Dell XPS 15 9570: A 6-core Core i7 makes it all worth­while

Take one of the most beloved 15-inch lap­tops, drop in a wickedly fast 8th gen CPU Core i7 and bet­ter graph­ics, and you have the XPS 15 9570.

PCWorld (USA) - - Reviews - BY GOR­DON MAH UNG

The hulk­ing Asus ROG Strix Geforce RTX 2080 shows how Nvidia’s graph­ics card part­ners can still stand out from the crowd in an era when Nvidia’s mak­ing it harder than ever to shine.

You know who has an easy job to­day? Dell’s XPS 15 de­signer. That’s be­cause the pop­u­lar 15.6-inch lap­top gets the up­grade it de­serves with In­tel’s 8th-gen 6-core Core i7 chip. Dell also tucked in a GPU up­grade to make what is ul­ti­mately the fastest XPS 15 we’ve seen yet.

FEA­TURES AND SPECS

The Dell XPS 15 comes in many fla­vors, but the spec­i­fi­ca­tions of our 9570 re­view unit are as fol­lows:

CPU: 8th-gen In­tel Core i7-8750h CPU

GPU: Nvidia Geforce GTX 1050 Ti Max-q

RAM: 16GB DDR4/2,666MHZ

Dis­play: 15.6-inch 1920x1080 IPS non-touch screen with an­tire­flec­tive coat­ing

Stor­age: 256GB Toshiba

NVME drive

Bat­tery: 97 Watt-hour

DE­SIGN: KEEP­ING THE GOOD PARTS

Dell hasn’t changed much on the out­side of the XPS 15 since we first re­viewed it in 2016 ( go.pcworld.com/xp15). It has to be men­tioned, that it hasn’t changed much since the 2017 it­er­a­tion ei­ther ( go.pcworld. com/17rv). In fact, you can go back and read those re­views to see what we think of the key­board, build qual­ity, track­pad, and aes­thet­ics, be­cause for the most part, it hasn’t changed from what we can tell.

That is, for the most part, a good thing. Other com­pa­nies have mostly gone where Dell led, start­ing with its su­perthin “In­fin­i­tyedge” bezels around the 15.6-inch screen. The lid and bot­tom are alu­minum, and the key­board deck is wrapped in a slightly rub­ber­ized car­bon-fiber ma­te­rial.

The body it­self is 9.3 inches deep, 14 inches wide, and from 0.45 to .066 inches tall. Dell rates the lap­top alone at four pounds. The model we re­viewed, with a larger bat­tery, came in at 4.25 pounds. If you opt for the ver­sion with a 4K touch­screen dis­play, the weight bumps up to 4.5 pounds.

If you look close enough, you’ll find one change that’s long over­due: A fin­ger­print reader, in­te­grated into the power but­ton in this it­er­a­tion. It’s a mod­ern-day, full-pad reader, un­like those an­cient and flaky swipestyle read­ers. But still no in­fra-red cam­era, in case you’re won­der­ing.

PORTS

Like else­where, ports haven’t changed much from the 2017 XPS 15 9560, and they re­main gen­er­ous. While newer de­signs are trim­ming away your ports, the XPS 15 still of­fers such great things as a full-size HDMI port, and two square USB-A’S. There’s also a full-size SD card reader

The left side, more im­por­tantly, fea­tures an up­date to the sin­gle Thun­der­bolt 3 port that

peo­ple have com­plained about since this model was in­tro­duced: per­for­mance. The pre­vi­ous two XPS 15’s (the XPS 15 9550 and XPS 15 9560) fea­tured Thun­der­bolt 3, but us­ing only two lanes of PCIE. With the XPS 15 9570, Dell fi­nally gives you a faster Thun­der­bolt 3 im­ple­men­ta­tion us­ing four lanes of PCIE.

This ba­si­cally means ex­ter­nal PCIE stor­age and graph­ics per­for­mance should get a bump.

PER­FOR­MANCE

For the most part, the big­gest change to the XPS 15 9570 is its CPU. Make no mis­take, In­tel’s 8th-gen­er­a­tion Core i7 CPU is in the lap­top. As our re­view showed ( go.pcworld. com/8v7g), the CPU is one of first in a long time that might be worth the up­grade over the last gen­er­a­tion of CPUS (we more of­ten rec­om­mend you wait a gen­er­a­tion or two be­fore up­grad­ing). The se­cret sauce are its two ex­tra CPU cores over and above the 7th-gen­er­a­tion Core i7 chips.

You can see them in ac­tion in our first bench­mark: Cinebench R15. It’s a test based on an en­gine used in Maxon’s Cine­ma4d mod­el­ing ap­pli­ca­tion. The new XPS 15 rep­re­sents quite well and pretty much sits with the other 6-core Core i7 CPUS in per­for­mance.

