Design and Features
With a premium construction that you’ll want to show off the The XPS 15 Touch’s lid and base are made of aluminum, with carbon fiber in the palm rest and the keyboard deck. Using the same body and screen as the Dell Precision 15 5000 Series (5510) $1,399.00 at Dellmobile workstation, the XPS 15 Touch looks and feels expensive. The case measures 0.66 by 14.06 by 9.27 inches (HWD), and weighs a relatively light 4.48 pounds. That’s smaller than both the Asus ZenBook Pro UX501J-DS71T, a top pick, and the Apple MacBook Pro 15-inch with Retina Display, though all three are similar in weight.
The 15.6-inch, 3,840-by-2,160-resolution touch screen is big enough to comfortably watch 4K Ultra High-Definition (UHD) videos in native resolution. The display is also ideal for web design and working in large spreadsheets. It comes with a 100-percent Adobe RGB color gamut and PremierColor software that can adjust the display to match the DCI-P3 standard, so photos and films show accurate colors. That trumps screens like the one on the Asus ZenBook Pro UX501J-DS71T, with its 74-percent Adobe RGB fidelity.
The display has a thin bezel, which makes it seem larger than the screens on other 15.6-inch systems, like the 15-inch Apple MacBook Pro, the Toshiba Satellite P50T-BST2N01, or theToshiba Satellite Radius 15 P55W-C5212-4K$1,199.99 at Best Buy, even if their LCD panels are the same physical size. Because of the smaller bezel, the system’s HD webcam is situated below the display, next to the laptop’s hinge, instead of centered above the screen.
The chiclet-style keyboard has full-size keys that feel solid, though their key travel is a little shallow compared with the previous version of the Dell XPS 15 Touch. The keys are quite visible in the dark, thanks to two levels of backlighting. The XPS 15 Touch’s one-piece touchpad is comfortable to use and supports Windows 10 multitouch gestures. The system’s speakers are loud and clear, and their volume will fill a medium-size room.
There’s a 512GB PCIe-based solid-state drive (SSD), which is a large capacity for flash-based storage. That’s double the space of the Apple MacBook Pro 15-inch, though the same as the Asus UX501J-DS71T and the Toshiba Satellite Radius 15. There are a few preloaded apps, like Adobe Photoshop Express and Flipbook, but much less than the bloatware we saw on the Asus UX501J-DS71T.
Connectivity is excellent. The XPS 15 Touch has an HDMI port, a headset jack, the power connector, a USB-C port with Thunderbolt 3, and a USB 3.0 port on its left side. On the right, you’ll find the system’s battery-status button with light indicators, a Kensington security slot, an SD/SDHC/SDXC card reader, and another USB 3.0 port. For wireless connectivity, you get dual-band 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.1. The system comes with a one-year warranty.
A sixth-generation Intel Core i7-6700HQ processor, 16GB of system memory, and gaming-ready Nvidia GeForce GTX 960M discrete graphics contribute to both the XPS 15 Touch’s high performance and hefty price tag. The Intel Core i7 CPU can handle eight computing threads simultaneously, which translated to class-leading scores on Handbrake (1:06) and Cinebench (679 points). That’s faster than the Asus UX501J-DS71T (1:16 on Handbrake; 644 on Cinebench). That said, the Asus UX501J-DS71T (3:18) just edges past the XPS 15 Touch (3:20) on the Photoshop test. Both laptops were faster than competing systems, like the Apple MacBook Pro 15-inch, the Asus ZenBook NX500$1,139.50 at Amazon, and the Toshiba Satellite P50T-BST2N01. You’ll be happy to use the system for photo and video work.
On the PCMark Work Conventional productivity test, the XPS 15 Touch returned a very good score of 2,493 points, though the Asus UX501J-DS71T (2,775) and most of the competition ran ahead by a few points. In any case, all of these systems will work fine on day-to-day tasks like Web browsing and video conferencing.
The system excelled on the 3D tests, winning both 3DMark Cloud Gate (14,500) and 3DMark Fire Strike Extreme (2,004). It returned smoothly playable frame rates on the Heaven (66 frames per second or fps) and Valley (81fps) tests at Medium-quality settings, so you can certainly play modern AAA games at moderate quality and resolution settings. However, gameplay at 4K native resolution at Ultra-quality settings was just too much for the midrange Nvidia GeForce GTX 960M GPU, but that’s also the case with the Asus UX501J-DS71, which also has a 4K screen. At least it’s smoother at Medium-quality setting than laptops with integrated graphics, like the Apple MacBook Pro 15-inch and the Toshiba Satellite Radius 15.
Unfortunately, like other 4K systems, the XPS 15 Touch can’t quite last all day on its sealed battery pack. It was only able to last 5 hours 56 minutes on our battery rundown test. That’s still pretty good, considering that the Asus UX501J-DS71T and the Toshiba Satellite Radius 15 lasted an hour less. Our class leader is the Apple MacBook Pro 15-inch (11:31), thanks to its lower-resolution screen and larger-capacity battery. You may want to keep your AC adapter handy, but the XPS 15 Touch is capable of working untethered for most of a work day.
The Dell XPS 15 Touch (9550) is a multimedia powerhouse that can serve both media professionals and prosumers quite well. It has the chops to motor through our benchmark tests, comes with very little bloatware to fill its 512GB SSD, and it has a level of screen detail that’s rare in a consumer-grade system. It’s pricey, compared with the $1,499 Asus ZenBook Pro UX501J-DS71T, but the XPS 15 Touch has 100-percent Adobe RGB color accuracy, stronger performance, longer battery life, less bloatware, and forward-looking technology like the USB-C port with Thunderbolt 3. As such, it replaces the Asus ZenBook Pro as our top pick for high-end desktop-replacement laptops.