Near the end of 2015, Dell rolled out their new XPS styling cues, that were so successful on the XPS 13, to its larger sibling, the XPS 15. Thanks to the Infinity Edge display, Dell’s new XPS 15 packed a full 15.6-inch display into a notebook closer to the size of a 14-inch model. Perhaps the size reduction is not quite as dramatic as the XPS 13 when it first launched with the thin-bezel design, but Dell also kept the performance heart of the XPS 15 intact with the change, keeping a quad-core 45-Watt CPU, and NVIDIA GTX 960M graphics.

Dell has since done a revision from that XPS 15 9550 model to the latest 9560 version. The small model number change might signify that this is a small revision. On the exterior that is certainly the case, with the overall XPS 15 design remaining relatively unchanged, but under the hood there are some more impressive changes awaiting.

The first is a move to Intel’s 7th generation Core processors. Although performance per clock did not change from 6th to 7th generation, a new, improved, 14nm process does allow higher frequencies without blowing through the thermal design power restraints. This allows a small boost in performance over the same designation CPU from the previous design.

More importantly, NVIDIA announced newer graphics to replace the outgoing Maxwell based GTX 960M. The Pascal based GTX 1050 is a significant upgrade, dropping the M branding. Pascal offers much more compute, thanks to the new architecture based on 14nm FinFET, and the GDDR5 capacity doubles from the 2 GB on the GTX 960M to 4 GB on the GTX 1050. The XPS 15 was never a gaming laptop, but a much more capable graphics card certainly helps propel it closer to those dedicated machines, and also can play a big role in compute tasks that can leverage the GPU.

Dell XPS 15 9560 Configurations
  Core i3 Core i5 Core i7
(Model Tested)
GPU Intel HD 630 Intel HD 630 +
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 w/4GB GDDR5
CPU Intel Core i3-7100H (35w)
Dual-Core w/HyperThreading 3.0 GHz
Intel Core i5-7300HQ (45w)
Quad-Core 2.5-3.5 GHz
Intel Core i7-7700HQ (45w)
Quad-Core w/HyperThreading 2.8-3.8 GHz
Memory 8-32GB DDR4-2400 RAM
Two SODIMM slots, 32GB Max
Display 15.6" IPS 1920x1080 sRGB 15.6" IPS 1920x1080 sRGB
Optional 3840x2160 IGZO IPS w/Adobe RGB color space and touch
Storage 500GB 7200 RPM Hybrid w/32GB NAND 1TB 5400 RPM Hybrid w/32GB NAND 256/512/1024 GB PCIe NVMe SSD
Networking Killer 1535 Wireless-AC 2x2 + Bluetooth 4.1
Optional Intel 8265 Wireless-AC 2x2 + Bluetooth 4.1
I/O USB 3.0 x 2 w/Powershare
SD Card reader
1 x USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-C w/Thunderbolt 3 (2 lanes PCIe)
Headset Jack
HDMI 1.4
Dimensions (mm) : 357 x 235 x 11-17
(inches) : 14.06 x 9.27 x 0.45-0.66
Weight With 56 Wh Battery
1.8 kg / 4.0 lbs
With 97 Wh Battery
2 kg / 4.5 lbs
Battery 56 Wh 56/97 Wh
Price $999+
As tested: (Core i7-7700HQ, 3840x2160, 512 GB, 16GB) $1850

Dell didn’t stop there. The previous model offered either a 56 Wh battery, or a stout 84 Wh version. With the latest 9560 version of the XPS 15, that larger battery is bigger again, boasting a 97 Wh capacity, which is right near the 99 Wh limit allowed in a notebook. Dell claims the 9560 is the class leader in battery life for a 15.6-inch notebook, at least when doing productivity tasks, with up to 19.5 hours of battery life.

The battery life will be impacted significantly by the choice of displays though, and just like the 9550 model, Dell is offering both a 1920x1080 (FHD) non-touch version, as well as a 3840x2160 (UHD) panel with touch. The higher resolution also targets 100% of the Adobe RGB color gamut. With both a higher resolution, and wider color gamut, the UHD version is not the one to get if you need the longest battery life, but may be the optimal version if Adobe RGB is important for your workflow.