The com­put­ing world is not all about multi-threaded per­for­mance, though, so we also run Cinebench R15 in a sin­gle-threaded

mode. The test is 3D modelling, which doesn’t ap­ply to that many con­sumers, but it is a good way to gauge how the lap­top re­acts to light loads. The re­sults pretty much de­clare a tie among all of the 8th-gen based lap­tops with a de­cent, but not huge bump over most of the older 7th-gen Core i7 lap­tops.

HAND­BRAKE PER­FOR­MANCE

One is­sue with us­ing quick-run­ning bench­marks to gauge CPU per­for­mance is it doesn’t tell you how a par­tic­u­lar lap­top be­haves un­der longer loads. For that we turn to Hand­brake, which is a free and pop­u­lar video en­coder. For this

test, we use an older ver­sion of Hand­brake and con­vert a 30GB 1080p file us­ing the An­droid Tablet pre­set. Rather than the minute or two it takes to run Cinebench, the Hand­brake en­code takes 45 min­utes on a quad-core and about 30 minute on a six-core CPU to run. The test is good at re­veal­ing when a lap­top can’t han­dle the heat or de­cides to run slower to keep the fans qui­eter.

We again see nearly a tie of the three 8th-gen Core i7-based lap­tops, which all fin­ish en­cod­ing the video a healthy clip ahead of the quad-core CPUS.

3DMARK PER­FOR­MANCE

While the 8th-gen Core i7 is the star of this up­date, Dell has also taken the time to put a new GPU in­side. That’s the Nvidia Geforce GTX 1050 Ti Max-q part. The ‘Ti’ is a step up from the last-gen­er­a­tion XPS 15 with its plain Geforce GTX 1050, but you also have to take take note of the Max-q, which means it’s a power-op­ti­mized chip. From the per­for­mance front, it’s like a Geforce GTX 1050 plus plus, but then mi­nus. As you can see from 3Dmark Fire­strike, the over­all per­for­mance moves for­ward (this par­tic­u­lar tests also fac­tors in the CPU per­for­mance).

RISE OF THE TOMB RAIDER PER­FOR­MANCE

Mov­ing on to ac­tual game per­for­mance, the Geforce GTX 1050 Ti Max-q is in the mid-40 range in frame rates in Rise of the Tomb Raider. The com­fort level of the Geforce GTX 1050 Ti Max-q seems to be

720p at very high to ul­tra set­tings, or 1080p at low to medium. It all, of course, de­pends on what game you play.

BAT­TERY LIFE

Bat­tery life is per­haps the most im­por­tant spec of any lap­top, and good news with the Dell XPS 15. We clocked in 14 hours of video play­back at a rel­a­tively bright 250 to 260 nits, us­ing the built-in Win­dows Movies & TV Player in air­plane mode.

Com­pared to the last-gen­er­a­tion XPS 15, with its 5 to 6 hours, it’s a smack­down. Much of the bat­tery life dis­par­ity can be put on the screen. The XPS 15 9560 fea­tured a 4K IGZO panel with touch sup­port. The XPS 15 9570 fea­tures a 1920x1080p touch­screen. Although the IGZO tech­nol­ogy in the 4K panel helps power con­sump­tion, it’s still about 8.3 mil­lion pix­els pushed into a

15.6-inch panel, ver­sus the 1080p’s 2 mil­lion pix­els. The smaller the holes, the more light you need to push through it.

Other fac­tors work into lap­top bat­tery life, such as driver op­ti­miza­tion, but in the end, this is about how long you ran. The XPS 15 with the FHD screen gives up some stupidly good run times.

OVER­HEAT­ING PROB­LEMS?

When you pack a lot of hard­ware into a small pack­age, there’s al­ways a com­pro­mise to made. In the case of the Dell XPS 15, it’s been doc­u­mented that un­der very hard loads, it can throt­tle in per­for­mance. This isn’t new, nor a lim­i­ta­tion unique to the XPS 15. Much hay was made when Ap­ple’s new­est Macbook Pro 15 heav­ily throt­tled ( go.pcworld.com/mcth) un­der rel­a­tively light loads.

With the XPS 15, the weak­ness has mostly been the cool­ing for the volt­age reg­u­la­tion mod­ules on the moth­er­board. When heated up un­der harsh loads they fail to sup­ply the CPU with enough power, so it down­clocks to, say 1GHZ, un­til power ramps back up. We can repli­cate this us­ing tor­ture tests such as Prime95 and Fur­mark run si­mul­ta­ne­ously on the XPS 15.

Is this go­ing to be a prob­lem for you? Prob­a­bly not. That’s be­cause few work­loads stress both the CPU and GPU to 100 per­cent at the same time. It’s just rare with to­day’s work­loads. In fact, the XPS 15 suc­ces­fully ran 3Dmark’s Time Spy stress test 20 times with­out is­sue. We then ran it 40 times and passed and fi­nally, we ran a 100-run it­er­a­tion with a pass­ing grade. The prob­lem may ex­ist, but it looks like you’d need to try hard to run into it.

