (an AMD Radeon R9 M370X with 2GB of GDDR5 memory and an Intel Iris 5200 Pro) and a 15.4-in. onboard display with a maximum resolution of 1920 x 1200 (2880 x 1800 external). Interestingly, and with the possible exception of the OpenGL score (which was surprisingly high, since high-resolution computers usually have trouble pushing frames per second), the Dell's test results were perhaps only half a notch faster than the Mac's. Keep in mind that the Dell was pushing around a lot more pixels -- if it wasn't a 4K notebook, the Dell might have done even better.

Benchmark results: Dell XPS 15 9550 vs. Apple MacBook Pro 15 (mid-2015)

 Dell XPS 15Apple MacBook Pro 15
Cinebench r15    
          OpenGL 96.04 fps 66.62 fps
          CPU 674 597
          CPU (single) 138 N/A
Google Octane 2 36157 33969
Higher is better for all results.

The Crucial 2133MHz DDR4 RAM is exceptionally fast in the Dell. In operation, for all kinds of computing tasks, I found the XPS 15 to be responsive and willing. I have yet to experience any kind of sluggish behavior in any activity. It's a fast machine, but not flashy about it.

I didn't do formal battery run-down testing on the XPS 15. But after living with the laptop for nearly two months, it's clear the huge battery in the touchscreen model gives you a lot of running time. Dell claims up to 17 hours, which is probably a bit overstated. I think most people will get 6 to 8 hours -- or more, if they're frugal with power. With a display like this one, that's excellent.

Bottom line

I've found a lot of mostly minor things to pick on, but don't be misled by that. The Dell XPS 9550 is a well-designed, well-equipped laptop, and although Windows 10 isn't perfect, it's a whole lot better than Windows 8. Together they're a pleasure to use.

 

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