Not all of the changes are for the best though. Dell has dropped the 3x3:3 Broadcom wireless option for the 9560, which is a shame since Dell was one of the few PC suppliers to offer a 3x3:3 solution. They’ve opted to go with the same Killer Wireless-AC 1535 as they use in the smaller XPS 13. This is a 2x2:2 solution, which is definitely going to impact transfer speeds.

There’s also lots of connectivity options, with Dell supporting HDMI 1.4, USB 3.0 with PowerShare, a SD card reader, and a USB-C port supporting Thunderbolt 3. The last port allows for a single cable docking solution, which can drive up to two UHD displays, as well as charge the laptop.

The inside has changed a lot, but the outside has stayed mostly the same. That’s not a bad thing either, since the XPS 15 was already one of the sleekest looking large display productivity notebooks around.

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  • yetanotherraj - Monday, July 31, 2017 - link

    "Near the end of 2015, Dell rolled out their new XPS styling queues" ... you mean "cues"?
  • linster - Monday, July 31, 2017 - link

    Where is this option to select the Intel WiFi card instead of Killer? Configuration tool on Dell's website isn't giving me an option to do this.
  • petteyg359 - Monday, July 31, 2017 - link

    I'd rather have the Broadcom chip in the Killer than Intel. Broadcom's Linux drivers actually work reliably, unlike Intel who was putting out buggy as hell drivers for their card in my L502x XPS 15. Several months of broken Wi-Fi and constant connection fails and dropping every two minutes in few rare success cases was great fun...
  • Brett Howse - Monday, July 31, 2017 - link

    Killer is based on Qualcomm not Broadcom.
  • petteyg359 - Tuesday, August 1, 2017 - link

    Yep. I appear to have been brainless yesterday. Point remains, just search and replace :) I'll take everything Atheros over Intel any day.
  • Vatharian - Monday, July 31, 2017 - link

    What is this 99 Wh limit you mention at the beginning of the article?
  • tipoo - Monday, July 31, 2017 - link

    You can't fly with more than a 100Wh battery, so most laptops are at most 99Wh.
  • SaolDan - Monday, July 31, 2017 - link

    Intel 6D 530?? HD?
  • twtech - Monday, July 31, 2017 - link

    I have the 9550, which has the same chassis & display with different internals. Overall, I like the laptop - I wish every manufacturer would use a similar layout that maximizes display size. But I've had quite a few issues with it, and I'm wondering if any of them apply to the 9560.

    One of the big ones was an issue with the integrated graphics drivers - I don't know if it was actually an overheating issue later mitigated by the updated drivers, or if the software was just buggy, but for quite a while the driver would crash and restart repeatedly. I thought the machine was damaged - turned out a driver update was all that was needed to fix it, but it took months to get it. That issue I assume has probably been fixed.

    The spacebar on the keyboard may be impeded by the battery ribbon cable that runs underneath it, if the cable is at all loose. A loose battery cable sticks up a bit, it interferes with the spacebar, causing it to intermittently not register keypresses. This one could still be an issue for the 9560 if nothing has changed about the design or manufacturing process.

    I also recently had an issue with battery swelling in my 9550. It manifested itself as an increasingly hard-to-click touchpad - it's probably actually a good thing that it did, because an expanding battery is an explosion risk otherwise. Searching for information on the ultimately-unusable touchpad led me to the source of the problem. Apparently the battery is susceptible to the issue if you leave the laptop plugged in most of the time. I self-replaced the battery which isn't very difficult - provided you have the right tool to remove the screws.
  • CubicleHermit - Monday, July 31, 2017 - link

    Nice review. I've had mine for about two months now, and agree with almost everything you've said. The one exception is the absolutely awful time I had for the first few weeks with the Killer wireless card which among other problems would not connect to the EAP authenticated network at my work or work at all under Linux which I dual boot. Fortunately, unlike some other machines, the wireless card is still a plain M.2 card and was dead easy to replace with an Intel 8265 which works much better.

    The only annoyance opening the machine is the Torz TX5 screwdriver needed, and that is the same one as all of Dells other extrathin XPS and Precision models so it was easy to find.

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