VER­DICT

The Dell XPS 15 9570 has some short­com­ings. Stor­age is the most

ob­vi­ous. The XPS 15 is de­signed around the op­tion of a hard drive for bud­get buy­ers or an M.2. If you opt for the SSD (which we highly rec­om­mend), you gen­er­ally get the larger 97-watt-hour bat­tery. If you opt for the thick hard drive, you get squeezed down to the smaller 56-watt-hour bat­tery. We’d rec­om­mend ditch­ing the hard drive com­pletely for the big­ger bat­tery and maybe putting two M.2 slots in­side.

The other sticky point is go­ing to be graph­ics per­for­mance. With gam­ing-fo­cused lap­tops get­ting nearly as small (Razer Blade 15 ( go.pcworld.com/rb15)) and even lighter than the XPS 15 (MSI GS65 Stealth Thin 8RE ( go.pcworld.com/ms65)), their more pow­er­ful gam­ing GPUS make them aw­fully tempt­ing com­pared to the XPS 15. Sure, they of­ten come with weight, heat, and cost in­creases, but when you’re look­ing at a GPU twice as pow­er­ful as what you’ll find in the fan­ci­est XPS 15, some may find those bur­dens worth bear­ing.

Those con­sid­er­a­tions aside, the XPS 15 9570 is still about as pow­er­ful and com­pact as you can get. It’s ba­si­cally the same lap­top many have em­braced since it was in­tro­duced two years ago—ex­cept faster.

WHICH XPS 15 SHOULD YOU BUY?

Based on cur­rent pric­ing, we have our fa­vorite among the many XPS 15 op­tions avail­able.

The unit we re­ceived for re­view, with its Core i7 CPU, 16GB of RAM, Geforce GTX 1050 Ti Max-q, FHD panel, and 256GB SSD, cost about $1,700 ( go.pcworld.com/by95) at the time of this writ­ing. Dell has since tweaked its con­fig­u­ra­tion to of­fer a ver­sion with 8GB of RAM, cur­rently sell­ing for $1,400 on Ama­zon ( go.pcworld.com/d8gb).

While that sounds ap­peal­ing, for this class of lap­top, we’d prob­a­bly opt for the next step up, with Core i7, 16GB of RAM, and 512GB SSD, cur­rently sell­ing for $1,750 on Ama­zon ( go.pcworld.com/d16g).

On the low­est end, Dell has a stripped­down XPS 15 for $1,000 that does away with the graph­ics card and trades the SSD for a 1TB hard drive. Our ad­vice? Don’t do it. The lack of the GPU isn’t as painful as the lack of an SSD. A hard drive in any­thing but the cheap­est lap­tops just doesn’t feel right.

On the high end, Dell of­fers a $2,500 XPS 15 with 32GB of RAM and a 1TB hard drive (avail­able on Ama­zon at go.pcworld.com/d32g). You can never have enough stor­age, but un­less you’re sure you need 32GB of RAM, it prob­a­bly makes more sense to add a 1TB SSD to the $1,700 ver­sion above for $200 more.

For those into their high­res­o­lu­tion ma­te­rial, Dell’s very top XPS 15s of­fer 4K screens along with 32GB of RAM and 1TB SSD stan­dard. Of these two, we’d opt for the model with the Core i7, cur­rently go­ing for about $2,500 on Ama­zon ( go.pcworld.com/dci7). Dell of­fers Core i9 ver­sions such as this $2,999 model on Ama­zon, but we can hon­estly say the in­vest­ment on the higher clocks of the

Core i9 prob­a­bly aren’t worth it for most.

In the end, the best XPS 15 to buy is the $1,750 con­fig­u­ra­tion ( go.pcworld.com/8750) with Core i7, 16GB of RAM, Geforce GTX 1050 Ti Max-q, and 512GB SSD.

The new Dell XPS 15 9570 adds a fin­ger­print reader in the power but­ton.

A full-size SD reader and USB Type A, plus a Noble Lock port, are on the right side of the new XPS 15 9570.

The left side of the XPS 15 9570 has an­other USB Type A, HDMI 2.0, head­phone port, charg­ing port, and a four-lane Thun­der­bolt 3 port!

The 6-core 8th gen Core i7-8750h is no joke in mul­ti­threaded per­for­mance.

You can de­clare sin­glethreaded per­for­mance mostly a tie among all of the 8th-gen Core i7 chips we’ve tested.

Our Hand­brake test takes from 30 min­utes to 45 min­utes to run and is a good mea­sure­ment of how a lap­top han­dles heavy work­loads.

The Geforce GTX 1050 Ti Max is like a plus plus and then mi­nus over the Geforce GTX 1050 GPU.

We ran Time Spy’s stress test 100 times with no is­sues on the Dell XPS 15.

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